Finding wildlife in Argyll & The Isles

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Year of Natural Scotland 2013
Year of Natural Scotland 2013

Celebrate Scotland's natural beauty throughout 2013

VisitScotland Argyll and The Isles What to See and Do Guide
E-brochure ››

Discover more about Argyll & The Isles with our handy brochure

  • A dolphin leaps out of the sea
    A breaching dolphin
  • An otter sits amongst a clump of seaweed by the shore
    Otter
  • A puffin comes in to land on a clifftop on Staffa, the Inner Hebrides.
    Puffins on Staffa, the Inner Hebrides
  • Seals stretching out on a beach on the Isle of Jura.
    Seals basking on the Isle of Jura
  • A white tailed eagle, or sea eagle, hunting low over water.
    A white tailed eagle hunting

The varied landscapes and habitats found across Argyll & The Isles are home to a fantastic variety of birds, mammals and marine life.

The Argyll mainland

Walk the trails through the region's many western oakwoods, such as the reserves at Taynish and Crinan woods near Lochgilphead and enjoy a brilliant variety of mosses, flowers and birds including buzzards.

The Cowal peninsula is home to birds of prey, red deer and red squirrels, which can all be seen within the unspoilt Argyll Forest Park, part of Loch Lomond & The Trossachs National Park. The National Park is also home to beavers which are thriving at the Scottish Beaver Trial in Knapdale Forest following their reintroduction here in 2009. Stroll through the trees early in the morning or in the evening for the best chance of finding these captivating creatures.

On the Isle of Bute, you'll find feral mountain goats, buzzards and roe deer aplenty, while Scalpsie Bay is home to a large colony of seals who gaze curiously from their rocky perches at those who gather to watch their antics.

Jura

As well as being famous for its whisky, Jura is famous for its remarkable red deer population which is larger than the human population on the island. In winter you have a good chance of seeing these magnificent ‘monarchs of the glen’ as they come down from the higher ground in search of food. Also look out for birds of prey hunting high over the Paps of Jura which dominate the island landscape.

Islay

Over on the isle of Islay, visit the Loch Gruinart reserve where you can see clouds of barnacle and white fronted geese as they flock to the island seeking shelter over the long winter months on the rich farmlands. You'll also stand a good chance of spotting the elusive corncrake here.

Mull, Iona, Coll and Tiree

The islands of Mull, Iona, Coll and Tiree and the seas around them are a nature-lovers' paradise. The islands themselves are an important local breeding ground for many seabird species, in particular the spectacular golden and white-tailed eagles. Mull is one of the best places in Europe to catch a glimpse of the white-tailed eagle so don't miss your chance to see them in flight over the island. You may even come across red deer and otters on your travels. Take a boat trip from any of several departure points on the islands to see numerous types of dolphins, whales, seals and porpoises in the clear waters offshore.

Offshore

You can look for signs of otters anywhere along the coast, and you're sure to encounter a few of the region's thousands of grey and common seals. Take to the water on any wildlife cruises which depart daily from many of the region’s harbours to witness seals, minke whales, porpoises, rissos, white beaked and bottlenose dolphins in the wild. Occasional sightings of sperm, humpback and orca whales have also been recorded around the northern isles of the Inner Hebrides.

Download your comprehensive Natures Paradise brochure and discover some of the best spots to find wildlife in Argyll & The Isles.

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