What to look for in mountains and moorlands

Ptarmigan

The best chances to see this superbly camouflages bird ptarmigan are around the CairnGorm ski area, where they are slightly more habituated.

ptarmigan information

 

Dotteral

A true bird of the high mountain plateaus, the dotterel arrives in the summer months. Dotterel are particularly prone to disturbance from the nest so please do not take advantage of the birds’ apparent tolerance of humans and only view from a distance.

dotterel information

 

Snow bunting

Normally resident in the arctic circle and a winter visitor to the UK, there is a small year-round population on Cairngorm. In winter you can see snow bunting at ski centre car parks, often feeidn on crumbs. 

snowbunting information

 

Red Grouse

Most of the moorlands in the National Park are managed for the pastime of shooting red rouse. So it should be fairly easy to spot this most iconic of Scottish birds. They burst rather explosively from the heather when disturbed with a harsh ‘go back’ call.

redgrouse information

 

Mountain Hare

The transition from summer to winter coat is the most easy way to tell the difference from a brown hare, although the mountain hare does have smaller ears – less area to lose heat from.

mountain hare information

 

Mountain Ringlet

As its name suggests, this butterfly is found in mountainous areas, typically at altitudes between 450 and 800 metres above sea level. On good sites, they may be seen by the hundred.

mountain ringlet information

 

Curlew

Relatively common across the uplands, its high bubbling whistle is a distinctive sound of spring and summer. 

curlew information

Connect with Cairngorms Nature

What outstanding wildlife have you seen?

Share your story of encounters with outstanding wildlife.

Keep up to date with where and what to see.