Wildlife Watching in the Cairngorms

The Cairngorms are home to twenty five percent of the United Kingdom’s most threatened bird, animal and plant species.

Glenlivet's rich and fertile soils support some of the largest stocks of wildlife to be found in the Cairngorms National Park.

Black Grouse and Capercaillie

In the spring rare Black Grouse strut their stuff at traditional lekking grounds putting on an unrivalled Highland wildlife spectacle. During late April and early May Capercaillie can be seen lekking at the RSPB hide at Loch Garten. Nesting Osprey can also be viewed here during their nesting season.

Crossbill and Crested Tit

Crossbill are often spotted feeding on pine and spruce cones high in the forest canopies of Glenlivet. Crested Tit also nest in these forests and woodlands, particularly towards the northern end of Strathavon.

Ptarmigan and Golden Eagle

Ptarmigan breed at a higher density on the Ben Avon - Ben a' Bhuird plateau than in the artic whilst Golden Eagle nest on the adjacent cliffs. Juvenile Eagle are frequently spotted hunting on the slopes of the Ladder Hills.

Waders and Harriers

Waders breed in the upland valleys and moors of Glenlivet in some numbers. The first to appear are Lapwing and Golden Plover. As days lengthen the pace quickens and Lapwing and Curlew put on superb aerial displays whilst Redshank and Sandpiper nest beside rivers and burns. Hen Harrier and Short Eared Owl may be spotted as they methodically quarter the ground in search of prey.

Gannets and Puffins

The cliffs at Troup Head on the Moray Firth host huge colonies of breeding sea birds at this time of the year including the only mainland colony of Gannets in Scotland. This Special Protection Area supports over 20,000 individual breeding seabirds. Kittiwake, Guillemot, Fulmar, Gannet, Shag, Herring Gull, Great Black Backed Gull, Razorbill and Puffin may all found here in the spring.

Waders and Divers in Winter

During winter the Moray Firth plays host to many visiting water fowl including the commoner species of diver, Sanderling, Whimbrel, Little Stint, Curlew Sandpiper, Spotted Redshank, Oystercatcher, Bar Tailed Godwit and Dunlin as well as resident Cormorant, Shelduck and Redshank.

Wild Cat and Pine Marten

As midsummer comes and goes, short nights do not allow sufficient time for nocturnal predators to find enough food to sustain growing families before sunrise. This is the best time of year for spotting Wild Cat and Pine Marten.

Brown Hare and Badger

Brown Hare are easiest to spot in summer when the days are so long that they cannot feed under the cover of darkeness. Badger are also most likely to be seen out foraging for worms on long summer evenings.

Red Deer

In Autumn Red Deer gather at traditional rutting grounds for one of the most spectacular events of the wildlife year. As the hills echo with the sound of their roars, stags compete with one another to defend harems of hinds against all comers.

Otter and Mountain Hare

Otter are resident along both the rivers Livet and Avon. In autumn they follow spawning salmon high into the Braes of Glenlivet to feast before the onset of cold weather. Winter is the best time to see Mountain Hare during thaws when their white coats are conspicuous against brown heather moors.

Roe Deer

In early summer Roe Deer often venture out onto open ground to browse on the succulent growth of sweet young grass. By mid summer, as their rut gets under way, bucks defend their territories vigorously against rivals.

Red Squirrel

The Red Squirrel is everybodys favourite. They can be spotted at any time of the year foraging in the tops of our Scots Pines for cones.

Safaris and Guiding

Take an off road Land Rover Safari or hire a wildlife guide to help you discover the lives and times of the wild residents of Glenlivet and the Cairngorms.

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