Anyone who caught Disney Pixar’s ridiculously successful movie Brave will understand why filmmakers used much of the Highlands of Scotland as a blueprint for their mystical setting. In parts lush and green, in others mysterious and barren, the story of this flame-haired princess used the jutting cliffs, hidden enclaves and languishing waters of Scotland as its dramatic backdrop. Off-screen, the northeast landscape, in and around Aberdeen, offers just as much inspiration for those seeking out real life Aberdeen wildlife and adventure – with hares, deer, ospreys and wild goose to be admired on land in their natural habitat, and dolphins, otters (and even the odd killer whale) to beguile out at sea.
Timed right, dolphin watching in and around Aberdeen can be glorious, as bottlenose dolphins dance and chirrup away around the Moray Firth, and local harbour porpoise and seals play nearby. Organised boat trips can be picked up from Buckie Harbour, with local sea men on hand to offer great insider knowledge and guide you to the top spots – boats like the Gemini Explorer head out year-round. Although less likely than a dolphin sighting, minke whales have been seen around the area, and even the odd glimpse of a killer whale was reported in early 2013, just off the Aberdeen coast.
While it’s possible to go it alone, with some easily traversed, well-signposted walks available, some of the best organised wildlife and safari tours around Aberdeen and the northeast are great bang for your buck – and worth the effort to get the inside scoop from people who know both the history and hottest mountain spots from which to search out Scotland’s beautiful birds and beasts.
The UK’s largest, the Cairngorms National Park is vast and extraordinary in its scope. Its heather moors and vast forest ranges offer ample opportunity to spot red and black grouse, golden eagles, red deer stags, osprey, terns, pine martens and more. Glenlivet Wildlife based in Tomnavoulin in Moray is a great shout for those seeking specially organised tours in Glenlivet and the Cairngorms, with different packages available to bring you the best wildlife around in any given season.
Header Image © Glenlivet Wildlife
Written by Anna Millar
Have you experienced the incredible Aberdeen wildlife? What was your most exciting sighting? Let us know in the comments.
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About the author: AnnaMillarAnna Millar
Anna is a Glasgow born and Edinburgh based freelance writer and editor specialising in arts and travel. When she’s not exploring the Highlands and Islands or reviewing Scotland’s festival scene, she’s likely to be found propping up the bar at one of New York’s finest watering holes or exploring Europe’s untapped corners.