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Buckie shoreSatellite View
Rocky shore extends for 7km eastwards from Portgordon to Portessie. Continuous access is simple from the A990 and A942. In winter the rocks hold numerous Turnstones, Redshanks, Oystercatchers, Dunlin and Purple Sandpipers. Ringed Plovers, Curlews and Knot can also be expected in smaller numbers. The gull flocks are worth checking for Glaucous and Iceland, especially around Buckie harbour where the first Ross's is long overdue! Strathlene, just to the east of Portessie, has banks of gorse along the shore below the golf course. This area provides by far the best site in Moray & Nairn to search for displaced passerine migrants when wind and rain are in the east in spring and autumn.
Burghead BaySatellite View
This is a wide, shallow bay extending for 8km between Findhorn and Burghead. The best viewing points are from the dunes at Findhorn, the Forestry Commission picnic site in Roseisle Forest and from Burghead promontory. Divers of all three commoner species can be seen in autumn and winter as well as Slavonian and, sometimes, Red-necked Grebes. Long-tailed Ducks and scoters often number in thousands in winter and careful scrutiny of the flocks will often reveal at least one Surf Scoter.
Covesea CliffsSatellite View
These are three kilometres of sandstone cliffs with extensive gorse on the cliff tops. Access can be gained from the Clashach Quarry road, east of Hopeman, or from the gated road leading to the coastguard lookout at Covesea. Viewing the seabird colonies from above is not easy and they are best seen from the beach below. Great care is needed however on a rising tide as access back to the cliff top path is not easy. Fulmars, Kittiwakes and Herring Gulls form the bulk of the colonies but a few pairs of Shags and Greater Black-backed Gulls also breed. Stonechats inhabit the cliff top gorse.
Culbin Forest and the Nairn & Culbin BarsSatellite View
Formerly a wide expanse of sand dunes and shingle ridges, the area has been transformed by extensive pine plantations. The Nairn Bar is of shingle, well vegetated with scrub and some stunted trees. Culbin Bar is sandy, covered only with marram and other low-growing grasses and herbs. Between the bars and the forest is extensive coastal marsh with mud and sand flats exposed at low tide. Access to the Bars is from the carpark [NJ034640] at Kingsteps, 1km east of Nairn. The forest is best entered from the Forestry Commission car parks at Cloddymoss or Wellhill, northwest from Forres. In the forest listen out for Crested Tits that are quite numerous and most easily located by call. Also present are Siskins, crossbills (apparently Parrot as well as Scottish); Stonechats and, in summer, a few Tree Pipits and Redstarts. Around the bars in summer can be found breeding Shelduck and Eider but the seaduck and wader flocks between autumn and spring are the main interest. Oystercatcher, Knot, Dunlin, Redshank and Bar-tailed Godwit and the main species but this is also the best site in the area for Sanderling and Grey Plovers.
Findhorn BaySatellite View
Situated at the mouth of the River Findhorn, the bay empties almost completely at low tide to leave wide expanses of mud and sand. Access is straightforward from the B9011 between Kinloss and Findhorn villages. The spring and autumn wader passage seasons are most rewarding here with an annual scatter of scarcer species such as Little Stint, Curlew Sandpiper and Spotted Redshank, and several rarities have occurred in recent years. Ospreys regularly fish the shallows between April and late September. In winter large skeins of Greylag and Pink-footed Geese fly in to roost each evening. Many other wildfowl can be seen in good numbers although shooting is a problem.
Kingston and Spey BaySatellite View
Kingston village overlooks the small muddy estuary of the Spey. Offshore, Spey Bay [NJ400645] extends between Lossiemouth and Buckie, bordered by sandy beaches in the west but largely shingle to the east. The Spey estuary is easily viewed from car parks at Kingston to the west and Tugnet (at Spey Bay village) to the east. Spey Bay can be accessed from Lossiemouth and from the Spey mouth car parks as well as from the foreshore of Lossie Forest (although vehicle access to the forest is not permitted). Breeding species around the mouth of the Spey include Shelduck, terns and Ringed Plovers. The main interest is to be found between July-September when Ospreys fisf the river mouth and wader passage, although light in terms of numbers, often includes scarcer species such as Whimbrel, Greenshank, Little Stint and Curlew Sandpiper. Offshore Spey Bay holds an important moulting flock of Red-throated Divers in autumn when hundreds may be present. Great Northern Divers are regular in summer plumage in spring. Sea ducks are less numerous than formerly but good numbers of scoters, Long-tailed Ducks and Eiders can still sometimes be seen.
Loch SpynieSatellite View
This is the most important freshwater site in the area. Extensive areas of reed, marsh and willow scrub surround the open water in this privately owned SSSI. The wetlands surrounding the loch are not open to the public although permission to view the loch from the wooded eastern side is usually given to organised groups and bona fide birdwatchers. In spring and summer large populations of wetland species such as Sedge Warblers, Reed Buntings and Water Rails breed in the marshes. Migrant species pass through in good numbers and locally scarce and rare species are found here almost annually. Wildfowl flocks peak in winter when hundreds of Teal, Wigeon and Mallard are present with many other species likely in smaller numbers. The evening arrival of Greylag and Pink-footed Geese to roost is a spectacle that never fails to thrill.
The River Lossie flows out to the sea at the East Beach through an estuary in which sand and mud are exposed at low tide. There is a rocky shore between the West Beach and the harbour. The headland just west of the harbour provides the area's best vantage point for sea-watching when conditions are favourable, notably north or northeasterly gales in autumn. Access is straightforward to all parts of the shore. Due to the small size of the estuary and ease of vehicle access, shorebirds are easily viewed. In winter a few Sanderling join the commoner species and during autumn passage Whimbrel, Little Stint and Curlew Sandpiper may drop in. Gulls are abundant at all seasons, especially in autumn and winter when there is a good chance of Glaucous or Iceland. The East Beach dunes hold a small flock of Snow Buntings in winter.
Martin J H Cook
Number of bird species: 291
County Bird - Crested Tit Parus cristatus
Birds in Moray & NairnCounty report produced annually, Available from the Recorder
Rare and Scarce Birds in North-East ScotlandEdited by Ian M Phillips 192 pages, 32 col plates, 60 illus, distribution maps.
Buy this book from NHBS.com
The Birds of Moray and Nairnby Martin Cook, Paperback - 269 pages (12 November, 1992) The Mercat Press
Buy this book from NHBS.com
Where to Watch Birds in ScotlandMike Madders and Julia Welstead - 297 pages, b/w illus, maps - Christopher Helm
Buy this book from NHBS.com
Forestry Commission - CulbinWebsite
Crossbills and crested tits are relatively common in Culbin...
Forestry Commission - MonaughtyWebsite
Good for seeing small woodland birds and watching buzzards circling above the margins of the wood...
Forestry Commission - OrdiequishWebsite
Capercaille lek sites in this wood. Active during the months of March and April...
Forestry Commission - Quarrelwood Woodland ParkWebsite
The oak, beech and conifer mix attracts many species of small birds, including tits, wren, siskin and willow warbler. Listen out for the drumming of the great spotted woodpecker and the mewing call of the buzzards that circle above the edge of the wood...
Forestry Commission - RoseisleWebsite
Winter birdwatchers have a good chance of seeing common and velvet scoters, and long-tailed and eider ducks. Waders include dunlin, redshank, ringed plover and bar-tailed godwit...
Forestry Commission - WhiteashWebsite
Whiteash Wood is one of the few remaining areas in the north east where a population of Capercaillie still exists. Ospreys have successfully nested in this wood for over 25 years. The adults are frequently seen fishing for salmon at the mouth of the River Spey at Spey Bay...
RSPB Reserve - Culbin SandsWebsite
Large numbers of sea ducks can be seen offshore in winter. Bar-tailed godwits, oystercatchers and knots flock at high tide...
WDCS Wildlife Centre, Spey BayWebsite
WDCSs Moray Firth Wildlife Centre is based at the mouth of the River Spey on the southern side of the Moray Firth on the east coast of Scotland...
Local birders willing to show visiting birders around their area...
Ardgowan B&B - ElginAccommodation
You are spoilt for choice for local parks including Cooper Park with its boating lake, the rose garden at Grant Park, plus Millbuies Country Park and Quarrelwood Woodland Park. And there are beaches a-plenty such as the miles of sand stretching from nearby Lossiemouth. Nairn (22 miles from Elgin) was a Victorian seaside resort and is still popular today.
Burnside and Mill Lodges - Self CateringAccommodation
Burnside and Mill Lodges are situated only 4 miles from the seaside town of Nairn and 16 miles from Inverness, the Highland Capital. Country walks and a secluded trout fishery are on the door step, and there are a great many other attractions in the local area. Both lodges have ramped accesses, wide doors for wheelchairs and grabrails in the bathroom. Burnside has a paved area in front while Mill Lodge has a timber deck, both with picnic tables.
Curlew Cottage - BurgheadAccommodation
A warm, friendly and very comfortable 4 star cottage which sleeps 4. From autumn to spring Burghead Bay is a birdwatcher`s paradise – look for long-tailed duck, eider, bar-tailed godwit or the occasional Iceland gull, as well as commoner winter residents. Not only that but the nearby forests and moorland make for wonderful walking and watching, too! Then, at the end of the day come back and relax in front of an open fire!
Taigh-togalach - Burghead, MorayAccommodation
Taigh-togalach is a 3 bedroom semi-detached self catering cottage situated in the historic coastal village of Burghead, Moray, Scotland. The village is set on a promontory on the site of a Pictish Fort, looking out across the Moray Firth, an area renowned for its temperate climate and long hours of sunshine. This holiday cottage provides an ideal base for golfing, fishing, or walking holidays; touring Moray, Grampian, NE Scotland and the Scottish Highlands; or for just enjoying the 7 miles of sandy beach that stretches between Burghead and Findhorn & Kinloss and the 7 miles of rocks, pools and cliffs between Burghead and Lossiemouth.
Dave Slater - Birding EcosseBlog
Birdwatching for beginners Workshops. These relaxed and enjoyable workshops will be held on dates at end of March beginning of April 2011 in the Moray area....
Moray Firth Biodiversity Action PlanWebsite
The Moray Coastline encompasses 45 miles of sweeping sands, estuaries, cliffs, coves and fishertowns. It includes areas of great natural beauty and valuable wildlife resources...
The longest running andone of the most well-used bird and wildlife sites around. Established in1990, includes hundreds of photographs, latest news, a fledgling on-linefield guide, diary of events, interactive noticeboard, where to go birdingin Scotland complete with point-and-click maps, local guide service, etc,etc.
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This site was last updated on Monday, 29th April 2013.
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