Our big five: wildlife spotting on the west coast

The area is great for wildlife spotting, so what can you hope to see?  Well, there are deer a-plenty as you drive over from Inverness, oyster catchers on Loch Ewe and some impressive diving birds. There are seals all around the coast. But what about the more unusual creatures that, if you are lucky, you may spot? This is our favourite five:

Eagles:  You will know when you see an eagle – they are huge! Their wings are like doors.  They seem to just soar, traveling on air currents without ever seeming to flap their wings.  We have seen them glide by over the hill behind the house and once when we climbed Ben Eighe we were catching our breath at the top (it’s a steep climb) and two glided by – it made the walk extra special.

Sea Eagles: They are bigger than golden eagles – in fact it’s the fourth largest eagle in the world.  Adults have white tails.  When they fish they glide over the water, quite close to it, spot a fish and dive in Tom Daley-style    without hardly a splash. We haven’t been lucky enough to see this yet – it must look incredible.  Find out more on the Scottish Natural Heritage website.

Sea otters:  They can sometimes be seen on the shore just below Aodann and we have seen them over at Aultbea. Apparently, we shouldn’t really call them sea otters as they are the same as those who live inland in fresh water. Unlike their inland cousins, those that live on the shore are more likely to be active during the day.  The good news is that according to Scottish National Heritage, here in Scotland the population is flourishing.

Pine martens: In 2019 a family moved in and lived under the landing! We werent allowed to move them and had to get a special licence to block the hole up once the little ones had left home. Like the otter, they are members of the weasel family and can be identified by their white “bib”. They are pretty much extinct everywhere else in the UK.  They eat small mammals.  For red squirrel fans, the good news is that they are more inclined to eat the grey ones – the red ones may be cuter but clearly not as tasty! Find out more about the Pine Marten Recovery Project.  We’ve been told that the pop star Jay Kay of  Jamirakay who has a house in the area found a pine marten had got into his kitchen and run amok causing lots of damage, so if you do see one, please don’t invite him or her in!

Red squirrel: We were thrilled to read in the Gairloch and District Times that red squirrels are now in Inverewe gardens. It’s part of a project to establish a viable population in the north west of Scotland.  Red squirrels are one of the most endangered mammals in the British Isles.  The first time we saw one was on holiday in the west of Ireland and we were so excited.   The National Trust for Scotland, of which Inverewe is a part, is asking anyone who spots a red squirrel in the area to let them know so that they can monitor the success of the programme. If you see one around Loch Ewe and Inverewe email Rob: rdewar @ nts.org.uk

Well that’s our top five.  In addition, you will see plenty of sea and diving birds from Aodann. Cormorants (we think that’s what they are) like to perch on the buoys by the slipway and dry their wings in the sun. 

Find out more about local wildlife by picking up a copy of the Gairloch and District Times and reading Peter Cunningham’s Tourism and Wildlife column.

Contemporary living

Nestling discretely by Loch Ewe this low impact design makes the perfect holiday rental