The wildlife of Scotland is incredible; it ranges from sea birds to birds of prey, and cows to dolphins. During my road trip around Scotland, I managed to snap photos of almost every animal I saw.
Throughout this post, I’ll be talking about the wildlife from most to least common. If you’re interested in more Scottish posts, be sure to subscribe as I have many in the works!
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So without any further ado, let’s get into the wildlife of Scotland! From the most common …
You’ll find sheep everywhere! Farmers tend to let them roam free, especially in the highlands, so be careful while driving as they do look like rocks sometimes.
On a general day, you’ll see your share of ducks, pied wagtails, starlings and robins. It’s on my bucket list to see a starling murmuration (check it out here if you haven’t heard of it before). However, I went in the summer and dusk and dawn weren’t really a thing! So if you want to see one, wintertime is best.
One of the animals I was most excited to see were the famous highland cows. And they did not disappoint!
If you go during the summer time, you’ll see their calves who are simply the most adorable thing ever. Their parents are magnificent, with huge horns, awesome emo fringes and such a calm demeanour.
These tend to be found roaming free around the highlands.
I was surprised by how many deer I saw travelling around Scotland; about 5, one had 2 babies, 2 young adult males and the beauty in the picture below, who was very close to me.
They tend to come out around dusk, but the one below was grazing around mid-morning outside of a hotel.
To get a good viewing of them, be sure to be quiet and don’t advance too close to them.
Particularly around the north coast of Scotland, seabirds are abundant.
Types of seabirds you’ll see include: great skuas, Arctic Skuas, guillemots and razorbills. There are 24 types of seabirds around Scotland, so if you’re interested birds then you can read about them here.
If you’re interested in seeing puffins, Handa Island is the best place to do so. You do need a long lens to get a photo of them, but I didn’t bring mine with me so see if you can spot the puffin in the photo.
Puffins tend to nest of the top of cliff sides, and can be easy to spot amongst skuas and gulls due to their colourful beak.
Birds of Prey
The most common bird of prey you’ll see are buzzards. They tend to be seen near main roads and motorways so keep one eye trained towards the sky.
You’ll also see Red Kites which I saw as soon as I entered Scotland. They’re pretty rare to see so if you see one, you’re very lucky!
Eagles are present in Scotland, and they aren’t too common to see, but if you’re looking then you’ll most likely see one at some point. These tend to be found more in the mountains.
While going on a wildlife cruise around the Summer Isles (which I highly recommend doing), we saw loads of seals! They really do look like rocks until they start moving. However, once you’ve caught sight of one, you’ll start to see all of them.
They can be found on the coast around Scotland, sometimes on beaches at nighttime. But to definitely see one, a wildlife cruise is your best bet.
Seeing a dolphin was the highlight of my road trip. The picture below shows common dolphins, and they were in a pod of about 40. They got so close to the boat, it was incredible.
Over time, it’s getting less and less common to see dolphins in Scottish waters. You can read about what has happened to the bottlenose dolphins here.
Porpoises are even harder to see than dolphins are, and even more impossible to photograph. They swim in pairs usually, and are very shy around humans so you might catch a glimpse and then they’re gone.
Like the other sea mammals, you’re most likely to see these around the Summer Isles.
This is where my luck ran out seeing rare animals around Scotland. Otters are incredibly rare to see, but they are there! It is best to see them on shorelines and on rocks, as they’re very difficult to make out in the water.
Whales and Orcas
Whales and orcas are the rarest animals you’ll see in Scotland. You need the perfect weather and sea conditions, and eyes all over the horizon.
If you do manage to see them, prepare to be in awe as they’re huge!