The Big 5

As part of the Year of Natural Scotland 2013, Scottish Natural Heritage and Visit Scotland joined forces to showcase some of Scotland’s best loved wildlife. By popular vote, Scotland’s Big 5 were chosen.

The Superstar Species of the North East

We thought this was a great idea and held our own mini elections to choose the North East Big 5. With the final votes counted, the winners chosen to represent the wonderful wildlife of North East Scotland were Bottlenose Dolphin, Small Blue Butterfly, Pine Marten, Hedgehog and Common Toad.

So why them?

Aberdeen harbour mouth is probably the only place in the UK where a whole city has this amazing animal right on its doorstep.  RSPB Aberdeen’s Dolphinwatch project has some great advice and information on how to spot them.

The distribution of the Small Blue Butterfly has declined enormously, and its strongholds are mainly in southern England.  But it still hangs on along the more rugged sections of the coastline of Moray and the nearby section of North Aberdeenshire coast.

Good biodiversity is about the widest variety of wildlife, not just a small number of rarities

The Pine Marten has made a miraculous recovery in the North East after centuries of persecution and is even occasionally seen in the more wooded outskirts of Aberdeen.

The hedgehog may seem a common everyday choice amongst the other more exotic species, but they too are in decline.  Partly because so many get squashed on the roads, but also because of the effects of garden and agricultural pesticides.  But even if it were still common, there would still be an argument for including it.  After all, good biodiversity is about the widest variety of wildlife, not just a small number of rarities.

Common Toads ©Lorne Gill

Common Toads ©Lorne Gill / NatureScot

Last but not least, is the Common Toad.  In a sense it has been a victim of its own name.  If you are called the “common” something, lots of people think they don’t need to worry about you.  Toads are also victims of road traffic and pesticides and are far less common than their name might suggest.

Dolphin watching at Chanonry Point Moray Firth ©Ben James/SNH

Dolphin watching ©Ben James/NatureScot

Ewen Cameron

Independent Member at NESBiP