North Uist Machair and Islands SPA

Status: Designated


Site overview

This site is in the Outer Hebrides off the north-west coast of Scotland. It is a coastal site made up of rocky shore, sandy beaches and dunes, and saltmarsh.  This area is home to breeding waders as well as Corncrakes. During periods of migration and in winter, the site holds important numbers of waders on the rocky and sandy shorelines, together with wintering Greenland barnacle geese.

MPA Type

Special Protection Area

Special Protection Areas (SPAs) are strictly protected sites designated uner European legislation. They are established to protect rare and vulnerable birds and for regularly occurring migratory species.

Designation date

1 March 1999

Surface Area

48.65 km2 (18.78 mi.2)


144.08 km (89.53 mi.)

  • Barnacle goose (Branta leucopsis)

    A medium sized goose not seen in summer in the UK. Because it only appeared in winter, people in the Middle Ages believed the geese were developing underwater and hatched from barnacles - hence the name.

  • Ruddy turnstone (Arenaria interpres)

    A small shore bird whose name refers to its habit of creeping and fluttering over rocks, picking out food from under stones.

  • Ringed plover (Charadrius hiaticula)

    A small, dumpy, short-legged wading bird that breed on beaches around the coast.

  • Tidal rivers, Estuaries, Mud flats, Sand flats, Lagoons (including saltwork basins)
  • Salt marshes, Salt pastures, Salt steppes

Did you know?…

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