Tag Archives: Shetland

Spot These 10 Cute Creatures in Scotland

Scotland is famous for its dynamic landscape, which serves as home to many different creatures. If you are interested in seeing wildlife, Scotland is the perfect place to visit! All sorts of different animals roam Scotland’s hills and fields, while various species of birds take flight through the skies, and sea-creatures dance through the waves!

The American-Scottish Foundation has compiled a list of ten different Scottish creatures to spot in Scotland. Keep your eyes peeled for these wee beasties!

Image via bbc.co.uk

Image via bbc.co.uk

1. Scottish Wildcat

The Scottish Wildcat is the only wild, native forest cat in Britain. These cats are very elusive, hunting during the night and hiding among trees and rocky cairns. Although it is uncommon to see one of these majestic cats, they may be spotted in the Highlands and in the far North and West of Scotland. Scottish wildcats are now one of Britain’s rarest mammals, as their species is sadly endangered. Spotting one would truly be a magical experience.


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Image via pinterest.com

2. Highland Cow

Highland cattle are a Scottish cattle breed famous for their long horns and shaggy coats. Although these coats come in many colors, red highland cows are probably the most iconic. These cows originated in the Highlands and Western Isles of Scotland, and have been around since before the 6th century AD. As they are native to the rough Highlands of Scotland, these cows are sturdy, able to withstand the harsh Scottish winters. No trip to the Highlands is complete without a glance of one of these shaggy “coos.”


Image via markcauntphotography.com

Image via markcauntphotography.com

3. Pine Marten

Pine Martens are difficult to spot, and are mostly found in the North of Britain. They tend to live in wooded areas, as they climb and live in trees. These brown and yellow critters are part of the weasel family. They are about the size of a cat, with a long, bushy tail and round ears. They are protected in the UK under the Wildlife and Countryside Act to preserve the species. They may be found throughout wooded areas in Scotland, including the Ballachuan Hazelwood and Balnaguard Glen Reserves.


Image via mortongolf.com

Image via mortongolf.com

4. Bottlenose Dolphin

Out of all the Bottlenose Dolphins in the world, Scottish ones are the largest. There is a large resident group of these beautiful mammals in the North Sea, as well as smaller groups around the Hebrides. These sleek, grey animals are extremely intelligent, powerful creatures. The Moray Firth is one of the best places to look for them, particularly in the warmer summer months. Dolphin and Wildlife Watching boat trips are easy to find in Scotland, so don’t miss out!


5. Otter

Image via bbc.co.uk

Image via bbc.co.uk

Scottish otters are often hard to spot, even though there is a thriving population. This is due to the animal’s shy nature. These semi-aquatic creatures live by water, as they mainly hunt for food in lochs, rivers, or the sea. The thick-furred mammals are able to survive in water by closing their ears and nose while they swim with their powerful webbed feet. Otters may be found along much of Scotland’s coast, particularly on the west coast, as well as the islands. Although otters are elusive, if you keep a look out by the waterside, you may see more than one!


Image via photoscotland.net

Image via photoscotland.net

6. Red Squirrel

The red squirrel is the only species of squirrel native to the UK. Scotland is the home to about 80 percent of the UK’s population. As their name would suggest, these squirrels have bright, reddish coats of fur. They are smaller and sleeker than American grey squirrels, with large tufts of fur on their ears. They may be spotted throughout Scotland’s wooded areas, but they are most likely to be seen in the Highlands and around the Caingorms. If you are determined to see these iconic Scottish critters, there is a Red Squirrel Walk through Dalbeattie Forest in Dumfries & Galloway.


7. Golden Eagle

Image via wild-scotland.org.uk

Image via wild-scotland.org.uk

The magnificent golden eagle is a large bird of prey with a wingspan of over six feet. The majority of the UK’s golden eagle population lives in Scotland, as the birds prefer to live in areas with open, treeless land. Golden eagles can be recognized by the golden plumage on their head, neck and shoulders. Scotland’s landscape is ideal for golden eagles to hunt, and you just might spot one searching for prey over moorland and peat bogs, or swooping over the open land around the Highlands and Northern Isles. 


Image via dailymail.co.uk

Image via dailymail.co.uk

8. Atlantic Grey Seal

Atlantic grey seals are one of the easiest animals to find in Scotland. You may spot groups of these seals in many places along Scotland’s coast. The biggest grey seal colonies are on remote islands such as the Orkney and Shetland Islands, the Hebrides, and the Monach Isles. The seals go to these islands to breed, but outside of breeding season you may see them lounging on beaches and rocks all along the sea. If you are visiting the Scottish seaside on your trip you are likely to spot a seal. And if you’re really lucky you may even see a fluffy seal pup!


Image via urdutehzeb.com

Image via urdutehzeb.com

9. Shetland Pony

Shetland ponies might be small in size, but they are hugely famous! These charming ponies grow to be about 42 inches tall, and their soft coats come in many different colors. Their coats change by season- in the summer their coat is short and silky, while in the winter it grows twice as thick. These thick winter coats repel water and keep the ponies warm, even in the harsh island winters. You can still see herds of these sturdy little ponies roaming the hills of Shetland, where they have lived for over 4000 years. Visit Shetland to meet some of these adorable creatures!


Image via archies.info

Image via archies.info

10. Puffin

Puffins, often referred to as “the clowns of the coast,” are instantly recognizable by their bright bills and signature waddle. Puffins live by the sea, usually in burrows on the top of cliffs. They hunt for fish in the water, diving from the cliffs and swimming beneath the waves. Puffin nests can be found on cliffs and islands around the coast of Scotland, as well as in England and Wales. The best places to see these funny little seabirds in Scotland are Handa Island, the Isle of Eigg, and the Longhaven Cliffs and the Seaton Cliffs reserves.

Top Five Scottish Island Destinations

Scotland is well known for its beautiful glens and sparkling lochs, but did you know that Scotland has over 790 gorgeous off-shore islands? Most of these islands are to be found in four main groups: Shetland, Orkney, and the Inner and Outer Hebrides.

It is hard to find another place in the world that can match the beauty of the isles of Scotland. If you are vacationing in Scotland, you should consider island hopping, so as to enjoy the phenomenal hills and moors, and the sweeping sea views from the isles.

The American-Scottish Foundation has chosen five Scottish island destinations you should put on your bucket list:

Isle of Islay

Image via islaypictures.com

Image via islaypictures.com

The Isle of Islay, known as the “Queen of the Hebrides” is the southernmost island of the Inner Hebrides of Scotland. On top of the gorgeous scenery and wildlife, the isle has eight working whisky distilleries to visit.

If you’re not too busy sampling the whiskies, Islay also has golf courses, trails for cycling, horse-riding and hillwalking, and spots to fish. There are also several annual festivals on the island, such as the Islay Festival of Malt and Music, the Islay Jazz Festival, the Rugby Festival and the Cantilena festival. With gorgeous views and plenty of activities, the Isle of Islay is a 5-star vacation destination. www.islayinfo.com

Isle of Jura

Image via isleofjura.scot

Image via isleofjura.scot

The Isle of Jura, part of the Southern Hebrides, is one of Scotland’s last wildernesses. A little over 200 islanders are outnumbered by 3,500 deer. On Jura there are many historical sites to see, from Iron Age Forts to ancient burial grounds and standing stones.

The village of Craighouse is the main settlement on the island. The charming town has a shop and tearoom to peruse, and a cozy hotel if you want to spend the night. Jura’s only distillery can be found in Craighouse as well, and offers personal appointments for tours and tastings. Jura’s west coast offers visitors authentic, untouched wildlife and absolutely stunning views. Spend some time exploring the amazing Isle of Jura. http://isleofjura.scot

Isle of Arran

Image via lochsandglens.com

Image via lochsandglens.com

The Isle of Arran is the largest island in the Firth of Clyde, Scotland. The isle is often referred to as ‘Scotland in miniature’, for it possesses many of the great qualities of Scotland in a single island. Arran has gorgeous mountains, woodlands, beaches, and outlying islands to see and explore.

The capital of Arran is Brodick, where Brodick Castle, the ancient seat of the Dukes of Hamilton, houses an incredible furniture collection. The castle is surrounded by the Duchess of Montrose’s garden, which has been recently restored. Arran is a perfect destination for you if you want to explore historical sites, hike, golf, or simply take in the local geology and wildlife. Escape to the Isle of Arran to experience Scotland’s history and beauty.

Fair Isle

Image via fairislebirdobs.co.uk

Image via fairislebirdobs.co.uk

Fair Isle is a tiny island that sits half-way between Orkney and Shetland. The 70 or so islanders tend to live at the southern end, where the land is more fertile, while the northern end is made up of sloping hills and moorland.

The internationally renowned Fair Isle Bird Observatory has done scientific research on seabird breeding colonies for over 50 years, so Fair Isle is one of the best places to bird-watch in the world. You might also see seals, porpoises, whales and dolphins cruising around the island. Fair Isle is known for its unique style of knitting, for many years ago local knitters discovered that fine yarns stranded into a double layer produce warmer garments. Journey to Fair Isle to experience the incredible wild-life, and don’t forget to shop for cozy wool sweaters.

Isle of Skye

Image via isleofskye.com

Image via isleofskye.com

The Isle of Skye is one of Scotland’s most popular vacation spots. It is famous for its breath-taking scenery, such as the beautifully crystal clear Fairy Pools on the River Brittle. The Isle of Skye is 50 miles long and the largest of the Inner Hebrides. The Island has a rich history, having played host to Clan Warfare, Highland Clearances and ‘Bonnie Prince Charlie’ and the Jacobite Rebellion. Both Clan MacDonald and Clan MacLeod have their Clan Castles on Skye, just waiting for you to explore.

The Isle of Skye is also a great destination for wildlife watching. See if you can spot White Tailed Sea Eagles, otters, seals, whales, dolphins, or red deer. Skye is also a great destination for walkers and climbers with famous trails like ‘The Cuillin Range’ and ‘The Trotternish Ridge.’ Have a walk around the Isle of Skye and you may never want to leave.