Holyrood Park

The remains of a volcano that erupted 350 million years ago, today home to a wide variety of wildlife. Noteworthy species include brown hares, kestrels, fulmars, brown argus butterflies and adder’s-tongue fern.


Duddingston Loch

A bird reserve on the southern edge of Holyrood Park. Overwintering wildfowl include tufted ducks, pochards, teal, goldeneye and goosander, while great crested and little grebes, and feral greylag geese breed.


Described as “by far the most beautiful island in the Firth of Forth” and just 10km from Edinburgh city centre. A boat trip here may result in sightings of porpoises and grey seals at any time of year, while spring brings a host of returning seabirds including fulmars, razorbills, gannets, puffins, eiders, shags and kittiwakes.

Johnston Terrace Wildlife Reserve

Located in the heart of Edinburgh Old Town and home to a birch copse, wildflower meadow and pond. Common songbirds attract occasional visits from sparrowhawks, and wildflowers you can expect to see include cowslips, poppies, bluebells and cranesbills. Contact the Scottish Wildlife Trust for access.


Royal Botanic Garden Edinburgh

Better known for ornamental and exotic plants, but also a 30ha haven for wildlife. Sparrowhawks breed, as do tawny owls and many small woodland birds. A previous bioblitz found a very impressive 55 species of lichen.


Sarah McPhersonFeatures editor, BBC Wildlife Magazine