Scotland's Wildlife Watching Calendar

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Throughout the year, Scotland is a great place to watch wildlife. Below are some of the most popular species and the best times to see them.

Year-round there are fascinating wildlife spectacles taking place in Scotland. Spring is when the countryside comes back to life with many birds migrating back from warmer climates and a flurry of activity from inland creatures after a winter of conserving energy. The summer months are the most consistent for wildlife watching with many species present and active, but the highlights certainly include beavers who are especially industrious and basking sharks who return to our waters for this time period. The deer rut has become synonymous with autumn in Scotland and it's also a good time for seeing Atlantic Salmon leaping upriver as they make their annual migration inland. Although winter is certainly quieter in terms of wildlife watching than the other seasons, you can still observe deer, seals, dolphins and various birds. Be sure to keep your eyes peeled for the difficult to spot ptarmigan in its white winter plumage! Find out what the best time of year is to see some of our most popular species below.

Our members offer wildlife watching holidays year-round, but adapt throughout the seasons to make the best of natural events.

All Wild Scotland members operate in line with our Best Practice Guidelines in regards to sustainability, accessibility, community and safety. 

MAMMALS Winter Spring Summer Autumn
Bottlenose dolphin
  ✔ ✔  
Common dolphin
    ✔  
Common seal
✔ ✔ ✔ ✔
Grey seal
✔ ✔ ✔ ✔
Harbour porpoise
✔ ✔ ✔ ✔
Minke whale
    ✔  
Otter
✔ ✔ ✔ ✔
Pine marten
  ✔ ✔ ✔
Red deer
✔ ✔ ✔ ✔
Red deer rut
      ✔
Red squirrel
 ✔ ✔ ✔ ✔
Wildcat
       
BIRDS OF PREY Winter Spring Summer Autumn
Common buzzard
✔ ✔ ✔ ✔
Golden eagle
✔ ✔ ✔ ✔
Osprey
  ✔ ✔ ✔
Peregrine falcon
✔ ✔ ✔ ✔
Red kite
✔ ✔ ✔ ✔
White-tailed eagle
✔ ✔ ✔  
SEABIRDS Winter Spring Summer Autumn
Gannet
  ✔ ✔ ✔
Great skua
    ✔ ✔
Guillemot
  ✔ ✔ ✔
Puffin
  ✔ ✔  
Razorbill
  ✔ ✔ ✔
INLAND BIRDS Winter Spring Summer Autumn
Black grouse
  ✔ ✔  
Capercaillie
    ✔ ✔
Chough
✔ ✔ ✔ ✔
Crested tit
✔ ✔ ✔ ✔
Ptarmigan
✔ ✔ ✔ ✔
Red grouse
✔ ✔ ✔ ✔
Scottish crossbill
✔ ✔ ✔ ✔
Snow bunting
✔     ✔
WADING & GROUND NESTING BIRDS Winter Spring Summer Autumn
Corncrake
  ✔ ✔  
Dotterel ✔ ✔ ✔ ✔
Greylag goose
✔ ✔ ✔ ✔
Oystercatcher
✔ ✔ ✔ ✔
Pink-footed goose
✔     ✔
Red-necked phalarope
    ✔  
Red-throated diver
  ✔ ✔  
FISH Winter Spring Summer Autumn
Atlantic salmon
    ✔ ✔
Basking shark     ✔  
PLANTS Winter Spring Summer Autumn
Bell heather
    ✔ ✔
Bluebells   ✔    
Machair
  ✔ ✔  
Scottish primrose   ✔