The scenery could not be more different at the two extremes of the reserve. The western shores of the Uists are graced by miles of sandy beaches backed by the distinctive coastal grasslands – known as 'machair' – that are unique to the north of Scotland and west of Ireland. These habitats form a vivid contrast with the landscape to the east where heather moorland and rough grass extend to the summits of the hills. Hecla (606 metres) is one of the highest hills and forms an impressive backdrop to the reserve. Golden eagles often hunt along its slopes, where red grouse and golden plover are not uncommon, and you may also see red deer, which are a recent reintroduction to South Uist.