This is not the first time we’ve written a blog about Highland wildlife. In the past, we’ve provided handy overviews of the local boat trips that promise friendly seal spottings (and even the occasional whale!) We’ve also covered our Top 10 places to spot wildlife in Argyll.
However, after looking back over the past year’s social media posts, we realised that there’s plenty of Scottish wildlife to be seen on our very own doorstep. Here’s some of our favourite creatures and plant life to look out for while taking a stroll around our grounds …
Argyll Highland wildlife
These spikey critters love sub-tidal rocky areas and (as active grazers) regulate the levels of encrusting animals and algae. They can clear rocks back to bare, allowing new animals or plants to settle.
A quick scramble for our camera phone, and we managed to capture this wonderful moment of mumma otter teaching her cub how to catch their own fish.
It’s quite common to see a curious seal popping their head above water to investigate the goings on of the shoreline. It was brilliant to be able to get close enough to this seal pup to capture it taking a snoop around the beach. What a cutie!
Most common across the months of January and February. Fun fact: They have an eye spot at the end of each of their five ‘arms’.
The only reptile known to occur in the Outer Hebrides, you’d be forgiven for thinking you’d spotted a snake. However, unlike snakes, slow worms shed their skin in patches (rather than all in one go), and don’t bite. They’re awfully nervous, so spotting one is a real treat.
Kids love a scramble around our rockpools in search of crabs and small fish. You’ll need to be fast to spot them scurrying away from overturned rocks and we ask that you return them to a safe spot once you’ve observed them.
A black and white wading bird that is listed as ‘Near Threatened’ on the global IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. Feeding on cockles, the population is vulnerable if cockle beds are over-exploited.
These moon jellyfish are the most common jellyfish in UK seas, and you’ll often sea them washed up on the shores in the Scottish Highlands, caught by the tide. Whilst their sting is not strong enough to penetrate human skin, you will still feel a sting sensation and we recommend that you don’t touch them.
The Loch Melfort rabbits
Pop your head out of your window at sunrise and you’ll often see hundreds of fluffy white tails bobbing around the garden – a delight to guests, not so much to long-suffering Calum (as he watches his pretty planted flowers slowly nibbled away by lots of tiny mouths). It’s rare you’ll enjoy a stay at our hotel without spotting the local rabbits hopping around the grounds, playfully dancing between the legs of our coos, and happily enjoying the roam of the land.
Argyll shoreline plant life
Typically found growing on cliffs and seashores, Sea Thrift is our favourite plant to spring up every year across the grounds. Blooming in mid to late spring, its purple and pink flowers are often known to grow into the summer months too.
You’ll find these bursting in abundance down the path to Arduaine Gardens around April and May. In 2014, the Royal Botanic Garden Edinburgh named Scottish bluebells as Scotland’s favorite flower (based on votes in an online survey).
Not as common as many of the other sights listed here, however, take a look at these wild tomato plants growing at the shore just above the high tide line.
We love seeing these bright woodland blooms begin to flower during springtime.
The water iris is a hardy and robust plant that will produce its yellow flowers in abundance during summer. Did you know that the wild flag iris was a traditional natural dye used for both tartan and tweed?
Want to learn more about our Loch Melfort Hotel pets as well? Read ‘The stories behind the animals at Loch Melfort Hotel’ to hear more about the names and back stories of our Highland coos, goats, and rescue pups.