Scottish Fire and Rescue have issued a fire risk warning from 17-20 April. We strongly advise against having fires or barbecues when out in the National Park during this period.

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Birds of prey

In recent years, conservation efforts have resulted in an increase in spectacular birds of prey like Osprey and Golden Eagles in the National Park. In some ways these formidable predators can be the easiest to spot, particularly when they are rearing chicks in early summer.

Some birds migrate and some are resident year round. The following pages will help visitors differentiate between a soaring osprey and an opportunistic buzzard, when to keep their eyes on the skies and perhaps encourage them to scan telegraph poles and gate posts for a haunting glimpse of a barn owl in the darker evenings.

Golden eagle

Golden eagle © SNH

Why is it special?

With a wingspan of over 2 metres, the Golden eagle is an awe inspiring sight in the wild. One of Scotland’s most protected species, they are threatened by poisoning and reducing sources of food. Scotland is the last bastion of the Golden Eagle in mainland UK.

When to see

Golden Eagles live in Scotland all year round. They tend to display their “ownership” of the area around their nest by soaring overhead from February to May.

Where to see

The locations of Golden eagle nests are kept secret to avoid any disturbance or persecution. However you should look out for them in the Arrochar Alps, the Great Trossachs forest and any mountains in the National Park.

Best conditions and time of day

Early morning and evening are peak fishing times but Golden Eagles will be active throughout the day. Calm clear days are best for spotting them.

How to recognise

Ospreys and Golden Eagles can often be confused with Buzzards due to their similar large size. Advise visitors to look for widely splayed feathers at the tip of the wing and a long rectangular shaped wing like a glider as opposed to the more rounded oval shaped wing of the buzzard.

Difficulty rating

Difficult (but worth it!)

How to support visitors to see it

Have a stock of binoculars on hand to either lend or rent to customers. If you are in an area where Golden Eagles are active, scout out the best views close to your business so that you can confidently advise customers and help them plan their day.

Further information & advice

There are two RSPB reserves in the National Park.  RSPB staff will be happy to help you with more detailed advice about supporting your customers to experience the National Park’s stunning birds of prey.

The Loch Lomond Bird of Prey Centre at Loch Lomond Shores in Balloch has a resident Golden Eagle that can be seen up close.

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Osprey

Osprey © SNH

Why is it special? 

Once close to extinction in the UK, Ospreys are on in the increase and now offer your guests a dramatic demonstration of the power and majesty of a top class bird of prey. The National Park now welcomes multiple breeding pairs each spring after their epic migration from Africa.

When to see

Mid-March to September.

Where to see

Anywhere from Balmaha to Inversnaid along Loch Lomond’s eastern shore is a great place to spot Osprey. Breeding pairs around the loch can be seen snatching fish from the surface of the loch and hauling them back to their nests.

Aberfoyle is another place where spotting Osprey is relatively straightforward.  The Lodge visitor centre has an Osprey cam trained on a nest where you can watch chicks being fed and a patient explorer will have a strong chance of seeing them flying above the lochs in the area.

Best conditions and time of day

Early morning and evening are peak fishing times but Osprey will be active throughout the day.

How to recognise

Ospreys and Golden Eagles can often be confused with Buzzards due to their similar large size. Advise visitors to look for widely splayed feathers at the tip of the wing and a long rectangular shaped wing like a glider as opposed to the more rounded oval shaped wing of the buzzard.

Difficulty rating

Easy.

How to support visitors to see it

Have a stock of binoculars on hand to either lend or rent to customers. If you are in an area where Osprey are active, scout out the best views close to your business so that you can confidently advise customers and help them plan their day.

Further information & advice

There are two RSPB reserves in the National Park.  RSPB staff will be happy to help you with more detailed advice about supporting your customers to experience the National Park’s stunning birds of prey.

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Kestrel

Kestrel © SNH

Why is it special?

Kestrels number in the UK have been reducing since the 70’s but are still prominent hunters in the National Park.  Their ability to hover with precision over an area they are hunting is sublime and makes them relatively easy to spot.

When to see

All year round.

Where to see

Pretty much anywhere in the National Park, often seen perched or hovering near road verges or farmland.

Best conditions and time of day

Kestrels hunt throughout the day, preferring sunny spells. They can be seen hovering near farm machinery waiting for prey to be flushed out of nests.

How to recognise

Distinctive pointed wings and long tail

Difficulty rating

Easy.

How to support visitors to see it

Encourage visitors to keep an eye out during road travel, paying attention to telegraph poles and branches.

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Peregrine falcon

Peregrine falcon © SNH

Why is it special?

With a 1 metre wingspan and attack speeds of up to 200 mile per hour, the peregrine falcon is a formidable hunter. Once close to extinction in the 1960s, populations are recovering but some still target it to protect racing pigeons and to steal their eggs.

When to see

All year round.

Where to see

Peregrines typically nest in rocky cliff faces and can even be found in cities hunting pigeons. In the National Park, the best area is to the north east around Loch Earn close to rockier mountain tops.

Best conditions and time of day

Calm, clear days over open spaces.

How to recognise

Adults are a distinctive blue grey colour with a black and white underside.  Its yellow beak is contrasted with a black “moustache” marking on its face.

Difficulty rating

Difficult.

How to support visitors to see it

Binoculars, map.

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Red kite

Red kite © SNH

Why is it special?

The Red Kite has come back from the brink of extinction in the British Isles and is now one of the easier to spot birds of prey in the National Park. A large predator with a wingspan of 2 metres, the Red Kite is easily distinguished by its triangular, kite shaped tail.

When to see

All year round.

Where to see

Argaty Red Kite Centre, Doune or soaring over farmland.

Best conditions and time of day

Daylight hours on a clear day.

How to recognise

Look out for the distinctive triangular tail shape.

Difficulty rating

Easy.

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Sparrowhawk

Sparrowhawk © SNH

When to see

All year round.

Where to see

Often seen swooping through gardens.

How to recognise

Often mistaken for wood pigeons; pay attention to the beak and eyes.

Difficulty rating

Moderate.

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