Wildlife Around Loch Morar
The varied habitats around Loch Morar, which include natural woodland, open hillside, sheep and cattle pasture and planted mixed coniferous and broadleaf woodlands results in a wide range of birds, mammals and herpetofauna (reptiles and amphibians), as well as countless species of insects. The list below presents the known protected species that may be found around Loch Morar.
While it is always the lucky ones to see a protected species, mainly because they are rare, the visitor to Morar is likely to see red deer, and may well see Britain’s other native species and fasted land mammal, the roe deer. Sika Deer, which were introduced to the area in the 19th Century are spreading through the catchment, and are more likely to be heard than seen, giving a high-pitched whistle when disturbed.
Sea eagles have been released in various places along the West Coast of Scotland, including the Isle of Rhum, where the sea eagle reintroduction project was first run, and the Isle of Mull. Sea eagles are now frequent visitors to Loch Morar, and while is unlikely that they will be seen taking a fish from the surface of the loch, they may be seen flying over the hills looking for carrion. Their equally spectacular cousin the Golden Eagle nests within the catchment, and it is not uncommon to see a pair in late summer above the hills anywhere to either side of the loch. Other species of birds of prey that may be seen include buzzards, sparrow hawks, hen harriers, merlins and kestrels.
Many passerine bird species, the ‘song birds,’ are found around the loch, including almost a full house of tit species, sky larks, meadow pipits, greenfinches, thrushes, blackbirds, house martins and swallows. Greater and lesser-spotted wood-peckers may be heard drumming in the woods, or chasing between trees, but it is rare to see wood pigeons and jays, both of which come by only rarely. During the early-winter, the rowan trees in the woodlands around Morar may have bumper crops of berries, which will attract wax-wings and redwings in their hundreds from Scandinavia on their passage to warmer climates. It is at this time also that woodcock take up residence in the woods and stay through until the beginning of spring, when of course cuckoos are heard from many of the wooded areas around the loch.
Grey wagtails and dippers feed amongst and in the rapid waters of the burns, and very occasionally kingfishers are seen as well. Out on the loch from April onwards the haunting call of the Great Northern Diver is heard, and families of mergansers can also be seen breaking cover to clatter across the loch when disturbed by a boat of canoe. Other fish feeding bird species present include grey heron and cormorants. Being so close to the sea, there are often many coastal birds found around the loch, including oyster catchers, small wading birds and greater and lesser black-backed gulls.
On the hills the fortunate walker may come across the Golden Plover, or hear a snipe drumming, and see a red grouse.
- Badger - Meles meles
- Long-eared bat - Plecotus auritus
- Common Pipistrelle bat - Pipistrellus pipistrelle
- Daubenton’s bat - Myotis daubentonii
- Leisler’s bat - Nyctalus noctula
- Soprano pipistrelle - Pipistrellus pygmaeus
- Whiskered bat - Myotis mystacinus
- Common bat - Vespertillionidae spp
- Hedgehog - Erinaceus europaeus
- Otter - Lutra lutra
- Pine martin - Martes martes
- Shrews - Sorex spp
- Wildcat - Felis silvestris
- Common frog - Rana temporaria
- Common toad - Bufo bufo
- Palmate newt - Triturus helveticus
- Smooth newt - Triturus vulgaris
- Slow worm - Anguis fragilis
- Viviparous lizard – Zootaca vivipara