Extraordinary Wildlife To Look Out For On Ben Nevis
Ben Nevis is the king of UK mountains; majestic and awe-inspiring. Thousands of people each year visit this special area to tackle the wild and rocky climb to the summit. On the journey to the top, as well as magnificent views over the Highlands and beyond, there is the opportunity to see some of the country’s rarest wildlife.
Airborne animals to look out for
You will have the chance to spot some iconic birds of prey from the slopes of Ben Nevis, as well as some less common smaller species, so be sure to bring some binoculars with you.
Golden eagles nest in the upper craggy mountainsides, and will often return to the same nest, or eyrie, year after year. Recognisable for golden-brown plumage, younger birds also have white patches on their tails and wings. They have a huge wingspan of up to 2.3 metres, and are quick sharp hunters of small mammals.
They have been heavily persecuted by farmers and landowners in the past, but there are now thought to be well over 300 nesting pairs in Scotland. Buzzards are a far more common sight, and can sometimes be confused with eagles. Their wingspan is typically 1.2 metres, and they have brown plumage with white or cream under markings.
Smaller birds to look out for include the snow bunting, the northern wheatear, the stonechat, the skylark, the meadow pipit, and the twite.
Land dwelling creatures to look out for
Red deer are a common sight throughout the Scottish Highlands, although they will tend to occupy only lower slopes during the colder winter months. Autumn is rutting season, when stags with large antlers roar and even fight with each other over breeding rights.
Red squirrels are much more common in Scotland than other parts of the country, and you may glimpse them in wooded areas. The mountain is home to foxes and badgers, but they are timid nocturnal creatures, so they will take some effort to spot.
Look out for mustelids which thrive in Scotland, such as pine martens, weasels, stoats, and polecats. Scotland is also home to about 8,000 otters, which are semi-aquatic animals best spotted in rivers and streams at the crack of dawn. There have been some rare sightings of Scottish wildcats, but they tend to avoid high mountain areas.
And some animals you are highly unlikely to see. . .
Wolves once roamed freely around the area, but haven’t been spotted in the wild since the 18th century. These large doglike carnivores fed on wild deer, other smaller mammals, and possibly the odd human being. Sadly, they were hunted to extinction as they were seen as a threat to livestock.
Other animals which were once commonplace to the area around Ben Nevis but are no longer found in its habitats include wild boars, lynx, elks, and, back in the 10th century, brown bears. However, beavers which were extinct for many centuries, have recently been introduced to waterways in small numbers, so if you are very lucky you may spot one.
If you need help with winter mountaineering skills, please get in touch today.