Best Wildlife Watching Locations

Scotland's top sites for wildlife

You really do not have to travel halfway around the world to watch wildlife, as Scotland much of the excitement of other continents without the wait at the airport.

Loch Garten, Abernethy

Ospreys returned to breed in Scotland about 50 years ago, and the place they chose to settle was Loch Garten, in the Abernethy nature reserve. This RSPB site is a fantastic set up. CCTV cameras give visitors a close-up view of this bird of prey between April and late August - before it heads off to Africa. Other birds here include the Scottish crossbill and the crested tit.

More information: 01479 821409,


A boat trip from Gairloch on the north-west coast can produce sightings of four species of dolphin, as well as minke whales, basking sharks, common and grey seals and otters. The luckiest months are from April to October.

Gairloch Marine Life Centre and Cruises (open March to October): 01445 712636,

The Cairngorms

Up in the tops of the Cairngorms in the East Highlands, rare birds such as the ptarmigan, capercaillie and golden eagle make their home. Lower down you might spot red squirrels and Scottish hares. There are numerous deer in these hills, most of them red or roe deer, and you might glimpse a small herd of semi-domesticated reindeer.

Highland Council Countryside Rangers 01479 873914, or see advertisement

Glen Nant

A strip of the native woodland that once covered the Highlands remains at Glen Nant Nature Reserve. Old sessile oaks grow alongside 20 other native species of tree and shrub. Rare plants here include the bird's nest orchid and herb Paris, and if you peer closely at the forest floor, you may see Scottish wood ants. More information 01546 603611,

Beinn Eighe NNR

Scotland's first national nature reserve and and home to a wonderful variety of local wildlife. For visitors who would like to find out more about Beinn Eighe, there‚Äôs a visitor centre open from Easter to October just outside Kinlochewe.  The three trails which start here are open all year and a further path links the visitor centre with the village of Kinlochewe. The visitor centre has a small shop area with tourist information and a shop selling books and products about nature.

Loch Fleet Nature Reserve

Tidal nature reserve south of Golspie that provides varied marshy habitat for both migratory birds and waders. Located to the east of the A9 as it passes north.