Local Wildlife

Whilst every window of the Old Ticket Office looks over the stunning scenery of the area, opposite the Old Ticket Office the Inverness and Beauly Firths are rich in wildlife and with a little patience and a good pair of binoculars, you stand a decent chance of seeing one or more species at any time of the year.

Take some time out and look around - the best way to see the wildlife is not to watch for it!

Shown below are photographs of some of the birds and animals which make the area their home. Click on any photo to view a larger version.

All the photos featured below were taken by Charlie Phillips - an award winning wildlife photographer famed for his work with the dolphins of the Moray Firth.

Bottlenose Dolphin
Bottlenose Dolphin
Bottlenose Dolphins are frequently seen arriving under the bridge and between the piers of North and South Kessock chasing the salmon as they head up the River Ness or west to the River Beauly to spawn.

The best time of the year to spot them as they hunt is between April and October and whilst there may be a few around at all times of the day, best chance of a sighting is around the time of the high tide.
It is particularly interesting now that Kesslet had a new baby dolphin in September and they feed in the Kessock channel along with her older offspring Charlie.
Otter
Otter
This picture of an otter was taken as it sat on the end of the pier wall below the Old Ticket Office munching on a Butterfish?

Often seen hunting, chasing or eating fish in the water not too far from the shore anywhere between the bridge and the pier.

There are at least two families resident in the area and they can be seen at any time of the day and at any time of the tide.
Osprey
Osprey
A welcome visitor which arrives back to the Firth from Africa around March and back to the same nest as has been used for many years. It spends the summer months round the area before the parents and their new offspring head back south about September.

Watch out for a large solitary bird flying parallel to the sore and if it stops in mid-flight and hangs in the air, keep watching as it might be lining up a dive on an unsuspecting fish.
Shag
Shag
A permanent resident of the Firth, these birds are easily spotted as they go about their business of chasing fish.

When in the water and on the surface, only the long neck and the top of the back is visible and in order to get under water, they perform a 'jump and dive'.

They can often be seen on the shore or out on the sandbanks with wings fully extended - unlike many divers, their plumage is not waterproof so they need to dry off after a period of underwater fishing.

Oystercatcher
Oystercatcher
Not oysters but cockles and mussels are the food of choice for these common birds!

Resident year round, their call is instantly recognisable as are their long red beak, striking black and white plumage and pink legs.

Curlew
Curlew
The largest wading bird to be found on the shore of the Firth, the curlew is a year round resident.

The curved bill is driven into the mud and silt as the tide recedes to locate and feed on the plentiful supply of creatures that live beneath the surface.
Common Seal
Common Seal
Also known as a Harbour Seal, this picture was taken at the harbour wall below the Old Ticket Office. Despite being called 'Common', they are actually less common than the Grey Seal.

Although they spend much of their life in salt water in the Firth, they are quite willing to venture far up the River Ness in pursuit of salmon.

When not hunting they 'haul out' onto the sandbars and can adopt position with their head and tail held up in the air.
Grey Heron
Grey Heron
Unmistakeable birds, tall, with long legs, a long beak and grey, black and white feathering. They can stand for long periods with their neck stretched out, looking for food, or hunched down with their neck bent over their chest.


They can be seen all along the shore at all times of the tide and only the very patient will get the chance to see them spear a passing fish.

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Introducing KessieKessie is the name of our new mascot and donation box with dolphin sound effect by Rolf Schmidt and donation mouth made by Douglas Morrison, which will be placed outside the Old Ticket Office.

The name 'Kessie' was the winning entry which was submitted by Lyle Treasurer, a Primary One pupil in a competition run by The Old Ticket Office and North Kessock Primary School.
Hover your mouse over Kessie to hear her talk!
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