The wildlife on Arran is very exciting. with red deer, otters, seals, red squirrels and great bird watching. Lochranza Youth Hostel is a great base as the best of the wildlife is on the doorstep, often literally.
Otter at Lochranza Ferry Terminal
The Isle of Arran is a wonderful place for bird watching with over 250 bird species recorded. At any time of the year you can expect to see something interesting.
Whooper Swans at Whiting Bay
On the Loch, curlew, oystercatcher and redshank can usually be seen along the shoreline whilst out on the water red breasted merganser, eider, goldeneye and little grebe can be seen at various times of the year.
If the weather is bad we have a heated hide (The hostel lounge) overlooking the Loch and binoculars for geusts to use.
Overhead watch out for hen harrier, ravens, gannets and various gulls as well as golden eagles which can often be seen, as a pair nest nearby.
Arran is a nationally important area for red breasted merganser, hen harrier and black throated diver.
The most comprehensive site on bird watching on Arran is arranbirding.co.uk
Jim Cassells's excellent site includes blogs, bird sighting news, where to find birds and much much more.
Some of the most exciting wildlife on Arran are the otters. As can be seen from the photo at the top of the page they are around the Lochranza area. I was fortunate enough to see this family of otters (there were 3 of them) mid morning right next to the ferry slipway.
We have seen them a number of times arund the local area, but so far never in the same place twice. Look out for a V shaped wake in the water.
As they are a shy and solitary creature it is often just a matter of luck seeing one. Like all wildlife watching being quiet and unobtrusive increases your chances. They are more likely to see you before you see them.
Arran has both grey and common seals and Lochranza is a great place to see them.
Who is watching who ?
At low tide, head round to Newton Point on the opposite sde of the loch and common seals can often be seen basking on the rocks. When the tide is in, you can often see a head coming out of the water as they check you out.
Other good places to see seals are between Corrie and Sannox or near Brodick Castle. Whilst on the south of the island, Kildonan is another excellent place.
Most peoples first sighting is one on the rocks at Corrie, then they realise it is a sculpture. It still catches me out sometimes.
Which is which? Not always easy but a grey has a more horse shape head (longer and straighter) whilst the common seal has a more dog shaped face.
Some of the most spectacular wildlife on Arran are the red deer, and around Lochranza they are very common. They can often be seen strolling around the village and we sometimes see them in the garden (This is why everyone in Arran has high fences, the deer eat all the plants).
Red Deer at the hostel
There is a population of around 2000 in the North of the island, kept here by a deer fence.
During the Summer evenings the golf course often has 20 -30 red deer on the fairways. If they are not around scan the hills and you can usually see some.
Autumn is a fantastic time to visit Lochranza as this is when the deer are rutting. Be warned though, you may not get much sleep as the stags can be bellowing all night.
Please do take great care if you are driving at night, deer are often on the road and a nasty accident can easily happen. There are a lot of cars on Arran with deer damage to evidence this.
Arran is a stronghold of the red squirrel and we are fortunate not to have any greys. Like much of the wildlife, seeing one is often a matter of luck.
Early in the day is the best time to see them and we often get them in the garden. Try a walk around the village and look in the gardens, especially if they have bird feeders, you just might be lucky
Amongst the wildlife on Arran we are fortunate to not have any foxes, stoats or weasels and this has helped to keep a good range of other creatures.
There are badgers in Lochranza, but you would be very lucky to see one. There are also hares, rabbits, bats, lizards, toads and adders around the island.
Out at sea there is also wildlife to be seen by the lucky few. August and September can be good for basking sharks and they have been seen in the loch.
The ferry to Brodick is probably the most likely place to see porpoise and bottle nosed dolphins. Occasional minke whales have also been reported.
Lochranza Bird List - Sightings by us around the village this year