Lewis, being largely wild and natural, has an abundance of wildlife that has to be seen to be believed. In spring the number of birds on the moor and the shore is remarkable and on a warm spring evening there can be so many corncrakes calling that the visitor can get a little fed up listening to them. The moorland and shoreline will be literally alive with birds and there are even two snowy owls still in residence on the island having flown in from North America during an especially hard winter some years back. At the top of many visitor's list of animals to see are the otters and while they can be difficult to spot they are relatively common with several lochs within a few minutes drive of Dollag's Cottage having regular sitings. While the otters can be secretive and hard to see at other times it seems that they are displeased at having to share their loch with a human visitor and on these occasions they will swim past, often within a few meters, giving the visitor the evil eye. Whales are another item on many visitors "must see" list and they can be seen off the coast nearby the cottage though their visits are unpreditcable. Tiumpan Head is said to be one of the best places in the UK to see whales and the Whale and Dolphin Conservation Society report that over one weekend at the end of May 2012 they managed to identify Minke Whales, Beaked Whales, Porpoises, Orcas, Common Dolphins and Humpback or Fin Whales from this location. Many visitors also like to see dolphins and porpoises and the best place to spot them, especially on a nice day, is when making the ferry journey from the mainland to Lewis. They are often to be found playing in the bow wave of the ship as it crosses the Minch allowing the visitor to tick off one species before even arriving on the island.
The eagles, both golden and sea eagles, are also something that many visitors enjoy seeing and in the past a visit to the Uig area would have given the visitor a very high chance indeed of seeing at least one of the species of eagle. However, in recent years the number of eagles moving into the northern part of the island seems to have increased and it is common to see both golden and sea eagles within the area around the cottage. For the visitor who has seeing an eagle as a priority then a visit to Uig is should still be on the list of things to do as it is quite an experience to see them against the spectacular mountain scenery in that area.
The Lewis moorland is, apart from the birds, quite species poor but is an ideal place to see moorland plants and the visitor will often find themselves literally knee deep in such moorland plants.
Of recent years the number of sheep on the moorland has reduced somewhat and this has resulted in a marked increase in the number of deer seen right into the north of the island. Lewis has only native red deer, so if you see a deer it will be a red deer, which have not cross bred with sika deer as no sika have been introduced to the island. The red deer is the biggest wild UK land animal and the careful wildlife watcher will almost certainly get to see a few red deer while on Lewis.
Dollanna provides a Hertel and Reuss spotting scope to assist visitors in their wildlife watching. The spotting scope has magnification which is variable between 25 and 60, with the 25 - 40 range being the most useful, and can allow you to view larger animals such as deer out to distances of around 2 miles when conditions are suitable.
Dollag's Cottage @ 7 South Shawbost
Above - three stags on the moor
Below - An otter on a nearby loch
Below: It is amazing how well hidden the native red deer are when on the moor