Wildlife Holiday News

Scotland - The Wild Year

There is something magical about Scotland’s west coast and islands. One visit is rarely enough, and many people are inspired to return again and again, discovering something new each time. Regardless of the weather, the beauty and majesty of this area captures the heart, enriches the soul, and its wildlife experiences rival those found anywhere in the world. We run a number of tours throughout the year to seek out the iconic and charismatic species that live or breed here.

Spring

Our spring tours to Ardnamurchan offer fantastic opportunities for viewing Pine Marten and Eurasian Otter, as well as a variety of seabirds and raptors. Herds of Red Deer are interspersed across the hillsides, with Fallow Deer, Common Seal, Harbour Porpoise and Wild Goat all frequently being seen. Captivating Red Squirrel, with their fluffy tails and tufted ears, can be found during the daily excursions, perhaps taking advantage of a peanut feeder for an easy meal. The lochs, glens and bays are excellent places to look out for arriving migrants and breeding birds, such as Whitethroat, Reed Bunting, Sedge Warbler, Linnet and Skylark. This tour also includes a visit to the Treshnish Isles - a small group of islands located off the west coast of Mull which host thousands of breeding seabirds each summer, including the ever popular puffin. This colony is unafraid of humans and these comical looking birds, with their large colourful bills, are very photogenic. 

 

The Uists and Benbecula are breeding grounds for many birds, particularly waterfowl and waders. Watching the late spring courtship displays of Black-throated Diver in full breeding plumage and listening to their mournful, haunting calls is an unforgettable experience. The scenery here is less mountainous, but just as beautiful. Turquoise water meets white sandy beaches on a sunny day, while the interplay between sunlight and cloud on overcast days creates dramatic, atmospheric vistas. The machair provides a wonderful habitat for birds, and is a beautiful place to spend a warm spring day. Despite declining numbers elsewhere, the call of the cuckoo is regularly heard here, as is the rasping cry of the Corn Crake; although patience is required to spot these skulking birds! The islands also have excellent hunting habitats for Short-eared Owl and host breeding populations of Red-necked Phalarope, Twite and Corn Bunting.

For further information on our 2019 spring tours please email This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or click on the following web-links: Ardnamurchan - Wild Scotland in Spring and Wildlife of North & South Uist - The Outer Hebrides...In Style!

Summer

As the weather warms it’s the perfect time to take a cruise out of Oban and head for St. Kilda. The increase in food abundance attracts Minke Whales and dolphins, including playful Common and Bottlenose Dolphins. Evening anchorages offer the chance to look out for shy otters, while day time sailing takes you past busy bird cliffs, where Gannets, Razorbills and Guillemots incubate eggs or rear their chicks amid the raucous calls of their neighbours. Dozens of feeding Storm Petrels and Manx Shearwaters are among the many birds that can be seen during sea watches from the deck. A highlight of the trip, of course, being the chance to land on St. Kilda, where you can explore the abandoned civilisation of Hirta, the main island which provides a fascinating insight into the lives of those who used to inhabit this remote, now deserted, island.

Summer on Mull is the peak of eagle breeding season with both magnificent White-tailed Eagle and Golden Eagle nesting on the island in reasonable numbers. These huge birds can be remarkably delicate when feeding their small chicks. Also well into their nesting season are the many seabirds found on the sea cliffs, particularly on the Treshnish Islands and a boat trip to see this spectacle is one of the tour highlights. Otters are another highlight, often being spotted around the island’s shoreline as they dive in search of food or frolic in the shallows. Cetaceans are more numerous at this time of year in the seas surrounding Mull, with great views of Harbour Porpoise, Common Dolphin and Minke Whale to be had during the boat trips.

For further information on our 2019 summer tours please email This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or click on the following web-links: St Kilda & the Hebrides - Islands on the Edge of the Atlantic and The Magic Of Mull.

Autumn


Late autumn on Islay sees the arrival of geese, gathering in large, noisy flocks at dawn and dusk. Known as the ‘Queen of the Hebrides’, its lush grass fields attract wintering geese in their thousands. A mix of Barnacle, Greater White-fronted, Brent and Greylag Geese, are found in smaller feeding flocks throughout the island. Other wildfowl, including Scoter, Scaup and Pintail Ducks are often seen in the sheltered bays around the island. Common and Grey Seals bask on the rocks, while Otters forage along the shores.Early autumn is the rutting season and our Ardnamurchan Red Deer Rut tour focuses on the magnificent roaring Red Deer stags, as they defend their harems. Time each day will be spent watching the herds, perhaps being fortunate enough to witness a clash between two heavyweight rivals, their velvet-draped antlers locked in battle. There will also be opportunities to watch Pine Marten, Otter, eagles and the other wildlife that inhabits this remote peninsula.

Just across the Sound of Islay lies Jura. Very different from its close neighbour, being much more mountainous and less populated, with just one main village and around half of the island is a designated National Scenic Area. It sustains excellent populations of both Red Deer and Otter, as well as a variety of raptors. Mull is larger than both Islay and Jura, and is much more diverse in habitat. In autumn it may be somewhat damp at times, but no less spectacular! The sight of a White-tailed or Golden Eagle soaring on huge, broad wings from behind a ridge or watching the buoyant flight of a Hen Harrier hunting across the heathland more than makes up for a slightly dreich day. Cloudy days are also good for Otter spotting and watching one or two of these attractive mammals feasting at the water’s edge before noiselessly slipping back into the waves is a magical experience.

There are still a few places available on our autumn 2018 tours in Scotland.

For further details (for both 2018 and 2019 departures) please email This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it., or click on the following web-links:

Ardnamurchan - The Red Deer Rut
Islay & Jura
Islay & Mull ... In Style!

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