Scotland has such a unique landscape that it makes for a wildlife watchers’ paradise.
A vast array of animals and birds that can be spotted on its rugged land and shores, or even out at sea on one of many boat trips offered. Some of our local providers include Sealife Adventures, Jenny Wren Boat Charter or Seafari Adventures Oban. Book your trip early, they tend to get full quickly.
Wildlife watchers can enjoy the abundance of nature in areas such as the Special Area of Conservation at Loch Creran, with its forest nature trails, or Ballachuan Hazel Wood on Seil Island. In more remote areas, red deer are seen running on heathery moorland or up amongst the crags. The Oban Sealife Sanctuary situated just north of Oban is a major centre for rescued seals and their pups, otters, and also has a spectacular tank recreating life in a Scottish sea loch.
Just as the plains of Africa have the Big 5, Scottish Natural Heritage have come up with a Scottish ‘Wee 5’: consisting of Red Deer, Red Squirrels, Otters, Seals and Eagles, with Salmon an added draw for anglers.
What to See When
We have linked up to Sealife Adventures to bring you a more detailed Wildlife Watch page. Take a look for in-depth advice on what to see and when.
Spring: Best time to see and photograph mammals and birds in woodlands before the foliage gets too thick. Roe deer, capercaillie (wood grouse), bluebells, lapwings displaying, guillemots breeding on the Treshnish Isles, Mull. Lambing season.
Summer: Puffins, dolphins, mink whales, flower meadows, osprey chicks hatching, basking sharks known to be seen off the coast of Mull. Peak time for salmon leaping is July-September
Autumn: Red squirrels, greylag geese migrating from Greenland to Islay, salmon migration, grey seal pups around the Inner Hebrides, autumnal colours, deer rutting
Winter: Mountain hare, ptarmigan, red kites, mating season for ducks, winter scenery and great crystal clear views.
Beavers at Knapdale ForestWild beavers have been reintroduced back into Scotland after being extinct in the UK for over 400 years. It is the first official project of its kind in Britain and a groundbreaking five year trial to explore how beavers can survive in Scotland and what effects they may have on the local environment and economy.
Four beaver families were introduced to Knapdale Forest, with kits produced each year, and visitors can explore this stunning woodland and spot the signs of beaver activity, including felled and regenerating trees, stripped branches (look out for teeth marks!) and a beaver dam. Heart of Argyll Wildlife Organisation organise guided walks in nearby Knapdale in spring and summer, where you can observe a range of wildlife, including local beavers. Visit/join their Facebook group for more details.
Whalewatching in the Oban area is becoming increasingly popular as there are regular sightings during the warmer months. Minke whales are often seen in the Gulf of Corryvreckan and the waters around Mull, and charter boats run special whalewatching trips to view these magnificent creatures of the deep.
Tips on Wildlife Watching
Clothing – appropriate coloured clothing which will blend into your background will always help not being spotted and disturbing the wildlife, as will clothes that do not rustle. Strong smelling perfumes and aftershaves are a big no no too.
Dogs – Although your dog will enjoy a long walk around the countryside, the wildlife will not enjoy their company! You are 10 times more likely to make a spot without your dog as the wildlife will get their scent, or hear any barking, and vanish in a blink of an eye.
Binoculars and wildlife spotting guides are the only tools you really need to help you in your search for spotting which ever creature you wish to see.
Often the best time to make a spot is at dusk or at dawn. We can arrange a packed lunch to be taken with you if you miss breakfast or book you in for an early dinner before you head out again in the evening.
Please respect the land and environment you are visiting and make yourself aware of the Scottish Access Code which sets out where and when access rights apply.