This is the preferred food of the Brent Geese wintering around the shores of Loch Indaal. During the summer, it can be found in growing in considerable beds on the sandflats at the head of the loch. It doesn't like too much exposure, so it may only be uncovered on the really low tides. It is deciduous, so that, at this time of year, the green leaves and stems, which can extend to a metre long, get washed into the shallows and up onto the beaches, which is where the Brent Geese can be seen feeding on it. There's a smaller version, Dwarf Eelgrass, Zostera noltii, which also grows on the flats, though it is much less common; its leaves are much thinner and rarely longer than about 20 cm. It was only recorded for the first time on Islay when I was doing a survey of the flats about 20 years ago. It has since been found in a couple of places off the south coast of Islay, as has the larger species, which also occurs in small quantities in Loch Gruinart.
This is a blog of natural history notes maintained and moderated by members of the management committee of the INHT: Fiona MacGillivray, Martin Armstrong, David Webster, Andrew Kent, Isobel Freeman, Bernard Hannett, Danielle Vessey and Alistair Hutchison, and our Centre Managers, Mandy and Fiona assisted by Beth and Jenny.
We hope that many people, both those who live here and visitors, will contribute their notes and impressions of the natural world on Islay. Please send to:
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Fiona MacGillivray, Chairperson
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