“Another master of disguise and a mountain specialist is the ptarmigan (Lagopus muta), which also turns white during the winter. Unless they move, you have little chance of spotting them but we did see several.
As ever, we saw many red deer (Cervas elaaphus) feeding in the glens. The stags in particular are impressive animals with their large branching antlers. Red deer are abundant in the North West Highlands, and extensive deer fencing is installed as part of the habitat management, to enable native woodland habitats to re-establish.
Another highlight was my first ever sighting of a pine marten (Martes martes). This omnivorous species has a very restricted distribution in England and Wales, but is expanding in number and range in Scotland. These agile members of the mustelid family are at home on the ground and in the trees, and although often elusive, this one couldn’t resist the temptation of some peanuts!
Down by the sea lochs I had a wonderful view of an otter (Lutra lutra), but I’ll tell you more about that in another blog!”
Thank you for sharing, Sarah. All our ecologists have a passion for nature and wildlife, whether on holiday or at work. How are your mammal ID skills? Could you spot tracks and signs and know what made them? Why not take a look at our training website? We run numerous courses on different aspects of ecology. If you liked Sarah’s post, maybe these courses would interest you:
Survey Techniques for Protected Species
Ecological Survey Techniques
Mammal ID – online self-study course
Bird Survey Techniques