August 31, 2017
Part of the attraction to the Scottish Highlands is the rugged, beautiful, undisturbed terrain that makes the perfect environment for all sorts of wildlife to thrive. Why not take some time to explore and look out for creatures that inhabit the local area.
The Moray Firth
The Moray Firth on the North East Coast is home to porpoises, minke whales, seals and otters. It has one of the UK’s only resident populations of bottle nosed dolphins. One of the best places in Europe to spot the dolphins is Chanonry Point on the Black Isle. They are usually visible most times of the year but probably more likely to be seen during the spring and summer when the water is a bit calmer. Should you choose to take a boat trip to get a glimpse of the mammals, be sure to check that the cruise operator is a member of the Dolphin Space Programme’s accreditation scheme dolphinspace.org Research has shown that too many boats travelling through the dolphin’s habitat causes them a lot of undue stress. Passing vessels force the calves under water for uncomfortably longer periods of time. Other wildlife local to the Black Isle are red kites, pine marten, otters and the Scottish wildcat.
These majestic, relatively rare birds can be spotted gliding over the hills and glens of the highlands. Take yourself off the beaten track, away from traffic and fix your eyes on the sky line. Their vast wing span makes them one of the largest birds within the eagle species. For more detailed information on how to spot the golden eagle visit wilderness Scotland
It has recently been announced that there are ongoing consultations discussing the reintroduction of the lynx into the West Highlands of Scotland between Loch Lomond and the Great Glen. The lynx hasn't been seen in Scotland since the year 700 so this is a very exciting prospect. This member of the feline family is understood to pose no threat to humans or to farm animals. Benefits of reintroducing the lynx include helping to control the deer population and also serving as a deterrent to pine marten whose exploding population has negatively impacted the capercaillie.
The Cairngorms National Park is home to a wide array of creatures such as the red squirrel, the capercaillie and the golden eagle. The red squirrel population, although native to Scotland, has been in steady decline due to the introduction of the grey squirrel from North America in the 19th Century. However, the Cairngorms park has created a refuge for our fury friends and they are now thriving in their natural environment here. So much so they are being exported to other parts of the country. Boat of Garten is one of the best places in the park to spot them. Eighty percent of the UK’s capercaillie population live within the Cairngorms Park. The species is coming dangerously close to extinction however the park has undertaken to put in place measures to stop this from happening and actively encourage its survival.