Explore Our Highland Wildlife

Meet our fantastic wildlife!

Are you looking to explore Highland wildlife? If so then read on and see where to can catch a glimpse of a variety of Scottish species. With an abundance of unspoilt countryside, nature reserves, beautiful forests and lochs and rivers, we have thriving habitats and a vast array of wildlife within!

Wildlife and the media…

Also, our Highland wildlife and environment have been on TV a lot recently. With Aviemore’s own TV series ‘The Mountain’ and ‘Winterwatch’ and ‘Countryfile’ visiting Highland locations, we are a hub for wildlife programmes. So what’s so special here apart from having more snow than most places in the UK in the winter…?

A red squirrel on tree stump

The array of wildlife around Loch Ness

To answer that question, it is, the environment around Loch Ness has got so much to offer. If you are interested in wildlife, you are in for a treat! A wide variety of animals and birds can be spotted in the area. For instance, majestic red deer, black grouse, golden eagles, osprey and ptarmigan. Also, you can spot capercaillie, pine martens, squirrels (red ones, of course!) and otters, to name but a few. It is common to see deer jumping through the garden and then a Pine Marten balancing on the garden fence eating raspberries! Also, woodpeckers can be spotted sitting on the birdfeeder!

White Stag sighted in the Cairngorms

If you fancy trying to find the rare and iconic white stag then why not head to the Cairngorms National Park? Interestingly, a white stag has been spotted among a herd of red deer here. History has it that these mystical creatures are ‘messengers from the afterlife’.  Legend states they are closely related to unicorns. And if you are to encounter one, expect a change in your life! These stags are white due to a genetic pattern called ‘Leucism’.  Here, the pigment responsible for the stags colour is reduced hence the white colouring. So, keeping in tradition with Nessie, our white stag is another creature hard to find!

Here are the more unusual Scottish Highland Wildlife and animals you may spot on your visit to Inverness, Loch Ness and the Highlands.

A white stag

Spot a Bottlenose Dolphin…

Another famous resident and not quite as elusive as Nessie, is the Bottlenose Dolphin. You can frequently see these fascinating creatures from Chanonry Point near Fortrose on the Black Isle. Here, is the only place in mainland Britain that you can get really close to them from the shore. This is because they regularly come through the narrows in the Moray Firth close to the shore on the incoming tide. They do this because its a good time to hunt for Salmon who also have to swim through the narrows. Also, you can see them from the opposite side of the Firth at Fort George. However,  it is not as predictable as from Chanonry Point. However, if you are visiting Fort George it could be an added bonus to get a chance sighting of the dolphins.

How to see the dolphins…

If you want to see the Moray Firth Dolphins make sure you are in place at Channonry Point at least an hour before high tide and preferably 2 hours from Ardersier or Fort George.
Tide times can be found at local information centres or on various websites for example – www.tide-forecast.com

Dolphin jumping from Moray Firth Waters at Dolphin Bay Suites

Dote on our delightful Deer

Deer may not be that unusual to many visitors, but here in Inverness and Loch Ness you often get the chance to see them up close. And, especially in the winter, deer come very close to the roads and houses in search of food. Also, it’s not unusual in the more remote parts of the area, such as South Loch Ness, to find them in your garden munching on shrubs and bushes! Furthermore, you may also encounter deer when out for a walk or cycle. So stay still and enjoy this amazing wildlife encounter.

Deer in the Highlands with one looking at the camera

Reindeer but no Santa!

Did you know that in the Highlands of Scotland reindeer don’t just appear at Christmas-time? Interestingly,  The Cairngorms National Park, just south of Inverness, is home to a herd of reindeer. Here around 150 animals in this free-ranging herd can be spotted. And, you can join a guided trip to see them all year round apart from in the months of January and February.

Visit our Highland Wildlife Park

Also in the Cairngorms National Park, the Highland Wildlife Park in Kincraig is home to many amazing animals. Furthermore, these are animals you wouldn’t usually see in the Highlands – you can see wolves, tigers and polar bears as well as native animals like capercaillie and Scottish wildcats. It is a great day out for the family and less than an hour’s drive from Inverness!

Scottish Exotic Animal Rescue

And if you are looking to meet some really unusual animals, why not visit the Scottish Exotic Animal Rescue Centre in Cantraybridge near Inverness? This small charity cares for exotic animals that have been rescued and is open to the public every Sunday. Young visitors can get up close and personal with snakes, geckos and insects – join them if you dare!

A yellow gecko with brown spots

Our loyal Highland Cow

And let’s not forget the Highlands’ favourite four-legged inhabitant – the Highland Cow! These Highland locals with their long horns and long, wavy coat are a favourite with visitors and you can say “Hello” to a “Heilan’ Coo” at many visitor hotspots such as Jacobite Cruises at Dochgarroch or Cameron’s Tearoom near Foyers. And if you’re not quite brave enough yet to take a selfie with a real Coo, look out for the new Highland Cow sculpture at Jacobite’s Dochgarroch departure point! We’d love to see your photos!

A Highland cow with her calf

And there is more…

We also have some more unusual wildlife that you may not expect to find. Did you know that there are wild goats and mountain hares in the mountains around Tomatin? With so many creatures great and small to spot in our hills and glens, there is no need to wait around for the famous monster to make an appearance!

Two mountain goats in the HIghlands

Have a look at our events calendar to find out more about the many events throughout our area that allow you to get a closer look at Highland flora and wildlife!