Aberdeenshire (including the separately administered Aberdeen City)
Aberdeenshire makes up the north-east corner of Scotland, a large area including a very wide range of habitats. The habitat diversity, and the presence of many of Scotland's speciality birds makes the region a magnet for birders visiting the UK. Here is a short list of the main habitats, and the key birds to find there:
Seabird Cliffs - granite and basalt, among the most spectacular anywhere, with Gannets, Puffins, Razorbills, Guillemots, Kittiwakes, Shags, Fulmars, etc. in their thousands.
Cairngorm Mountains and foothills (overlapping into Highland Region) & Native forests - Scottish Ptarmigan (endemic sub-sp.); Scottish Crossbill (endemic sp.); Capercaillie, Black Grouse, Red Grouse, Golden Eagle, Crested Tit, Dotterel, Ring Ouzel, etc.
Coastal Passage areas - especially in the hot bed between Aberdeen and Fraserburgh, with good spots at Girdleness, Balmedie, Newburgh, Cruden Bay and Rattray, these are essential places to visit whenever there is a south-easterly wind, April to June and again September to November. All of the regular passage birds can be seen, as well as good numbers of real rarities, and flooded pools in the Newburgh area are excellent for rare shorebirds. The North-east Scotland recording area holds the record for the most species of birds seen in 24 hours (in Scotland) and is second only to Norfolk for the UK.
Farmland - not generally thought of as particularly good birding habitats! But the north-east still has good numbers of Corn Bunting, Grey Partridge, Lapwing, and several other breeding waders, in marked contrast to much of the rest of the country. In winter the areas around Fraserburgh and around Newburgh play host to some 30,000 Pink-footed Geese, while further inland similar numbers of Greylags spend the winter. There are also usually good numbers of Barnacle Geese, Wigeon, Teal, and Whooper Swans.
Good bases for a stay of several days are set out below:
Banchory, Aboyne and Ballater
situated west of Aberdeen, along the river Dee. Top tourist spots (near to Balmoral Castle) hence can be a little pricey, but great bases to explore the Deeside Hills and the southern Cairngorms. Banchory is closest to Aberdeen, and handy for the Stonehaven seabird cliffs.
Braemar - the furthest west village of the region, and well into the southern Cairngorms. Ideal for a walking holiday, or seeing the mountaintop specialities like Dotterel, Snow Bunting, Ptarmigan, Eagles, etc. but rather a long way from the coast. The scenery is beautiful and the hotels are moderately priced. If you only want the mountain birds, this is the place to be.
NK - 25 miles north of Aberdeen. Three hotels, within good reach of all the coastal sites but rather far from the hills and the Cairngorms.
12 miles north of Aberdeen. A quiet village with loads of birds very close by (Forvie Sands NNR). Two small, comfortable, country hotels and several B&Bs. My own personal preference, as it means birding before breakfast is possible, even after the night before!
James Hutton Institute, Cragiebuckler, Aberdeen AB15 8QA
Number of Species
Number of bird species: ?
There is no county bird as such but the top candidate must be Scotish Crossbill Loxia scotica as this is the stronghold of the UK`s only endemic.
Rare and Scarce Birds in North-East Scotland
Edited by Ian M Phillips - 192 pages, 32 col plates, 60 illus, distribution maps - Illustrations by M Langman and JP Smith - Covers all 159 species of British and Scottish rarity as well as locally scarce species. Also includes a checklist for all species ever recorded in the North East Scotland region. ISBN: 0953125904 Out of Print
Where to Watch Birds in Scotland
Mike Madders and Julia Welstead - 297 pages, b/w illus, maps - Christopher Helm
ISBN: 071365693XBuy this book from NHBS.com
Guides & Tour Operators
Local birders willing to show visiting birders around their area…
CloudBirders was created by a group of Belgian world birding enthusiasts and went live on 21st of March 2013. They provide a large and growing database of birding trip reports, complemented with extensive search, voting and statistical features.
2009 [02 February] - Stephen Burch
Stephen Burch's Birding & Dragonfly Website - his is a short photo based trip report, covering less than one full day's birding on the Aberdeenshire coast, on 18 February 2009. Once again, a business trip to Aberdeen provided this opportunity for some birding afterwards…
2011 [06 June] - Hilary MacBean
The weather was sunny with a cool wind. Showers built up on both days but did not spoil the really clear views. The groups first set out for Bawdy Meg, to view the Osprey nest from about 400m. There were two young hatchlings and on the Thursday, the adults were found soaring with two “visiting” adults above the nest; unusual behaviour that caused the hatchlings to hunker down out of sight. Along the way, many woodland and hill birds were in evidence, including Greater Spotted Woodpecker, Buzzard, Redstart, Green Woodpecker and Meadow Pipit. We were all pleased to note a high number of Crossbills…
Places to Stay
Aikenshill is an impressive property on Scotland’s north-east coast. Situated six miles north of Aberdeen, this spacious and well-appointed house affords stunning views over rolling sand-dunes as well as easy access to some of Scotland’s most beautiful countryside and top visitor attractions…
Greenbrae B&B - Buchan
Greenbrae aims to be environmentally friendly. Energy will be conserved by not providing the usual B&B trappings of over wrapped individual soaps, and sachets of shower gel. Where possible local products will be bought, reducing transportation energy, gardening will be organic, the policy on waste will be to reduce, reuse and recycle. Guests using public transport, bicycles and walkers will be welcomed. We will produce our own food where possible and have free-range hens to provide eggs for the kitchen. We will actively encourage birds into the garden… …The RSPB reserve loch of Strathbeg and the National Nature Reserve at Forvie sands and Ythan Estuary are only twelve miles away…
Ellon RSPB Wildlife Explorers
This group provides children and young people with a programme of activities that develops their interest in birds and wildlife. Community Centre, Ellon Academy, Schoolhill Road, ELLON, Aberdeenshire, AB41 Contact Fiona Marshall 01651 842 612
Fraserburgh RSPB Wildlife Explorers
Meeting place - The RSPB, Loch Of Strathbeg Nature Reserve, Starnafin Farmhouse, Crimond, FRASERBURGH, Aberdeenshire, AB43 8QN Contact Jim Lister 01358 789 880 - This group provides children and young people with a programme of activities that develops their interest in birds and wildlife…
Friends Of Strathbeg RSPB
A group set up specifically to sell bird food and other bird care products to raise funds for the RSPB conservation work in the Aberdeenshire area. The group lends a great deal of support to RSPB Loch of Strathbeg Reserve. If you live in the Aberdeenshire area and would like to assist this group by either purchasing goods or helping with the distribution network, please contact us. - Bill Craigie 01224 640530
Kemnay RSPB Wildlife Explorers
Meeting place - Kemnay Village Hall, Aquithie Road, Kemnay, INVERURIE, Aberdeenshire, AB51 5SS Contact Jim Piggins 01467 643 859 Kemnay group welcomes children from a wide area including Inverurie. Indoor meetings are held on the last Friday of each month, excluding July and December. Local experts give slide shows on local wildlife or their own fascinating travels. Sometimes there are activities such as making bird or bat boxes. In the summer months, the group meets outdoors. Longer trips are on Saturdays: the group has even made a boat trip to see (and smell!) the seabirds at Fowlsheugh…
North Sea Bird Club
The North Sea Bird Club has recorded the movements and occurrence of birds, mammals, and insects in the North Sea and other British waters since 1979, making use of fixed and mobile platforms and vessels offshore. Data are stored on computer at Culterty and published in Annual Reports and Quarterly Bulletins. The club is financed by corporate membership of 14 major oil and gas companies and currently receives data from around 250 observers.
SOC North-East Scotland
Hugh Addlesee, 31 Ashtree Road, Banchory, AB31 5JB, Tel 01330 829949
Forestry Commission - Scolty
Mixed flocks of great tits, coal tits, treecreepers, chaffinches and golden-crested wrens are moving through the forest in search of food, while in other areas noisy flocks of siskins are active…
Forestry Commission - The Bin
The Bin is a mixed conifer woodland with a good variety of walks. Trees have been here since the 1840s, when the Duke of Gordon started the first planting.
Forvie Nature Reserve
The Ythan Estuary and Forvie Sands can be found just to the north of the village of Newburgh. There is a small car park to the right immediately after crossing the bridge.
RSPB - Fowlsheugh
Guillemots, razorbills and kittiwakes breed in large numbers, with smaller numbers of fulmars, herring gulls, puffins and shags…
RSPB - Loch of Strathbeg
This superb wetland in north-east Scotland is a vital site for waterfowl and other wildlife. In winter, 20% of the world's population of pink-footed geese spend time at the reserve. Large numbers of lapwings, golden plovers, whooper swans and barnacle geese are also found here during the winter – as well as bitterns…
Forums & Mailing Lists
Aberdeenshire Young Birder
A blog from Joseph Nichols, a young birder from Aberdeenshire. Including his own photos and accounts of his birding adventures at his local patches and beyond….
Prismaticos veratos en Escocia
Sam Langlois is a Spanish birder who'll be living in Aberdeen for the next four years studying Marine Biolog...