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Visit Four of Scotland’s Spectacular Species this Spring

By Robert Brooks – Finding Nature

So, Christmas and New Year have both passed, we’ve all experienced the January blues, the long-dark days are beginning to subside and the weather is starting to become a bit kinder. Do you need anymore reason to get out of the house?

I’ll assume you do and give you one more just in case… Scotland. Yes Scotland!

Home to haggis, bagpipes and the world’s shortest commercial flight, Scotland is the place to go this Spring. But, no matter how interesting the 47-second flight between Westray to Papa Westray may sound, the reason you need to get to Scotland is simply put: the wildlife.
It is spectacular.

At one minute you could be looking through binoculars at a magnificent Golden Eagle and the next be within metres of an adorable Otter. You could be sat on a boat pointing out dolphins off the coast of Oban or sat quietly in a camouflaged hide waiting for that elusive Pine Marten to show its face. Whatever it might be, I can assure you, there’s certainly something to please everyone.

With many animals, the time and places that you can expect to find them are different, this can be due their tendencies to migrate or hibernate. So, in case you’re unsure of what wildlife is around in Scotland this spring, keep reading to find out.

  1. Basking Sharks

The second biggest fish in the sea, the Basking Shark is a seasonal visitor to UK waters, being found along the west coast of Scotland from May to September. The number of individuals peak during the summer; however, some can be seen as they arrive in as early as May.

Because of their diet restricting them to plankton in the upper layers of water, their dorsal fins can often be spotted from a distance. To experience them in the best conceivable way, you’re best to jump on a boat with an experienced guide who will take you to the areas you’re most likely to see them. Better yet, why not get up-close and personal in the water with them? Some guides even give you the chance to snorkel alongside them, a truly unforgettable experience that you’re sure to remember forever.


  1. Puffins

The beautiful and striking orange beaks of these birds make them one of the most unusual species that we could hope to find in the UK. If you’re hoping to find them before April or after August, don’t expect to see any of those beautiful beaks unless your way out at sea looking for them. Even then, their striking orange is gone from their beaks and you will instead be greeted by a dusky, dark shade. This is because the colours of their beaks are dependent on their breeding season.

Luckily, April-August is the Puffin’s breeding season, this is almost the only time that they come on to land as well. So, if you’re dead set on seeing them this year, you’ll be pleased to know that they’re not incredibly hard to find. They have breeding colonies throughout Scotland. This webpage on the Wild Scotland website ( will show you a handful of tour operators who can help you spot one.

  1. Bottlenose Dolphins

Who doesn’t love dolphins?

Now let me ask that again, this time with an extra word in the question.

Who doesn’t love bottlenose dolphins?

Chances are, if you have ever seen a pod of bottlenose dolphins in the wild before, you will have found them to have been extremely charismatic. Whether it be riding the bow of the vessel or leaping out of the water, they never fail to make an impression.

Bottlenose dolphins are resident in Scotland throughout the year, but spring and summer brings calmer conditions which in turn makes them much easier to spot when they are swimming on the surface. The wonderful thing about these animals is that you can see them in the wild with relative ease. You can visit one of the many popular spotting locations such as Chanonry Point in the North or one of the many boat trips throughout Scotland. Check out Wild Scotland’s list of reputable providers (  who can take you out on a boat to see them.

  1. Pine Marten

Finally, we have the often-elusive pine marten. Whilst it can be found all-year round, spring is a great time to spot them because of the fact that a lot of tour providers who work on a seasonal basis begin running their activities in April. Just bear in mind, pine martens are nocturnal so you may need to be prepared for a late night if you’re desperate to spot one.

To spot them can be difficult, places like Glenmore Forest Park are known to have pine martens living within it. Though finding them in here will largely be by chance. Not to fear though as you can have a better chance of seeing them from inside Garbh Eilean Wildlife Hide (, about an hour drive from Fort William. You can have an even better chance with Glenloy Wildlife ( who have been offering up food for pine martens outside of their lodge for decades and because of this, visitors are able to see them coming up close to feed.

Now that you are armed with the information to see these four-spectacular species, here are some tips to make the most of your wildlife expedition:

  • Be comfortable: Make sure you wrap up warm with the right waterproofs and footwear.
  • Be prepared: If you can, try to take a pair of binoculars with you. This will help you to identify any critters that you may see from a distance.
  • Be mindful: Remember, wildlife is wild. That’s what makes it so spectacular. Try not to get too disheartened if you don’t see the animal you had hoped, there’s always another chance. Plus, being in Scotland, you will have certainly have had some unforgettable sights anyway.

Thanks for reading!

We sincerely hope you that enjoyed this article. It was written by Robert Brooks, Managing Director at Finding Nature – a new and upcoming platform where you can learn about more than 100 UK animal species and book a place on the best paid tours and activities to see them in the wild. Come check us out at




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