Craigievar’s remote location on Donside, and the lack of disturbance from high numbers of visitors, means this has become an important site for wildlife in the area. Here are our top five species to look out for when you’re out and about on our trails. Each has an ‘easy to see’ rating, a fun fact and a top tip for when and where to look.

Spot the fantastic five

1. Roe deer

Roe deer abound in the woods of Craigievar. In autumn you may hear them bark, or you may spot them as they cross from one woodland compartment to another or browse in nearby fields. In autumn, bucks grow antlers that are covered in a soft velvet material. Evidence of these young bucks can be seen in the damage to small trees made by the bucks ‘fraying’ (threshing) to remove this velvet with their antlers.

Fact: The female has a heart-shaped white tail, whilst the male (buck) has a kidney-shaped tail.

How easy is it to spot? EASY
Roe deer may be seen all year round in the woodland at Craigievar.

A roe deer stands in a flowery (possibly lavender) area with saplings. It has turned its head to face the camera. Its very large ears and white rump are clearly visible.

2. House martin

House martins travel to Scotland from northern Africa and southern Europe. They undertake this immense migration for the insect life in summer. Often nesting on the castle alcoves, these little birds are a delight to see, with their jerky, acrobatic flight and black and white colouring.

Fact: House martins have white bibs, which help us to differentiate them from swallows, also seen here.

How easy is it to spot? EASY
House martins are commonly seen in the summer months.

A small bird is flying with its wings upright. It is a house martin, and its tail is forked.

3. Brown long-eared bat

Brown long-eared bats have very specific preferences for roosting – Craigievar Castle has the perfect conditions for them to roost and raise their young. The surrounding countryside is rich in insect life, which makes good hunting grounds for these bats. As their name suggests, they have long ears, which look even more pronounced when they’re hanging upside down!

Fact: This is one of the eight species of bat we have here in Scotland.

How easy is it to spot? DIFFICULT
Find them by listening for their buzz-feeding at dusk on summer evenings.

A bat rests on a rough log, with a mossy tree stump in the background. The bat has very large, almost translucent ears, with the pink veins visible. They are 'pricked up' above its head. It has a furry brown body, and its wings are folded at the sides.

4. Pine marten

Once a threatened species due to being hunted for their fur, pine martens are now recovering well across the north-east of Scotland and are frequently caught on trail cameras at Craigievar. These large mammals (about the size of a cat) are related to ferrets – they have dark brown fur with a large bushy tail.

Fact: Each pine marten has a unique cream-coloured bib.

How easy is it to spot? DIFFICULT
Pine martens are elusive but present all year round – look for pine marten scat on woodland paths as a reliable sign that they have recently been in the area.

A pine marten sits on some grass, looking intently ahead. It has a dark brown head and body, with a yellowy throat and bib. The insides of its ears are also cream.

5. Scottish wildcat

Wildcats are an ‘edge’ species, who patrol the outsides of woodlands and fields to ambush their prey of rabbits, other small mammals or birds. The National Trust for Scotland is closely involved with wildcat conservation in Scotland. We are partners in Saving Wildcats, where the next phase of conservation is the reintroduction of wildcats from Edinburgh Zoo’s captive breeding programme. Wildcats have been caught on trail cameras on the Craigievar estate.

Fact: Wildcats are often night-hunters, meaning they’re tricky to see.

How easy is it to spot? DIFFICULT
Scottish wildcats may be present all year round, but in winter keep an eye out for their tracks in the snow.

A wildcat stands on a branch, high up in a tree.