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Birdspotting on St Kilda

This archipelago is home to a million birds

St. Kilda is a breathtaking remote island group approximately 40 sea miles west of the Outer Hebrides. Its islands with their exceptional cliffs and sea stacks form the most important seabird breeding station in north-west Europe. Large colonies of rare and endangered species of birds, especially puffins and gannets, live on this archipelago. This is our favorite seabird spotting place!

Twenty species of birds are breeding at St. Kilda, with over a million birds with about 300.000 nests, on a relatively small area. The most common seabird in the archipelago is the Atlantic puffin, in the past there were millions of pares. The St. Kilda wren, with a larger than average beak and a different song; with an estimate 250 pares. It is also home to a large colony of northern fulmars and leach storm petrels.

Hirta is the biggest island and has been inhabited by the Celts as long as people can remember. In 1957 the National Trust for Scotland became the owner and turned St. Kilda into a nature reserve. And in 1986 St Kilda became part of the Unesco World Heritage List.

For millennia the Celtic community on St. Kilda dependent upon whatever the island group had to offer. Sheep, birds and some cows which resulted in meat, fat, eggs and wool. The St. Kildans lived in houses made of boulders with roofs made of turf and hay, without chimneys or windows. In the 1830’s wood and glass were introduced. The old houses became stables and stores. The old feudal Celtic community of St. Kilda was gradually destroyed by the influence the Angelsaksians from the mainland. Strict Christianity and education came first, later on stone houses with sanitary, charity and tourism. On August 29th 1930 the British government removed the last 39 inhabitants. The National Trust has stimulated the tourism on St. Kilda and has restored some of the houses, the church and the school.

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