Wildlife in Aberdeen City and Shire

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Watch this video and see some of Scotland's remarkable wildlife, from timourous red squirrels to playful dolphins.
Great Scottish wildlife

See some of Scotland's remarkable wildlife, from timourous red squirrels to playful dolphins.

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Aberdeen City and Shire has one of the most breathtaking landscapes in Scotland and is home to a fantastic array of wildlife. With everything from golden eagles soaring high above in the Cairngorms National Park to rutting red deer stags and dolphins frolicking off the Banffshire Coast, Aberdeenshire is a wildlife-lovers’ paradise.

One of the best places to look for wildlife is in the Cairngorms National Park. The largest in the UK, this outstandingly beautiful expanse of rugged moorland, lush forests of Scots Pine and majestic mountains is home to a myriad of rare creatures. The golden eagle, osprey, dotterel, Scottish crossbill, pine marten, red deer and badger are just a few of the species you can spot here.

The region is blessed with a number of beautiful nature reserves where other rare birds and animals thrive. At Glen Tanar, south west of Aboyne, you can explore one of the last remaining remnants of Scotland’s ancient Caledonian pine forest. Black grouse, goshawk and the elusive capercaillie all breed here and red squirrels are a common sight on this National Nature Reserve.

A unique mosaic of wetland, birch woodland and heather-clad moor, the Muir of Dinnet National Nature Reserve is a haven for wintering wildfowl including whooper swans, goldeneye, wigeon, and ospreys can sometimes be glimpsed fishing on the lochs.

The equally varied habitat of the Forvie National Nature Reserve with its windswept sand dunes also supports a diverse array of flora and fauna. Located by the Ythan estuary, here you’ll find grey seals and nesting eider ducks alongside diving terns, oystercatchers and delicate flowering plants.

Watch migrating salmon battle their way up stream at the cascading Falls of Feugh, one of the region’s best natural salmon leaps, and pay a visit to Scotland's only mainland gannet colony at Troup Head. These spectacular cliffs are also home to thousands of kittiwakes, guillemots and razorbills, along with several other species, including puffins.

The region’s dramatic coastline, in particular the northerly stretch known as the Banffshire Coast, is a fantastic place to look for dolphins, seals, porpoises and even the occasional whale. You can get a closer look at these remarkable marine creatures by joining one of the many boat tours or wildlife cruises available.

  • The dunes at the Sands of Forvie nature reserve glowing red at sunset.
    The Sands of Forvie National Nature Reserve
  • An osprey soars in flight.
    A soaring osprey
  • A bright day over the fens of Loch Kinord at the heart of the Muir of Dinnet NNR
    Loch Kinord at the heart of the Muir of Dinnet NNR
  • Dolphins off the coast of Aberdeenshire
An osprey in flight.

Birdwatching trips

Spot an impressive range of bird species in the natural surroundings of Aberdeen City and Shire.

The wetlands and fens of Loch Kinord nature reserve.

Hides and reserves

Discover wildlife in Aberdeen City and Shire by paying a visit to the many hides, reserves and visitor centres.

Dolphins off the coast of Aberdeenshire

Wildlife tours and cruises

Explore the coastal landscapes of Aberdeen City and Shire on a boat charter or wildlife cruise and spot some impressive species.

The beach and dunes of St Cyrus National Nature Reserve

See all wildlife attractions in Aberdeenshire

From nature centres and reserves to animal sanctuaries, find all the wildlife attractions in Aberdeen City and Shire.

RSPB Troup Head Reserve, near Pennan © Lorne Gill/SNH

Where to find wildlife

Aberdeen City and Shire plays host to some of Scotland’s most diverse landscapes. Discover abundant bird and marine life along pristine coastlines and coastal wetlands, or head inland to the dense forests of Deeside to see deers rutting.