NEW – Cairngorms National Park Wildlife Identification

NEW – Cairngorms National Park Wildlife Identification

A new course, delivered by Speyside Wildlife is starting in March 2017, funded by Cairngorms LEADER.

If you’ve always wanted to know what the bird calls are that you hear whilst walking through the Caledonian Pine Forest, or to feel confident that you can tell the difference between a buzzard and an eagle as you scan the hills, then this is the course for you. It can lead to a fulfilling career sharing this knowledge with others, either as a wildlife tour guide, a ranger, or simply as an accommodation provider who would like to add value to your guests’ experiences whilst they are staying with you.


Crested Tit (Jane Hope)

Over the 12-month course participants will be required to attend five study weekends and a final exam in April 2018. In addition, in their own time, they will progress and practice their skills learnt, producing their own Field Notebook for assessment. By the end of the course, the participants should be able to correctly identify the major birds and mammals seen and heard in the Cairngorms National Park; know what species are likely to occur in which habitats and at what time of year. They will also have a basic appreciation of what wildlife guiding entails.

What will I learn?
How to identify the main wildlife found in the Cairngorms National Park by both sight and sound and have the confidence to show people these iconic species. You will get to know the best places to find different things, what to look for and will be able to identify what you see. In particular:

  • be able to ID the main species of bird and mammal found in the Cairngorms at different times of year,
    both in theory and practice and be able to explain the main characteristics.
  • Will be able to keep good records which build up an effective and reliable bank of information.
  • Know how to handle a situation where you can’t ID a species with certainty.
  • Know the law and be aware of how to watch wildlife responsibly.
  • Understand the importance of communicating effectively with guests paying for a guided day out, an employer wanting a survey, etc.

Golden Eagle (Mary Braddock)

Field book 4

Students will progress and practice their skills learnt, producing their own Field Notebook for assessment.

Field book 1

Field Notebooks allow us to record details of the species seen, location, weather and any other details for future reference.

Do I need to be a birdwatcher and have some experience?
No, you don’t necessarily need a lot of experience, but you do need a real interest in birds and animals – as you must be prepared for a lot of self-study. There is no quick fix to being able to identify wildlife in the field.

How many people will be on the course?
A maximum of 10, so there is a good ratio of trainers to applicants. The trainers are there to teach you as a group, but will also mentor you as individuals.

Is there an age limit?
No. The support from LEADER is rooted in a desire to create employment opportunities for young people, so preference will be given to applicants under 25, assuming they can demonstrate a commitment to completing the course.

What is the cost?
For this first course only, £250 each. The real cost is far greater, but is reduced by the LEADER financial support.

For further information please click on the following links; Course description, FAQ’s, Terms and Conditions, Booking Form.

Applications and enquiries should be directed to Speyside Wildlife or 01479 812498


Winter identification

The practical weekends will focus on each season.