Natural Heritage

Both Common and Grey seals are found in large numbers around the shoreline of the isle and are easily seen due to their naturally inquisitive nature. The Common seals give birth in Ekkars, Bennie and Hunns geos during June and July, with the Grey seals pupping around October. During the summer  months there are frequent sightings of Harbour porposies and Killer Whales. The elusive otter frequents many of the voes and has been breeding successfully for many years.

There is a wide variety of wild flowers and lichens on both the open scattald and the cultivated area of the township. On the heath the plants are exposed to salt-laden winds and so creep close to the earth and are miniaturised. They include Ling, Thyme, Mountain Everlasting, Spring Squill, Sea Plantain and many others. The late David Spence, botanist and author, found over 60 different  plants on an afternoons walk including a Willow ‘tree’ only one and half inches high. In contrast the crofting or ‘inbye’ land is sprinkled with red and white Clover, Sorrel, Eyebright and wild orchids. Along the cliffs can be found Pinks, Campion and Birdsfoot Trefoil.

With the removal of the top soil from the scattald an ideal environment has been created for ground nesting birds such as Ringed plovers, the Great and Artic skuas,  Artic Tern, Eider Duck and Oyster Catchers. Lapwings, Curlew, Wheatears and Skylarks can be seen and heard in the lush fields to the east of the isle. Snipe can be heard ‘drumming’ whilst during spring and autumn many migrant birds pass through the isle. Over the years these have included Blackcaps, Goldcrest, Redstarts, and Siskins. More rarely seen have been Pied flycatchers, Crossbills, Waxwings and owls!

Papa Stour has 18 species of breeding sea birds including Fulmars, Shags, Guillemots, Black Guillemots, Razor Bills and Puffins. In the sheltered voes can be seen Divers, Red Breasted Mergansers, and on rare occassions, Shelduck, Pintail and Goldeneye. Dunlin, Redshank, Turnstone and Sanderlings play along the shoreline.

The coastline of Papa Stour supports some of the richest marine communities in the United Kingdom, with a range of different seaweeds and animals adapted to the strong wave and tidal action. In the caves and voes other plants and animals are able to survive in the more sheltered conditions and these communities are again among the finest in the U.K.


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