Best Places to see Wildlife in the Cairngorms

Whether you are a returning visitor or thinking about coming to the Cairngorms for its wildlife, then this may help you decide. There is no mistaking that the Cairngorms National Park is abundant with wildlife that many visitors hope to see on a visit to the area. Speyside Wildlife is based in the north of the national park but there are areas of Deeside, Perthshire and Angus that are also included in the park.

Coal Tit feeding from hand at Loch Garten (K Mennie)

In the northern end of the national park we are lucky to have a couple of RSPB reserves that are easily accessible for all. Loch Garten Nature reserve, located in the heart of the Abernethy forest, is home to woodland species such as Red Squirrel and Crested Tit that can often be seen at the feeders in cold weather. There is visitor centre during the breeding season and bird feeders where Red Squirrels are daily visitors and Coal Tit feed from your hands.

Male Hen Harrier (James Stevens)
Insh Marshes (James Shooter/ SBP)

Nestled between the village of Kingussie and Kincraig, is the Insh Marshes reserve. As the name suggests, this is a large wetland area stretching for 10 square km. At the main lookout tower there is a hide for shelter and lookout point where, with a bit of patience and good optics you can spot a variety of wildlife species. Roe Deer often graze in front of the hide when water levels are low, wildfowl such as Teal and Wigeon on the lochans and wintering Whooper swans. It is one of the few places in the area where Hen Harrier hunt over the marshes and Golden Eagle can be seen over distant hill sides.

Dipper (Sue Healey)

In the old market town of Grawntown-on-Spey, there is a community owned woodland, Anagach Woods. There is a network of accessible paths and bird feeders dotted throughout, meaning close views of Red Squirrel and other woodland birds can be had. Walk down to the old Spey bridge for Dipper and Grey Wagtails.

Ptarmigan (Colin Scott)

Cairngorm Mountain itself is home to more specialist species such as Ptarmigan, Snow Bunting and Mountain Hare. Although harder to find, a well-planned walk into the hills can give you the best chance to see these species. In the summer months Dotterel and Ring Ouzel are also possible to see here.

Black Grouse – Ballater (Duncan Mcdonald)

Upper Deeside on the east side of the park has a lot to offer, with a lot of open moorland to explore. Glen Tanar has many woodland paths where Crossbill and Raptors are often seen. For hillwalkers a walk to Mount Keen could give you sightings of Grouse species and Red Deer. Loch Kinord at Dinnet is a great place to see wintering Whooper swan, Warblers in the Spring and Adders. A short distance from Ballater is Glenshee, home to Mountain Hare, Ptarmigan and the Mar lodge estate with its wild landscape and woodlands. The wild glens of Angus including Glen Isla and Glen Clova are both hidden gems where raptors are abundant.

Glen Clova (K Mennie)

The Cairngorms National Park truly is a fantastic place for all sorts of wildlife species and Speyside especially has a lot to offer in a small space. Speyside Wildlife offer local holidays throughout the year, as well as guided days out and an evening wildlife watching hide. If you wish to speak to us about what you hope to see on your next trip, visit our website.