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18 June 2014
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Activities | Uplands

Mountain glories


Uplands offer amazing opportunities for wildlife watching. Why not take a few tips from the 'Hands on Nature' team as we get close to wildlife with activities that you can participate in at home.

Mountain activities

Britain's uplands are often hostile and harsh habitats especially in winter, but they offer fantastic wildlife watching opportunities.

Here's our tips on how to get the best out of nature from bird watching to flower spotting and identifying animals from their poo.

PtarmiganPtarmigan watching

The Cairngorms is arguably the premier mountain range in the British Isles in terms of scale, grandeur and altitude. It's also a good place to see on of Britain's most distinctive birds - the Ptarmigan.

A good starting point for nature watchers is Cairn Gorm itself which is accessible by road and rail.

* Look for Ptarmigans amongst the rocks into which they blend due to their grey, camouflage appearance.

* Take your binoculars, sit and be patient. Look out for movement amongst the rocks if you're trying to spot the elusive Ptarmigan.

* Bird feathers and poo is a good indication that you're in the right location for Ptarmigan. These birds sit down and poo together so look for mid brown droppings grouped together.

Animal poo

If you're explore Scotland's uplands why not try your hand at tracking down wildlife using a few clues in their droppings.

* Mountain hare poo - droppings resemble those of a rabbit but are slightly flatter. Dropped singly, their poo is like round pellets with a light brown colour when dry and dark brown when wet.

* Fox poo - black droppings, often full of hair, indicating a carnivore. Their poo usually has a strong characteristic smell.

* Ptarmigan - mid brown droppings usually grouped together as these birds tend to defecate in on place.

Going wild in the mountains - precautions

DartmoorBefore you go wild in the great outdoors, take some basic precautions and advice on what to wear, when to go and what to take with you:

*In big open spaces birds and mammals can spot us humans a mile off. So think about what you're wearing! But do keep a red scarf or hat in your bag - just in case you get into bother and someone needs to spot you.

Otherwise wear greens and browns so you can blend into the landscape.

*If you venture out - take the right kit. Also carry food supplies for 24 hours. It may be warm in the valleys - but on the fell tops it can be a totally different story. Take extra clothing, even a blanket and a whistle.

* Don't forget to take a map when you're up in the hills - it can also act as a valuable wildlife guide to features such as streams.

*And of course, let someone at base know where you're heading and what time you expect to get back.



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Manx Shearwater

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Uplands Cairngorms


access to the Cairngorms
How to get there, opening times and visitor info.

Nature watching activities in the Cairngorms.

Uplands Dartmoor


access to Dartmoor
How to get there, opening times and visitor info.

Nature watching activities on Dartmoor.

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