Boat of Garten is well known as the Osprey Village and with good reason – it was here that these magnificent birds first reintroduced themselves in the fifties after completely dying out in the UK a hundred years ago. Ospreys can now be seen nesting at the RSPB Osprey centre and hunting over the local lochs and along the River Spey, and during the season you can watch them via the Loch Garten webcam. A wide variety of other birds live on the water, including grey heron, golden eye, kingfisher, oyster catcher, slavonian grebe, tufted duck, merganser, dipper, divers, geese, swans and many more – all to be found within a kilometre of the village. There is a hide at Milton Loch on the northern edge of the village from which many of these birds can be seen.
In the nearby forests a special treat awaits the patient bird watcher because these pine woods are home to the crested tit, the Scottish crossbill and capercaillie. Redstarts and tree creepers also feature along with the many of the more common forest birds. During the day the buzzard, the curlew and the lapwing patrol over the village fields and at night the tawny owl and the barn owl take over. Kestrels and sparrow hawks take full advantage of the plentiful supply of rodents and small birds around the village and even the peregrine falcon and red kite pay us the occasional visit. To the west of the village, a viewing area and feeding station have been constructed near the Grebe Car Park. In spring or early summer Slavonian Grebes sometimes breed on the nearby loch, and crested tits and red squirrels take full advantage of the feeding station. There is always something to see, whatever the season.
Mammals too live close to Boat of Garten. At dawn and dusk a walk beside the river might be rewarded with a glimpse of the charismatic otter. The forest walker stands a good chance of seeing a red squirrel at almost any time of the day and as the evening light fails even the shy pine marten and the Scottish wildcat might be seen hunting. Bats are numerous and are regularly seen over river, loch and field, while the rabbit and brown hare strive to keep one jump ahead of our many predators. One such hunter is the fox and despite the best efforts of our keepers a few foxes eke out a living close to the village. On the roads, hedgehogs put our driving skills to the test and everywhere the deer roam free.
The badger population is patchy in the Highlands, but the visitor to Boat of Garten can watch one of the local badger families from the comfort of the Strathspey Badger Hide, just three miles from the village. Telephone 01479 831768 or email email@example.com to book a visit. There’s more information about badgers here. Badgers can often be seen, along with Pine Martens and Red & Roe Deer, at Speyside Wildlife’s mammal hide on Rothiemurchus.
Boat of Garten is active in the field of wildlife conservation and boasts its own wildlife group “BoGWiG”. Why not visit the BoGWiG Website?
Kindly written byAllan Bantick
23 Craigie Avenue, Boat of Garten
Tel: 01479 831 768
Mobile: 07742 666157