Nature

South Loch Ness is wild, tranquil and beautiful, it offers a wide range of opertunities to see the wildlife of the amazing Highland Of Scotland.

Pine Martens, red squirels, a variety of bird life including the very rare Slavonia grebe and deer are just a few. 

 

 

Wild Flowers

Wild Flowers
Scottish Wildflower light up the South Side of Loch Ness in an array of colour from spring until autumn. A surprising variety of wild flowering plants and ferns find places to grow amongst patches of ravine woodland, grassland, scree and cliff still found among roads and buildings are havens for flowering plants not found elsewhere in urban areas. Some flowers you have to work harder to find and others wave hello in a gentle breeze on the verges from the roadside.

As the frosts begin to fade away spring brings with it a delight for the eyes with pockets of wild Daffodil and long swathes of Primrose adorning the banks of the roadside along the B852. Getting off the road and taking to the trails at Inverfairgaig Forest and the small wood in lower Foyers you will see woodland flowers come early in spring before the canopy overhead closes again until winter. Carpets of Bluebells appear with bursts of
Wood Anemone here and there. As spring rolls on Ramsons fill the woodland floor and fill the air with their pungently perfumed aroma. Between April and June you can enjoy Yellow Flag Iris from the roadside between Foyers and Whitebridge.

As the woodlands darken verges, heathland and bogs come in to their full summer beauty drifting numerous scents on the breeze. Bog Myrtle loses its leaves in the winter and at the end of spring / beginning of summer sees its young reddish leaves turn green again. As its name suggests it likes wet areas to grow. Bog cotton can usually be found near by along with Bog Moss with its rainbow of colours from red wine, orange, brown, pink and green. Bright splashes of yellow and orange from Bog Asphodel and dusky pink from the Heath
Milkwort. Contrary to popular belief, boglands are not dreary places at all! 

Small patches of grassland and meadow can be found along South Loch Ness with Wild Orchids in mid summer, Yellow Rattle, Cow Parsley, Dog Daisy and Red Clover. Hugging the edges of woodland and hedgerows are Wild Roses, Forget-me-nots and Foxglove. Foxglove also love to grow on bracken slopes and are irresistible to bees. Higher above the Loch you will find the carnivorous beauty Sundew glistening red in the sun waiting to catch its next meal and Moss Campion close by with its pink starry flowers and moss like
foliage.

As autumn comes the hills are a blaze of purple with Heather in full bloom. The Brambles start to loose their delicate white flowers as their fruits begin to appear. Yellow Gorse gradually loose there bright yellow blooms as the frost start to come bringing winter with them, it leaves us waiting for the first signs of Snowdrops at the end of the winter.
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Fungi

Fungi
Fungi can be found all year round here but the best time to find lots of different varieties is in
autumn.

The native, well-established woods of Scotland provide one of the richest fungal habitats in the whole of the British Isles. Larger fungi are generally confined to woodland and grassland ranging from lowlands to uplands. Moss beds are another great place to look for fungi as moss protects the fungus from desiccation and provides insulation and a damp environment which encourages fungal growth. But woodlands are the best place to look for fungi as they provide such varied places for them to live.

Each species has its own particular niche, be it on old wood, tree roots or simply gaining nutrition from the humus. The more species of trees and other flowering plants present, the more species of fungi are likely to be found. Some fungi are found only on certain parts of that host. For instance some grow only on the leaves, fruit or woody debris of a particular species, while others may be confined to large boughs or the finer twigs.

Some of the fungi you may come across on the South Side of Loch Ness are Shaggy Inkcap, Fly Agaric, Birch Polypore, Amethyst Deceiver, Turkeytail, Grey Spotted Amanita, Hedgehog Fungus, Cep and Chicken of the Woods to name a few.
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Wildlife

Wildlife
South Loch Ness is a haven for wildlife. There is of course what you'd expect in the Scottish Highlands, deer, red squirrels and pine martens, but there's a host of other animals, birds and insects to discover in the natural beauty and rural tranquility of South Loch Ness
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Moray Firth Dolphins

Moray Firth Dolphins
The wild and unpolluted seas are more than just a blue backdrop to fine scenery - they offer a good chance to see wildlife such as whales, dolphins and most commonly, seals. The bottlenosed dolphins of the Moray Firth are perhaps the most famous cetacean species in the northern waters – it is estimated that there are approximately 130 dolphins in the pod.

Chanonry Point, between Fortrose and Rosemarkie on the Black Isle is reputed to be the best place to see dolphins from the shore.
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Northern Lights

Northern Lights

The Highlands are far enough north to witness spectacular northern lights (or aurora) and are sometimes bathed in high activity flows from Scandinavia. Our dark skies make it an excellent place to view this amazing display -  but there’s a great deal of luck involved in observing it.  Find a good vantage point and make sure you’re looking north is a good start, and keep tabs on the many aurora apps and websites that will alert you to incoming solar activity. Getting out there as often as possible is the main thing and setting up a wee observing camp is a fun thing to do - an old deck chair, picnic rug and plenty of warm chocolate to sip on is all you really need. 




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Deer & Stag Spotting

Deer & Stag Spotting

There are three deer species in South Loch Ness.

Two are native i.e. Red and Roe Deer with Sika deer being introduced early 19th century in several areas.

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Astronomy / Night Sky

Astronomy / Night Sky

Scotland is fast becoming established as a European mecca for stargazers.  Low levels of light pollution, particularly in the Highlands, give residents and visitors access to fantastic dark skies, with breathtaking views of the Milky Way and, occasionally, mesmerising displays of northern lights.  Dark Sky discovery sites have been springing up in the Highlands to capitalise on this, with nearby Abriachan Forest recently granted Milky Way class status.  

Photographs Copyright and used by kind permission of Jamie Fraser Fernweh Photography. and Claire Rehr.
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Bird Life

Bird Life
With its mix of lochs, native woodlands and moorland, South Loch Ness holds a rich and varied birdlife. The real star is the Slavonian grebe, one of Britain’s rarest breeding birds with only about 30 pairs all on south Loch Ness – Loch Ruthven RSPB Reserve is the best place to see them.  Also keep an eye out on the lochs for fishing ospreys, a variety of ducks including wigeon and mergansers, and both red- and black-throated divers occur too but in low numbers.
 
The farmland still echoes to the cries of curlews and lapwings, rare sounds elsewhere and on the fringes of the moor look out for black grouse strutting around on their traditional display grounds.  The hills aren’t the most dramatic in Scotland but are home to an increasing golden eagle population as well as some other birds of prey like merlins. Soaring red kites are also becoming an increasingly common site.
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Trees

Trees
Pockets of the Caledonian Forest can be found all the way along the South Side of Loch Ness. Scots Pine, Hazel and Birch are the most common tree’s you will find. There are also plenty of Oak, Rowan, Alder, Willow and Holly.

Amongst the forest / woodland there is a huge diversity of Lichens, Moses, Liverworts and Ferns growing over the damp woodland floor and trees. The air is so clean up here you can find many types of Lichen from Lungwort, Reindeer Moss, Script to Old Man’s Beard. Over the years humans have cut down a large proportion of the forrest. Along with the widespread introduction of sheep and grazing land and no natural predators left to keep deer populations down it has created an imbalance in the ecosystem which has majorly effected the regrowth of Scotland’s rainforest which once covered most of the highlands.

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