Monday, 20 December 2010

A Roost for the Night...

"As the night draws in and you close the front door on the cold winter day, spare a thought for small birds as they embark upon the long chilly night. Some of these birds, such as blue tits, great tits and wrens, seek cavities in which to roost overnight, sometimes huddling together to keep warm. Millions of nest boxes are provided in UK gardens and these might provide an ideal network of ‘bedrooms’ for these birds. Help the British Trust for Ornithology to find out more, and discover the species roosting in your garden, by participating in their Roosting Survey."

Taken from British Trust for Ornithology's Roosting Survey website.

Tuesday, 30 November 2010

Snow: great time to watch red kites

Check out this video of red kites feeding in the snow. Taken at Argaty Red Kites, near Stirling, Scotland last year.

Thursday, 28 October 2010

Autumnwatch on Isle of Mull this week

Autumnwatch are paying Mull Eagle Watch a visit again this week. Presenters Chris Packham and Martin Hughes-Games are on Mull recording a whole host of stories.

Look out for the show on the 4th November.

More info on the Autumnwatch website.

Wednesday, 13 October 2010

Unusual sighting of Northern parula on Tiree (normally found in the Americas!)

The Inner Hebridean island of Tiree has recorded the first ever Scottish sighting of a tiny bird more usually seen in the United States. The northern parula, which is smaller than a blue tit, must have been blown thousands of miles off course by strong westerly winds during its migration to Central America.

This brightly coloured warbler has been recorded previously in England and Northern Ireland, but the Tiree bird is a first for Scotland.

It appeared on September 25 in the garden of local RSPB Scotland officer John Bowler, who has planted native trees to attract such migrant birds.

John said: “The Northern parula is such a beautiful bird, it’s been a real treat to have it as a visitor on Tiree. It caused quite a stir among twitchers, and we’ve had about 75 people come to the island just to get a glimpse of it, which has been great for the local economy. It’s actually the first major twitch we’ve ever had on Tiree, so we’ve had two firsts!”

Monday, 11 October 2010

The Rut is Underway!

The red deer rut is now underway, with stags bellowing on the hillside to warn challengers off as they lay claim to their harem of hinds. The sound of the stags has been described as "something between a chainsaw and a burp". Now if that doesn't intrigue you...

Wild West
are running trips to watch the rut. Trips will run daily, on demand at 13.00. For the real enthusiasts, they are also offering a "Dawn patrol", aiming to be with the rut at first light when most of the activity takes place. For more details and to book, visit

Wednesday, 25 August 2010

Back from the Bird Fair

We're back from our fifth successful year at The Bird Fair at Rutland Water, Leicestershire. We welcomed over 1000 people to our stand over the three days and thanks to everyone who came to say hello. On Saturday we were joined by a piper who added a touch of Scotland to the fair.

As well as encouraging people to come to Scotland to watch wildlife, this year we were also promoting Scotland Outdoors magazine. If you're interested in Scotland's nature and outdoors, then this is definitely the magazine for you. Four editions a year and an annual subscription of only £10 (usually £3.80 per edition).

Special thanks to the team who helped on the stand (in order of picture above) Robbie Sheddon, our piper, Debby Thorne (Mull Eagle Watch), Richard Rowe (Scotland Outdoors), Caroline Warburton (Wild Scotland), Adrian Davis (Wildoutdoors) and Angela Mercer (Glenloy Wildlife).

Wednesday, 18 August 2010

The Seal and the Octopus...

Check out this great picture of a seal eating an octopus.

It was captured by a passenger sailing with Turus Mara on a trip from Mull to Iona.

There are some other great wildlife pictures from their trips at their 'Island Lass' blog.

Tuesday, 17 August 2010

Shetland otters...

Check out the adorable otter pictures on Brydon Thomson's Shetland Nature Otter Blog. Is this a perfect job or what!

He writes...
"Finally managed to upload a few images from my Otter antics over passed couple of months. This sequence are from an encounter I enjoyed in late July, of a mother with her two cubs. It was a beautiful still summers night, but unfortunately the light was rank. It was a fantastic encounter none the less, I was with them for nearly two hours, at one point down to about 20feet as the cubs play fought in front of me in a mirror calm rock pool. This family are not animals I know well as they are at a location I do not normally visit, I reckoned the cubs to be about 10 months old".

To see the pictures, click here.

Sunday, 15 August 2010

Latest from Ardnamurchan Charters

Whatever the time of year, there's always great wildlife watching in Scotland, here's an update of the week's sightings from west coast wildlife boat trip operator, Ardnamurchan Charters:

"We've seen bottlenose dolphins in the harbour of the island of Muck (one of the Small Isles) the last few times we've visited which was a lovely way to be escorted in. Although the breeding bird numbers are best at the start of the season at this time of year, the basking sharks are in their highest numbers at the moment and the grey seals out at the Cairns of Coll are getting ready to pup next month."

More info: Ardnamurchan Charters

Friday, 13 August 2010

Hen harrier chicks making good progress at Clyde Muirshiel

The hen harrier chicks continue to do well at Clyde Muirshiel Regional Park, near Greenock, under the watchful eye (well lense) of a camera which is beaming live footage back to the Muirshiel Visitor Centre.

Hen harriers are a scarce breeding species in Scotland. Creatures of the moor, they nest on the ground and feed on small birds and mammals.

At time of writing the first chick had just started feeding for itself. You can follow the chick via the Rangers Blog on the Clyde Muirshiel Regional Park website or visit the centre yourself.

Thursday, 12 August 2010

Summer of Great Wildlife Sightings from the Outer Hebrides

Outer Hebrides based cruise company, Island Cruising have reported a summer of interesting sightings, despite some bad weather.

Skipper and owner, Murdo MacDonald said that this year had been unprecedented for the large number of basking sharks (pictured) in the area, at times seeing 10 individuals together. He'd also had great sightings of orca (killer whales), as well as two sunfish (pictured). These are bizarre looking animals which are found in tropical and temperate waters feed on jellyfish. A few are spotted off the west coast each year although this is at the very tip of their range.

Island Cruising have been running cruises around the beautiful Western Isles and out to St Kilda for many years and offer a range of wildlife, activity and island hopping cruises through the spring and summer season.

More info: Island Cruising

Tuesday, 10 August 2010

Calling Wildlife Photographers: red squirrel hide available for hire.

Photography holiday company, Northshots have made their purpose-built red squirrel photography hide available for hire.

Set in a small pine forest clearing in the Cairngorms National Park in the Highlands of Scotland, the hide is perfect for capturing great images at close quarters.

Click here for more details.

Scotland's oldest osprey leaves for her African migration

Lady, the oldest breeding osprey has left its nesting site at Loch of the Lowes in Perthshire. This amazing bird has bred at the nature reserve near Dunkeld 20 times and raised a staggering 48 chicks.

Following a strange illness in June, there is some discussion about whether she will make her 3,000 mile migration to Africa and return to Scotland next summer.

The drama of the Loch of the Lowes ospreys has been followed minute by minute by thousands of people around the world, thanks to a camera in the birds' nest which is beamed live on the internet.

Although the female has left, the chicks are still around and will leave shortly.

Check them out on the Scottish Wildlife Trust webcam.

Monday, 2 August 2010

Festival of Politics: Environmental Photography Workshop

Environmental Photography Workshop
Thursday 12 August, 11.00 (13.00) Committee Room 4 FREE*
Join professional nature photographer and founding director of both the Tooth & Claw predator project and Wild Wonders of Europe, Peter Cairns. Following a short talk by the photographer about recent work, there will be time to discuss with this expert his approaches and techniques in wildlife and environmental photography.

More info: click here.

Friday, 23 July 2010

Great news for Torridon sea eagles

RSPB staff joined Wild Scotland member, Torridon Sea Tours recently to go and ring a white-tailed eagle chick on Shieldaig Island.

The excitement about this chick is that it's the first chick be raised on the island and shows how this one persecuted bird is starting to expand its range.

Gemma Livingstone of Torridon Sea Tours said 'we have had some fantastic sightings of the adults and their chick recently. The eagles were not introduced to our area but have came of their own accord and hopefully they will be there for a long time to come.'

More info: Torridon Sea Tours

Monday, 19 July 2010

The Caithness Challenge

Up in the north of Scotland for your holidays this month? Well, why not have a go at The Caithness Challenges. A series of events are taking place from 23-25 July as London 2012 Open Weekend.

More info from the Dunnet Head Educational Trust website.

Friday, 16 July 2010

Praise indeed for Wild West Safaris

It just goes to show that wildlife watching can create some of the best memories from a holiday, and Wild West near Fort William certainly helped make their guests' trip.

Here's a quote from a very contented customer:
"Just wanted to say thank you, for the best day we have ever had in all the years we have been visiting Scotland.

"The trip to Kinloch Hourn, one we have made several times before ourselves, was made so very special by the abundance of wildlife, your knowledge of the local history, the plant life, Billy's boat trip to Barrisdale Island & yes, even the bugs.

"I doubt will we ever find anything to match that day, we will keep trying though".

Wild West is run by Ian MacLeod and offer wildlife-watching 'safari' tours up Glen Garry and the Great Glen in the Highlands of Scotland. For more details about their trips, click here.

Thursday, 15 July 2010

Huge group of basking sharks off Small Isles

A group of over 50 basking sharks has been seen together off the north coast of Canna, the most westerly of The Small Isles.

The sighting was reported by Bella Jane Boat Trips who run wildlife-watching boat trips from Elgol, on Skye.

The picture is of a basking shark jumping clear out of the water. It was taken in a similar area last year by Sea Life Surveys who run trips from Tobermory on Mull.

Wednesday, 14 July 2010

Common seal pups about...

It's been really windy here in Scotland this week which can thwart plans to go to sea, however there's still lots to see at the coast. Ardnamurchan Charters have been watching 2-3 week old common seal pups this week in Loch Teacuis and Loch Sunart. Aaaah!

For details about this week's sailings, click here.

Wednesday, 7 July 2010

Common dolphins in their hundreds off Skye

A group of wildlife spotters has encountered a massive pod of dolphins on a boat trip off the north coast of Skye.

Wild Scotland member, Hebridean Whale Cruises, who operatoe out of Gairloch on the west coast, estimated there were about 1,000 short-beaked common dolphin.

For more info and a video, click here (link to BBC website)

Friday, 2 July 2010

Great sightings of basking sharks off the West Coast

West coast boat operator, Ardnamurchan Charters are reporting that there are loads of basking sharks around at the moment. These harmless creatures are the second largest fish in the world and an increasing number of them are spending their summers in Scottish waters.

They also report that the Treshnish Islands off the coast of Mull are looking great - packed full of seabirds as always. If you want to see the seabird colonies at their best, now's the time.

You can keep up to date with their sightings by clicking here.

More information about boat trips, go to Ardnamurchan Charters

Wednesday, 23 June 2010

Check out the acrobatic Moray Firth dolphins!

There are loads of great whale, dolphin and basking shark sightings at the moment. Get out there and see them for yourselves!

This great video was filmed last week onboard Moray Diving, who run trips from Lossiemouth. They also saw six orca last week (alas no photos!).

There are two other great videos, click here to see them.

Monday, 21 June 2010

Firsts for two Wild Scotland members on Mull

Two Wild Scotland members on Mull have become firsts in different areas:

Sea Life Surveys: first boat operator in Scotland to reach Gold in the Green Tourism Business Scheme

Islandscape Photography
: awarded 4 stars and graded as 'Excellent' by VisitScotland under their 'Tour' quality assurance scheme.

Congratulations to both organisations!

Thursday, 17 June 2010

Naturally it was a Wild Week!

Here's the lowdown from Rosie of Wild Rose Escape about their Naturally Wild Week during May. Sounds like a great way to spend a week in the Highlands...

'We have just had a wonderful week at East Rhidorroch Lodge. The weather could not have been better, with scorching sunshine when we were on Handa Island! A big thank-you to Julie for her expertise at the beginning of the week and also Paul who cooked up some wonderful feasts, including mussels we had foraged from the shore. We spent the week looking out for wild plants, foraging for our supper and spotting birds. On our last day we spotted a golden eagle in the crags, which was a real treat and a delight to watch. Next year we will be running our wild week at the same time of year if you would like to join us.

Other holidays offered by Wild Rose Escapes:
Fleece to Felt: July 24th-30th (places available)
Learn a traditional craft in the Highlands and have holiday at the same time. Staying in a beautifully renovated old school house, home cooking, open fires, foraging for dye plants, natural dying your fleece, croft visits with hand shearing demonstrations and of course learn to felt using Highland as well as Mongolian techniques.

Family Escapes: Half terms, Easter holidays, July & August
Need to worry about cooking for the week you can have the freedom of a self catering cottage with delicious meals supplied so you can all properly relax. Choose from activities such as, wild food foraging for the family, beach days, rib ride to see the seals, bird watching, storytelling in the tipi and wildlife walks as well as much more...

West Coast Relaxation Week: September 11th -17th (places available)
Come and truly relax, with morning yoga run by Joanie, delicious healthy breakfasts, local walks to stunning sandy beaches, felting and art workshops, bread baking and evening massage and relaxation workshops.

Further information:

Wednesday, 16 June 2010

True value of wildlife tourism

Wildlife tourism worth over £60 million a year to the Scottish economy

£65 million - that's the value of dedicated wildlife tourism to Scotland as stated in a report by Bournemouth University announced today.

The £65 million relates to the 1.12 million trips taken each year by wildlife watching enthusiasts and which support 2,763 FTE jobs.

Commenting on the report, Wild Scotland chairman Ben Mardall (pictured) said,

'We're delighted that this report have been published, particularly as many of our members were involved in the study. The results confirm that wildlife tourism is now a significant part of the Scottish tourism economy, employing over 2500 individuals. The report focusses on only the dedicated wildlife watchers so just think how many more people include a wildlife trip as part of their holiday to Scotland.

'Wild Scotland has worked hard to get the wildlife tourism sector recognised as a key part of the tourism industry and this report helps highlight its value as well as some of the issues which need to be addressed in order for more visitors to enjoy the fantastic wildlife-watching that Scotland has to offer'.

The study, titled 'The Economic Impact of Wildlife Tourism in Scotland', was launched today by Richard Lochead, MSP, Scottish Cabinet Secretary for Rural Affairs and the Environment.

Further information

Thursday, 10 June 2010

Don't mess with me as buzzard meets its match!

How's this for a spectacular shot?

Mull photographer Iain Erskine, who holds a special licence, captured the image while accompanying an RSPB team to a nest where eaglets were to be ringed.

Read the full story here.

Wildlife Sightings Update from Discover Mull

Here's a entry from Arthur Brown of Discover Mull's blog:

"June 8th was a fabulous day for the Mull specialities with a great start when a male hen harrier flew all round us as we were having coffee and biscuits. We then went to a golden eagle site and had terrific views of both birds sitting and flying. Whilst we were watching the eagles we spotted 3 red deer stags on a crag just below the skyline, the guests loved it, golden eagles on the wing and stags in the same view - the epitome of a Scottish scene!

"Later we watched a white-tailed eagle feeding a chick which made us all feel hungry so we went and had lunch of welcome hot soup and sandwiches which included, dare I say it, venison!

"After lunch we can an even better sighting of a white-tailed eagle and then an otter sighting - my best one of the year. We watched it for half an hour as it fished and then brought a large crab out onto a rock to eat, as you can imagine our guests were delighted.

"In a nutshell, a great time was had by all with no disturbance to the wildlife whatsoever, something we pride ourselves on."

Other species seen by Discover Mull during May:
  • Summer plummage dunlin, black-tailed godwits and whimbrel all passing through Mull on their way north
  • Great-northern and red-throated divers
  • A rare treat of pair of bee-eaters who stayed around for a few days
  • Corncrake seen on our special trip to Iona for Wild Isles Week on Mull

More info

Friday, 4 June 2010

The Big Bug Hunt! Cluny House Gardens, near Aberfeldy

Spend a morning or an afternoon with Craig Macadam Buglife’s Scottish Conservation Officer looking for and identifying garden bugs.

Learn how important all the wee creatures are in our gardens. On Tuesday the 22nd June he will be leading an event at Wild Scotland member, Cluny House Gardens, Aberfeldy from 10.30 to 12.30 and from 2.30 to 4.30 he will be at the Wildlife Garden in Pitlochry. The cost will be £4/person. All proceeds will go towards red squirrel and bird food for both gardens.

For Cluny, please contact Wendy Mattingley 01887 820795 and for the Pitlochry Wildlife Garden please contact Sally Spaven 01796 472020. Booking is essential as numbers are restricted.

About Buglife
: The Invertebrate Conservation Trust is the first organisation in Europe devoted to the conservation of all invertebrates, and are actively engaged in saving Britain's rarest bugs, slugs, snails, bees, wasps, ants, spiders, beetles and many more fascinating little animals. Buglife’s aim is to halt the extinction of invertebrate species and to achieve sustainable populations of invertebrates.

The events at Cluny and the Pitlochry Wildlife Garden are coinciding with National Insect Week 2010, 21st – 27th June. During that week, on the website and at hundreds of local events around the UK, there is the opportunity to “Discover Diversity in the World of Insects”.

National Insect Week is organized by the Royal Entomological Society, supported by a large number of partner organizations concerned with many aspects of insect science, natural history and biodiversity

Thursday, 3 June 2010

Seaprobe Atlantis: best wildlife events in the UK

Glass bottom boat, Seaprobe Atlantis based at the Kyle of Lochalsh on the West Coast of Scotland was in the top ten best wildlife events in the UK in the Daily Telegraph recently.

It was part of their National Wildlife Fortnight focus, and was providing ideas for wildlife-watching over the summer half-term break.

Read the full story here.

Wednesday, 2 June 2010

Speyside is UK's top wildlife spot says Chris Packham

Speyside in the Cairngorms National Park was heralded as one of the best wildlife areas in the UK last week.

During the Norfolk launch of BBC Springwatch's programme this week, naturalist and TV presenter Chris Packham commented:

"It [Norfolk] is up there as one of the best eco-tourist attractions in the country. You've got Speyside in Scotland, and then you've got north Norfolk."

Too right, Chris! And the rest of Scotland is equally amazing too!

Click here for more information about the Cairngorms region

Quote taken from article in

Sunday, 30 May 2010

Happy 10th Birthday Scottish Seabird Centre

It's the Scottish Seabird Centre at North Berwick's 10th Birthday this year so there are extra special events taking place.

One in particular is on Sunday 4th July when the Radio Forth Roadshow will be live from the centre.

Enjoy a fun packed afternoon at the big summer beach party to celebrate their 10th birthday with the help of top DJs Boogie and Dingo There will be fun and games, food and drink and lots of prizes to be won. Get there for 12.30pm and the fun starts at 1pm. There’s no charge – so go and have a free fun day out.

More information: Scottish Seabird Centre.

Friday, 28 May 2010

Cream o'Galloway goes Batty

Award-winning environmental visitor attraction, Cream o'Galloway near Castle Douglas in Dumfries and Galloway is going batty next week with their 'Bat Night'.

On Wednesday 2nd June, there will be an evening of bat spotting as well as other fun activities about bats. Event starts at 8.30pm (finish by 10.30pm). Bring a torch and some warm clothes.
Cost: £2.50
Booking essential - call 01557 815 222

The day after on Thursday 3rd June at 11am, they're holding a 'Hedgerow Safari'. Search for small mammals in the hedgerow habitats of Cream o' Galloway and find out why the organic lands of Rainton Farm are so valuable, with staff from OMSCO, the Organic Milk Suppliers Cooperative.
Cost: free
Booking not essential

Cream o'Galloway run great events for kids so if you're looking for something to entertain them (and yourselves), then head over to Cream o'Galloway.

Oh, and did I mention that they also make organic ice-cream!

For more info, visit the Cream o'Galloway website.

Wednesday, 19 May 2010

Spring is Swinging with Wild West Safaris

Here's a quick update from Ian Macleod of Wild West Safaris on what he's been seeing recently over in the West.

'Well, spring is now swinging along nicely, with the verges and woodlands carpeted with wood anemones and primroses, plus bluebells starting to put in an appearance. The osprey at Loch Lochy is sitting on eggs and the sea eagles are active on Loch Arkaig. A healthy population of scoter (see picture) are resident on Loch Garry. I was told by the local warden there are 24 birds on the loch, approximately 25 per cent of the Scottish nesting population.

'I'm also regularly seeing black and red throated diver on the trips, and butterfly are on the wing. Saw my first chequered skipper of the season yesterday, at Allt Mhuic on Loch Arkaig.

'An early start last week found black grouse still lekking just outside Fort William and half an hour spent sitting at the mouth of the river Lochy in front of the underwater centre, not far from the town centre proved very fruitful with an otter swimming and feeding happily in front of me. You don't need to go to wild, remote places to see these charismatic creatures.'

Ian runs Wild West Safaris, located near Fort William. For more information about his trips, click here.

Tuesday, 13 April 2010

The Whales are Back!

Hot off the press, the first minke whale of the season was spotted today in the Hebrides by a yachtsman.

Also 12 bottlenose dolphinsw seen travelling up the Sound of Mull from Craignure.

Thursday, 4 March 2010

Wildlife Sightings from the Ardnamurchan Peninsula

The West Coast of Scotland is a great spot for wildlife watching. Located on the western most peninsula of the British mainland, Ardnamurchan Charters are recording all their wildlife sightings.

This month (and yes, we're only just in March) they've reported a group of six harbour porpoises feeding just off Resipole.

There were plenty of sightings in January and February too. It just goes to show that Scotland's as great for wildlife in the winter as it is in the summer!

To see the Ardnamurchan Charters sightings board, click here.

For other sightings from the West Coast, visit the Hebridean Whale and Dolphin Trust website

Friday, 19 February 2010

An Utterly Otterly Day on Mull

Here's a excerpt from Pam and Arthur Brown of Discover Mull's diary this week. It goes to show that wildlife-watching is great throughout the year, and Mull is a great place to see otters!

'The weather was cloudy after a flurry of overnight snow. Cold, but calm. We were out with a couple of friends on a day out and what a wonderful day we had.

'At our first stop we were lucky enough to find an otter feeding by the harbour. We also saw 2 white-tailed eagles which flew over us as we watched the otter.

'A great northern diver was seen at the next stop, another 17 were to follow during the day.

'A short while later we spotted 2 more otters then a large herd of red deer. More otters were then seen along with a great view of a golden eagle sitting on a rock at the top of a hill. Oh, and then another 3 otters!

'As we headed to where we would have our lunch we spotted a kestrel and another 3 otters.

'Lunch was a quiet affair (i.e. no otters) but we did see teal, goldeneye, wigeon, red-breasted mergansers, some Slavonian grebes and a very close grey heron.

'After lunch we set off again to look for more golden eagles but instead saw 2 more white-tailed eagles.

'At the next stop both common and grey seals were seen and then as we journeyed on we spotted another 4 otters. This time they were very close to the shore and we had to crouch down low to watch the cubs frolicking in the water whilst their mum was fishing. Each time she caught a fish she brought it onto the seaweed to give to her cubs.

'At tea break we saw 3 more otters and this brought our otter total for the day to 19! Our previous best daily total was a meagre 10.

'We went into a snowy glen to look for flying eagles but instead were amazed by a herd of over 50 red deer feeding on the lower ground due to the ice and snow.

'We desperately wanted the 20th otter of the day and spent the last hour rushing to an area where we had not been on the tour and yes we found one!

'We had seen 20 diffent otters in an unforgettable day. We just could not believe or stop laughing at our good fortune. Isn't wildlife wonderful'.

To join Pam and Arthur on one of their wildlife-watching adventures, go to