Wild beavers have recently been reintroduced to the Scottish countryside after being extinct in the UK for over 400 years. At Knapdale Forest in Argyllshire, you can visit the Scottish Beaver Trial for a chance of glimpsing these incredible animals. They’re most active at night, so head out at dusk or dawn for the best chance of spotting them.
Contrary to popular belief, red squirrels don’t hibernate – they can still be seen scurrying around parks and forests throughout the winter.
Most of Scotland’s red deer live in hill habitats, moving to sheltered lower ground to find food throughout the winter months. The Cairngorms National Park is home to 25,000 of these majestic animals, while many more can be seen roaming the Galloway Forest Park in Dumfries & Galloway throughout the year.
Roe deer are most often spotted in winter, when they change their shiny brown coat for a heavier grey or black version to get them through the colder months. Spot them at dusk or dawn in the Loch Lomond & The Trossachs National Park, particularly in Balloch Castle Country Park, the Balmaha or East Loch Lomond Woods.
Otters live in a range of freshwater habitats around Scotland and, though very elusive, are possible to see at any time of year. Head to the Loch of Lowes Wildlife Reserve in Perthshire for a chance to
spot them splashing around near riverbanks and waterways, or look out for them around the Spey Bay in the Highlands.
Many of Scotland’s wildlife attractions also stay open throughout the winter. Come face to face with arctic foxes and polar bears at the Highland Wildlife Park by Kingussie, or spot reindeer, wolves and Scottish wildcats at the Scottish Deer Centre in Fife. It is best to check details of opening times with wildlife attractions before visiting during the winter months.
If you are planning a winter holiday here in central Scotland there are many places within easy reach of all of Cooper Cottages self-catering holiday cottages where wildlife can be spotted providing many hours of interest for all the family.
More information on what can be seen in the area can be found on the Visit Scotland website at http://wintervisitscotland.com