Field guide to the most commonly encountered mammals and birds

Here, we provide some basic information regarding commonly observed species (plus some others about which we have had queries).  

Feel free to contact us by email if you have any questions regarding species you have encountered on the site.

For more information about mammals, we recommend the Mammal Society's species hub, here. For birds, excellent resources are available from the RSPB (here) and the BTO (here).


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Scientific name: Rangifer tarandus

Family: Cervidae

Appearance: Reindeer are large, heavily built members of the deer family. They have a soft coat of a creamy-brown colour with darker legs and rear. Both sexes have antlers which are long and branched at the ends. Males shed their antlers in December/January and females in May.

Size: Head and body 1.05-1.6 m; Tail 10-15 cm; Height at shoulder 1.07-1.22m; Weight 40-55 kg (males), 28-40 kg (females).

Natural history: Reindeer were native to Britain until towards the end of the last glaciation but became extinct as the climate warmed. There are currently two small free-ranging herds in the Cairngorms in Scotland. Reindeer are active all year round and throughout the day, they are herd animals and in some native populations are migratory and capable of moving at considerable speed. The Reindeer rut occurs between mid-September and early October and females give birth to a single calf in May. The young calves can walk within an hour of birth.


 (C) Stravaiger (shared under a CC BY-NC-ND 2.0 license)