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Scotland Fife

Fieldfare Turdus pilaris ©Nigel Blake Website

Fife is predominantly rural, with a small industrial belt (mostly mining) lying in central and west Fife around Lochgelly and Dunfermline. The Kingdom is bounded to the north by the Tay Estuary (stretching from Newburgh out past Tentsmuir Point) and to the south by the huge Firth of Forth. At the eastern tip of Fife lies Fife Ness and the North Sea.

North-east Fife is rich cultivated arable land, with few trees and hedgerows. The River Eden runs through Cupar and opens into a two-mile long estuary at Guardbridge, by the historic university and golf city of St Andrews. The East Neuk is the collective term for the south-east fishing villages of Crail, Anstruther, Cellardyke, Elie, Pittenween and St Monans.

Fife contains almost no natural woodland of any size, with the two biggest areas of trees being the forestry plantations at Tentsmuir and Devilla Forests. The long Fife coastline is composed of both rocky shore and sandy beaches. The Isle of May lies about 5 miles south of Crail at the entrance to the Firth of Forth.

The Breeding and Wintering Birds of Fife - an atlas for 2007-2013

This important new book on the status of wild birds in Fife was published on 26 August 2016. Mapping the distribution and abundance of birds in the region in summer and winter, it is set to become an important reference work and conservation tool. The atlas has been coordinated by the Fife Ornithological Atlas Group and brings up to date a previous atlas published in 2003. More than 400 fine-scale maps show where all species of bird in Fife are known to breed, and in what numbers. Significantly, their wintering numbers are also mapped for the first time. Accompanying the maps and interpretive text are 240 high-quality photographs, mostly taken in Fife by John Anderson, the region’s celebrated bird photographer.

The large format, hardback volume runs to 384 pages, with the text on survey methods, bird habitats, and population details of 213 species written by expert local ornithologists. Covering the years 2007-2013, the maps are based on fieldwork undertaken for the acclaimed national Bird Atlas 2007-11. They depict new information that highlights the changes in the status of bird populations since the 1990s. As well as a valuable reference source for resident and visiting birdwatchers, the information contained in the book is set, like its predecessor, to become a sound basis for the conservation of bird populations in Fife.

Professor Jeremy Greenwood, former Director of the British Trust for Ornithology has stated “I have used the Fife Bird Atlas as a constant source of reference. I eagerly anticipate using the new atlas in the years to come.

The atlas project was generously supported by the SOC and other organisations in Fife. The price of the book is £35, with postage/packing or delivery costs kept to a minimum; books are also available for collection within Fife and at Waterston House. Full details of the book and its availability can be found on the SOC website.

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AA Fife

has few upland areas but in the west of the Kingdom are the Cleish Hills, and more central the Lomond Hills near Falkland and Leslie. There is often a good autumn passage of skuas and terns in the Firth of Forth, best viewed in Fife from Kinghorn Harbour, North Queensferry and Inverkeithing Harbour. To the west of Dunfermline (near Culross) Torry Bay and Valleyfield Lagoons host waders and wildfowl. Map References in the list below.

AA Lochs & Reservoirs

Those worth a visit for winter wildfowl, waders and gulls include Loch Gelly; Lochore Meadows CP; Cameron Reservoir behind St Andrews; Ballo Reservoir and Holl Reservoir; Birnie and Gaddon Lochs near Collessie; Lindores Loch; Craigluscar Reservoir near Dunfermline; and the delightful Kilconquhar Loch in the East Neuk. Map references in the list below:

AA Near Tayport

are Tentsmuir Point, Morton Lochs and Kinshaldy Beach, offering extensive forest and shoreline walks. Map references below.

Ballo Reservoir

Satellite View

Birnie and Gaddon Lochs

Satellite View

The two lochs are joined by a network of paths with plenty of rest areas and a picnic site at the main car park which offers excellent views across Birnie Loch. We also maintain two bird hides at the site, keys are available on request. The site is ideal for family recreational use including walking, bird watching and picnics. While the site is predominately open water surrounded by sparse woodland it also includes smaller areas of wetland and grassland habitats that help attract a variety of wildlife. As well as the excellent bird watching opportunities there’s a chance to spot some of Fife’s rare mammals including red squirrel, otter and bats.

Cameron Reservoir

Satellite View

Cleish Hills

See above

Craigluscar Reservoir

Satellite View

Fife Ness

Satellite View

Best known birding site in Fife. Rocky shore, farmland, scrub, tidal pond, and the famous Patch on Fife Ness Muir with Heligoland traps and a ringing hut. There is a Seawatching hide built by Fife Bird Club adjacent to the pillbox at the Ness. It is a great migrant spot in spring and autumn. Also visit Balcomie Farm walled garden (NO625099); Kilminning coast (NO632086) and Denburn Wood in Crail (NO614081).

Inverkeithing Harbour

Satellite View

Isle of May

Satellite View

Bird Observatory established in 1934. Regular boat trips to island from Anstruther on pleasure cruisers in spring and summer. Birders (six) can stay on the island for a small charge. Celebrated migrant hot spot; wonderful seabird colonies.

Kilconquhar Loch

Satellite View

Kinghorn Harbour

Satellite View

See above

Kinshaldy Beach

Satellite View

Largo Bay

Satellite View

has a large sandy beach from the River Leven stretching past the town of Leven, through Lower Largo to the Cocklemill Burn (NO468013) and Ruddons Point (NO454005) and Shell Bay (NO459002). Thousands of winter seaduck present in the area, especially around the outfall of the Leven by Methil Power Station (NO382003). The best place in Britain to see Surf Scoter Melanitta perspicillata, with up to 5 birds off Ruddons Point (access via Kincraig Caravan Park) in the winter.

Lindores Loch

Satellite View

Loch Gelly

Satellite View

Lochore Meadows CP

Satellite View

Lomond Hills

See above

Morton Lochs

Satellite View

Mountcastle Quarry & Letham Pools

Satellite View

Grid ref NO3113 - This is a disused quarry with several lagoons and extensive woodland and scrub. The quarry next to flooded fields to east (not marked on maps). Both attract many wildfowl year round and the occasional rarity, with pools often a focus for a range of migrant waders. Water Rails breed and are not difficult to see in summer. Greylag and Pinkfeet feed in fields in winter. Pools easily visible from minor road. Parking for quarry at entrance on A92.

North Queensferry

Satellite View

St Andrews & NE Fife

is a good area for winter wildfowl and passage waders. There is a public hide on the Eden Estuary LNR (NO478195) at the Guardbridge Nature Centre (NO452192); which offers panoramic views over the mudflats and Leuchars army base. Other hides are at Edenside (NO457192) and Balgove Bay (NO485185); but keys are needed for these. Also visit Outhead (NO494197) at the end of the West Sands in St Andrews, to view the estuary mouth.

Tentsmuir Point

Webpage

Satellite View

You can find pine-scented forest, windswept sands and a wonderful range of wildlife at Tentsmuir.

Torry Bay

Satellite View

Valleyfield Lagoons

Satellite View

Contributor

Dr Rob Lambert

St Andrews, Fife

ral2@st-andrews.ac.uk

County Recorder

Isle of May - Iain English

19 Nethan Gate, Hamilton, S Lanarks ML3 8NH

01698 891788

i.english.t21@btinternet.com

Malcolm Ware

88 Dewar Street, Dunfermline Fife KY12 8AA

07733 991030

malware74@icloud.com

Number of Species

Number of bird species: 307

Checklist

Checklist

WebBirder Checklist

Fatbirder's very own checklists are now available through WebBirder

Useful Reading

A Checklist of the Birds of Mainland Fife

Fife Bird Club, (3rd edn, 1999) ?2 from Fife Recorder.

Annual Fife Bird Report

Produced by Fife Bird Club, edited by DS Fotheringham. Annual Isle of May Bird Observatory Report from Isle of May Recorder.

The Breeding and Wintering Birds of Fife: n Atlas for 2007-2013

by Norman Elkins, Jim Reid and Allan W. Brown | Fife Ornithological Atlas Group and the SOC | 26 Aug 2016 | Hardcover | 384 pages | ISBN: 9780951213964

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

Useful Information

Isle of May Records

Ian Darling, 579 Lanark Road West, Edinburgh, EH14 7BL

Guides & Tour Operators

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

Birding Pal

Information

Local birders willing to show visiting birders around their area…

Trip Reports

CloudBirders

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…

A Stay in Fife

Accommodation

The Bed and Breakfast Network In Fife, Scotland…

Braemore B&B

Accommodation

Newport is well placed for the tourist routes to the Highlands or the North East after you enjoy the delights of St.Andrews and the East Neuk of Fife.

Fife & Lothian Bed and Breakfast Association

Accommodation

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

Organisations

Fife Bird Club

Website

Formed in July of 1985 by a group of keen birdwatchers wanting to provide more information and better facilities for those interested in the birds of mainland Fife. The Club has grown to include several hundred members, with over a third of these actually living outwith Fife…

Scottish Wildlife Trust - Fife & Kinross Branch

Website

Welcome to this web site which is about the wildlife and the activities of Scottish Wildlife Trust members in the East Coast counties of Fife and Kinross…

Scottish Ornithologists Club - Fife Branch

Website

Secretary:Caroline Gordon, 25 Mackie Crescent, Markinch, Glenrothes, Fife KY7 6BB. Email sweetbank101@gmail.com. Tel. 01592 750230

Observatories

Isle of May Bird Observatory

Observatory Website

Satellite View

The Isle of May Bird Observatory is Scotland’s oldest bird observatory, founded in 1934. The observatory is administered by a charitable trust (The Isle of May Bird Observatory and Field Station Trust) and manned by volunteer observers between March and November. The Observatory was founded by a group of young Scottish ornithologists and has continued to depend on the enthusiasm of amateurs who come to the island, usually for a week at a time, to maintain observations. The living accomodation is housed within the low light, a former navigational lighthouse… Jonathan Osborne, The Shieling, Halcombe Crescent, Earlston, Berwickshire TD4 6DA 01896 848126 jonathan@osborne108.fsnet.co.uk

Reserves

Birnie Loch Nature Reserve

Webpage

Satellite View

The two lochs are joined by a network of paths with plenty of rest areas and a picnic site at the main car park which offers excellent views across Birnie Loch. We also maintain two bird hides at the site, keys are available on request. The site is ideal for family recreational use including walking, bird watching and picnics. While the site is predominately open water surrounded by sparse woodland it also includes smaller areas of wetland and grassland habitats that help attract a variety of wildlife. As well as the excellent bird watching opportunities there’s a chance to spot some of Fife’s rare mammals including red squirrel, otter and bats.

RSPB - Loch Leven (Vane Farm)

Webpage

Satellite View

Although now in Perth and Kinross, Vane Farm RSPB Reserve on the shores of Loch Leven, sits on the border with Fife and is popular with local birders. It has an excellent tearoom, RSPB shop and bookstore, and a board with recent bird sightings from the entire East of Scotland.

Scottish Wildlife Trust Reserves

Website

Annotated list…

SWT - Fife Ness Muir

Webpage

Satellite View

Approaching 150 species of birds have been seen from the reserve including 17 species of warbler. During spring and autumn recording is carried out on a daily basis and the reserve is now a ringing station with permanent traps similar to those on the Isle of May…

Tentsmuir National Nature Reserve

Information PDF

Satellite View

Tentsmuir NNR is on the east coast of Scotland, 10km north of St Andrews. Within Tentsmuir NNR is Tentsmuir Point, the tip of a large sand dune system, most of which is now covered by forest and farmland. Sand is still being deposited at the Point and the dunes continue to grow seaward. Indeed, this is one of the fastest growing parts of Scotland. As well as the dunes, there is a large seal colony, and important numbers of wildfowl and waders use the coast especially in the winter months. Morton Lochs, also within the NNR, has open water and a fringing fen which attracts wintering and breeding ducks and a variety dragonflies and damselflies.

Forums & Mailing Lists

Fife Birds

Mailing List

Mailing group for anyone interested in the birds of Fife…

Forth Estuary Forum

Forum

A list of Forth Estuary Forum participants, including the basic website of the North East Fife Ranger Service. A list of environmental bodies & charities & organisations with an interest in the wider Forth catchment area, as well as the Firth of Forth.

Other Links

Birnie & Gaddon Lochs

Webpage

Birnie and Gaddon Lochs are restored sand and gravel workings. The two lochs are surrounded and joined by a network of paths. There are also extensive rest areas around the lochs and a picnic area at the main car park which offers excellent views across Birnie Loch. We also maintain two bird hides at the site, keys are available on request. The site is ideal for family recreational use including walking, bird watching and picnics...

Photographers & Artists

Photographer - Howard Grubb

Gallery

Photograph of some of the seabirds.