Have you ever witnessed something in the wild that has made your heart skip a beat? Scotland is teeming with spellbinding, unusual and curious wildlife; from soaring golden eagles causing a flap in the Highlands to scurrying red squirrels in Dumfries & Galloway.
Next time youâ€™re out and about, bring your camera as entries are now open for the 2014 British Wildlife Photography Awards.Â We want to encourage you to get snap happy and dazzle the judges with your entries from Scotland! The competition will close on 3 May and the winners and commended entrants from 2013 will be featured in the annual book and in a touring exhibition which comes to the Scottish Natural Heritage centre in Perth from 1 July â€“ 15 August.
The categories include: animal portrait, animal behaviour, habitat, coast and marine and many more. With these in mind, weâ€™ve selected some special places in Scotland which are known for their rare wildlife sightings at this time of year, which could help put you in the prime location for your winning shot.
Creatures of the Cairngorms
Spend a peaceful couple of days in Scotlandâ€™s largest natural habitat, the Cairngorms National Park, which is the home to an array of creatures; noisy woodpeckers, burrowing badgers, tree-climbing pine martens and the endangered capercaillie are among the frequent untamed visitors.
Increase your photo opportunities by joining an expertâ€“led wildlife holiday. Speyside Wildlife offer many enthusiastic excursions, night-time watches and tailor-made trips. The areaâ€™s wildlife can also be seen at the Glen Tanar estate, which now offers specifically designed hides for keen photographers who are seeking that perfect shot.
Puffins on Orkney
Springtime means seabird colonies will soon arrive in many areas of Scotland in March and April.Â Orkney is one of the best places to spot nesting puffins. Often called the â€˜clowns of the seaâ€™, you might see them perching on the Brough of Birsay or on Marwick Head near Stromness. The islandsâ€™ steep cliffs and hilly terrain will offer many different angles and unique chances to capture amazing footage of these birds and many others. You can celebrate the beauty of the islands between 10 – 18 May with the annual Orkney Nature Festival.
Banffshireâ€™s â€˜Dolphin Coastâ€™
Catching a glimpse of a fin rising out of the water from the shore is exciting enough, but why not get up close and personal to the magnificent marine mammals on the north east coast? Wildlife cruises depart from Banff and will guide you to the favourite hangouts of inquisitive dolphins, seals and even passing minke whales, so keep your eyes peeled for them swimming alongside the boat.
Go off the beaten tracks
If you don’t knowÂ what Scotlandâ€™s largest native land mammal is, then it is about time you ventured to the Perthshire countryside! Just outside Aberfeldy, you can join a kilted tour guide and experience a Land Rover safariÂ through the wilderness where you can spot Scotlandâ€™s majestic red deer as well as mountain hare and, if you are extremely fortunate, the endangered Scottish wildcat.
Whether youâ€™re a technically experienced pro, a keen learner or an absolute beginner, there are thousands ofÂ #brilliantmomentsÂ waiting to be captured on film. Donâ€™t forget to share your best wildlife snaps with us onÂ Facebook,Â Twitter,Â InstagramÂ or on any other social media platform.
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