SCOTLAND FOR

WILDLIFE ENCOUNTERS

The wide, open spaces of the Highlands, rugged cliffs and tidal firths of the coasts and rocky shorelines of the isles shelter a rich variety of birds and animals. But you don’t have to travel far to encounter amazing wildlife. City parks and waterways provide havens for birds and small mammals such as red squirrels, while dolphins and seals can be spotted from urban shores.

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t A red deer stag standing in front of a snow-capped mountain in the Highlands

Wild Deer

With over one million wild red deer in Scotland, deer stalking is a popular pursuit, but rather than harming the deer, why not join a four-wheel-drive safari in the Cairngorms to capture a photo of the magnificent stags with your camera. The best time to see them is during the autumn rut and in colder weather.

Whales, Seals and Dolphins

The waters around Scotland’s northern shores and the northern and western islands provide refuge for numerous marine mammals. Take a boat trip from Aberdeen or Inverness to see bottlenose dolphins and harbour porpoises, or explore the waters around Mull to spot minke whales, basking sharks and killer whales (orcas). Grey seals and common seals are a frequent sight in the sea lochs and sandbanks of the west coast, in the Firth of Forth and in the Firth of Tay.

Puffins and Seabirds

Seabirds can be spotted from just about anywhere on Scotland’s coastline. See the world’s largest colony of northern gannets on Bass Rock and, for a close encounter with puffins, head to the remote Handa Island Wildlife Reserve between May and July.

Migrating Geese

Visit Islay or the Solway Firth between mid-September and late April to see huge flocks of migrant waterfowl. More than 80,000 barnacle geese and white-fronted geese migrate to Scotland from the Arctic each winter.

Highland Wildlife Park

Bison, wolves, lynx and bears that were once native to Scotland roam free in the spacious open-air enclosures at the RZSS Highland Wildlife Park in the Cairngorms National Park. Highlights include the extremely rare Scottish wildcat, which is now almost extinct in the wild.

DISCOVER Scotland Your Way

Rewilding Scotland

Re-establishing native species to Scotland has had positive results, but has also proved controversial. White-tailed sea eagles and beavers have been successfully reintroduced to Scotland, despite objections from farmers and gamekeepers who claim eagles prey on young lambs and beavers damage riverbanks. There have been even more strident objections to imaginative proposals to reintroduce lynx and even wolves to Scottish hillsides.

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