Key wildlife

Our countryside and coastlines are bursting with life.

Majestic stags roam the glens; golden eagles soar over ancient Caledonian pines; seabirds gather in their millions on storm-battered cliffs; and rare and endangered plants sprout from the mountainside. Here are just a few examples of the variety of wildlife in our care:


Red deer, roe deer, red squirrels, badgers, otters and wild goats – these are just some of the mammals roaming Trust places like Mar Lodge Estate National Nature Reserve, Glencoe National Nature Reserve and Brodick Country Park.


Trust places are a birdwatcher’s paradise. You can see eagles and ospreys in the Highlands, puffins and guillemots on the coast, and black grouse and capercaillie in the pinewoods.


Rare invertebrates such as the slender scotch burnet moth and the narrow-headed wood ant inhabit some of our places. We also have dragonflies and damselflies in our ponds at Castle Fraser, butterflies on our machair and moths in our woodlands.

Reptiles and amphibians

Reptiles that may be seen on a visit to a Trust place include adders, slow-worms and the common lizard. In our ponds we’ve got common toads, common frogs, smooth newts, palmate newts and the great crested newt – Scotland’s rarest and biggest newt.

A seal lies on a sandy Mingulay beach with a turquoise sea in the background.

Marine life

Scotland’s seas cover an area greater than the mainland and islands put together. In the water around our places you’ll find seals (thousands of grey seals line the beaches of Mingulay), whales, dolphins and basking sharks, not to mention coral reefs and other eye-catching marine organisms.

One of 190 species of lichen found in Dollar Glen

Fungi, lichen, moss, liverworts and others

Fungi, lichen, moss, liverworts, algae… all help to protect our environment, contributing to nutrient recycling and soil fertility. They are also beautiful close up and sometimes on a larger scale, such as seaweed forests or luminous fungi. Why not join us on one of our special fungus forays and learn more about these fascinating organisms?

Wild flowering plants

There are plenty of beautiful wild plants across the Trust’s meadows and mountainsides, including flowering bluebells, primroses, frog orchids and wild pansies, as well as the rarest arctic-alpine varieties.

Wildlife facts

  • Nearly 20% of Scotland’s seabirds nest on National Trust for Scotland island and coastal sites – the equivalent of 8% of all seabirds in Europe.
  • Golden eagles breed at 6 different Trust places.
  • The wild Soay sheep on St Kilda are the most primitive breed of sheep in Europe, almost unchanged since the Iron Age.
  • You can find red squirrels at more than 20 Trust places.
  • Threave Bat Reserve, founded in 2010, is Scotland’s first bat reserve.
  • The slender scotch burnet is one of the rarest moths in Britain. The majority of the British population (around 90%) can be found at Burg (on Mull).
  • Ben Lawers is one of the richest sites for arctic-alpine plants in Europe, and has been identified as one of Britain’s foremost Important Plant Areas.
  • We support some of the finest sites in Scotland for waxcap grassland fungi, often called ‘grassland jewels’. These fungi thrive on many of the lawns around our older houses, such as Hill of Tarvit and Haddo House.

Thinking of going wildlife spotting?

Before you start looking for wildcats or rare mountain plants, please read the Scottish Outdoor Access Code. It’s full of great advice to keep you and our wildlife safe, as well as useful information on what to take with you on your adventure.



Scotland’s land mammals come in all shapes and sizes. What will you see on your next outdoor adventure?


Puffins, cormorants and other seabirds are a common feature of any visit to Scotland’s coast.