Wildlife in the Highlands

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  • A woman photographing a dolphin breaking water on a boat trip on the Moray Firth
    A dolphin breaking water on the Moray Firth
  • The golden eagle - one of Scotland's largest birds of prey
    The golden eagle - one of Scotland's largest birds of prey
  • Two puffins standing on a rock
    Puffins
  • Seals basking on the edge of Loch Dunvegan, Isle of Skye
    Seals on the edge of Loch Dunvegan, Isle of Skye
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From the Cairngorms National Park to the Moray Firth, the Highlands is home to a remarkable range of wildlife.

There is some remarkable marine life in the coastal waters surrounding the Highlands. The Moray Firth has its bottlenose dolphins and the Cromarty Firth has its colony of common seals. Minke whales and humpback whales can be seen off the north and west coasts in the summer months.

The Highlands also has a wonderful variety of birdlife. Witness the sea eagle, Britain’s largest bird of prey, on the Isle of Skye. The north Highlands is one of the best areas for spotting golden eagles.

The cliff-tops of the north coast draw large numbers of puffins, guillemots and razorbills. Visit the RSPB Osprey Centre at Loch Garten to view ospreys in their nests. The RSPB’s Abernethy Forest Nature Reserve by Nethybridge attracts Scottish crossbills and capercaillie.

The Highland Wildlife Park near Kingussie not only has native wildlife like red deer, Scottish wildcats and pine martens, but also more exotic animals such as tigers, red pandas and polar bears.

The Highlands were chosen as the base for BBC's Winterwatch, which was broadcast live from Aigas Field Centre, just west of Inverness, in January 2013. The programme followed many different species active in the area, including otters, pine martens, red squirrels, water shrews and beavers, which were successully reintroduced to Scotland at Aigas.

Wherever you’re looking for Highlands wildlife, consider the option of walking in the company of a knowledgeable ranger, or why not take a boat trip with a local marine expert?

Find more information on Scotland’s wildlife, including invaluable tips for spotting and for booking wildlife holidays and tours, visit the Wild Scotland website.

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