Finding wildlife in Perthshire

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Year of Natural Scotland 2013
Year of Natural Scotland 2013

Celebrate Scotland's natural beauty throughout 2013

Download your FREE guide to Perthshire, Dundee & Angus for 2015
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Find out more with our handy brochure on Perthshire

  • Ducks and moorhen feed in the shallow waters of a reed bed
    Wildfowl amongst the reeds (image: James Carney)

Perthshire, located at the very heart of Scotland, has an unrivalled range of habitats and species. Straddling the Highland Boundary Fault, the area offers the best of both worlds with spectacular mountains and lochs as well as dense forest.

At the heart of Perthshire lies woodland that makes up ‘Big Tree Country.’ Dense forests and mountain terrain provides the perfect habitat for some of Scotland’s most interesting species - and the perfect backdrop to spot them. Visit nature reserves or take to trails that take you to the sub-Arctic climate of the region’s Munros to see rare birdlife like the ptarmigan or capercaillie.


At the core of the country that drains into the Scotland’s longest river, the River Tay, sits a bevy of beautiful lochs, with mountains to match. Ben Lawers, a munro near Killin and overlooking Loch Tay, is one of Britain's top areas for scarce Arctic-Alpine plants. It is also a prime spot to catch sight of the ptarmigan, a plump game bird famous for its snow white plumage in winter which breeds on the highest mountains of Scotland.

Woods in the heart of Perthshire - such as Blair Atholl, Killiecrankie and Dunkeld - are famous for their large trees and the Black Wood of Rannoch is a signficant remnant of the ancient Caledonian forest, home to pine martens and the rare capercaillie and red squirrel.

Wild salmon

The Pitlochry Dam is home to a renowned fish ladder where visitors may experience the thrill of travelling wild salmon. Around 5,000 pass through here each summer which can be seen as they dash further upstream in a special viewing chamber. Further downstream, when the Tay becomes an estuary east of Perth, you can see Europe's largest reed beds as they grow wider.

Bird life

The Loch of the Lowes reserve, close to Dunkeld, has a visitor centre looking out to a regular osprey breeding site. Further south, visit RSPB Loch Leven where wintering geese make their daily flights. Pink-footed geese peak at over 20,000 each November. The RSPB reserve on the loch has an observation room overlooking the loch, from which you may see ducks, whooper swans, redshank, lapwings and great spotted woodpeckers as well as the aforementioned geese. If you want to get even closer, there are three hides and a nature trail to follow.