Wildlife

Dolphins

The Moray Firth is famous for being home to several playful pods of bottle-nose dolphins who just love to show-off in the sunshine. You can often spot the dolphins from the beach, as they leap and play while hunting Atlantic Salmon in the Firth, though we also recommend a visit to the dolphin viewing area at Chanonry Point on the opposite side of the Moray Firth, a pleasant 40 minute drive away. A boat trip will get you even closer to the dolphins and other sealife.

Phoenix Sea Adventures offer fun chartered trips from Nairn Harbour, in a 10.5 metre jet-powered cabin rib. Your guides will have extensive knowledge of the waters and the best times and places to find the dolphins, giving you the best chance possible of an unforgettable wildlife experience. You may also spot seals and porpoises on your trip, as well as the occasional minke whale and basking shark, so keep your eyes peeled.

Seals

The Moray Firth is home to around 900 harbour seals. Grey seals can also be spotted in the summer. Harbour seals like to haul themselves ashore and bask in the sun. The best places to spot them in Nairn, are East Beach at Culbin Forest and Whiteness Beach (the Secret Beach). Of course, you can also spot them on boat trips. You can also sail or kayak out to the Old Bar where you will often find large groups of seals lolling around on the sand.

Birdlife

Cormorants, Gannets, Guillemots, Herons, Osprey, Peregrine Falcons and Red Kites are just some of the fascinating birds you can see around the Moray Firth. The RSPB reserve at Culbin Forest is visited by a variety of elegant waders and water-birds. Common scoters, teal, linnets and bar-tailed godwits can all be spotted along the shoreline or in the marram grass. Entry to the reserve is free, though donations are welcomed, and there is free parking at the entrance, 1.5 miles east of Nairn.

Culbin is well worth a visit even for those with only a passing interest in birdlife. The protected habitats of the reserve are home to a range of wonderful flora and fauna, including red squirrels, dingy skipper and small blue butterflies, as well as dune plants and fungi. And the anti-glider poles installed on the beach in 1940 are an intriguing and atmospheric monument to the Second World War.

Red Squirrels

Red Squirrels are one of Scotland’s best-loved animals and one of Scotland’s Big Five. A protected species in the UK, Scotland’s only native squirrel, the red squirrel Sciurus vulgaris is growing in population in Scotland. Red squirrels are increasingly commonly sighted in the Highlands. In Nairn, you might watch red squirrels chasing each other through the branches in Culbin Forest but may also be lucky to spot these colourful characters in the town’s parks and gardens. If you do spot a red squirrel, you can report the sighting and help the effort to conserve these beautiful and rare woodland creatures by contacting Scottish Squirrels.

No Midge Zone

One famous Scottish creature that you will be glad not to see in Nairn is the Midge!
This small biting fly can be a plague in some areas of the Highlands, but thankfully Nairn’s relatively dry and sunny climate means that midges are not really a problem in Nairn (they prefer damp and humid conditions). Check out the midge forecast helpfully provided by our friends at Smidge, to see how midge-free Nairn is. For a Highland holiday experience where you can truly fall in love Scotland’s great outdoors, visit Nairn and be smitten, not bitten.