By Gabbi Armstrong
Communications Project Manager for the North Coast 500
Published: 15th August 2018

Birdwatching and Stargazing at RSPB Forsinard Flows

Forsinard Flows lookout tower by Gordon Mackie

In the very far North of the Scottish mainland lies The Flow Country and RSPB reserve Forsinard Flows – a vast area of remote peatland habitat which supports an abundance of wildlife, including rare and spectacular species. It is an amazing place to watch wildlife and its remote location means there is virtually no artificial light pollution, making it a great spot to view the night sky as well. So what are you waiting for, come enjoy an evening of stargazing at RSPB Forsinard Flows nature reserve.

Stargaze in one of the world’s rarest habitats

RSPB Forsinard Flows is home to one of the world’s rarest habitats and its deep peat bogs, which took thousands of years to develop, are an important defence against climate change. It is also one of the most sparsely populated areas in Europe (in terms of people, not wildlife!) meaning very little light pollution and fantastic starry skies at night – the perfect spot for a stargazing break along your NC500 journey.

Considered to have light pollution levels similar to a “dark site” (these are considered to be the very darkest of places), RSPB Forsinard Flows is one of the best places in the UK to witness the magic of the night sky and take in the wonders of the universe. Grab a torch and some warm clothes and follow the wooden boardwalk through the blanket bog towards the Flows Lookout tower. From the tower, you will be sheltered from the wind and you will have superb views skywards. Make sure you check the weather first to ensure you will have a clear sky. If you are lucky, you may even catch a glimpse of the aurora borealis.

RSPB Forsinard Flows View From Trail Of Ben Griam Eleanor Bentall (rspb-images.com)

Wildlife by day, stars and constellations by night

Out in the remote pools and lochs of RSPB Forsinard Flows lives many important species including; red-throated and black-throated divers, common scoter and otters. Due to their remote location, it isn’t often easy for visitors to see these species. However, the boardwalk trail near the Flows Lookout is rich in other bird, plant and insect life. Why not make a day of it and experience the wonderful Flow Country wildlife by day, and take in the starry sky at night.

As you wander along the trail, you will have the chance of seeing golden plover, greenshank, dunlin, hen harrier, skylarks and meadow pipits. You will also be rewarded with fantastic views across the flat peatland towards the peak named Ben Griam Beg. This hill is the site of the highest ancient hill fort in Scotland. Once you reach the Flows Lookout you can climb to the top to experience an amazing view across this remarkable landscape and look out over the Dubh Lochan pool system.

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Photos: Chris Gomersall, Andy Hay, Paul Chesterfield, Eleanor Bentall, Kevin Arrowsmith (rspb-images.com)

Did you know?

RSPB Forsinard Flows visitor centre is one of only two places where you can buy the limited edition ‘golden plover’ RSPB pin badge. The badge was designed to honour this iconic Flow Country bird and you can read more about it here.

Want to know more?

The Flow Country is of international importance and its blanket bogs alone store more than three times the amount of carbon found in all of Britain’s woodlands. These bogs also play a key role in biodiversity, water regulation and water quality, and pollen preserved within the peat acts as an important record of past environments. Find out more: https://www.rspb.org.uk/reserves-and-events/reserves-a-z/forsinard-flows/

Events

RSPB Forsinard Flows are holding a Dark Skies event, along with Caithness Astronomy Group, at RSPB Forsinard Flows Nature Reserve on 2 November 2018. Check it out, the event is also free http://ww2.rspb.org.uk/reserves-and-events/events-dates-and-inspiration/events/details.aspx?id=tcm:9-458685

 

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