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East Lothian

Eider Somateria Mollissima ©Ray Wilson Website

East Lothian is one of the 32 council areas of Scotland, and a lieutenancy area. For a time, it was also known as Haddingtonshire. It borders the City of Edinburgh, Midlothian and the Scottish Borders. Its administrative centre is Haddington, although its largest town is Musselburgh.

The Lammermuir

Hills to the south give way to an expanse of gently rolling rich arable farmland, bounded to the north by 40 miles of coastline.

Perhaps the best known nature reserve is the developing Levenhall Links where the annual RSPB Scotland's Big Nature Festival is held. There are a number of nature reserves and wild areas in the county with sea-watching on the Firth of Forth.

Top Sites

Musselburgh Lagoons (Levenhall Links)

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To the north of Musselburgh at the mouth of the Esk. Old fly ash lagoons now a mixture of young woodland, grassland and a wader scrape overlooked by three hides. Roosting waders, gulls and terns. Seaduck, grebes and divers offshore and you can get really good views of these. Specialities include Slavonian Grebe, Long-tailed Duck and Velvet Scoter in winter, Little Gulls in summer and passage waders. Claims to fame include Britains first live mainland Brunnich's Guillemot, the Western Sandpiper and the tern hat-trick - Forster's, Lesser Crested and Royal Terns have all been recorded.

The coast south of Dunbar

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The coast south of Dunbar. This is a collection of sites along the A1 south of Dunbar and includes Barns Ness, Skateraw, Torness, Thorntonloch and Dunglass. These are all good areas for migrants in the right conditions and Barns Ness can be a good seawatching point. All have scrubby cover with access and in past falls have produced many Siberian vagrants.

The Lammermuir Hills

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The Lammermuir Hills From the roads you can scan the moors in these rolling, heather clad hills south of the village of Gifford. There are good numbers of Red Grouse, Black Grouse are almost extinct in these hills. Raptors can be seen too with Buzzard and Peregrine quite common but this is the most likely area to see a Rough-legged Buzzard or Hen Harrier in Lothian and there are sightings of Red Kites, Marsh Harrier, Osprey and Gyrfalcon too. Whiteadder Reservoir has a few ducks and Greylag Geese. Small birds to be expected include Stonechat, Whinchat, Ring Ouzel, Dipper and Grey Wagtail.


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Tyninghame North of Dunbar, this is the estuary of the River Tyne. Excellent site for Greenshank which are present all year, a large Wigeon flock and the best Lothian site to see Spotted Redshank. Corsican Pine plantations, saltmarsh, grassland, farmland and deciduous woodland. The farmland is good for Whooper Swans in winter, with the odd Bewick's among them. Past major rarities have included Green Heron, Greater Sand Plover and American Black Duck.

County Recorder

Stephen Welch

25 Douglas Road, Longniddry EH32 0LQ

01875 852802 or 07931 524963


Number of Species

Number of bird species: -

There is no county bird (or even county); however, East Lothian Council uses a Peregrine Falco peregrinus as its logo.

Useful Reading

Where to Watch Birds in Scotland

Mike Madders and Julia Welstead - 297 pages, b/w illus, maps - Christopher Helm

ISBN: 071365693X

Buy this book from NHBS.com

Forums & Mailing Lists

Lothian Bird News

Mailing List

List contact: othianbirdnews-owner@yahoogroups.com

Lothian Birders On-Line (LoBoL) has now evolved into LothianBirdNews, a Yahoo! e-mail list for those interested in birds in Lothian, which informs peopleinterested in birds sightings, events to attend and other bird related news in and around the Lothians and south east Scotland.

Trip Reports


Trip Report Repository

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.

Places to Stay

Click on WAND for tours, guides, lodges and more…

Fife & Lothian Bed and Breakfast Association


Find the right place to stay in Central Scotland - Quality Inspected B&Bs…


Scottish Ornithologists Club - Lothian Branch


Welcome to Lothian Birding - the website of the Lothian branch of the SOC. Compiled by branch members, this aims to provide you with news and information about Lothian's Bird Club, birds, birders and birding in the area -where and when to go, the best chance to see certain species and to keep you informed of what's going on with birds and other wildlife in the region. We hope that you find this site useful, and it encourages you to get involved in birding in the Lothians! Please help the website to evolve by sending in your ideas, comments and opinions. [Ian Thomson, 4 Craigielaw, Longniddry, E Lothian EH32 0PY 01875 870588 The branch's Club Nights are more informal than the main meetings. They are normally held in the Waterston Library, 21 Regent Terrace at 7.30 p.m. during the winter months. For further details of speakers and subjects and to check the dates please contact Ian Thomson on 01875 870588.]


Aberlady Bay Local Nature Reserve


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Aberlady Bay Local Nature Reserve was the first site to be designated a Nature Reserve, in 1952. It comprises a complete set of habitats from low water right through to salt marsh and sand dune, unchanged by the influence of people. The area within the Reserve is extensive, and, in consequence, the paths across it take time to cover. Dogs are not welcome on the Reserve due to the potential for disturbing nesting or roosting birds.

Levenhall Links


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Shallow pools, lined with clay, have been specially created to attract birds. Water quality and depth are managed to create perfect feeding conditions and screened viewpoints permit close observation without disturbance. Some wading birds, such as redshank, feed here throughout the tidal cycle but others, such as bar-tailed godwit, only visit to roost when the incoming tide forces them off feeding grounds on the Estuary. Some of the many species seen here annually are rarities blown far off-course. The main tracks and viewing facilities at the Bird Reserve are accessible to wheelchair users. Please note the hides are open to the elements, so ensure you dress suitably!

Longniddry Bents


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Despite the large number of visitors, a variety of bird species are able to breed here. Grey partridge can nest in the grassland often a few feet away from an unsuspecting walker, and chiffchaff, willow warbler and reed bunting can be heard calling from the scrub…

Scottish Seabird Centre


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An amazing new tourist attraction is opening in Scotland in Spring 2000. The Scottish Seabird Centre will provide a fascinating insight into Scotland's wildlife. Using remote cameras and the latest technology, you will see puffins, gannets and many other seabirds close up, in their natural habitat - without disturbing them! The £3 million Centre at North Berwick Harbour boasts a gift shop and café with magnificent panoramic views across the Firth of Forth to the Bass Rock and Fife.


Birding East Lothian


A slightly cynical Scottish birder's diary: the daily efforts of looking after one of Scotland's finest wildlife sites, a few wider wanderings and hopefully the reward of seeing some decent birds!

Other Links

Birding Musselburgh


The mussel beds at the mouth of the Esk have probably always attracted many thousands of feeding waders. Although the construction of the lagoons caused the loss of some of this feeding area, many more birds can now roost in the area rather than making the long flight to other safe roosts such as Aberlady (Furness 1973). Golden Plover, which appear to roost on the mussel beds or lagoons, more often feed inland from Musselburgh.

Birding the Lothians


The Lothians, at some 749 square miles, lying on the south side of the Firth of Forth, has a rich diversity of habitats. These comprise mainly of upland moorland, woodland, reservoirs and an extensive coastline with four main estuaries….

Birdwatching sites in Lothian


The aim of this guide is to provide birdwatchers, whether locals, new arrivals or visitors with some basic information on where to birdwatch in Lothian Region. Most sections are written by someone familiar with the site, except for a few for which I have provided a few notes! The Birds of the Lothians and the Lothian Bird Reports give some idea of where most people go birdwatching, but this guide provides useful information not only on where to go, but also details of site access (supplemented with maps) and also the species likely to be seen during the year. The best known sites are mainly coastal and are covered in some detail, but a variety of inland sites complete the whole range of habitats from which Lothian benefits. Lothian may be one of the best watched parts of Scotland.

Photographers & Artists

Gallery - Gannets of Bass Rock


Bass Rock is a 450 foot high crag at the mouth of the Forth of Forth, 30 miles from Edinburgh, Scotland. Bass Rock is home to 60,000 gannets, and countless other seabirds, including puffins. The gannet is Britain's largest seabird. At the peak of the breeding season a gannetry is a sight to be seen.

Photographer - Ray Wilson


Photos from the UK and several overseas trips from this very good photographer…