We expect most people know that, as The City in the Highlands, Inverness is surrounded by some wonderful wildernesses home to amazing wildlife – which is why it is no surprise that the BBC’s Autumnwatch team selected the nearby Aigas Field Centre as the base for its 2012 broadcasts.
However, what you might not realise is that Inverness itself also offers some superb Highland habitats which attract a great selection of birds and beasts – meaning you don’t even have to head out of the city to get a taste of the great outdoors!
Where to Spot Wildlife in Inverness
Here we take a look at just a few of the great wildlife watching opportunities on offer to those who choose to visit Inverness.
- Merkinch Local Nature Reserve: Situated in the South Kessock area of the city, Merkinch Local Nature Reserve is more than 50 hectares of habitats offering a great opportunity to observe some of the area’s wonderful wildlife. Animal lovers should look out for roe deer and wild weasels, while bird lovers can spot a range of wading birds in the salt marsh, fresh water marsh and reed beds, as well as the occasional Osprey overhead or the elusive Kingfishers at the Muirton Pools.
- Longman Shore: At the south end of Inverness’s iconic Kessock Bridge is the Longman shore – a recognised spot for birding, the area has been highlighted by Birding Scotland as being a great spot for gulls – including the increasingly rare Ivory Gull.
- Moray Firth: If you want to see Inverness’s sea life, the take a boat tour of the Inner Moray Firth, which surrounds the city’s north shore. Visitors can spot the local bottlenose dolphins as well as seals, porpoises and the occasional minke whale or basking shark. Boat tours can also offer birdwatching opportunities, with sightings of Osprey, Red Kite and Peregrine Falcon also possible.
- Craig Phadrig: Wonderful woodland walks to this Pictish fort site overlooking the city. Well marked trails mean it’s easy to take a tour around Craig Phadrig and discover the birds, butterflies and minibeasts that make this their home; you might even spot a native red squirrel en route.
- Ness Islands: Sitting in the waters of the River Ness, right in the heart of Inverness, are the Ness Islands, an exciting natural habitat easily accessed from the city centre. Use the linking bridges to watch the waters for salmon and seals, follow the paths to discover a selection of flora and fauna, or visit after sundown to spot the Pippistrelle or Daubentons bats.
- Culloden Wood: Bordered by farmland on the outskirts of the city, Culloden Wood is a great place to get up close and personal with nature, without heading too far afield. A great spot for birds, butterflies and minibeasts, as well as the occasional mammal.
Whatever wildlife you hope to spot here in the Highlands, Inverness offers great outdoor opportunities, all within striking distance of our bustling city centre.