One of the many reasons to visit Caithness and Sutherland is to see some of our incredible wildlife and birdlife! Depending on the time of year, and where you choose to visit, you may see some of the following:
The gentle giant that everyone wants to see and snap a picture of. Don’t be alarmed by the large horns, as long as you keep a distance and don’t attempt to approach or distress the animal you will find that they are quite happy to show their best side to the camera.
Please do not enter a field to approach any Highlands Cows as they are farm animals.
You may see Highland Cows who are not enclosed in a field, indeed they may even be on the beach! In these circumstances, you should enjoy the experience but avoid approaching the cow as they are still farm animals.
During April to early July is the best time to see puffins in Caithness and Sutherland as this is when they are present for the breeding season. We have many excellent sites at which to safely view puffinries without disturbing the nesting birds.
It must be stressed that these are wild birds and so should never be approached. If you suspect that a puffin may be in distress you can contact the RSPB and alert them to the matter.
Please do also take care when around puffin viewing sites as there are often large cliffs with sheer drops. Always keep an eye on your surroundings and take photos safely.
These beautiful birds of prey arrive in Scotland in the spring of each year for the breeding season before leaving once again in the late summer/early autumn. Once considered extinct in the UK there have been remarkable efforts to reintroduce breeding pairs to their native habitats, including various sites in the North Highlands.
Due to the nature of their protected status nesting sites are often closely protected information, however, if you would like to learn more about osprey in Scotland you can visit the Scottish Wildlife Trust.
Some of our incredible visitors to the North Coast every year, we often have sightings of orca pods along the Scottish coastline during the summer. Each pod has distinctive features and you can view the 2021 Scottish Killer Whale Photo Identification Catalogue online.
Seal pupping sites are popular feeding grounds for killer whales so our remote northern coastlines make the perfect place to witness nature’s beauty and ferocity.
There are two main breeds of seals you might encounter along the North Highlands coastline: grey seals and common harbour seals. Both are sensitive to the approach of humans so please try to avoid disturbing them, particularly when they are resting on the land at their haul-out sites.
The pupping season for grey seals in Scotland is normally around November and December each year, and for common harbour seals is normally around June and July. At this time there will be many young seal pups within the colonies and it is important that they, and their mothers, are not alarmed or startled, so please keep your distance.
Watersports users are asked to take particular care when kayaking, canoeing, swimming or stand up paddle boarding near seals as the silent nature of these sports may mean that hauled-out seals are startled if they don’t hear your approach.
Whales, Dolphins and Porpoises
Whales, dolphins and porpoises are common visitors along the Scottish coastline! If you are fortunate you may be treated to an energetic display and one of the best ways to see this is with an approved wildlife tour.
Each species has its own distinctive characteristics and times of year that they like to visit so check out the Hebridean Whale & Dolphin Trust for more information.
Deer are a common sight throughout Caithness and Sutherland. In the summer months they tend to stay higher up on the hills so you may have to keep your eyes peeled to spot them, but in the autumn and winter months they descend into the glens and are everywhere.
The deer rutting season takes place in autumn each year so you may hear challenging stags roaring in the glen as they clash with each other. Please take care not to get too close at this time as they are wild animals.
Deer stalking season runs from July to February each year so extra care should be taken when walking in the hills and you should follow all instructions along paths related to access during stalking.
In the winter it is common to meet deer on the roads so please take extra care when driving and be prepared to slow down.