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Scotland is home to countless wild animals, from soaring eagles to playful seals. Its diverse fauna is one of the reasons why nature enthusiasts visit this majestic place. If you are planning to go to Scotland for a wildlife adventure, below are some of the Scottish animals you should see:
Red squirrels, unlike their grey cousins, are native to the UK. Around 75% of red squirrels in Britain are located in Scotland.
Prior to the introduction of the non-native greys, red squirrels were thriving in the UK. However, due to competition and health concerns, their population significantly declined. From being found all over the UK, the reds can only be seen in a few locations today. Scotland is considered as one of the remaining strongholds of the red squirrels in Britain.
If you want to see red squirrels, go and walk along the paths or trails at Balloch Wood, Eskrigg Nature Reserve or Creetown in Southern Scotland. You may also see some of them at Dumfries and Galloway, the Scottish Highlands or the woods and glens near Loch Ness. When looking for red squirrels, chewed up pine cones and rustling leaves are some signs that indicate that they are just nearby.
The red deer is one of the most visually fascinating animals in Scotland. A full-grown stag, with antlers that can grow a meter long, can be mesmerising, especially when they do their roar during their mating season or rut.
Th red deer, the biggest land mammal in Scotland, can grow as big as ponies or horses. In summer, their coat ranges from russet to brown. Then come winter, the fur changes into brown or grey.
If you want to see them, some experts recommend that you go deer watching during the winter as it’s easier to find them in the countryside. Meanwhile, if you want to see stags compete for hinds, visit a deer park during rutting season.
Where to find red deer in Scotland? In spring or autumn, you may find them in the hill ranges in Invermark Estate and Perthshire like Ben Vorlich, Stuc a’Chroin and Ben Lawers massif. You may also see some rutting activities in Glen Lyon and Glen Almond.
In the 1950s to the 1970s, the population of otters in the UK dwindled because waterways were polluted with pesticides. Fortunately, otters survived in the clean waterways of North and West Scotland. Currently, their population is flourishing in Scotland and recovering in other parts of the UK.
Otters are semi-aquatic animals that feed mostly on fish like trout and salmon. Hence, seeing them near bodies of water is highly possible. However, finding them can be challenging since they are mostly nocturnal animals.
One of the best places to see otters in Scotland is at Knapdale Forest, where the other Big Five animals may also be seen. You can also find these semi-aquatic creatures at the islands of Scotland like the Isle of Mull. There’s also a large otter population on Shetland where they are active both during the day and at night.
Common seals are also known as harbour seals. They are smaller compared to the grey seals. They have light or dark spots on their bodies and normally have a brownish or greyish colour. Common seals feed on different types of fish like sea bass, anchovies and flat fish.
The best places to spot harbour seals in Scotland are the Orkney and Tentsmuir. They may also be found in the Shetland Islands and the Monach Islands.
Puffins are the most adored bird in Scotland and all over the UK. Their black and white plumage is the reason why many initially mistake them for penguins. Meanwhile, their face, specifically their beaks, don vibrant colours as well as their legs. Because of their colourful look, some people call them the “clowns of the sea” or “clowns in the air”.
The largest puffin colony in Scotland is found at St. Kilda. However, this place is not easily accessible. For puffin-watching or puffin therapy, head to South Stack Cliffs in Anglesey, Shetland Islands, Orkney Islands and the Isle of May.
One of the most amazing sights you should see is a golden eagle soaring in the air then swooping down to catch its prey, usually rabbits and squirrels. However, be forewarned, spotting these iconic eagles can be challenging. You need to be extremely patient! You must also choose a good location.
Golden eagles prefer quiet glens and remote islands. Some of the recommended spots to search for golden eagles in Scotland are in the Northern Isles and the Highlands. The Isle of Mull is also another place where you can spot them.
Golden eagles generally have brown plumage and the distinctive golden brown plumage on their napes. Compared to the white-tailed eagles, golden eagles have longer tails but smaller heads. There are currently about 500 pairs of golden eagles in North Scotland. There have been recent attempts to release a few of them in South Scotland in the hopes that they would fly south and start reappearing in Northern England.
Golden Eagle photo by ahisgett
Red Squirrel hoto by Flickpicpete (Thanks for 2.5 million+ views)
Red deer photo by Dave Hamster
Common Seal photo by Jo Reeve
Atlantic Puffins photo by USFWS Headquarters