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Home > The living mountain / Flora & Fauna / Bird watching

Any lack of diversity in the bird life of the Cairngorms is made up by some superb mountain species which can be seen relatively accessibly in a wild mountain setting.

The Ptarmigan must hold pride of place as the bird most at home on the high tops, for it breeds here and survives on precious little throughout the arctic winter. White winter plumage, from November to March, camouflages it and makes it less obvious.

Other species including Wheatear and Ring Ouzel move in from as far away as Africa to Summer in the Cairngorms. Favourite among birdwatchers is the Dotterel, a highly protected species. You need a licence to photograph Dotterel on or near the nest. They are only moderately affected by humans but they don't like ravens, which have a tendency to rob their nests.

Ptarmigan, Snow bunting and Dotterel nest between May and August, if you are fortunate to spot one give them a bit of space and view from afar. These birds are prone to disturbance and dogs especially can be a threat. So enjoy your day and if necessary keep your dog on a lead.

Latest sightings are regularly posted in the Ranger Base and they are happy to give advice for prospective bird watchers.