Wildlife watching on Knoydart
Knoydart is home to some of the most iconic species in the Highlands. The rangers know the best times and places to see wildlife. Regular sightings include:
Buzzards – a common sight throughout the peninsula, even around the village. This large raptor can often be spotted perching on telegraph posts or soaring above the moorland looking for prey.
Red deer – There are a lot of red deer on the hills. In summer they are harder to find as they climb high into the mountains but in winter they are a common sight down by the coast and along the Airor road. Autumn is the best time to watch red deer when the stags start the rut. Listen for their impressive roaring in the glens.
Common and grey seals – Grey seals can be seen anywhere along the coast but the best place to see common seals (the rarer ones!) is around Sandaig Bay.
Grey herons – There is a heronry in the trees by the village so spotting a heron is not difficult during the summer. Even throughout the winter they can easily be seen fishing along the coast.
Oystercatchers – Long Beach is a hot spot for oystercatchers. Their black and white plumage and orange bills makes them stand out on the beach.
Dolphins and porpoise – often commonly mistaken for one another at first glance however both are not srangers to the loch and often chase the boat coming back with it’s beer run. They have been known to give us some spectacular wildlife water shows as they play in front of the village pub and the arriving ribs.
Minke whale – These fellows enjoy more open space but frequent the sound of sleat and waters towards the small isles, playing out beyond the entrance to Mallaig Harbour. Wy ot charter one of our excellent local boats to take you whale spotting for the day, sightings are more common than you might think and the operators keep in touch with each other to communicate pod movements in the area to help you get your sighting.
Knoydart is also home to some more elusive species. You can never guarantee a sighting of any wildlife but by joining the rangers your chances are much better. With some luck you may see:
Golden eagles – One pair nests on Foundation land and they can be seen just about anywhere soaring above the mountains. Best times to see them are on warm, sunny evenings.
Otters – Just after low tide otters venture out to hunt along the shore. Try spending some time at the wildlife hide at Long Beach there are a few otter olts along the shoreline look out for there tracks weaving in and out of the grassy patches that skirt the loch by the road.
Pine martens – Quite a common mammal but not often seen. Look at dawn and dusk in Inverie Woods. You are more likely to see their scats on prominent rocks and on paths.
Red-throated divers – Divers nest
on upland hill lochs but feed at sea. Look out for them on the shore in Inverie
Sea eagles – There are no sea eagles nesting on Knoydart (yet!) but every year more and more sightings are reported. The west coast of the peninsula is a good place to look.
As well as wildlife watching we have a fantastic Foundation’s Ranger Service which offers a whole range of other tailor-made walks and activities including:
- Stalking red deer with a camera
- Coastal scrambles
- Night hikes
- Team-building activities for groups
- Guided walks to the destination of your choice
The Ranger Service has also produced a wildlife-watching booklet, specific to Knoydart, which can be purchased directly from them. If you fancy striking out in your own group, contact the rangers for a list of walks leaflets, which include day walks as well as more strenuous options.
Free Guided walks
The Rangers run a series of free guided walks on Wednesdays (see below for the spring schedule). Start-point for all activities is the display room, next to the Old Forge. The 11.30am walks are timetabled so you have time to eat before catching the 3pm ferry back to Mallaig. Please note walks may be altered or cancelled depending on numbers.
Guided walks. There are a number of ranger-led guided walks; from two hour wildlife rambles in the woods to all-day hikes in the hills. The schedule for guided walks is reproduced below.
Nature trails. There are a variety of trails in Inverie woods, behind the village. These walks take you through a mix of broadleaf and coniferous woodland, home to a variety of woodland birds and mammals. Self-guiding walks leaflets which can be purchased for £1 from the Display Room. Discover some of the hidden gems to be found only minutes from Inverie village, or explore further afield in the woods or along the coast.
Mountain bike trails. There are plans to develop a series of mountain bike trails in Inverie woods behind the village. The Knoydart Forest Trust have already opened a short "skills loop", situated in the woods above the pier.