Wildlife in the Highlands

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A couple walk their dog on the sandy beach at Sango Bay
Get to know the Highlands - our trailer

Discover the Highlands of Scotland, a breathtaking land filled with stunning scenery, beautiful wildlife and fantastic activities.

VisitScotland The Highlands Guide
E-brochures ››

Download a brochure for more on the Highlands, Cairngorms National Park, Speyside and the Moray Coast.

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.

  • The golden eagle - one of Scotland's largest birds of prey
    The golden eagle - one of Scotland's largest birds of prey
  • View towards the Cairngorms near Aviemore in the Cairngorms National Park
    Looking towards the Cairngorms near Aviemore in the Cairngorms National Park
  • Dolphins on the Moray Firth
    Dolphins on the Moray Firth
Looking ahead to Glen Affric, Highlands

Finding wildlife

Discover wide range of amazing Highland wildlife. Explore trails through ancient pine forests, wetlands and country estates.

The uninhabited island of Handa

Hides and reserves

Nature reserves and centres are great places to explore the local landscape and find out more about wildlife in the Highlands.

A large bird or prey in flight holding a fish in its talons

Wildlife attractions

Discover the Scottish Highlands' many amazing animals, birds and plants, including some of Britain's rarest.

Looking up at a brown bird of prey with open wings

Birdwatching

Explore the variety of birdwatching opportunities on the coast and inland throughout the Highlands.

A woman photographing a dolphin breaking water on a boat trip on the Moray Firth

Boat charter and wildlife cruises

Explore the clear seas off the Highland coast aboard a wildlife cruise to see dolphins, whales and seals in their natural environment.

A red deer roars as part of the annual autumn rut on the Isle of Rum

Red deer ruts

Watch some of our largest deer lock antlers in fiercesome head-to-head battles as part of the UK's most amazing wildlife spectacle.