Ben Lawers supports a wide range of upland wildlife, from large mammals to tiny invertebrates, with several species especially adapted to the extreme mountain conditions.

Red deer are often seen, whereas other mammals like the water vole are inconspicuous. Visit in winter and you might be rewarded by the amazing sight of a mountain hare dashing across the hillside in its brilliant white cold-weather coat.

Ravens, black grouse and ptarmigan remain in the area all year, whilst migrants, including the wheatear and ring ouzel, arrive to breed in the summer. Snow bunting appear in October and stay for winter. Buzzards are probably the most frequently spotted raptor, but there’s the possibility of seeing several other species, including golden eagle.

Ben Lawers NNR has an outstanding diversity of invertebrates with many nationally rare species, often visible only in the warmer months. Some of the most conspicuous are dragonflies, bees, moths (and their caterpillars) and butterflies. Golden ringed dragonflies patrol the burns and bilberry bumblebees are often seen foraging on the plant from which they get their common name. Large day-flying moths include the emperor and the often-very-numerous northern eggar. A sought-after insect is the mountain ringlet butterfly, plentiful on the grassy slopes on warm sunny days in July. It’s the UK’s sole montane butterfly species, and may be at risk from climate warming.

Three species of amphibian are present: the common frog, the common toad and the palmate newt. Frogs are fairly abundant in the vegetation throughout the property and, perhaps surprisingly, thrive in damp areas even close to the summits. They often spawn early in the spring in ephemeral puddles, which soon dry out in good weather.

The only reptile known to be present is the common lizard, likely to be seen throughout the summer season. However, the lizard will probably see you before you see it, so often all you spot is a rapid wriggling movement as it takes cover in the vegetation. If you’re lucky you may see one at rest, basking in the sun.

You can also check out our wildlife spotter’s guide for Ben Lawers NNR, and see how many you can spot during your next visit:

Wildlife spotter’s guide: Ben Lawers