Explore Argyll Secret Coast
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Be wowed by wildlife on Argyll’s Secret Coast

Be wowed by wildlife on Argyll’s Secret Coast
Argyll’s Secret Coast is rich in rare and wonderful wildlife. You’ve a good chance of seeing many of Scotland’s iconic wild animals, including red squirrel, red deer, harbour seal, otters and golden eagles. From bellowing stags and migrating geese in autumn to shoals of mackerel and even basking sharks in the summer, whatever time of the year you visit, Argyll’s Secret Coast is a great place for spotting wildlife.

Woodlands
Argyll’s Secret Coast has some of the finest remaining Atlantic oak woods in the country. Once forming a complete fringe down the west coast of Scotland, these oak woods can now only be found in fragmented patches. They’re a rich habitat for flora and fauna. Bluebells, wood anemone, primroses and other species form a colourful spring display, and deer, badgers, red squirrels and pine martens make their homes here.

Glenan Wood near Portavadie is a lovely example, and easily accessible as there is a well-marked path running through it. This weekend (Friday 8th and Saturday 9th June) you can join in the Glenan Wood BioBlitz. Wildlife experts will be on hand to help you identify and record species. There will also be guided walks, including a butterfly walk and a dusk bat walk. Kilfinan Community Forest and Caladh Estate are your best bet for spotting red squirrels.

Coastline and water
Walk around the coast and you’ll see a huge variety of seabirds, from diving gannets to noisy oystercatchers. You might also spot seals, porpoises and even the occasional whale or basking shark. Seals and dolphins often follow the Tarbert/Portavadie CalMac ferry and there’s a seal colony around the coast near Crispie. You’ll often see seals basking on the rocks along Carry Point, swimming in the Kyles and popping up in bays. There are colonies on Ardlamont Point, Inchmarnock and the Burnt Isles. If you’re lucky you might even spot an otter. Dawn and dusk are your best bet to see these shy creatures. You can see them right along the shoreline of Argyll’s Secret Coast, including near Tighnabruaich Pier.

Another great way to see the area’s sealife is to go on a boat trip. Join ex-naval commander Donald Clark on board his refurbished fishing boat Morag for a wildlife tour. Watch seals, porpoises and the many sea birds that inhabit the Kyles of Bute close up. Operating from the pier in Tighnabruaich, Morag is the only locally owned and run boat trip provider in the Kyles of Bute. Or how about going on a longer trip with Argyll Cruising or St Hilda Sea Adventures?

Summer is the time to look out for basking sharks. Towards the end of the summer these magnificent sharks start their southerly migration to the sub-tropics with one final aggregation in southern Argyll. Basking Shark Scotland runs basking shark research expeditions based at Carry Farm on Argyll’s Secret Coast when you can join the research team to observe the sharks and explore different areas while gaining information on this stage of their migration. There can be an option to swim and photograph the sharks during these tours.

Hills
Red Deer are Britain's largest land animals, and the fourth biggest deer species in the world. During the rutting season (late September to early November) the hills of Argyll’s Secret Coast come alive to the sound of the stags bellowing. They’re competing for access to the hinds – the female red deer – by engaging in elaborate displays of dominance. It’s an amazingly atmospheric sound. And it’s up in the hills where you have the best chance of spotting a golden eagle soaring high in the sky. Look for fairly rectangular-shaped wings held in a shallow 'V' shape, with finger-like ends to the outermost feathers.

The great thing about Argyll’s Secret Coast is that you don’t need to go far to spot some great wildlife. You might spot seals as you’re walking along the shore near the Kames Hotel, porpoises in the Kyles while you’re enjoying a drink at the Royal an Lochan or gannets diving in the sea in front of the Oystercatcher at Otter Ferry.

Many of the holiday homes in the area offer fabulous wildlife watching opportunities too. Crispie Estate is a brilliant place to stay if you love watching wildlife.
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