It’s tempting for a visitor to think that they can just turn up in the wilderness on Scotland and see some of its iconic wildlife. Below are some tips before you plan for a trip:
What makes Scotland a Special Place for Watching Wildlife?
There’s no question that Scotland is a haven for wildlife. Its range of habitats together with the remoteness of large areas of the country has meant that many species have hung on here when they have become extinct elsewhere in the United Kingdom. Otters, golden eagles, wildcats, capercaillie and red kites are just some of the species which live here.
There are four reasons Scotland is appealing for visitors keen to see some wildlife:
– The scenery – Scotland’s forests, mountains and coast are not only spectacular but internationally known
The wildlife itself, which is particularly appealing – from the cuteness of the otter to the comic sight of a capercaillie or the majesty of a golden eagle
– Accessibility – Scotland offers a huge range of habitats in a relatively small area
– Infrastructure – a number of opportunities are available, from hides at nature reserves to dedicated holiday companies.
– Wildlife Watching For the Casual Visitor
Perhaps the most obvious places are the wildlife parks where the animals are kept in captivity.
Probably the best known of these is the Highland Wildlife Park at Kingussie. An outpost of Edinburgh Zoo, the park offer the chance to see some of the more elusive creatures – such as pine martens and Scottish wildcats – as well some of those which are no longer found in the wild, such as wolves and lynx. Set among remnant pine forest, the park is also frequented by native birds and by red squirrels.
Throughout Scotland there are other opportunities, with visitor centres and bird hides abounding on nature reserves. There are centres to view red kites at Argaty in Perthshire, and in the Black Isle; while on Mull there are hides for viewing sea eagles. Other wildlife sites have visitor centres with interpretation facilities giving clues on what to look for, while many offer ranger services and guided walks.
Day Trips For the Wildlife Watcher
For those who are after something more than a casual look, there are plenty of opportunities for viewing wildlife right across Scotland. Of course, as with any safari world-wide there’s no guarantee of a sighting; but it’s undoubtedly more likely that a visitor will see something if accompanied by someone who knows what to look out for and the best places to go.
There are numerous day or half-day guided trips across Scotland, some seeking out specific species, such as eagles or red kite, and others of a more general nature. Some can be tailor-made. These tours are led by expert guides.
For those who are looking for something more intensive than just a casual walk in the woods or a day trip, there are several specialist operators who run wildlife holidays n Scotland – both weekend breaks or longer holidays. These holidays are usually all-inclusive in quality accommodation and programmes of walks and trips are designed to see as many animals and birds as possible.
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