Feathered friend on board
We’re blessed with a magnificent variety of creatures, within the forests, moorland and shoreline of Loch Ness, and you may be lucky enough to spot some of this rich abundant flora and fauna when you travel with us.
Some of our visitors have been delighted to share their experiences of spotting eagles, deer and birds with us on our Facebook page – why not join us there and share yours?
So, what might you be lucky enough to see? Well, Red squirrels are present in all the forests surrounding Loch Ness and can often be seen jumping effortlessly from tree to tree. If you’re lucky, during your visit you may catch a glimpse of an elusive Pine Marten. These are about the size of a cat and easily identifiable by the general dark brown of its fur that contrasts with the creamy throat patch. As you might expect, there are badgers in the area, as well as foxes and brown hares.
The weasel is also prevalent in the area, making it the smallest carnivore in The Highlands. Their small size is well compensated by their fierceness in hunting. They are often seen rapidly crossing roads or sitting upright to gain a better field of vision for their favourite food of mice and voles.
Red deer, often referred to as the “Monarch of the Glen”, can be seen during the winter months but during the summer they are normally on much higher ground. It is not unknown for them to swim across Loch Ness.
Sika deer, which are smaller and almost black in colour, are seen occasionally. The much smaller Roe deer, more grey/brown in colour, are common along the banks of the canal and in the grounds around Dochfour House.
Bird Spotting in and around Loch Ness
Bird feeder at Loch Ness
Throughout the Highlands and here in the Loch Ness area, we enjoy a rich and diverse bird population. Birds of prey are a common sight along the canal and by the shore of the Loch. It’s unlikely that you’ll see a Golden Eagle, but there are a number of Osprey nests situated around the Loch.
Enjoying the views and surveying Loch Ness
Now and again, our passengers have been lucky enough to catch a glimpse of these magnificent birds swooping down to pluck a fish from the water – so keep your eyes peeled! Buzzards, Red Kites and Hen Harriers are also a common sight by the canal, Loch Dochfour and at the North end of Loch Ness.
Other large birds to look out for include Heron, Cormorants and Mute Swans which are regularly seen fishing and feeding in the area where the canal ends and the River Ness begins. On the water, Mallard ducks are the most common wildfowl but a few pairs of Water Hens can be found on the canal. In Loch Dochfour several families of Red-breasted Mergansers, members of the sawbill group of diving ducks can be seen skimming across the water.
As you’d expect there are also a number of common birds in the area, including crows, blackbirds and various varieties of seagull. The most common small bird is the thrush but chaffinch, bullfinch, greenfinch, siskin, great tit, blue tit, coal tit, robin, and the tiny wren are all plentiful.
Trees on Loch Ness
Trees on Loch Ness
If you take a look around the shores of the Loch Ness, and to a greater extent Urquhart Bay, you will see a number of Alder Trees. These deep-rooted trees help to maintain the soil in the river banks and reduce the effects of erosion. The root systems are exposed under the water, and provide a safe refuge for fish from predators, during times of high water. Alder wood doesn’t rot in water, but actually becomes hardened when soaked, so much so in fact, that it’s been used to make the stilts upon which Loch-side homes are built.
Another native species of trees in this area are birch – Silver and Downy. Both species are fast growing pioneer trees, with the Silver Birch occurring principally on well-drained, drier soils and Downy Birch preferring the wetter locations.
Looking beyond the shore of the Loch, especially on the south slopes, you will see large areas of forestry. Douglas Fir, imported from North America is widespread and can grow to over 200 feet, here in the Highlands. Further up the slopes you will find Norway Spruce, the Christmas Tree, and Sitka Spruce.
On the highest and most exposed ground, where it’s hard to imagine anything being able to survive, you will find Scots Pine, Britain’s only indigenous or native tree that once grew extensively throughout our ancient and long gone Caledonian Pine Forest. The Scots Pine is a rugged tree that’s able to thrive in poor soils. In the past it was used for ships rigging and the production of Turpentine, resin, tar and charcoal. It is now harvested for paper pulp and the production of strand board.
Evening skies on Loch Ness captured by our crew
Add to this the amazing changes of light and cloud formations and the wonderful scenic views and we think you have the ingredients for a pretty good experience on Loch Ness. Don’t forget to look for the rich varied flora and fauna that we’ve described to you here when you sail with Jacobite Cruises on Loch Ness.
We sail all year so you can visit whenever is convenient for your trip - and we look forward to welcoming you. Find out more and book online at www.jacobite.co.uk