Spotting wildlife in Scotland’s forests
From the glimpse of a soaring golden eagle to the sudden appearance of a majestic red deer in the woods, observing animals in their natural habitat is a magical and unforgettable experience.
Whether you’re a fan of our furry friend, the red squirrel, or fancy learning more about the reintroduction of beavers to Scotland, there are plenty of opportunities in forests up and down the country to get closer to nature.
Creatures great and small
The forests we look after are home to so many different animals – from the exquisitely patterned butterflies that flit around the banks of Loch Arkaig at our Allt Mhuic reserve, to the colourful characters that call Galloway’s Wild Goat Park home. The goat park is the perfect place to stop on a trip around the area, and if you’re eating a picnic, the smells and sounds will soon tempt these curious creatures out of hiding - just please don't feed the goats!
Further along the road you’ll find the Red Deer Range, where you can meet Scotland’s largest land mammal. Throughout spring and summer, our rangers offer guided tours and the chance to learn more about these wonderful animals. See the Red Deer Range page for more information.
To catch a glimpse of one of Scotland’s reintroduced beavers, head along to Barnluasgan forest in Knapdale at dusk or dawn, when the busy critters are hard at work felling trees or creating dams. They’re here thanks to a groundbreaking conservation project called the Scottish Beaver Trial, which over the last five years has examined how beavers could enhance and restore natural environments.
Head to a hide
Wildlife hides are one of the best ways to get up close to the forest’s inhabitants without disturbing them. We’ve created our hides in prime positions for wildlife spotting, all you have to do is sit quietly and keep your eyes peeled for any visitors.
The Wild Watch hide at Kirroughtree is only a short walk from the newly built visitor centre. At this peaceful hide you can see red squirrels, woodland birds and…if you’re really lucky…a graceful roe deer gently picking its way through the forest.
The Kylerhea otter hide on the Isle of Skye, is the perfect place to spend an afternoon looking out for the playful animals. Let them entertain you with their lolloping run, and keep an eye out for other marine animals too – there’s a good chance of seeing seals and porpoises here as well.
For more seal spotting, get along to Garbh Eilean wildlife hide on the banks of Loch Sunart near Fort William. From Easter to October our rangers will be on hand to tell you all about the common seals that bask by the "rough island". Watch out for golden eagles and otters here too.
Head to the Trossachs and you’ll find another Wild Watch hide at The Lodge Forest Visitor Centre, right beside Aberfoyle. There’s more wonderful wildlife to spot here, including water voles, red squirrels and even the famous local ospreys…
Birds of a feather
We work closely with the RSPB to conserve species that are in decline, rare or protected – such as the golden eagle, white-tailed eagle and osprey.
Photo: Andy Rouse/202VISION
If you’d like to see some ospreys, keep your eyes to the skies around bodies of water, such as lochs or estuaries, where they catch fish. Loch Morlich in Glenmore Forest Park, Glen Affric and Carron Valley are all popular places to see the much loved avian. There’s plenty of information about the ospreys that nest near Aberfoyle in The Lodge Forest Visitor Centre too.
In the south, the Tweed Valley Osprey Project kicked off in late nineties when we erected artificial nest platforms in secret locations to help conserve the bird population, and today the birds have a huge following. We’ve teamed up with Kailzie Gardens to run two watch centres - the second being at Glentress - so that future generations can learn about these fascinating birds.
Elsewhere, you can follow the adventures of some very special white-tailed eagles on Mull. Join the knowledgeable Mull Eagle Watch rangers for a magical trip into the forest, where you can see these - once extinct in Britain - birds tending to their offspring throughout the spring and summer months.
The forest is alive
Remember, whatever forest you’re in, if you sit still and are quiet enough - there’s all kinds of wildlife waiting to be discovered...