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About Loch Stiapabhat

Mu dheidhinn Loch Stiapabhat

Loch Stiapabhat is an important feeding stop during spring and autumn for a range of rare and interesting species as it lies on the main flyway from and to the Arctic. These include the Whooper Swan, Teal, Wigeon and Pink-Footed Goose. It also supports many feeding and nesting birds including those of international importance such as the Dunlin, Redshank, Golden Plover and Lapwing. Historically, it was the only nesting site in Lewis of the Little Grebe and Moorhen and in previous years was home to the largest colony of Black-headed Gulls in the Outer Hebrides, although all of these species have suffered from mink predation in recent years. A survey in 1986 recorded "an unbelievable density of three-spined Stickleback", the only fish found and a food source for many of the Loch’s feathered visitors.  

In the summer, the Corncrake can be heard calling from the tall vegetation around the Loch which lies within the Ness and Barvas Special Protection Area, created to protect the Corncrake. The machair becomes a carpet of colour with birds-foot trefoil, eyebright, clovers and orchids among some of the many wildflowers that can be seen.

Loch Stiapabhat also has a lot of archaeological interest as it is thought that the ballast of a Viking ship rests in the Loch. It is said that the area North of the Loch was once an island, formed after the ice age when sea levels rose. When the ice retreated, the weight of it was lifted and the land rose. As it did, the sea receded and the Loch was created. Its name is said to mean 'the Loch of immersing or soaking' and is thought to relate to the practice of soaking flax prior to spinning.

Our Vision
Ar Lèirsinn


The vision of Loch Stiapabhat Local Nature Reserve is to enhance the site for recreation and education for the local community and visitors, whilst protecting its natural beauty, rich biodiversity and cultural importance.

Aims for Loch Stiapabhat
Amasan airson Loch Stiapabhat


  • Ensure that Loch Stiapabhat is maintained as a Local Nature Reserve or with a similar status to benefit people and wildlife

  • Conserve and if possible enhance the grassland/machair/bog/wetland/open water habitats and associated fauna 

  • To ensure the site sits well in the landscape that is maintained with minimal visual degradation

  • Promote geological and cultural importance of the site with consideration of sites of interest in the surrounding area

  • Provide suitable facilities (i.e. Nature Observatory) and opportunities for recreation to local communities and visitors

  • Provide interpretation and encourage the use of the reserve in particular the observatory for environmental education

  • Encourage community involvement on the reserve  

  • Ensure good health and safety on the site and observatory is maintained at all time

  • Ensure Loch Stiapabhat is well resourced, monitored and remains an assets for the Urras, environment and local communities

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