Whether a quiet walk along the shore, a hike up into the mountains, or a canoe on the loch, you can be sure to catch a glimpse of some of the area’s abundant wildlife that benefits from the wide range of habitats; from the sea and shore of Loch Long, to the freshwater and woodland of Loch Lomond, and the mountain tops of the Arrochar Alps.
Fjord-like Loch Long is home to a wide range of fish, including cod and mackerel, which in turn attract the birds and mammals that feed on them. Gannets can regularly be seen diving for fish, while grey seals are also a common sight. Flocks of eider ducks are frequently seen in the loch, where they dive deep to collect mussels from the sea bed. The old pier in Arrochar is a haven for seagulls, cormorants, and oystercatchers. Herons cruise the shore line waiting for fish to swim past.
Freshwater Loch Lomond is home to salmon and sea trout, as well as to the rare powan, a species of fish found only in Loch Lomond and nearby Loch Eck, where the species became stranded after the retreat of the glaciers during the last ice age. Gulls and cormorants nest on some of the many islands in the loch, but are under threat from feral mink that eat their eggs and chicks.
One of the islands on Loch Lomond is inhabited by wallabies, having been introduced by Lady Colquhoun in the 1940s. Otters have returned to the shores of both Loch Lomond and Loch Long and the rare osprey nests around Loch Lomond.
The mountains and crags of the Arrochar Alps provide an ideal habitat for the golden eagle. Red grouse and ptarmigan live on the slopes and red deer roam the hillsides. In autumn when the stags are rutting, their calls can be heard over long distances as they echo off the surrounding hills. Deer can occasionally be seen walking down the middle of the road at night.
The woodlands around Arrochar form the front line in the ‘squirrel wars’, with native reds and introduced greys vying for control. Red squirrels prefer to feed in conifer woods, while the larger greys frequent the deciduous oak woods.
Sightings of badgers and pine martens have increased recently, especially around the Tarbet area. If you go slightly further afield, you may even find a Gruffalo! Keep an eye out!