Nature and Wildlife
One of Argyll's best-kept secrets is that we have rainforests! Originally covering much of the West Coast of Scotland, only fragments of these ‘temperate rainforest’s’ have survived their 7000 year journey, and are home to a wealth of wildlife. Mosses, lichens and ferns thrive in the mild, humid climate of Argyll. A wide range of insect life including butterflies, moths and dragonflies flourish in flower rich grasslands and water-logged bogs.
From the green and tranquil rainforest of Argyll to the region’s glorious coastline, visitors are offered some of the best opportunities to get close and personal with some of Scotland’s most important species including sea birds, birds of prey, deer, red squirrels, beavers, seals, dolphins, porpoises, basking sharks and even minke whales.
Scottish Beaver Trial Knapdale
This very special experience gives you a chance to look for signs of beavers living and breeding in the wild in Argyll. The release of 3 families of beavers into the woods and waterways of Knapdale in 2009 is a scientifically-monitored trial to see whether they should be reintroduced permanently. The best time to see them swimming around tends to be in the early morning and evening. Bring your binoculars, walking boots and midge nets.
The red squirrel is one of our most popular and well loved mammals, it is Britain’s only native squirrel and has been part of our fauna for thousands of years. Argyll is one of the few places where this very special animal can still be seen. Only 120,000 red squirrels remain in Scotland, around 75% of the total UK population due to the grey squirrel. The bushy tail and tufted ears combine to make the red squirrel one of the country's most endearing mammals.
Row & Red Deer
Native roe and red deer can be found in much of the woodlands and forests of Argyll, and have been present in Britain since the end of the last ice age. The celebrated 'Monarch of the Glen', the red deer stag is a Scottish icon. It is the largest land mammal in Britain and is widespread throughout Scotland. With an estimated 300,000 red deer in Scotland, you are never too far away from a population. The breeding season, on rut, is September to November.
If you are a bird of prey enthusiast you can indulge your hobby in Argyll as it is home to four species of Owl, Hen Harriers, Golden and White Tailed Sea Eagles, Peregrine Falcon, Osprey, Buzzards and Ravens. There is also a Bird of Prey Centre on Loch Lomond in the Trossachs National Park where you are guaranteed a Bird of Prey encounter. They have are over thirty birds of prey, representing more than twenty species.
Argyll offers many superb birdwatching opportunities in habitats ranging from tiny offshore skerries to rich ancient woodlands. Scotland's seas host almost half of the European Union's breeding seabirds and during a costal walk you will see and hear wetland waders, such as Curlew, Common Sandpiper, Lapwing, Oystercatcher, Ringed Plover and Snipe, as well as nesting songbirds, like Redstart, Skylark, Tree Pipit and Crossbill.
Otters, Seals, Dolphin and Basking Sharks
You can look for signs of otters anywhere along the coast, and you're sure to encounter a few of the region's thousands of grey and common seals. Take to the water on any wildlife cruise which depart daily from many of the region’s harbours to witness the rich and diverse sealife. You can’t get closer or more personal than the in-water swimming experience with Basking Sharks Scotland. See the TODO page for cruise companies and the shark tour.