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  • Writer's pictureAbigail Daly

Wildlife watching near Ruskin Lodges

It is hard to avoid wildlife when you come and stay at Ruskin Lodges. After all, we are in a national park! From red squirrels darting from tree to lodge to feeder and back to families of deer strolling through the parkland. There are lots of good locations locally to spot wildlife, here are our top locations.

Red squirrel on a post
Red squirrels can be regularly spotted around Ruskin Lodges

Benmore Botanic Garden

  • Red squirrels: These adorable animals are a common sight in the garden's woodland areas. Keep an eye out for their bushy tails and distinctive red fur. There are feeders and hides in several locations - just consult with the maps to find them.

  • Roe deer: Benmore Botanic Garden is home to a population of roe deer, which can often be spotted grazing in the fields or darting through the woodland.

  • Birds: The garden is home to a wide variety of bird species, including woodpeckers, jays, and buzzards. In the spring and summer months, you may also spot migrant species such as cuckoos and swallows.

  • Otters: The nearby River Eachaig is home to a population of otters, which can occasionally be seen fishing in the water.

  • Bats: Several species of bat call the garden's woodland and meadow areas home. Look out for these fascinating creatures as they swoop through the air in search of insects in the early evening around dusk.

  • Insects: Benmore Botanic Garden is home to a wide variety of insect species, including butterflies, moths, and bees. The garden's flower beds, ponds and meadows are particularly attractive to these pollinators.

  • Amphibians: The garden's ponds and streams are home to several species of amphibians, including frogs, toads, and newts. Remember: look don't touch!

Holy Loch Nature Reserve and Sandbank bird hide

  • The Holy Loch Nature Reserve is made up of approximately 24 acres of saltmarsh, wild flower meadow, and woodland, with reedbed and bog areas that are fed by five burns. There are many small pools on the marsh that support a diverse range of aquatic plants and animals.

  • Despite already being home to over 1,000 different species of plants, animals, fungi, and other organisms, there is a plan in place to further enhance the existing biodiversity by selectively introducing species that have not yet naturally arrived at the reserve. This will allow the reserve to become a sanctuary for many species that are threatened by human activities.

  • A simple path starting at the Sandbank recycling point leads to a conveniently located bird-watching hide that is equipped with bird feeders, making the reserve accessible to everyone. Over 120 species of birds use the reserve throughout the year, including the Kingfisher, Osprey, Little Egret, and Peregrine. From time to time, the sight of a White-tailed Eagle flying overhead may startle the birds below, causing them to take flight. During the winter, small populations of Curlew, Redshank, Teal, and Wigeon can be found around the loch before they head to their breeding grounds in late spring and summer.

  • Holy Loch Local Nature Reserve has a website with lots of information.

Ardentinny beach

  • Low tide is the best time to visit as the tidal range reveals far more of the beach, spits of sand and mud flats. You'll see wading birds like oystercatchers and curlews can be observed as they probe the sandy shoreline for food. Herons and geese are often spotted and, if you look closely, the odd nuclear submarine passing by...

Useful sites and resources

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