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Big Day in the Highlands

Best day ever of wildlife watching?

We had always planned that our second full day in the Highlands would be a special day but we had never dared to dream it would work out like this!

Out before dawn, it was still and frosty with not a cloud in the sky, perfect wildlife-watching conditions. A drive into the hills and we stood overlooking a rolling moor, but no sign of our first target bird! Roe Deer were grazing below us and Red Grouse told us to "go-back, go-back". Maybe we should? Then we heard a call, Black Grouse! They were out there somewhere. Then we saw a head in the grass, then another and another. Suddenly the Black Grouse were flying! Eight of these stunning birds powered over the moor and crash-landed not far away. Telescopes were quickly on the birds and we all enjoyed great looks as the male Black Grouse began their weird and wonderful display. Wow!

As we watched the amazing spectacle of the Black Grouse lekking, a flock of Common Crossbills and gangs of Redwings flew over calling. Red Grouse continued to show in the heather just behind us. Glad we hadn't followed their advice!

Back into the pine forest and we were looking for a very special bird indeed. We had not been looking more than a few minutes when Alan saw movement amongst the trees. Capercaillie!

Caper Garten Oct 1

We all held our breath hoping the bird would not be spooked and might even come a little closer. Amazingly the male Caper was in the mood to show off! We all soaked up the views of this huge grouse as it strutted through the Scots pines. Caper are always tough to find these days with the population in steep decline and we were totally thrilled by our sighting.

Caper Garten Oct 2

Then it was back to the hotel for a very welcome, wonderful, full Scottish breakfast and the table was buzzing with excitement after our brilliant start to the day.

Full of great food we went out into the glorious Autumn sunshine for more great birds. Our main target was Golden Eagle so we headed into the high glens to search for one of these magnificent birds.

Findhorn view Oct 1

The scenery was just stunning and it was hard to make progress as we kept stopping to enjoy amazing wildlife! A Peregrine soared overhead against the blue sky, a huge Red Deer stag with massive antlers, flocks of Redwings, a Dipper, Goosander, just wonderful.

Findhorn view Oct 2

Higher up the Glen we were surrounded by rutting Red Deer stags! Three males roared against each over from the hills around, very atmostpheric, and it was a magical experience to be in this wild place.

We scanned the ridges for raptors and soon enjoyed Buzzards and Kestrel along with a herd of Feral Goats. Then everything happened at once! Eagles! Three appeared at once, but they weren't all Golden Eagles; two massive White-tailed Eagles were soaring over the glen as a Golden Eagle drifted over the ridge opposite! Which way to look?!

WT Eagle Findhorn Oct

The two White-tailed Eagles drifted very slowly across the blue sky allowing everyone plenty of time to enjoy marvelous views of these "flying barn doors"! The poor Golden Eagle had been forgotten in the panic to see the rarer White-tailed birds. More scanning and we picked out more Red Deer, while flocks of Redwing passed over, Ravens kronked and wheeled in the sky and a Dipper dipped in the stream. Then two Golden Eagles soared into view over a ridge and we had scope views of these top birds. What a morning!

Findhorn birders Oct

After lunch we crossed an area of farmland where we soon found a flock of geese. At first they all looked like Greylag Geese, then a head popped up. A Barnacle Goose was just over the ridge. We moved along for a better view. There was not just a Barnacle hiding but a small flock of Pink-footed Geese too! As we watched the geese a Common Redpoll flew in calling and landed in a birch tree, amazing stuff.

Back to the pine forest and we visited the stunning Loch Garten where we were soon watching another top species, Crested Tits.

Crested Tit Garten Oct

Down at the loch shore the Autumn colours, calm conditions and low sun all combined to produce wonderful views, and we stood and stared, absorbing the beauty of this lovely location.

Loch Garten view Oct 2

Loch Garten view Oct

Loch Garten birders Oct

The day was just brilliant, but although the sun was sinking, the day was not over by a long way! As dusk fell, we headed into the woods to a very special hide. A Woodcock flew over our heads as we neared the hide.

Red Deer Oct 1

In the hide we waited as the night came and it wasn't long before the first animals arrived, though not quite what we had hoped for: Red Deer who have developed a taste for peanuts.

Luckily the deer soon moved on and we returned to our vigil, hoping our amazing run of luck would hold. The clock ticked away but not a movement in the pool of light outside the hide.

Badger Oct 1

Then a movement and a Badger shuffled into the light and began to hoover up the peanuts put down for her. But more was to come, as not one but six Badgers came in for a free feed, and they thrilled us with the close views!

Badger Oct 2

Badger Oct 3

Badger Oct 4

What an amazing experience to be so close to such wonderful wild animals! But we still hoped for more and once the Badgers were well fed we settled down to wait again. By 9.30pm no more animals had arrived and we were asked if we would like to call it a night. We decided to wait just a little longer, and we were very glad we did!

Pine Martin Oct 1

Suddenly a gorgeous female Pine Martin leapt onto the feeding table and was munching away on the peanuts just feet away from us! What an experience! The Pine Martin is a very hard mammal to see, so to have one this close was just wonderful!

Pine Martin Oct 2

Pine Martin Oct 3

Meal finished, the Pine Martin headed off into the night leaving a hide full of delighted and very happy wildlife watchers. What a wonderful day!

Come and join us for the very best in bird and wildlife watching. To book your trip simply drop us a line for details of all our tours on

We know you will have a wonderful experience! But don't just take our word for it. Here's what one of our clients had to say about this trip:

Having been on this trip I can confirm that this was an absolutely fantastic day. Having been on many wildlife trips across the world this is probably the best single day of wildlife watching I have ever had - these British species are very special & threatened & it was a real privilege to get such fantastic views of them all on one day. It couldn't have happened without the meticulous planning & guiding skills of Alan & Ruth. I really can't say enough good things about this trip!

Badger bum
That's all folks!


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