The landscape of Knoydart provides habitat to a wide variety of wildlife. The years of deforestation are being gradually reversed and extensive restructuring and native woodland regeneration is being managed. This is being undertaken for several reasons and will contribute improved wildlife habitat for the future.
From boat trips around Inverie Bay, walks through the woodland, rivers, and up to the mountain tops, if you are patient and careful there is always an opportunity to do some wildlife watching. Listed below are some of the notable species you should keep a look out for.
Celebrated as the 'Monarch of the Glen', red deer are the largest land mammal in Britain and are widespread across Scotland numbering between 350 - 400,000. In the summer months, as the name suggests, the deer have a dark red/brown hide which turns to a darker brown/grey colour in the winter. The stags (males) are distinguishable by their impressive antlers and are larger in size in comparison to hinds (females). Antlers are shed each year in the spring and can sometimes be spotted lying on the ground around the glens and fields. Red deer sometimes eat their cast antlers to absorb more calcium which is lacking in their diet. The herds tend to spend the summer months high on the hills, and move down to lower ground in the winter where food is easier to find. Knoydart is also home to a population of woodland dwelling roe deer and the occasional sika.
The best time to see and hear red stags is during the 'rut' every autumn, when reduced levels of light trigger a surge in testosterone and the barking, roaring and clashing of antlers can be heard deep in to the night as the stags compete for power in the upcoming mating season. Contact our Ranger Service for details of red deer rut Landrover tours in October/November.
Birds of Prey (Raptors)
Knoydart is home to a variety of birds of prey, and with some planning and patience some can be spotted displaying, hunting and defending their territory. Buzzards are abundant in Knoydart and can be spotted in the woodland areas, perched on fence posts and are regularly seen soaring over the village. The most vocal of raptors, their distinctive call and displays are most prominent in spring. Golden Eagles, which are much larger in size than buzzards, can also be seen soaring and displaying during the mating season. While there are no resident white-tailed sea eagles, these impressive birds can be spotted hunting around the coast. The sea eagles you might see are either descendants or re-introduced birds from Norway as the last indigenous sea eagle in Scotland was shot at Unst/Shetland in 1917. A re-introduction programme has been running in Scotland since 1976 and there is now an established breeding population of around 100 pairs. Keep an eye out for common kestrels, sparrow hawks, barn owls and tawny owls as these impressive hunters can all be seen on Knoydart.
Otters can be seen around the shores of Inverie Bay, Loch Nevis and Loch Hourn - hunting, swimming and relaxing on their backs during the summer months. If you spend some time near the wildlife hides on Long Beach or around the shore at Millburn, you might be lucky enough to spot the otters coming in and out of their holts or weaving paths through the tall grass.
Otters are playful, curious animals that enjoy company and can often be spotted in pairs playing in the water as the sun sets over the Loch. They are also clever hunters with a staple diet of fish supplemented by crabs, frogs and shellfish.
Whales & Dolphins
If visiting in the spring or summer months then a day trip with one of our ferry providers is a must. Knoydart is perfectly situated for spotting a wide variety of sea life, both in Loch Nevis and going further out to the Small Isles and north to Loch Hourn and Glenelg. Common dolphins are regular visitors and sometimes large pods appear outside the opening of the loch, and they can remain in the area for weeks at a time. These playful animals will often engage with the bow waves created by the boats and follow the wake for miles.
Porpoises, minke whales and basking sharks are other regular sighted species at certain times of the year. There are also occasional sightings of more elusive cetaceans such as killer whale, fin whale and bottlenose dolphins.
Other Birdlife To Look Out For
Various passerine species including finches, swallows, wagtails, great tit, blue tit, grasshopper warbler, plovers, wheatear, goosander, red breasted merganser, dipper, grey heron, oystercatcher, sandpiper, curlew, red throated diver, eider, shag, cormorant.
Other Mammals To Look Out For
Fox, badger, pine martin, roe deer, goats, mountain hare, common seal, grey seal, water vole, pipestrelle, daubenton’s and long-eared bats.
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