Home   News   Article

Wildlife watch: 5 creatures to spot in the Cairngorms this spring

By Federica Stefani

Register for free to read more of the latest local news. It's easy and will only take a moment.

Click here to sign up to our free newsletters!

Sponsored editorial

Although some chilly days are still upon us, spring is in the air and finally the buzz of life returning in full flow after the cold winter months is upon us.

Warmer days and longer hours mean we can enjoy the outdoors more and immerse ourselves in nature, observing the fascinating creatures that surround us in the majestic landscapes of the Highlands.

This season also brings new life to the Cairngorms National Park, making it a fantastic time for wildlife watching.

Ideally located at the doorstep of the park, Boat of Garten is the perfect base for nature lovers to explore the surroundings and enjoy some responsible wildlife watching. You can enjoy a lush break at The Boat Country Inn with their new exclusive spring package.

Always remember to be respectful to your surrounding environment and the creatures that inhabit it. While enjoying these sightings, be sure you maintain a safe distance, stick to designated paths, avoid loud noises that might startle them and keep your furry companion on a lead near nesting sites.

Here are some incredible creatures you're more likely to encounter during this season:

Ospreys were reintroduced at Loch Garten in the 50s.
Ospreys were reintroduced at Loch Garten in the 50s.


These majestic birds of prey are a true symbol of spring in the Cairngorms. Easily recognizable by their brown bodies, white underparts, and impressive hooked beaks, they spend their summers here feeding on fish. Look for them soaring effortlessly high above lochs and rivers, or perched on their large stick nests built on tall trees or cliffs near water. RSPB’s Loch Garten nature reserve is one of the most well-known locations for observing ospreys - and where the recolonisation of the species in Scotland started again in the 50s.

Red squirrels enjoy the forests in the area.
Red squirrels enjoy the forests in the area.

Red Squirrels

These energetic rust-coloured furballs with bushy tails are a constant source of amusement. Look for them darting between Scots pine trees (their preferred habitat) or scampering along branches, often flicking their tails. They're quite bold and may even approach you if you have food, but avoid feeding them to avoid disrupting their natural diet.

The red deer is an iconic sight in the Highlands.
The red deer is an iconic sight in the Highlands.

Red Deer

The iconic red deer is the largest land mammal in the UK. Stags are particularly impressive in spring, sporting their newly grown antlers which can have up to 12 points. Hinds (females) are smaller and reddish-brown. Look for them in open areas like grassy hillsides or near forests at dawn and dusk when they graze. Be mindful of keeping a safe distance, especially during rutting season.

Ptarmigans change their plumage with the seasons.
Ptarmigans change their plumage with the seasons.


Nature's master of camouflage, the ptarmigan changes its plumage colour with the seasons. In spring, their wintery white coats transition to a mottled brown, blending perfectly with the rocky mountain slopes where they live. Look for them at high altitudes, particularly near rocky outcrops and heather moorland. They can be skittish, so patience and a good pair of binoculars are key.

Golden eagles are a rare but majestic view. Pictures: Adobe Stock.
Golden eagles are a rare but majestic view. Pictures: Adobe Stock.

Golden Eagles

The largest bird of prey in the UK, the golden eagle is a truly awe-inspiring sight. Adults have a majestic golden brown plumage with a wedge-shaped tail. Spotting them requires some luck, but they tend to favour open areas with high vantage points like cliffs or mountain peaks. Soaring high above or perched on a rocky outcrop, they scan the landscape for prey like rabbits and hares.

Do you want to respond to this article? If so, click here to submit your thoughts and they may be published in print.

This site uses cookies. By continuing to browse the site you are agreeing to our use of cookies - Learn More