South coast (west of NR3645) and Claggain Bay (NR4653)

The A846 running east from Port Ellen takes one into a very different part of Islay, the topography dominated by rocky ridges running parallel to the coast and clothed in trees and scrub. The coast is rocky, interrupted by a series of small bays, the first three of which have distilleries on their shores. The hinterland is comprised of improved farmland interspersed with rushy pastures, running quickly back into low hills covered in blanket bog, or with bracken and patches of scrub. There are conifer plantations at Laphroaig.

Beyond Ardbeg, the road drops down to the shore at Loch an-t'Sailein, an excellent spot for Common Seals and Otters, as well as Eiders and Red-breasted Mergansers. It then runs through private woodland before emerging into a broad area of lowland bog on the right-hand side and birch/oak/hazel scrubby woodland on the left. Just after the turning to the Kildalton Cross (not to be missed), there is more farmland beside a small river.Claggain Bay Copyright: Malcolm Ogilvie The road ends soon after at Claggain Bay, where a long shingle strand curves round a shallow bay; a good place to see divers and sea ducks. It is possible to walk north from here along the coast to Proaig, though beyond that the walking becomes much more rugged and not particularly interesting for birds.

Inland, the landscape is dominated by Beinn Bheigeir, Islay's highest hill, rising rather gently to 1,610 feet (491 m). Access to it is probably easiest from just past the bridge over the Claggain River at the north end of the bay.

Typical species: Grey Heron, Greenland Whitefront, Shelduck, Red-breasted Merganser, Buzzard, Redstart, thrushes, Wood Warbler, tits, Spotted Flycatcher, all from Port Ellen to Kildalton; Red-throated and Great Northern Divers, Red-breasted Merganser, Otter in Claggain Bay; finches, Twite at cattle feeding stations by the bay; Golden Plover and the chance of Golden Eagle on Beinn Bheigeir.

See also: Main Birdwatching Localities on Islay