where is the best birding in Scotland the first week of May in the North and western region?
The Isle of Mull is great; there are lots of birds, including a virtually guaranteed White-tailed Sea Eagle if you if you sign up for the blind, and Corn Crakes on Iona. There are many resources online, but there is also a very handy publication that you can order; I will check it when I get home, and add ordering information here as an edit. I'm jealous :-)
You might take a look at this:
Not exclusively birding, but they take you to various habitats and ecosystems to see the local birds and wildlife.
Aigas, along with most of the organised birding trips, are very expensive for what you get, but check out their itineraries for May to give you ideas of the best places to visit. Also check itineraries for speysidewildlife.co.uk and heatherlea.co.uk, who are also Scottish based. I have had bad experiences with Heatherlea and would certainly not recommend them, but use their ideas!
I have had some good birding on the Ardnamurchan near Fort William and also around Skye.
£1275 for a full week, all-inclusive (meals and beverages, 7 nights' lodging, transfers to and from Inverness, transport and guides), and no single supplement, does not look like a bad price to us. But one would have to price out all the different elements if booked separately to know for sure. It is a better deal for a solo traveler than a couple, but we don't know who is traveling in this case.
I believe Islay and Ghiga are famous for migratory birds and they are definitely in the west of Scotland. Ferries leave from near Tarbert in Argyll/Kintyre. May is an important time for migration, I think.
If you organise your own accommodation etc, you can usually do this for less than half the cost of an organised trip. Google bird pal to see if you can meet up with a local birder for just the cost of a drink for a day.
You need to consider Orkney. It is well known for birdwatching and May is a wonderful time to visit.
We traveled to a Scotland end of June/early July. We did a Tresnish Islands boat tour out of Oban with Gordon Grant tours. We saw rare Eagles and Puffin breeding grounds - full of puffins. There were other birds as well. Even just walking along the water in Oban, we saw some neat birds that were nesting along the concrete sea walls. I still get a kick just thinking about it. Have Fun! Bring compact, water resistant binoculars. Go to binoculars.com. Binoculars.com has good info. on selecting an appropriate pair.
The Royal Society for the Protection of Birds (RSPB) has a list of their sites, and the species to see where and when.
Thank you to all for such helpful information.
Oban birds - in the concrete harbor walls - black guillemots nest. You can just look over a railing to see them. The birds have red color inside their mouths when squawking. They are so close - you could swat them with a tennis racquet. Also, look for oyster catchers. Oyster catchers run along the water's edge on sand looking for mussels.