Wildlife in the Cairngorms

You won’t find a better place to spot wildlife in the UK, especially rare breeds, as the Cairngorms is home to a quarter of Britain’s threatened species…

Want to see a wildcat, red squirrel, osprey, pine marten, golden eagle or rutting deer? In the Cairngorms you can, with the 9 national nature reserves across the park protecting an amazing array of wildlife, so you can see them up close and personal. 

The Cairngorms National Park is habitat to many endangered, unique and rare species which live alongside their human neighbours.

As the Cairngorms has such diverse landscapes, this provides a rich variety of habitats for wildlife and explains why the Park houses an amazing 25% of all the UK's endangered species.

These species include ospreys, the Scottish wildcat, golden eagle, red squirrel, snow bunting, lapwing, crested tit, dotterel and black grouse.

wildlife in the Cairngorms
Craigellachie Nature Reserve (photo: Jonathan Macintosh)
Craigellachie Nature Reserve (photo: Jonathan Macintosh)
To protect this diverse, unique wildlife, there are 9 National Nature Reserves across the Park.

These not only protect the wildlife, but they also provide a fantastic opportunity for wildlife lovers to observe animals, in their habit, at close quarters.

Reserves include: Abernethy, Corrie Fee, Craigellachie, Glen Tanar, Glenmore, Insh Marshes, Invereshie and Inshriach, Mar Lodge Estate and Muir of Dinnet.


What wildlife can I see in the Cairngorms?

A favourite Cairngorms local wild resident to spot is the red squirrel, another is the pine marten. Bird lovers flock here because so many unusual birds do, too, such as the ptarmigan, the osprey and the golden eagle, to name just a few. Browse these pages for articles about wildlife and where to spot them! Or, if you want to up your chances, browse our listings of wildlife guides.

How can I guarantee spotting some wildlife?

Of course, one guaranteed way would be to take a visit to the Highland Wildlife Park, or the butterfly farm at Landmark Forest Adventure Park, or the Cairngorm Reindeer Centre on Cairngorm Mountain. Another way to increase your chances is to hire an experienced guide who will have the inside knowledge of the best places to try.

Where are good places to spot wildlife in the Cairngorms?

There are many National Nature Reserves dotted throughout the entire Park and these protected spaces are a great place to spot wildlife. If you want to spot rare beasts like ptarmigan, snow buntings and mountains hares, however, you need to get up to higher ground. You’ll also find ‘hides’ – shelters positioned in places where wildlife congregate – dotted throughout the park.

wildlife in the Cairngorms

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