Amongst the cold and the grey there is still a wealth of amazing nature to be seen throughout the winter months! RSPB Scotland’s Allie McGregor shares five of our highlights from winters incredible nature.

Five winter nature highlights in Scotland

Snowy scenery

Scotland’s stunning landscapes totally transform as winter sets in. Snow blankets the scenery in a sparkling frosted glow. Our mountains, forests and fields have an entirely fresh feel to them.

Image shows top of mountains covered in snow with sun rising behind themView from Cairngorm Mountain (rspb-images.com)

While trekking through snow may add a wee bit of an added challenge to seeing our gorgeous nature in the winter time, there are few sights more picturesque than a fluffy red squirrel or a darling wee robin, perched amongst a gorgeous snowy scene.

Dapper ducks

There are numerous fabulous winter ducks to be seen in Scotland. Scoter, goldeneye, wigeon, scaup and pintail are just some of these. While we have year-round resident ducks representing some of these species, populations explode in winter with migrants from places such as Iceland, Scandinavia and Russia.

Many of our visiting ducks are most often seen around the coasts. Just a few of the RSPB Scotland reserves where you might spot them include Black Devon wetlands, Mersehead, Loch Garten and Baron’s Haugh.

Image shows wigeon surrounded by waterWigeon. Credit John Bridges (rspb-images.com)

Marvellous murmurations

One of the most undeniably spectacular nature highlights at the tail end of the year is starling murmurations. Starlings will gather in huge flocks which are amazing to watch as they whirl, swoop and dive in unison across the sky.

Starling murmurations might be spotted from some of our reserves as well as other locations across Scotland. You can keep up with some of the sites they’ve been seen on this website.

Amazing aurora borealis

The late sunrise and early sunsets do have at least one benefit, boosting your chances of seeing the world-famous northern lights (and, as a wee bonus, amazing sunrises and sunsets!). Our Highlands and Islands in particular can be spectacular places to see this breathtaking spectacle, but they have been seen in places all across Scotland.

The seemingly magical phenomenon which is named after Roman deities is caused by charged particles accelerated into the Earth's upper atmosphere along magnetic field lines.

Superb snow bunting and ptarmigan

We have countless winter birds but these two really do get into the spirit of the season.

Snow bunting is a bit of a giveaway as their winter spirit is in the name! While Scotland has a very small breeding population of snow bunting, many more make their home here in the winter and they might be seen across the country, particularly near coastal areas.

 Snow bunting adult in winter plumage perched on mound of snow (rspb-images.com)

Ptarmigan are often associated with winter because of their lovely white winter plumage. Towards the end of the year they undergo a transformation in colour, blending in perfectly with the snow.

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