THE OUTER HEBRIDES
SCOTTISH WILDLIFE SPECIES GUIDE
Nature notes on some of the species you may see on an adventure with us.
The smallest member of the rorqual family, the gorgeous minke whale is one of the species most severely affected by the whaling industry.
Humpback whales are a member of the baleen whale species and are found in every ocean in the world - often travelling up to 16,000 miles each year! Famed for their whale song, males of the same group will produce a unique 10-20 minute song which they might repeat for hours at a time.
After the blue whale, this cetacean giant is the second-largest species on Earth. The fin whale -- also called ‘finback whale’ and ‘common rorqual’ -- is also the fastest baleen whale.
The orca whale, also referred to as killer whale, is the largest member of the oceanic dolphin family. Highly social in nature, these whales live in matrilineal pods of up to 40 individuals and use a series of clicks, whistles and calls to navigate the ocean around them.
Common dolphins, or more correctly, short-beaked common dolphins, are often found travelling in large pods of anywhere from around a dozen individuals up to 50 or 60 or sometimes even superpods of hundreds if you are lucky.
Risso’s dolphins are predominantly deep water lovers and are therefore relatively unstudied, however in several places around the world they can be found within only metres of the coast enabling researchers to learn so much more about them.
Cute and compact, harbour porpoises show that good things do come in small packages. The English word ‘porpoise' is derived from the Latin word for pig
White-Tailed Sea Eagle
The white-tailed eagle is a very large eagle widely distributed across Eurasia. As are all eagles, it is a member of the family Accipitridae which includes other diurnal raptors such as hawks, kites, and harriers.
A huge bird of prey, with only the white-tailed eagle larger in the UK. With its long broad wings and longish tail, it has a different outline to the smaller buzzard.
Buzzards are the most common bird of prey in the UK — spotted in cities and the country alike. While found in most regions, greater numbers are typically observed in Scotland, North West England and Wales. Spot these magnificent birds in good weather, perching on pylons or high up over hillsides.
The Hen Harrier is one of Scotland’s rarest birds of prey. While spotted in all UK countries, Scotland homes the majority (505 pairs)... and the most unique! Orkney hen harriers are known for their polygynous nature, with males often choosing to mate with more than one female on the island.
The larger of our 2 UK seal species, the curious face of a grey seal bobbing in the waves is a familiar sight all around the British Isles.
The seal is a popular sight in the sheltered waters around Scotland's coast. They can be seen in Orkney, the Shetland Islands, the Hebrides and the Monach Isles, which is the second largest breeding colony of grey seals in the world.
These playful mammals are also expert hunters -- eating fish, crustaceans and other critters. In Scotland, an otter’s den (aka ‘holt’) is usually built under tree roots or a rocky cairn, in which the offspring (or ‘pups’) live for up to one year.
Puffins are unmistakable birds with their black back and white underparts, distinctive black head with large pale cheeks and their tall, flattened, brightly-coloured bill.
The UK's coasts have many stretches of sheer cliffs where seabirds breed and the guillemot is one of the most numerous birds in the great 'seabird cities'.
The razorbill is a medium-sized seabird. It is black above and white below. It has a thick black beak which is deep and blunt, unlike the thinner bill of the similar guillemot.
Almost gull-like, this grey and white seabird is related to the albatrosses. The fulmar flies low over the sea on stiff wings, with shallow wingbeats, gliding and banking to show its white underparts then grey upperparts.
Kittiwakes are gentle looking, medium-sized gulls with a small yellow bill and a dark eye. They have a grey back with white underneath.
Adult gannets are large and bright white with black wingtips. They are distinctively shaped with a long neck and long pointed beak, long pointed tail, and long pointed wings.
The great skua is an aggressive pirate of the seas, deliberately harassing birds as large as gannets to steal a free meal. It also readily kills and eats smaller birds such as puffins.