Isle of Skye Wildlife Tours


Eagles and Otters

Golden Eagles:

With around 30 pairs of Golden Eagles, the Isle of Skye has probably the densest population of this magnificent bird in the whole of Scotland.

Golden Eagles can be found throughout Skye, from the high peaks of the Cuillins to the rolling moors of Sleat, from the Trotternish ridge to the high sea cliffs. That said Golden Eagles are still elusive birds and many a birdwatcher has failed to track down this huge raptor. To be successful seeing a Golden Eagle requires knowledge of the bird’s habitat and habits, an ability to read the weather conditions, a lot of patience, and a little luck.

As I write this we’ve seen 36 Golden Eagles in the last 7 Tours, and the most Golden Eagles we’ve seen in a single day is 10. So whether you are a keen birder on a dedicated birdwatching holiday, or a wildlife enthusiast who’d just love to see Scotland’s iconic bird of prey, then the Isle of Skye is without doubt the best place in Scotland to see a Golden Eagle.


Everyone loves Otters, although it should be remembered that the Otter sits at the top of the food chain, and is a top carnivore.

The rocky coasts of Skye are an ideal habitat for Otters, the seaweed beds holding a plentiful supply of fish. Otters can be found on Skye’s rivers and inland lochs as well, although they are a little harder to see in these locations.

As with all wildlife, patience is required to spot these beautiful mammals. The tides, weather, and sadly an understanding of human disturbance, are all factors in trying to locate the shy Otter.

On our Tours we’ve got an excellent record of spotting Otters, and have sometimes been lucky enough to get more than one sighting in a day.

White-tailed Sea Eagles:

The Isle of Skye has Scotland’s biggest population of White-tailed Sea Eagles with 16 pairs, and numbers of this re-introduced bird are still growing!

This magnificent bird of prey is found all over Skye. It might be surprising to learn that although mainly a bird of sea and loch, White-tailed Sea Eagles are also found inland, one Skye pair in particular hardly venturing to the coast at all.

This habit of hunting all terrains is good news for our Tours, as we often see White-tailed Sea Eagles sat in favourite vantage points where we can get the telescope on them. To see a White-tailed Sea Eagle filling the telescope, it’s golden eyes glinting in the sun, is some sight!

With a wingspan of over 2m you’d think that these huge birds of prey would be easy for a birdwatcher to spot, but it’s not the case. There is a lot of wilderness in Scotland and on Skye and the landscape can swallow up even a White-tailed Sea Eagle.

The birds also have the habit of just wandering in search of a meal, so can be less predictable than say a Golden Eagle. But we do have a lot of success seeing them, to date 13 different Sea Eagles in a day is the record for sightings, and I personally have seen 11 White-tailed Sea Eagles together on carrion – a stunning thing to witness.


The Isle of Skye is truly one of Scotland’s best wildlife locations for the birdwatcher and wildlife enthusiast. And you never know, on your trip you might get one of those truly amazing moments that we’ve had out: A Golden Eagle swooping just metres overhead, two pairs of White-Tailed Sea Eagles having a territorial dispute, a female Otter teaching it’s cubs to hunt, or even watching an Otter hunting the along the coast while a Golden Eagle cruises along the hillside behind . . . . which way to turn!


© Images and text copyright Andrew McLean and Wendy McLean 2018

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