The incredible Cairngorms are an absolutely stunning part of Scotland filled with special nature and exciting wildlife across every season. RSPB Scotland’s Allie McGregor shares some of the autumn nature highlights to look out for in the Cairngorms.

Autumn in the Cairngorms

The seasonal migrants…

Whooper swan (

One of autumn’s nature highlights across the country is, of course, the migration of geese. As well as geese, the Cairngorms see the arrival of whooper swans all the way from Iceland. Unlike Scotland’s resident mute swans, our seasonal visitors make a lot more noise!

Some of the geese you may see flying overhead in their impressive formations, or settling to roost on a loch, might be pink-footed or greylag geese.

Some iconic species get a makeover…

Ptarmigan, moulting plumage (

Two species found in Scotland with notable winter looks begin to transform. The handsome mountain hare moults in late autumn adopting its snowy camouflage for the colder months ahead. A ptarmigan undergoes a similar transformation in colour going from mostly brown plumage to all white. Ptarmigans are well adapted to the cold weather in many other ways as well as their camouflage skills. They have thickly feathered feet which act like snowshoes, and expert digging skills to help them shelter.

Fabulous fungi appear…

Fungi are extremely varied and diverse – they are totally fascinating! Autumn is an incredible time for all kinds of fungi throughout the Cairngorms, including some uncommon species. The Cairngorms is one place you can see rare tooth fungi for example. Fungi is also important to the survival of pinewood.

Roaring stags roam and rut…

Bellowing stag (

The deer rut is a classic autumn spectacle. Activity peaks at dawn and dusk but can continue throughout the day.

The dramatic clash of antlers and bellowing cries are unforgettable, and the Cairngorms is a brilliant place to see this autumn scene.

A whole new world for the senses…

Autumnal leaves (

Sights, sounds and smells all undergo changes in nature as Autumn blows through the Cairngorms. The autumnal colours are, of course, one of the most obvious changes we see as golden, orange and crimson colours engulf the landscape and even wildlife sees changes in plumage and pelage.

We hear new sounds with the arrival of migrant birds, the crunching of fallen leaves and the booming noises deer make during the rut.

Even smells are changing as fungi come in, weather changes and we see rotting wood play it’s part in supporting the ecosystems.

If you want to learn more about the spectacular wildlife and nature to be experienced in Autumn in the Cairngorms, check out Autumnwatch on BBC Two starting at 8pm on the 29th of October!