If you’ve only a day or two to spare, or you’d like to see the wildlife of the Cairngorms but don’t know where to start, then a day out with one of our wildlife guides is just for you.
The Scottish Highlands are home to some iconic wildlife species but finding them can be a real challenge. Whether you are part of a family group wanting to see a broad range of Highland wildlife, or a keen birder looking for a specific and elusive species, our wildlife guides will guide you to the best locations using their expert knowledge; so whether it’s Dotterel and Ptarmigan on the high tops, Capercaillie and Crested Tits in the forests, or maybe Otter and dolphin on the shoreline, tell us what you’d like to see and we can help you achieve your wildlife watching ambitions.
The Cairngorms National Park is home to some of our most iconic but elusive species of wildlife. Finding them in this vast and spectacular landscape can be a real challenge, especially if you have limited time or are unfamiliar with the area.
Our expert local guides know the area intimately, so can take you to the best locations to help you find the species you’d most like to see. They can help you identify those species, recognise different bird calls, show you how to use fieldcraft and read animal tracks and signs. They can tell you about the behaviour and general biology of the species that you find in the Highlands, but most of all they will ensure that you have an exciting, fulfilling and rewarding day out. On the day, we’ll judge the weather and decide where the wildlife can be found.
To help you choose the best day, we’ve given you our suggested itineraries, showing the habitat you’ll visit and some of the species that can be found there. These are our favourites, but if you’d like to do something different, then please email us and we would be very happy to advise if it is possible given the current restrictions and health and welfare regimes.
Our Cairngorms National Park - If you’ve never been before and you want to see what makes this place special, from the landscape to the wildlife, then just leave it to us. We know all the nooks and crannies in the Cairngorms and the best time of year to visit them. We’ll make sure we target the Scottish specialities and leave more than enough room to drink in the scenery and marvel at the landscape. Golden Eagles in the glens, Red Deer on the hills, Ptarmigan on the mountains and Crested Tits in the forests; we can decide what’s best for you. Our guides will discuss any preferences you have when they contact you before your day out. The day will be spent walking at a gentle pace and can incorporate different close habitats reached in your own vehicle.
Pine Forest - Visit the ancient Caledonian Pine Forest for Capercaillie, Black Grouse, Crested Tit, Scottish Crossbill and other woodland birds. Mammals may include Red Squirrel and Roe Deer. This itinerary involves a degree of walking on good tracks and trails through the forest. Wildlife can be found year round, but the best seasons can be autumn, winter and early spring. Autumn and winter can be some of the best times to look for Capercaillie.
Cairngorm Mountains - Walk into the Cairngorms for Ptarmigan, Snow Bunting, Dotterel and Ring Ouzel. At present there is no access to the top of the mountain by Funicular Railway, so a good fitness level is needed for the walk into the mountains and walking boots and suitable clothing are required. Wildlife can be seen on the higher tops year-round. Ptarmigan, Snow Bunting and Mountain Hare are present all year; Ring Ouzels arrive from mid-March onwards and Dotterel are present from May until the end of August. A longer walk into the Cairngorms on lower tracks can also be taken dependent upon levels of fitness.
Moorland and Moray Firth - Explore vast open moorlands and windswept lochs for divers, Merlin, Peregrine, Red Kite and Red Grouse, before heading to the Moray coast for Osprey (during the summer), seaduck (winter), waders and terns. Dependent on tide times, there’s a chance of Bottlenose Dolphin. Divers can be found on freshwater lochs during the breeding season from April through to the end of September, when they relocate to the coast and winter on the sea. The winter months on the Moray Coast can be excellent for seaduck.
Highland Glen - Visit a spectacular local glen for Golden Eagle, White-tailed Eagle, Peregrine, Merlin, Ring Ouzel, Red Deer, Mountain Hare and Wild Goats. Travel through spectacular scenery into the heart of the mountains and then take a low level walk further into the glen on good gravel tracks. A broad range of wildlife, including the eagles, can be found all year. The Red Deer rut takes place from late September through October.
Woodland Walks - Local woods provide a tranquil location to look and listen for Wood Warbler, Pied Flycatcher and other woodland birds. Peregrine breed on the crags and Ospreys are regularly seen throughout the spring/summer. We can walk to the viewpoint if you wish, to get stunning views across to the mountains and surrounding glens. This itinerary does require a reasonable degree of fitness. The best time to visit for migrant birds, is from late April through to August. We’ll combine this location with another lowland wood further along the Strath.
River Spey Walk - During spring or early summer the famous ‘River Spey’ will be teeming with birdlife; Dipper, Goosander, Grey Wagtail, Goldeneye, Common Sandpiper and feeding Swifts, Swallows and martins with a chance of Otter. In summer the riverbanks can be good for butterflies, including Dark Green Fritillary. In winter, the river provides a calm and tranquil place for Red-breasted Merganser, Goldeneye and other resident birds.
Loch Fleet - Slightly further afield, but close for those staying around Inverness, lies the vast expanse of Loch Fleet. In summer we’ll watch fishing Ospreys and terns while the dunes hold a myriad of beautiful flowers. Nearby woodlands have rare flowers and breeding crossbills and as summer progresses into autumn more waders arrive along with large flocks of wildlfowl. At any time of year you can enjoy close views of basking Grey and Harbour seals on the sandbanks. The walks along the dunes are not strenuous and at any time of year there is plenty of wildlife variety to enjoy.
The Black Isle - Just north of Inverness lies the Black Isle, almost surrounded by water and visited by large numbers of waders, ducks and geese as autumn approaches and through the winter. Peregrine Falcons may dash through sending birds skyward - all viewable from a large comfortable hide. Scaup, Long-tailed Duck, divers and grebes spend the winter here and in autumn passing skuas and auks add to the excitement as we visit one of the best vantage points for Bottlenose Dolphins in the UK. We can also include a visit to nearby woodlands for crossbills and Crested Tits, plus dragonflies and butterflies in the summer.
£195 Standard day if booked online (£250 if booked manually via our office) max 8 hours
£250 Extended day if booked online (£295 if booked manually via our office) max 10 hours
Actual time to be agreed between you and your guide (either day out includes transport for you and up to 6 companions)
We are following all Government health and welfare instructions and have put in place our own regimes to ensure the safety of our guides and guests. To enable us to give you the best wildlife watching experience within these parameters we have opened up only those experiences that we think we can offer most successfully. This means that some days out are not bookable in the short-term, there is a restriction on the number of guests joining our guide each day and we are meeting guests at a designated meeting point, rather than collecting from their accommodation. More details are below and at the start of each daily guided option.
We're afraid we can’t offer any refreshments at present, so please ensure you have your own food and drink for the day. Please bring your own binoculars and telescope if you have one. We aren’t able to let guests and guides share telescopes or other optics at this time, but hope to be able to show you live views of birds found with the telescope using an adaptor and mobile phone to get a closer view. Attached to your booking confirmation will be a ‘what to bring’ document, giving you handy hints of clothing etc., to make your day out more comfortable.
Our guides may be wearing face masks for part/all of the day. Our guide will be carrying hand sanitiser and disinfectant spray to be used if and when they see fit in any circumstance. Also attached to your booking confirmation will be a short 'Covid-19 hygiene' form for completion less than 48 hours before your day out.
In recognition that this business has confirmed that they have followed government and industry COVID-19 guidelines, ensuring processes are in place to maintain cleanliness and aid social/physical distancing.
Speyside Wildlife has 29 years of experience in organising wildlife-watching day trips, tours and holidays within the UK and Overseas. We cater for a wide variety of wildlife-watchers, from the dedicated wildlife enthusiasts to those who simply wish to include some wildlife-watching as part of their holiday. We offer an Evening Mammal Watching Experience, Guided Days Out and all-inclusive holidays around the world.
Photography, Wildlife, Landscapes, Family
Departs: Aviemore and the Cairngorms
Our hide is located in the Cairngorms within the Caledonian Pine Forest near Avi...