2013 is the Year of Natural Scotland, with a host of programs and events designed to celebrate Scotland’s natural beauty and resources. Scotland boasts a diverse range of wildlife, and it’s an amazing place to come and discover a number of rare and even endangered species. A particular haven for birdwatchers, Scotland holds many gems within its different terrains.
The Scottish Highlands cover the area furthest north of Scotland and is one of the most sparsely populated areas in Europe, making it the ideal location for wildlife watchers to visit. Filled with ranges that house the highest mountain in the British Isles, Ben Nevis, the Highlands are home to some of Britain’s rarest wildlife. Scottish crossbills, crested tits and ospreys all feed and breed in this area, along with pine martens and the very rare red squirrel. Loch Ness and its infamous monster are a massive draw for tourists, but the woodlands surrounding it are home to Scottish crossbills, redstarts and tree pipits.
Golden eagles and peregrines are also in the area, and can be seen flying over the hills. The golden eagle in particular is a great spot for any bird lover – it’s the second largest bird of prey in the UK and is an impressive sight.
The Highlands are also a great place to check out the seabirds of the Scottish coast. You can take a boat trip around the west Highland coast and view sea ducks, guillemots, puffins, razorbills and great skuas. Inland, on the Highland bogs, greenshank, golden plover, dunlin and black-throated divers can be seen.
To the east of the Highlands lies Aberdeen City and Shire. The wildlife in this area is superb – from wild bottlenose dolphins in Aberdeen harbour to the red deer of Deeside and Starthdon. For birding enthusiasts, head to the Dinnet Lochs for greylag geese, who will be around in the winter, or go north of Aberdeen for wading birds such as curlew in the summer and golden plover in the autumn.
Moving south into Perthshire will take you to Ben Lawers, one of Britain’s top areas for scarce Arctic-Alpine plants, and the Loch of the Lowes, which has a visitor centre that caters to birdwatchers wishing to watch the Osprey breeding site. Loch Leven also has an observation room, and here there are geese, ducks, whooper swans, redshank, lapwings and great spotted woodpeckers to view.
The Clyde Valley area has wildlife ranging from bats and badgers to peregrine falcons and tawny owls. The woods around Clyde Valley are filled with tits, warblers, spotted flycatchers and great spotted woodpeckers, and within the Clyde-Muirshiel Regional Park, there is a Royal Society for the Protection of Birds (RSPB) wetland reserve that is a great site for spotting wildfowl. By the River Clyde is Dalziel Estate and Baron’s Haugh, a stunning nature reserve where 170 species of bird have been recorded, including kingfishers and whooper swans.
One place in Scotland that is a ‘must-visit’ is the region of Dumfries and Galloway, home to the Galloway Kite Trail at Loch Ken and Clatteringshaws Loch. This route takes you through Scotland’s magnificent scenery and close to the rare and elusive Red Kite – something you will be sure to remember as a highlight from your trip.
Scotland has a vast array of birdlife, and there is no better place to go to view these magnificent birds in their natural environment. Whatever the season, there is always plenty to be seen in the wilderness of Scotland – from rare plants and birds to breathtaking mountains and lochs.
Written by Lynne Dickson, Marketing Manager at Wild Bird Feeders. Wild Bird Feeders is a global leader in garden bird feeders and wild bird feeding. For more information on bird watching, please visit www.wildbirdfeeders.co.uk.