Western Isles Wildflowers - Machair. The spectacular carpets of wildflowers of all different colours, shapes and sizes, mixtures of bluebells, yellow birds foot trefoil, purple harebells, and many more wild flowers - the machair is specific to The Western Isles and is world renowned
Machair - Gaelic Name
What constitutes Machair
There are differing opinions as to exactly what constitutes the "machair.
Basically it seems that in the shallow Atlantic seas there is lots of seaweed and in the seaweed lots of shellfish.
The shells are ground down and washed ashore with storms - blown inland in the winds. They supply the land with a top dressing of the lime rich shell sand.
Particular areas of the Western Isles - seem to have their own machair - that is made up of all different types of flowers - sometimes some of the species being only specific to that particular region.
Funded RSPB Scotland Led Machair Project
Western Isles council, Comhairle nan Eilean Siar and Scottish Natural Heritage & the European Union have funded the RSPB Scotland-led project to make sure that the lovely Machair doesn't die away. The hope is that the funding will allow the development of a better understanding as to conserving the machair.
Wading Birds Habitat
The RSPB have estimate that the machair is home to 16,000 breeding pairs of wading birds such as lapwings and ringed plovers.
Different Machairs - Different Areas
The bay of Luskentyre has a meadow of sea pink (thrift). The machairs behind displays daisies and buttercups, clover, orchids, harebell, and knapweed, gentian, centaury, eyebright and thyme.
Wetter Parts - Iris, Primroses, Bog Pimpernel
In the wetter parts there are iris, primrose and bog pimpernel.
Heathers - Cotton Grass, Milkwort
The more peaty areas have heathers, milkwort and cotton-grass, sundew and butterwort.
Traditional Crofting Practices
Today the ecological value of Machair is linked to traditional crofting practices - small scale farms, often part-time, that cultivate the land and rear livestock. Due to their unselective grazing, cattle improve the quality of the grassland.
Flowers of the machair begin to bloom in May
Flowers begin to bloom here in the Western Isles in May, when a riot of colour for which the machair is famous for commences.
The existence of the machair depends on environmental and human factors. The balance of these has meant that it has survived for many years. its survival is threatened by climate change - sea levels and the ever changing of land use by humans
Threatened Bird Species
The machair creates perfect conditions for threatened birds like corncrake, chough and corn bunting
Habitat for Rare Wildlife
Habitats for Wildlife in The Machair
The land where there is Machair, provides a great habitat for wildlife, including the great yellow bumblebee a rare type of bee.
Why The Machair is Special
The machair is the end result of topographical, geological and meteorological happenings - westerly winds blow the shell sand inland to create thin soil - and the impermeable rock is often backed by peat
Machair happens where there are "crofts" and the land use help to create the habitat development
|Inches and cm sizes are approximate|