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Wildlife

Wildlife

Because the level of human disturbance in the Highlands is low, wildlife thrives. Birds and animals, rare or extinct elsewhere in Britain, are therefore often found in numbers.

Hillside
Mountains are home to red deer, blue hare, golden eagle and raven. Ptarmigan, dotterel and snow bunting nest there too, while red grouse and skylarks prefer the lower open moorland. Across both mountain and moorland fox and wildcat hunt, as do peregrine and hen harrier. Hooded crows scavenge. Curlew, golden plover and greenshank with their plaintive calls herald the spring.

Woodland
Woods and forests are home to pine martens, badgers, roe deer and red squirrels. A wide variety of birds is found including woodpeckers, buzzards, the Scottish crossbill and crested tits. Capercaillie and black grouse may be seen in forests clearings. Adders and slow-worms are also common.

Farmland
On farmland, hares and rabbits thrive. Sparrows, finches and wagtails, amongst other birds, nest in hedgerows away from sparrowhawks. Kestrels hover in search of food. The rare corncrake, still found in parts of the west, is more often heard than seen. On rough pasture land native domestic breeds such as Highland cattle and Soay sheep graze contentedly.

River and loch
Rivers and lochs abound in salmon and trout. Charr, too, are found in some of the higher lochs. In spring, otters leave the coast and follow the rivers upstream in search of fish. River birds include dippers, herons, ducks and mergansers. The lochs are home to red and black throated divers, while sandpipers flit along the lochside. Frogs, toads and newts are common.

Seashore
Seals and porpoises play around the coast, as do dolphins and basking sharks. Seabirds, including guillemots, gannets, kittiwakes, puffins, fulmars and several types of gull, nest in great numbers. Shellfish cling to the rocks and razorshells may be seen spouting water along the beach when the tide goes out.

Insect life
A huge variety of insect life abounds including butterflies such as the Scotch Argus, dragonflies, clegs (horseflies) and the fearsome highland midge.

Past and future
In the past bears, wild boar, elk, beavers and wolves roamed the Highlands; all were hunted to extinction. Recently, a number of species have returned or been reintroduced: reindeer, capercaillie, sea eagles, red kites and ospreys. Mention too has been made of reintroducing wolves, bears and beavers, so who knows what the future will hold?

3 Results


Images: 50Birds
Images: 21Fish
Images: 26Mammals

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High Life Highland is a company limited by guarantee registered in Scotland No. SC407011 and is a registered Scottish charity No. SC042593
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