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Arran Nature and Wildlife

Rock ptarmigan

Rock ptarmigan

The Isle of Arran, situated off the South West coast of Scotland, is accessible yet remote and, as such, is a wonderful place for the tracking and discovery of some of Britain’s nature and wildlife.

The variety within the Arran landscape is largely responsible for the great variety of its flora and fauna, as is the mild year-round temperature. From mountains and bog-land to farmland, coastline, moorland and forested areas, the island’s habitats are many. This is what makes Arran’s landscape so compelling.


The Isle of Arran is a wonderful location from which to base a bird spotting trip. Ptarmigans are beautiful birds and thrive on Arran, developing an almost entirely white plumage in Winter months. Breeding on Arran’s mountains, the ptarmigans tend to remain in the peaks but sometimes do move to forests when the weather is particularly bad.

Both the golden eagle and white-tailed eagle (the two largest birds of prey in the British Isles) are both appreciative of the wild habitat available on Arran. The golden eagle prefers the mountains and moorland, while the white-tailed prefers cliffs and coastal mountains. It was pretty much extinct in the early 19th century throughout Britain, but Rum and other islands have been at the forefront of the species’ reintroduction. Red kites have also been reintroduced to Scotland, initially in the Black Isle. They prefer a habitat of deciduous woodland with neighbouring farmland. Peregrine falcons can be found on coastal uplands, nesting on craggy cliffs, while hen harriers live on heather moor uplands, moving to lowland areas when the weather turns colder.

The Osprey is amongst those species which pass through Arran, present in Spring and Autumn following their migration. Other birds such as the shelduck, heron and eider are permanent visitors, and still other feathered visitors are only on Arran during the Winter months.

So, wherever you are on Arran, you can be sure to have opportunities to catch a glimpse of some incredible and fascinating birds.


Rare throughout other parts of the British Isles, red squirrels have a healthy stronghold on the Isle of Arran, there being no grey squirrels to pass on disease and compete for food sources. They are visible throughout the island, particularly in the grounds of Brodick Castle.

The most majestic and largest wild animal you’re likely to see during a stay on Arran, is the red deer, as there are around 2,000 living on the island. Males and females live in separate groups on the high moorland areas but come together for mating purposes in Autumn. They are relatively visible but you’ll be lucky to see an albino – the legendary White Stag.

Eurasian otters are populous on the North and West coasts of Scotland, though it isn’t always easy to spot them as they’re shy and generally keep away from people, so otter watching requires patience. Their numbers have been in decline throughout Britain over the last sixty years or so, but this area’s population has remained strong.

Plant life

The mild climate on Arran is due to the Gulf Stream, giving the plants a year-round diversity, even in Winter. Up to 50 species of wild flowers can be seen, even in Winter months, including Gorse which flowers all Winter long. Notable also are the yellow irises beside the road running from Brodick to Corrie. Obviously, most of the plant variety can be found in the wetter and more lowland areas of the island – the moorland areas tend to mainly be inhabited by bilberry, bracken and heather. Many beautiful flowering plants are also thriving on the seashore or cliff areas – for example, thrift, navelwort and sea campion.

Sea animals

Seals, basking sharks, bottlenose dolphins, porpoises and minke whales may all be spotted by visitors to the coastline. Seals will often bask on rocky outcrops just out to sea.

Stay in Arran

Arran is within easy reach of the Scottish mainland, Glasgow and other areas of great interest. We can offer wonderful accommodation within these areas to suit the needs of all travellers – self-catering, hotels, and cottages, to name but a few. Do take a look below for more information on our Arran properties and latest nearby offers.

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