Discover the Dee

Welcome to DeeWatch

Welcome to DeeWatch, a month-by-month guide to nature-spotting across our diverse and beautiful catchment.

Nature is thriving on Deeside. With a little planning, time and luck, your nature-spotting efforts can be rewarded with sightings of some of Scotland’s rarest animals. Pine marten, red squirrel and otter are found throughout the catchment, and some of nature’s great spectacles, like geese gathering to roost in their thousands, happen right here on our doorstep.

Some great places to start are our National Nature Reserves at Glen Tanar, Muir of Dinnet or Mar Lodge, or National Trust properties like Crathes and Old Wood of Drum.  But remember that wildlife doesn’t recognise the lines we draw on maps and can pop up anywhere at any time.  You can see dolphins in Aberdeen, red kites around Echt, red squirrels in Banchory, and dippers in Ballater.

Everyone hopes to spot photogenic animals like the elusive pine marten. Although these animals can be secretive, with time, practice and experience, the variety of the wildlife you see will grow and rare species will become easier to spot.   The more common species like frogs, dragonflies and blackbirds are equally beautiful and fascinating – and much easier to photograph. And remember - our amazing plants like ladies smock or meadowsweet, and our fabulous fungi like fly agaric and chanterelles don’t run away! 

Remember to look and listen – you’ll often hear the call of a buzzard or a roaring stag before you see it.  If you’re walking through trees or woodland and come to a clearing, stop before you leave the cover of the trees as a roe deer could be grazing out in the open.  Look all around and especially well ahead of you – you may catch a glimpse of something disappearing in the distance, perched up in a tree or the remains of their dinner lying at the side of the path.  Bear in mind that loud voices and wandering dogs will certainly scare lots of wildlife away before you get a chance to see it. And keep your nose open too - some wildlife may have crossed your path, but their smell may have lingered - once sniffed, the smell of a fox is hard to forget.

Check out our monthly DeeWatch diary for suggestions on what to look out for throughout the year. Rangers who take care of Deeside’s nature reserves are contributing their expertise and reporting sightings from on the ground to help us showcase Deeside’s wildlife. Many of the nature reserves have their own great blogs and Facebook sites that let you know what’s been spotted and run events and courses throughout the year to help you hone your skills as a wildlife detective.

Whether you’re out walking or working, please share your sightings and photos on our Facebook page. Please do report your sightings (common or rare) to NESBReC and you will be contributing to an ever-growing database of over 1.5 million wildlife sightings that is vital to conservationists, land managers, developers and many others.