With its woodlands, mountains, tranquil lochs and glens and rocky coastline of our sea lochs, Loch Lomond and The Trossachs National Park is brimming with wildlife. There are four distinctive areas of the National Park; Loch Lomond, Cowal, The Trossachs and Breadalbane.
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These areas all offer a range of habitats which support a huge variety of wildlife, some resident and some travelling long distances to spend the summer or winter in this special place. Whether sunshine or snow there is always something new to see! If you are prepared to get off the beaten track you may encounter majestic golden eagles soaring high on the thermals or catch a glimpse of an otter hunting along the loch shores. For our younger visitors or those with more limited mobility there is still plenty to discover. Our roadside lochs are home to wintering wildfowl such as whooper swans and goldeneyes, whilst visiting some of our more accessible forests there is always the chance of a glimpse of our native red squirrel!
We work in partnership with many other organisations to ensure that the richness of the habitats and species which live within them remain for future generations. Wild Park 2020 is the Biodiversity Action Plan for the National Park and our nature conservation strategy for achieving the long term vision for our National Park’s biodiversity.
The Breadalbane area in the north of the National Park is a great tract of hills and high mountains rising steeply from the glen floors, where snow beds persist in to early summer in the highest north-facing corries and gulleys.
If entering the park from Killin, stop and explore the head of Loch Tay. You may be lucky enough to spot an otter if you visit in the early morning or evening. Butterflies can be spotted in the sunny glades along the old railway line.
Heading south along Glen Ogle why not explore Loch Earn where Ospreys fish in the loch in the summer months and swifts can be heard screeching up and down the main streets of the settlements of Lochearnhead and St Fillans. The woods around the south side of the loch are another great place to see red squirrels. If you climb Ben Vorlich, watch out for red deer, particularly during the rutting season in Autumn. Their roaring echoes eerily along Glen Ample.
If travelling through Glen Dochart, you may spot lapwings in early summer or hear the haunting call of the curlew on the lower hills. Stop at Dalrigh and walk through the Strathfillan Community Woodlands and along the River Connonish where you may spot dippers feeding along the water.
Cowal is in the west of the park includes remote areas of high hills; the sheltered sea lochs of Loch Long and Loch Goil and the woodlands and forests of Argyll Forest Park.
If you travel around the coast to Ardentinny look out for porpoises or sea birds like guillemots and gannets, or go rock pooling to look for crabs and sea anemones.
Stop at Puck’s Glen to discover a magical forest with its moist shady undergrowth of ferns and mosses. Also part of the Argyll Forest Park, Glenbranter is near the north end of Loch Eck. With its network of way-marked trails, you can stroll through majestic oak woodlands or cycle through conifer plantations. Wildlife is abundant. Look for crossbills high in the pine trees and red squirrels may be seen if you spend time, especially early in the morning or evening.
Further north, in the hills around Arrochar, you may be lucky enough to spot a golden eagle soaring high over the mountain tops. Red deer may also be seen on the hillsides.
Loch Lomond with its ‘immensity of loch and landscape’ is another great place to look for wildlife. As well as the loch itself, there are over 20 islands, many of them wooded.
If you are arriving in the National Park from the south, the National Park Visitor Centre at Balmaha is a great starting point to visiting Loch Lomond. Here you will learn how the landscape was formed over 400 million years ago creating the low lying areas to the south of the Highland Boundary Fault, and the Highlands to the north. It is this which creates the diversity of habitats between the north and south of the National Park.
Have a walk along the Millennium Forest Path and discover more about the Atlantic oak woodlands around the loch. May is a fantastic time to visit the east side of Loch Lomond as the woodland floor is carpeted in swathes of bluebells and stitchwort. If you walk up Conic Hill keep an eye out for red squirrels in the conifer trees at the start of the walk, and you may see birds of prey including buzzards and hen harriers on the open hill.
The Island of Inchcailloch is just five minutes away by ferry and well worth a visit. Birdlife flourishes here and in the summer includes species such as blackcap, willow warbler and chiff chaff. You may also catch a glimpse of the fallow deer that live on the island.
Further north up the loch side is Cashel – The Forest for a Thousand Years Project. A number of way- marked trails take you through the native woodland, where you may be lucky enough to see reptiles including adders, slow worms and common lizards basking in the summer sun at the edges of the paths. Access to Ben Lomond, the most southerly Munro in the National Park is from Rowardennan. Visit in Autumn and you may hear the roar of red deer stags during the rutting season or spot a Ptarmigan camouflaged against the rocks nearer the summit. The famous West Highland Way runs through this area and also forms a great path for exploring the woodlands along the loch shore.
To the south of Loch Lomond near the village of Gartocharn is the RSPB Loch Lomond Reserve. This reserve is a great mix of woodland and wetland giving rise to a huge range of species. In the summer months, migrants such as redstarts and wood warblers can be seen in the woods with ospreys feeding in the loch. In winter, the reserve is home to Greenland white-fronted and pink-footed geese.
On the western shore of Loch Lomond, the West Loch Lomond Cycle Path follows the route of the Drovers from Balloch to Tarbet in the Highlands. It passes a number of designed landscapes with woodland and open parkland and catches glimpses of Loch Lomond. Barn owls may be seen hunting over some of the open areas at dusk, and look out for king fishers and dippers as you cross one of the rivers entering the loch from the hills to the west.
The Trossachs to the east of the National Park is a transition from the settled pastoral Lowlands to the rugged Highlands. It is a landscape of beautiful lochs and woodlands with a wealth of wildlife to discover.
Starting in the settlement of Aberfoyle, follow the Dukes Pass towards Callander. The Lodge Forest Visitor Centre is just a couple of minutes’ drive outside Aberfoyle, and has a great vantage point looking across the Queen Elizabeth Forest Park. This is a great place to watch wildlife. There is an easy to reach red squirrel hide within the woodland where as well as red squirrels you may see great spotted woodpecker and nuthatch. In the Visitor Centre is live CCTV footage featuring ospreys, red squirrels and water voles.
The Great Trossachs Forest NNR is a woodland regeneration project in the Trossachs creating a large-scale forest for the benefit of wildlife and people. There is lots of wildlife to discover including black grouse, golden eagle, osprey, pine marten, red squirrel, and otters. For more information on the project and sites to visit and wildlife to discover, visit the Great Trossachs Forest website here.
The Lake of Menteith to the east of Aberfoyle is another place to see wetland birds. You can take a short seven minute ferry trip over to Inchmahome Priory which is situated on a small wooded island. There are a number of veteran trees to discover on the island, and you may also spot osprey hunting over this shallow loch in the summer months.