Wildlife in The Highlands and Isle of Skye

From birdwatching up on the moors or around the coast, to cruises to see dolphins and seals, the Highlands offer a variety of wildlife watching experiences in beautiful scenery.

All our B&Bs in the Highlands offer areas where you can dry your shoes and clothes after a day exploring the countryside

West Highlands

Bright Water Visitor Centre

The island of Eilean Ban sits below the elegant Skye Bridge. It is home to otters, with a hide for viewing these secretive creatures. The lighthouse and cottages (once the home of Gavin Maxwell - author of 'The Ring of Bright Water') have been restored and can be visited. The island has been made 'visitor friendly' by the work of the Born Free Foundation and the Eilean Ban Trust. The Visitor Centre in Kyleakin is open Monday - Saturday from 1 March to 1 October. Boat trips to Eilean Ban can be arranged from there with a ranger.

B&Bs near Bright Water Visitor Cenre - Strathgorm,Ashaig, Cuil Lodge B&B

Bella Jane Boat Trips

Elgol, Isle of Skye - Boatr trips to see seals and the world famous Loch Coruisk in the heart of the spectacular Cuillin mountains. Daily - April to October. Booking essential.

B&Bs near Bella Jane Boat Trips - Strathgorm, Ashaig, Cuil Lodge B&B

Sea.fari Adventures

Armadale Pier, Sleat, Isle of Skye - Three hour whale spotting trips and two hour adventures.

B&Bs near Sea.fari Adventures - Strathgorm, Ashaig, Cuil Lodge B&B,

Sea Probe Atlantis

Glass bottomed boat trips from Kyle of Lochalsh. Beautiful kelp forests, fish, seals, otters, dolphins, whales and occasionally sharks. Easter to October.

B&Bs Sea Probe Atlantis -Strathgorm, Ashaig, Cuil Lodge B&B,

Loch Shiel Cruises

Unique guided cruises from Glenfinnan on the Road to the Isles to see wildlife on the stunning sheltered waters of Loch Shiel. Spot golden eagles, red deer and black-throated divers. Daily. Easter to October. Booking advisable.

B&Bs near Loch Shiel Cruises - Morvich B&B

Arisaig Marine

The Harbour, Arisaig - Explore the enchanting islands of Eigg, Muck and Rum. Regular sightings of whales, dolphins, porpoises, puffins and seals. May to September.

B&Bs near Arisaig Marine - Morvich B&B

Crannog Cruises

Fort William Pier - Enjoy the Highland splendour and wildlife of Loch Linnhe, with magnificent views of Ben Nevis.

B&Bs near Crannog Cruises - Highland View B&B, Morvich B&B

Wild West

South Laggan, near Spean Bridge - Wildlife safaris in the wilderness areas of Lochaber, including Glengarry, Knoydart and Loch Hourn. Golden eagles,red deer, otters anddolphins.

B&Bs near Wild West, Laggan - Spean Lodge Country House, The Heathers, Morvich B&B

Torridon Countryside Centre

National Trust for Scotland. Breathtaking scenery, deer enclosure, visitor centre and Ranger service.

B&Bs near Torridon Countryside Centre - Aurora Bed and Breakfast

Wildlife cruises from Gairloch

Daily cruises in the summer season from Gairloch to spot whales, porpoises, sharks and dolphins as well as sea birds. The 2 boat operators are Gairloch Marine Life Centre and Hebridean Whale Cruises.

B&Bs near Gairloch - The Sheiling, Aurora Bed and Breakfast

Summer Queen

Boat trips from Ullapool. Daily cruises to the Summer Isles from May to September. Trips last 4 hours and include time ashore on one of the islands, giving visitors a chance to explore. Two-hour wildlife cruises to the Isle Martin bird sanctuary and seal islands.

B&Bs near Ullapool - The Sheiling

Kylesku Boat Tours

Boat trips from Kylesku old ferry pier down Loch Glencoull to see Eas-coul-aulin falls - the highest waterfall in Britain. See seals (and pups when born) and other wildlife like golden eagle and seabirds. All sailings are subject to weather conditions.

Assynt Visitor Centre

Main Street, Lochinver - See the "Story of Assynt" and watch the nest activity of Grey Herons from nearby Culag Wood on large monitors in the Centre. There is an RSPB representative on hand to answer queries and also take visitors on a guided walk to the heronry. The Visitor Centre is also the base for the local Ranger service and they are on hand to give guidance about the local wildlife activity. The Rangers conduct a programme of guided walks throughout the summer.

Scotland's Best B&Bs hosts will be happy to help book wildlife watching trips and tours for you. Just ask when you arrive

Orkney

Bird-watching in Orkney. With so many habitats in a relatively small area you can experience a vast selection of flora and fauna. RSPB has over 8000 hectares of reserves in Orkney, ranging from sea cliffs to wetlands, maritime heaths to moorlands. Birds resident or recorded include hen harrier, red-throated diver, guillemot, razorbill, arctic tern, shag, puffin, corncrake, peregrine, merlin, whimbrel, sedge warbler, twites, reed bunting, kestrel, short eared owl, teal, widgeon, curlew but there are many, many more.

North-East Highlands and Moray Firth

John O'Groats Wildlife Cruises

See birds and seals at close quarters.

B&Bs near John O'Groats - Auld Post Office B&B, The Clachan

RSPB Forsinard Peatland Reserve

Experience the vastness of Scotland's peatlands in the Flow Country of Caithness and Sutherland. Delightful drive along river Halladale for 14 miles to Forsinard to access guided walks and bog pool trail. Visitor Centre.

B&Bs near RSPB Forsinard Peatland Reserve - Auld Post Office B&B, The Clachan

Moray Firth Dolphins

The sea inlet on which Inverness stands is one of the best places in the UK where bottle-nosed dolphins can be seen. There are trips from Cromarty and Inverness taking visitors out into the Firth where the dolphins will frequently follow the small boat. The main viewing spot is near the lighthouse on the shore where the Firth narrows between Chanonry Point on the Black Isle, to the north of Inverness and Fort George. Sometimes they can be seen from the shoreline just under the Kessock Bridge which spans the Moray Firth. The best time to see dolphins are on a rising tide, from around 1 hour after low tide dophins start to chase fish in.

B&Bs near Moray Firth Dolphins - Home Farm, Ben Wyvis Views, Craigvar, Highfield House, Lynver B&B, Bluebell House, Inverness  Eiland View B&B

Red Kites on The Black Isle

Red kites were re-introduced to this area and can often be seen by car drivers on the A9 between the Kessock Bridge and Tore roundabout. At the Tourist Information centre on the north-bound A9, just across the Kessock Bridge, there is a hut relaying CCTV footage from a kite nest nearby.

B&Bs near The Black Isle - Home Farm, Ben Wyvis Views, Craigvar, Highfield House, Lynver B&BBluebell House, Inverness Eiland View B&B

RSPB Loch Ruthven Nature Reserve

Situated 16 miles (25 km) south-west of Inverness. The Loch is about 2 miles long and the eastern end forms part of the RSPB nature reserve. This is the best site in Britain to guarantee views of Slavonian grebes with their flamboyant breeding colours. Ospreys visit almost daily during their season and red-throated divers, goosanders and other waterfowl can be expected. Passerines include whinchats, redpolls, wheatears and the occasional ring ouzel. You may even see short-eared owls and hen harriers.

B&Bs near RSPB Loch Ruthven Nature Reserve - Glengarry B&B, Slemish, The Dulaig

Birdwatching

Around Upper Findhorn, Coignafearn, near Tomatin - this is very much golden eagle country but other species you may see include peregrines, merlins, kestrels and sparrowhawks. Dippers and grey wagtails are found along the burn and lapwings and oystercatchers nest in the meadows near the river. Ring ouzels, wheatears, meadow pipits and the distinctive stonechat are all found here. Occasionally red grouse may be seen or heard. As a bonus you can usually see large herds of red deer browsing on the hill.

Nearby B&Bs - Glengarry B&B, Slemish,The Dulaig

Cairngorms National Park

The Highland Wildlife Park

Situated at Kincraig, by Kingussie. Discover Scotland's wildlife and endangered animals of the world's mountain and tundra regions. Facilities include coffee shop, children's trail, free audio tape, daily warden talks etc. Large drive-through reserve with red deer, Highland cattle, bison, wild horses. Walk to visit wolves, lynx, otters, Arctic fox and Amur tigers. Admission charge. Open every day (weather permitting in winter).

B&Bs near The Highland Wildlife Park - Glengarry B&B, Slemish, The Dulaig

RSPB Insh Marshes, Kingussie

A National Nature Reserve, this is one of the most important wetlands in Europe. In spring lapwings, redshanks and curlews nest here. In winter, the marshes flood, providing roosting and feeding for flocks of whooper swans and greylag geese. Organised day and evening events from April - August. Open at all times. Open at all times.

B&Bs near RSPB Insh Marshes - Glengarry B&B, Slemish, The Dulaig

Speyside Wildlife

Tailormade wildlife watching experiences for everyone. Why not visit Speyside Wildlife's evening mammal watching hide on the Rothiemurchus Estate, in the Cairngorms National Park, for up close and personal views of Pine Marten, Badger, Red Deer, Roe Deer and more! Or, if you've a day or two in the Highlands, take a bird watching day trip with one of Speyside Wildlife's professional guides, to discover the birds and mammals of the mountains, rivers, forests and moors. Capercaillie, Black and Red Grouse, Osprey, Golden Eagle, Red and Black-throated Diver, Scottish Crossbill, Ptarmigan and Dotterel, can all be seen within the Cairngorms National Park.

B&Bs near Speyside Wildlife - Glengarry B&B, Slemish, The Dulaig

RSPB Loch Garten

Abernethy Forest, by Aviemore. A visit here is a must. You can see an osprey nest from the Osprey Centre, and a pair of birds is normally resident between April and August. Reserve trails are through the pine forest, with crested tits, crossbills and red squirrels. Reserve open at all times. Osprey Centre open daily 10am - 6pm from late April to end of August only.

B&Bs near RSPB Loch Garten - Glengarry B&B, Slemish, The Dulaig

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