Whether you’re interested in mammals, birds, flora or marine life there are many opportunities for spotting wildlife around the Ardnamurchan peninsula.
From the house Otters and Porpoises are regularly spotted on the loch, along with the occasional Pine Marten crossing the lawn. Many birds are visitors to the feeders with the usual garden birds; robins, blue tits and chaffinches to yellowhammers, siskins, woodpeckers, and tree creepers. Owls regularly call in the trees at night and Sea Eagles, Golden Eagles, buzzards and occasionally a hen harrier can be seen soaring over the hills behind the house. If you sit outside at dusk on a warm summer evening bats will circle around the trees catching moths and insects.
As keen wildlife watchers we have a well stocked bookshelf with OS maps of the area, and books on natural history, local history, geology and walking.
The website wild lochaber provides a wealth of information about the wildlife hotspots around Lochaber but below are a few examples of those nearest to Allt Fearn.
Approximately 2 miles west of Laga is the RSPB Reserve Glenborrodale. It is the RSPB’s most westerly reserve and managed for its oak woodlands. On the north shore of Loch Sunart there is a pleasant walk through deciduous woodland onto heath and moorland with excellent views over the Loch. Glenborrodale reserve provides a home for more than 200 species including rare mosses, liverworts, lichens and ferns. Mammals including otter, pine marten and wildcat are present, as well as some special birds including redstart, wood warbler, tree pipit, whinchat, lesser whitethroat and raven. Invertebrates that live and breed here include pearl-bordered fritillary, chequered skipper and purple hairstreak butterflies, keeled skimmer and white-faced darter dragonflies, violet ground beetle to name a few. Weekly guided walks take place during the summer months. Check the website for details.
The Ardnamurchan Natural History and Wildlife Centre is situated in Glenmore 5 miles west of Laga, amidst spectacular scenery on the Ardnamurchan peninsula. The Centre provides an introduction to the natural environment of Ardnamurchan with an interactive exhibition housed in the ‘Living Building’. Here you can discover the secrets of the diverse native flora and fauna found on the peninsula. The warm and cosy Loch View tearoom serves a range of delicious lunches and home baking and there is also a well-stocked gift shop.
The Garbh Eilean Wildlife Hide at Ardery is approximately 12 miles east of Laga on the A861 halfway between Salen and Strontian. It provides an ideal spot to search for otters, common and grey seals in the loch and on the shores of Loch Sunart. A range of waders, ducks and seabirds can also be seen from the hide, depending on season and, occasionally, golden and sea eagles.
Ardnamurchan Charters offers WiSe accredited marine wildlife trips, some within Loch Sunart; some further a field with experienced and knowledgeable skipper and crew. Taking small groups, with time to stop, watch, enjoy and photograph without disturbing the wildlife – minke whales, dolphins, porpoises, basking sharks, and Sea Eagles. Go fishing, island hopping or hire your own self-drive boat.
Ardnamurchan Point on the Ardnamurchan peninsula is the most westerly point on the British mainland and is a good place to spot basking shark, minke whale, common dolphin, orca, harbour porpoise and Risso’s dolphin (if lucky), as well as otters and a range of coastal birds. The headland supports a diverse maritime flora and is a wonderful place for a picnic.
The exhibition centre at the Ardnamurchan lighthouse which has an admission charge shows interesting displays on the biology and geology of Ardnamurchan, as well as fascinating information about the building and operation of the Ardnamurchan lighthouse. You can also climb to the top of the lighthouse for excellent views of the Hebrides and the Ardnamurchan peninsula on a clear day. A cafe for refreshments is welcome after the long drive to get there.
Ariundle Oakwood National Nature Reserve, near Strontian, is an important remnant of an ancient coastal Oakwood that formerly stretched along the Atlantic coast from Spain and Portugal to Norway. Its trees, mainly sessile oak and pedunculate oak, are strewn with a diverse collection of mosses, liverworts, lichens and epiphytic ferns. The woodland also supports a large invertebrate community, including the rare chequered skipper.
Wildlife Cruises from Acharacle on Loch Shiel The MV Sileas offers you the opportunity to penetrate one of Britain’s few remaining wilderness areas, where regular sightings of Golden Eagles, great northern divers and red deer are common. Accessible only by boat, the eighteen-mile length of Loch Shiel, once a sea-loch but reshaped by the retreating glaciers of the last Ice Age, it contains a wide variety of wildlife amidst stunning mountain scenery. Cruises are operated by friendly, knowledgeable local staff who provide live commentary throughout the trip.
Wildlife Cruises from Arisaig From Arisaig you can sail to the islands of Eigg, Muck & Rhum aboard the M.V. Shearwater with time ashore to explore these beautiful and contrasting islands. From the boat there are regular sightings of minke whale, basking shark, dolphins as well as seabirds such as puffins, guillemots and manx shearwaters.