Local Wildlife

Whether a quiet walk along the shore, an ambitious hike up the mountains, or a sail on the loch, you can be sure to catch a glimpse of some of the area’s fascinating wildlife that benefits from the wide range of habitats; from the sea and shore of Loch Long, to the freshwater and woodland of Loch Lomond, and the mountain tops of the Arrochar Alps.

The fjord-like Loch Long extends from the Firth of Clyde to the villages of Arrochar and Succoth, and is home to a wide range of fish, including cod and mackerel, which in turn attract the birds and mammals that feed on them. Gannets can regularly be seen diving for fish, while grey seals are also a common sight. Pilot whales, porpoises and dolphins are less common, but welcome visitors, and even a rare humpback whale has been known to put in an appearance. Flocks of smart black and white eider ducks are frequently seen in the loch, where they dive deep to collect mussels from the sea bed. The old pier in Arrochar is a haven for gulls and cormorants, and for the striking oystercatchers, who are more than happy to make their presence heard.

The freshwater Loch Lomond is home to an abundance of salmon and sea trout, as well as to the rare powan, a species of fish found only in Loch Lomond and nearby Loch Eck, where the species became stranded after the retreat of the glaciers during the last ice age. Gulls and cormorants nest on some of the many islands in the loch, but are under threat from feral mink that eat their eggs and chicks. The mink should not be mistaken for the larger, native otter, which is now making a welcome return to the shores of both Loch Lomond and Loch Long. Ospreys now also nest around Loch Lomond, and the stunning site of an osprey snatching a fish from the water is one never to be forgotten.

The mountains and crags provide ideal retreats for the spectacular golden eagle, which can be seen gliding high on the sky line – not to be confused with the smaller and much more common buzzard. Ravens and peregrines frequent the crags, while red grouse and ptarmigan live on the slopes. Red deer are common and herds are frequently seen on the hillsides. In autumn when the stags are rutting, their calls can be heard over long distances as they echo off the surrounding hills. Red deer and their smaller cousins roe deer, which live nearer sea level, are beautiful but often unwelcome visitors to local gardens, where they can easily eat an entire season’s vegetables in a single night!

The woodlands around the villages form the front line in the current ‘squirrel wars’, with both native reds and introduced greys vying for control. Red squirrels prefer to feed in conifer woods, while the larger greys frequent the deciduous oak woods. In other places where they come in contact, grey squirrels have been found to take over from reds. Although competition for food, loss of suitable habitat, and transmission of disease by grey squirrels have all been proposed as possible causes, the real reason remains unknown.

The elusive pine marten also appears to be on the increase in the area, with increasing sightings around the Tarbet area. These normally shy, nocturnal creatures can be attracted into gardens by peanuts left out for the birds, which also provide a delicacy for local badgers. 

Eider duckGannetGrey sealBadgerOne of the local residentsPine martenSoaring golden eagleRed squirrel