Tuesday, 10 January 2017
By Ross Dempster, General Manager and Kilted Ranger, Highland Safaris
With today being National Save the Eagles Day, we thought it would be the perfect time to share how to go about spotting one of Scotland’s most iconic birds.
Beautiful, powerful and graceful, the Eagle – in particular the Golden Eagle – tops many a wildlife watchers’ wishlist. And getting out into the wilds of Scotland offers the best chance of seeing one in all its glory.
Since 2003, there has been a 15% rise in the number of Golden Eagle pairs in Scotland, with that figure now sitting around 500. Spotting one takes time and patience though, so we’ve put together our top tips on how to go about it.
Keep your eyes peeled and with a bit of luck, you’ll be rewarded with one of the most majestic sights the great Scottish outdoors has to offer.
What to look for
The white tail Sea Eagle is the biggest bird of prey in the UK – they were once hunted out of existence, but were successfully reintroduced in the 1970s. Big and bold, they basically look like flying railway sleepers in the sky!
Golden Eagles are easy to confuse with the more common Buzzard. However, the Golden Eagle is bigger, will soar higher than a buzzard and holds its wings in a shallow V shape.
What are the differences between sea eagles and golden eagles?
The main difference is the size and wing shape; the sea eagle is bigger and the tips of its wings are “fingered” and can look quite square from a distance.
Where is the best place to eagle spot?
There is a greater chance of seeing sea eagles in the Inner Hebrides, but you can also spot them in Angus and Fife. Golden Eagles can be seen around Highland Safaris’ land, but we are a bit too far inland for the sea eagle (although they have been spotted in Perth). Top spots also include the west coast and islands, from Mull and Lochaber, and Skye to Lewis.
Where do eagles like to hang out?
Golden Eagles actually prefer open moorlands and hilltops, but the more remote the area, the more likely there are to be eagles - islands and remote glens are a good place to start. Golden Eagles are monogamous and may remain with their mate for life. They also tend to nest in the same place for generations (they like rocky outcrops and crags).
When is the best time of year to see eagles?
All year round. Look out for the looping, soaring and gliding flight arcs on the air currents. Eagles have traditional territories, which may also be used by offspring in years to come.
Have you been lucky enough to spot a golden eagle? Let us know if so using the hashtag #EagleEyed
Wednesday, 14 December 2016
Scrolling through social media you can’t help but happen upon the latest poll or survey into what country is the best to live in. Up at the top of these lists, or thereabouts, is the nation of Denmark. Danes are happy people. They have some of the longest, darkest winters, some horrendous weather and ridiculously high taxes – so why are they so chipper all the time?
The answer lies in Hygge. Hygge (pronounced hue- gah) isn’t so much an adjective as it is a way of life. It is a philosophy that grounds itself in being ‘in the moment’ and removing yourself from the rushes of everyday life, enjoying the here and now. It can be snuggling under a warm blanket with a good book, putting an extra marshmallow in your hot chocolate or having dinner by candlelight. Everybody will have their own recipe for Hygge, they will have their own special ingredients to add into life.
So is there a Scottish equivalent? We have racked our brains and the closest word we use is “cosy”. Being outside during a winter in the Highlands of Scotland can be a truly remarkable time. There is nothing quite like a crisp, cold day for exploring the beautiful wilderness that we have in abundance. After a day outside you can truly appreciate a warm welcome and cosy atmosphere. Sometimes you have to go outdoors to appreciate the warm return.
At Highland Safaris we pride ourselves in this and Hygge/ cosiness very much plays a part in everything we do. The fire is always burning, the candles are lit and there are warm blankets a plenty. Nothing beats a warm mug of coffee and slice of home-made chocolate cake whilst you reminisce over your adventure with friends and family on a comfy sofa.
Relax and indulge, laugh and be merry. We would very much like to share our cosy/ Hygge atmosphere with you and hopefully we can give the Danes a run for their money in the happiness stakes!
Tuesday, 18 October 2016
As we travel through the glorious hills, glens and Straths of Highland Perthshire it is blatantly obvious that seasons are changing rapidly!
Autumn brings with it plenty of treats to lovers of nature and the great outdoors. The trees turn from vivid green to an array of golds and reds which turns every woodland into an artist’s dream. Perthshire (also known as the Big Tree County) is the perfect place to witness this spectacular sight, every corner that you turn or wind in the road unveils another canvas that Mother Nature has painted for you. As if this is not enough, places such as Enchanted Forest enhance the beauty by lighting up the forest at night, playing on the colours that autumn gifts us. If you have never been before we highly recommend it (visit www.enchantedforest.org.uk for more details), bring your tickets to Highland Safaris after for a 2 for 1 deal in the Red Deer Centre.
The changing colours of the leaves signals a changing in the temperature. At Highland Safaris the fire is roaring every day to make sure that everybody is nice and cosy. The Highland Safaris café has a constant supply of homemade, autumnal soup that will warm your cockles, accompanied with a steaming mug of hot chocolate you will be ready for all that autumn throws at you!
The colder weather outside also makes our local mountains come alive with wildlife – an absolutely fantastic time for coming out on a Safari. Plenty of smaller animals such as dormice, hedgehogs and bats are beginning the race for food, building as much fat deposits as they can to survive the harsh winter months in hibernation.
The most special of events in the Red Deer calendar starts in the autumn – The Rut. The majestic stags start to compete for dominance, they roar across the hillsides and through the glens. Antlers lock in a fearsome battle, a display of sheer power unrivalled in our nation. If you have never been in the Highlands during the Rut come and witness it first-hand, it is a spectacle you will not forget!
We look forward to seeing you soon,
Friday, 19 August 2016
Driving through the hills yesterday afternoon I was struck with how lucky we are in Highland Perthshire to have such a diverse and impressive range of flora and fauna at our fingertips. It really is a favourite part of my job that we get to share these treats with travellers, tourists and curious locals every day. To have the opportunity to see rare wildlife from the comfort of an off road vehicle can certainly be a highlight of people’s holidays.
A snap survey of Highland Safari staff came up with the following Top 3 wildlife to spot in our local area over the summer.
- Red Deer Stag. It might seem like an obvious choice to make this our first selection but the majestic stag goes hand in hand with the Scottish Highlands. These amazing animals have graced our shores for 10,000 years and as our largest wild land mammal are a must see for anybody venturing into rural Scotland.
For a chance to meet up close - www.highlandsafaris.net/red-deer-centre/
- Ospreys. Perthshire is lucky enough to be one of the hotbeds of Ospreys in the UK. They migrate back from Africa late March and will be looking to make the return flight back in the next two weeks. They choose places with an abundance of clean water and a good supply of fish and the vast water network of Loch Tay with its salmon and trout population seems to tick all the right boxes for these impressive birds of prey.
- Red Squirrels. The red squirrel is the smallest animal in this selection but perhaps has the biggest character. Their bushy tails and tufted ears are instantly recognisable, should you be lucky enough to see our native species of squirrels they will amaze you with their speed and agility, dancing from tree to tree.
So what lies in the future for our local wildlife? It is fair to say that the animal population of Scotland has changed dramatically in its history, this is due to many reasons – the decline of native woodland, the changing use of land and hunting.
This may be set for another change, in recent years we have seen the reintroduction of the European beaver and the White tailed Sea Eagle. Although their introduction met opposition, the fact remains that the numbers of these species have thrived. There may be further “rewilding” of Scotland, estates such as Alladale in Sutherland have been great advocates of reintroducing species such as the Lynx, Bear and Wolf which all used to roam in Scotland’s rugged landscapes.
At Highland Safaris we are always more than happy to offer advice on where to spot wildlife and what wildlife may be around at whatever tie of year you come to visit. Our staff all have a passion for natures and the outdoors – come along and pick our brains for some great ideas on how to get up close and personal with nature.
Wednesday, 13 July 2016
Around this time of year our passion for cycling gets stoked by our Gaelic cousins in France, with the best in the world meeting to put their skills to the test in the Tour De France.
Highland Perthshire can’t rival the climbs of the Alps and we can’t promise that you will turn into
Chris Froome overnight but we can promise that whatever your ability this area can offer you something amazing!
If you are into road cycling there are many classics rides to be had. The roads are not only quiet but they twist and turn through valleys and glens, tackle one of the Perthshire’s hill passes for a challenge or cruise down a backroad stopping off at Highland Safaris for well earnt pit stop!
Mountain biking in Highland Perthshire again can suit every rider’s needs. The river tracks that follow the majestic Tay are friendly for a family day out, whilst still exploring some amazing countryside they are relatively flat! Those looking for a more adrenaline fueled day out can climb from the flood plain to the forest lined hills where many trails await to be discovered. These trails are not only quiet but they take in some of the most stunning scenery in Scotland, it definitely helps take your mind off the climbs!
At Highland Safaris we find ourselves nestled in amongst this biker’s paradise and always welcome those that have arrived on two wheels. If you are a family Peloton, a party of mountain bikers or a road riding club stop by and tell us your adventures or if you need some advice our staff are always more than happy to point out their favourite routes on the map.
We hope your summer is going well and that we get to share an adventure with you soon!
Tuesday, 14 June 2016
The big exciting news from Highland Safaris is that the first calves of the year have been born! As many of you will know who follow us on Facebook and Twitter Amber was born on the 19th of May and is every bit as beautiful as you could imagine! Since then she has been joined by 3 more calves in our fields, it has been an absolute pleasure to watch them play in the sunshine from the Red Deer Centre.
Our Safaris into the Perthshire Mountains have been spectacular. Being in the heart of Scotland when it is a clear day the panoramas are 2nd to none, with views over to Ben Nevis and the Lochaber Mountains in the West and the Cairngorm Plateau in the North East we truly are spoilt for choice.
So roll on the rest of the summer, we will be sure to keep you of informed of everything at Highland Safaris in our next blog but there is only so much that words can describe. Come up and experience the views, wildlife and then reflect with an ice cream in the Perthshire sun!
See you all soon,
Wednesday, 18 May 2016
Spring suddenly feels like it has sprung here in the Strath. The trees are turning lush green, the Red Squirrels are darting about and the skies are beginning to fill with Swallows. Every Safari up the mountains seems to reveal something new, a couple of weeks ago the stags cast their antlers, the week after that purple saxifrage broke through the tundra and last week we were amazed by meadows awash with bluebells. Spring really is a time for freshness and new things and we at Highland Safaris love sharing these amazing discoveries with everybody who comes and visits us. The best way to capture this highland magic could be to join us on a dawn patrol and witness the noise and drama of a dawn chorus for yourself!
If you are looking for your next adventure, want to find out something new or are after a great day out with the family come along and give us a visit – a warm welcome is always guaranteed!
Look forward to seeing you all this year,