Wildlife in Ayrshire & Arran

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Year of Natural Scotland 2013
Year of Natural Scotland 2013

Celebrate Scotland's natural beauty throughout 2013

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  • gannets roost on a rock face
  • An otter sits amongst a clump of seaweed by the shore
  • A pheasant at Culzean Castle and Country Park, Arran
    A pheasant at Culzean Castle and Country Park, Arran
  • A red deer stag at Culzean Castle and Country Park, Ayrshire
    A red deer stag at Culzean Castle and Country Park, Ayrshire

With its long coastline, mix of both highland and lowland ladscapes and offshore islands, Ayrshire & Arran boasts an impressive variety of wildlife habitats that serve as home to an equally diverse range of species.

Ailsa Craig

Offshore, the sheer cliffs of Ailsa Craig rise straight out of the waters of the Firth of Clyde and during the summer months are teeming withover 70,000 breeding seabirds, including guillemots, razorbills, puffins and the third largest gannetry in the UK. Boat trips from Girvan or Campbeltown allow you to get up close to this incredible 'seabird city'.


Known as 'Scotland in miniature' due to its varied landscapes, the isle of Arran is a particular mecca for birdwatchers. Heron and mallard are present all year round, being joined in the winter months by widgoen, golden eye and teal. In the northern mountains golden eagles can be seen in flight, sharing the skies with buzzards, peregrines, kestrels, hen harriers and sparrowhawks. On the ground, you'll find red squirrels, otters, red deer, badgers and several species of bats.

In the waters around the island, seals, porpoises and basking sharks are regular visitors. You can also occasionally spot dolphins and minke whales. 

Mainland Ayrshire

There are a number of areas across the region that have been awarded protected status in recognition of the importance of the various speices that they support.

The picturesque native woodlands of Ayr Gorge Reserve have an wide range of avian species including kingfishers, spotted flycatchers, and great spotted woodpeckers. You can also see otters, badgers, bats and roe deer here during the summer months.

Muirkirk and North Lowther Uplands and Airds Moss nature reserves are both Special Protection Areas with significant populations of hen harriers, peregrines, short-eared owls, merlins and golden plovers.

Catrine Voes is East Ayrshire’s first local nature reserve. Its river provides the ideal habitat for Atlantic salmon, trout and eels as well as being home to water voles, otters, kingfishers, heron and dippers.

Elsewhere, the ranger-led tours around Culzean Castle and Country Park will let you encounter red squirrels and red deer. At Knockshinnoch Lagoons, once an industrial site but now reclaimed for nature, the walking trails offer great access to birds and other wildlife, including waders, otters and water voles.