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The Best of Birdwatching in the Highlands

Date published: 24/3/2016

A stay at Eagle Brae offers the birder one of the most versatile bases for birdwatching in the Highlands. Only 15 miles from the east coast and its shelducks, curlews and pink-footed geese; only an hour’s drive from the west coast and its white-tailed sea eagles, long-tailed ducks and terns; only metres away from riparian Strathglass and its whooper swans, reed buntings, sedge warblers, sand martins, ospreys, dippers and goldeneye; walking distance from the moors and their golden eagles, dotterel, hen-harriers and ptarmigan; 30 mins drive from large inland lochs and their common scoters, divers and sandpipers; only a mile or two from native pinewoods and their crossbills, crested tit and black grouse; and with an impressive array of daily visitors at the cabins themselves including yellowhammers, greater-spotted woodpeckers, siskins, woodcock, buzzards and treecreepers, Eagle Brae is the perfect place to be!

Some Highland Surprises

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The Scottish Highlands is a land of extremes. It hosts the deepest water bodies, the highest mountains and the coldest temperatures in the UK. It should be no surprise then that its feathered residents and visitors are tested to the limits of their ranges here. It therefore makes birdwatching in the Highlands a unique and exciting experience.

Strathglass and the river banks right in front of Eagle Brae are the northern-most regular limit of the kingfisher’s range in the UK with kingfishers regularly seen during the summer on the rivers Glass and Farrar. Many British birds are only found in the Scottish Highlands such as the ptarmigan and crested tit. And one is endemic to the pinewoods around Eagle Brae – the Scottish Crossbill, found no-where else on earth. And whilst jays have forged their way north and are now a regular part of Highland life, one of its relatives in conspicuously absent from the Highlands- the magpie!

There are also some extremely rare breeding birds nearby such as the slavonian grebe and common scoter. With only around 20 pairs of Slavonian grebes nesting in the whole of the UK, it’s a real highlight for birdwatchers in the Highlands. The nearest pair nest at a small loch between Eagle Brae and Loch Ness just a short distance away. Nesting common scoters are thought to be below a 50 pairs in the UK now but they still regularly breed at Loch Monar and in Glenmoriston nearby.

Eagle Brae Log Cabin Names

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To celebrate the quality of the birdwatching in the Highlands, all our cabins at Eagle Brae are named after local birds, but with the Latin genus name rather than the common name:

  • Tringa – Greenshank (found in summer on wee hill lochs above Eagle Brae)
  • Buteo – Buzzard (all year round on a daily basis above the cabins)
  • Parus – Crested tit (found in Strathfarrar and Glen Affric all year round)
  • Loxia – Scottish Crossbill (commercial and native conifer forests nearby)
  • Sylvia – Blackcap (a sweet summer migrant from the warbler family)
  • Aquila – Golden eagle (the nearest eyrie is just 2 miles away)
  • Strix – Tawny owl (can be heard nightly especially around Strix cabin)

Join us for some Birdwatching in the Highlands!

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Whether you want to try our black grouse safari, head on down to our birdwatching hide in the wild-flower meadow, or just borrow some binoculars from reception and head on out on your own, you can’t fail to be impressed by our feathered friends whilst birdwatching in the Highlands around Eagle Brae.