Angus & Dundee

Buzzard Buteo buteo ©Mark Caunt Website

Angus & Dundee SOC Recording Area covers two of the 32 local government council areas of Scotland, Angus and the city of Dundee and is co-terminus with the old ‘vice-county’ recording area 90. The council area borders Northeast Scotland to the north, Perth and Kinross to the west and Fife to the south.Industries include agriculture and fishing. Angus was historically known as Forfarshire from the 18th century until 1928.

Birding Angus & Dundee

Angus can be split into three geographic areas. To the north and west, the topography is mountainous. This is the area of the Five Glens of Angus, which is sparsely populated and where the main commercial activity is hill farming. To the south and east the topography consists of rolling hills bordering the sea. This area is well populated, with the larger towns. In between lies Strathmore (the Great Valley), which is a fertile agricultural area noted for the growing of potatoes, soft fruit and the raising of Angus cattle. Montrose in the north east of the county is notable for its tidal basin. Angus is bounded by a ring of hills on the inland side, with the river North Esk in the north and nearly to the river Tay in the South, with the North Sea on the east and the eastern peaks of the Grampian Hills in the west. This gives a good range of habitats from rocky coast through farmland with small woodlands up to the glens. The whole area is laced with rivers and streams.

The Angus glens are oriented roughly NW to SE and the main ones are (from the northernmost) Glen Esk (river North Esk); Glen Lethnot (West Water and Water of Saughs); Glen Clova (South Esk); Glen Prosen (Prosen Water); and Glen Isla (Isla). There are a further fifteen smaller glens leading off the main ones. The main glens rise from 100m to 939m (Mount Keen). The land from the 100m line to the coast is intensively farmed (mainly arable) but areas of woodland and several shallow lochs from Loch of Kinnordy in the west to Balgavies Loch in the east break up the scenery. This means a wide range of habitats and hence a good range of birds.

The City of Dundee is Scotland’s fourth largest city and the 51st most populous built-up area in the United Kingdom. It has a population of c.150,000 people at a density of nearly 6,500 per square mile; the second highest of any Scottish city. It lies within the eastern central Lowlands on the north bank of the Firth of Tay, which feeds into the North Sea. city lies 58 km NNE of Edinburgh. The built-up area occupies a roughly rectangular shape about 13k long by 4k wide, aligned in an east to west direction and occupies an area of 60 km2.

The town is bisected by a line of hills stretching from Balgay Hill in the west end of the city, through Dundee Law, which occupies the centre of the built-up area. North of this ridge lies a valley through which cuts the Dighty Water. North of the Dighty valley lie the Sidlaw Hills, the most prominent hill being Craigowl Hill. The western and eastern boundaries of the city are marked by two burns that are tributaries of the River Tay.

On the western-most boundary of the city, the Lochee burn meets the Fowlis burn, forming the Invergowrie burn, which meets the Tay at Invergowrie bay. The Dighty Water enters Dundee from the village of Strathmartine and marks the boundaries of a number of northern districts of the city, joining the Tay between Barnhill and Monifieth. Despite its urban surroundings, the Dighty is home to Dippers, Grey Wagtails and Kingfishers, Otters and Beavers. The Scouring burn in the west end of the city and Dens Burn in the east, both of which played important roles in the industrial development of the city, have now been culverted over. The land surrounding Dundee, particularly that in the lower lying areas to the west and east of the city, bears high quality soil that is particularly suitable for arable farming.

Below are listed some of the best places to go birdwatching in the recording area.

Top Sites
  • Arbroath

    Satellite View
    The shore from Pleasureland at the west to Whiting Ness at the east is good for gulls and waders. Mediterranean Gulls are regular in late summer with Roseate and Black Terns occasionally. During the winter Purple Sandpipers can be found on the outer harbour wall or nearby at high tide and Iceland and Glaucous Gulls are fairly regular. After stormy weather auks, divers and sea ducks may take shelter in the harbour.
  • Auchmithie

    Satellite View
    3 miles north of Arbroath, small numbers of Fulmars, Guillemots, Kittiwakes, Puffins and Razorbills nest on the cliffs in summer. The track down to the harbour can hold migrants in season.
  • Balgavies Loch

    Satellite View
    (SWT) 5 miles east of Forfar on the A932. Public viewing point with room for 5 cars and a popular hide with car park to the west, normally open. Circular walk around the loch. Ospreys and warblers in season, Red Squirrel, Water Rail, wintering duck.
  • Barry Buddon

    Satellite View
    Near Carnoustie on A930. This is an MoD training area and range, access on foot or pushbike only when the red flags/lights are not showing. Check for firing times Here: https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/scotland-firing-times. Waders on the beach, seawatching from Buddon Ness, migrants in season. Butterflies include Small Blue and Green and Purple Hairstreak.
  • Broughty Ferry Beach

    Satellite View
    Typical beach birds, including Bar-tailed Godwit. The Shiell Street LNR lies behind the dunes and is home to the usual woodland birds. At Balmossie Station ducks, gulls and waders gather at the mouth of the Dighty Burn.
  • Corrie Fee National Nature Reserve & Caenlochan SAC, SPA, SSSI

    Satellite View
    Large mountainous plateau with arctic plants and sub-arctic birds. Golden Eagle, Merlin, Peregrine and Ring Ousel in the glens. Access from Glen Doll Ranger Base and Car Park (fee) at the head of Glen Clova 15km north of Kirriemuir on the B955.
  • Crombie Country Park

    Satellite View
    6 miles north of Monifieth on B961. A man-made reservoir with surrounding woodlands. Dragonflies in late summer.
  • Fishtown of Usan

    Satellite View
    Coastal Site, seawatching and migrants
  • Forfar Loch Country Park

    Satellite View
    Car park at Ranger Centre at east end. Path round loch with viewing platform on north side. Large winter gull roost with occasional white winged gulls. Migrant waders on spit by sailing club in season, Otter, Kingfisher.
  • Kinnaber Links

    Satellite View
    Coastal site, can be good for Skuas, Long-tailed Duck, divers and Scoter. Access on foot from Montrose beach or car parking areas off the A92.
  • Loch Lee

    Satellite View
    16 miles north west of Edzell. Natural loch set in dramatic mountain setting 20-minute walk from car park in Glen Esk. Redstart and Tree Pipit in woods on the way, Ring Ouzel on the slopes above the Loch.
  • Loch of Kinnordy

    WebpageSatellite View
    (RSPB) 1 mile west of Kirriemuir on B951 Open daily. A RAMSAR site, SPA & SSSI. Three hides (two accessible to wheelchairs) viewing the loch. There is a small black-headed gull breeding colony. Osprey and Marsh Harrier during summer, Pink-footed and Greylag Geese and occasional Bittern, Smew during autumn/winter. Water Rail, Otter and Beaver resident and occasionally seen.
  • Loch of Lintrathen

    Satellite View
    (SWT) 8 miles west of Kirriemuir on B951. A SSSI and Ramsar site. Two public hides, the one at the north east end has wheelchair access. There are several parking places on surrounding public roads with good views of the loch. Pink-footed and greylag geese, a large gull roost and ducks during autumn/winter. The track to the northwest hide can yield Crossbill, Lesser Redpoll, Woodcock and Woodpeckers. If water levels are low during spring or autumn migrant waders are found on the mud by the hide.
  • Lunan Bay

    Satellite View
    Near Montrose, a superb beach, can be good for Skuas, Long-tailed Duck, divers and Scoter. View from the dunes by public car park, café in season. Note that the car park is on private land and may be locked at night.
  • Monifieth Beach

    Satellite View
    Waders, seawatching sometimes large Tern roost in late summer.
  • Monikie Country Park

    Satellite View
    4 miles north of Monifieth on B961. A man-made reservoir with surrounding woodlands. Usual water and woodland species, Little Gulls on migration in April, one of only two inland UK sites where this species is found, the other being Rescobie Loch east of Forfar.
  • Montreathmont Forest

    WebpageSatellite View
    (Forestry & Land Scotland) 4 miles south of Brechin on A933. Open access from rides on foot only. Mostly conifer plantation with some deciduous trees, open moor and ponds. Usual woodland species including Crossbill, & Green Woodpecker used to be resident and Nightjar has bred.
  • Montrose Basin

    WebsiteSatellite View
    The Montrose Basin Local Nature Reserve covers 1024ha in all. The majority of the reserve lies below the high water mark of ordinary spring tides but, particularly at the western end, there are slightly more elevated areas with zones of salt marsh, reed bed, brackish and fresh water, unimproved grassland and arable land. It contains SSSI's and is a Ramsar site and a Special Protection Area, so is well protected from development. The site is jointly managed by Angus Council, The National Trust for Scotland and the The Scottish Wildlife Trust (SWT). - SWT Montrose Basin Visitor Centre by the A92 on south side of the Basin open 7 days in summer, Friday to Sunday in winter. Viewing windows with scopes, friendly and knowledgeable staff and volunteers on hand to assist. Four hides and various walks around the Basin, locations from the website or Centre staff. Year round interest, including up to 80,000 Pink-footed Geese in autumn with thousands of duck and waders, Sand Martin and Tern colonies in summer.
  • Seaton Cliffs

    Satellite View
    Arbroath (SWT). Part of the larger Whiting Ness to Ethie Haven SSSI. There is a spectacular cliff-top walk from Arbroath to Auchmithie. Fulmar, Guillemot, Herring Gull, Kittiwake, a few Puffins, and Razorbill and Shag nest on the deeply sculpted red sandstone cliffs. Occasional cetacean sightings. Small Blue Butterfly colony.
Contributors
County Recorder
Number of Species
  • Number of bird species: 318 (e-bird lists 270)

    County Bird - Golden Eagle Aquila chrysaetos
Checklist

  • eBird Field Checklist

    Checklist
    eBird Field Checklist Angus County, Scotland, GB
Useful Reading

  • Birding Guide to North-East Scotland

    | (Including Part of the Cairngorms National Park) | by Mark Sullivan & Ian Francis | Aberdeen and District RSPB Group | 2015 | Paperback | 130 pages, colour photos, colour maps | Out of Print | ISBN: 9780956112675 Buy this book from NHBS.com
  • Where to Watch Birds in Scotland

    | By Mike Madders & Julia Welstead | Christopher Helm | Paperback | 297 pages, b/w illustrations, maps | Out of Print | ISBN: 9780713656930 Buy this book from NHBS.com
Birding Aps
  • Where to Watch Birds in Scotland

    Apple iOS | Android
    This app will help beginners and experts alike to discover hundreds of the best places to see and enjoy birds around the country.

    Where to Watch Birds in Scotland, the Scottish Ornithologists' Club's free mobile app for Apple and Android devices, now has over 580 sites. New sites will continue to be added and existing ones updated as far as possible. The app launched in April 2019 and since then has been downloaded by more than 15,000 users and amassed over 750,000 site views. It won 'Product of the Year' in Birdwatch and BirdGuides' 2019 Birders' Choice Awards, and the BTO/Marsh Award for Local Ornithology 2020.
Useful Information
  • County Reports

    The current report is priced at £8 each, plus £2.15 UK p&p if necessary. Cheques should be made payable to the Angus and Dundee Bird Club. Copies of the Report are available from the Montrose Basin Visitor Centre and SOC Headquarters at Waterston House in Aberlady (please call to check stock availability before travelling), or the County Recorder, Jon Cook, 76 Torridon Road, Broughty Ferry, Dundee. DD5 3JH. Telephone: (01382) 738495. Email: 1301midget@tiscali.co.uk. Back copies of the Report are also available from the County Recorder, contact him for prices and availability.
Organisations
  • Angus & Dundee Bird Club

    Website
    Angus and Dundee Bird Club was founded in 1997 and we now have around 170 members; we have an active Birders Grapevine and WhatsApp Group for our members, a sea watching hide at Lunan Bay Angus, Field Outings programme and Indoor Meetings programme.
  • Dundee Naturalists Society

    Website
    We organise social events and activities for members including Members’ Nights and barbecues. Conservation work parties are held at Carsegowniemuir, the nature reserve we manage. All are made welcome when they join us, whatever their level of interest in the natural world.
  • RSPB Dundee Local Group

    Webpage
    This is the website of the Dundee Local Group. RSPB local groups are a great way to meet friendly, like-minded people in your area while learning more about birds and wildlife.
  • SOC Tayside

    Webpage
    We meet at Glasite Hall, St Andrews Parish Church, King Street, Dundee, DD1 2JB, next to the Wellgate Centre - Contact Rachael Wilbourn, 07708 547175 (Secretary)
  • SWT Angus & Dundee Group

    Webpage
    This is the website for the Scottish Wildlife Trust in the county of Angus and the City of Dundee. The Scottish Wildlife Trust is a membership organisation and this Group acts as the focus for Angus and Dundee members who want to participate in conservation, fund-raising, site visits or just attend local wildlife events.
  • SWT North Angus Group

    Webpage
    The North Angus Group is the voice for Scottish Wildlife Trust members in the Montrose and Brechin area of Angus.
Reserves

Abbreviations Key

  • F&LF Montreathmont Forest

    WebpageSatellite View
    This fairly large area of (mostly) coniferous forest is about 5km south of Brechin. The network of tracks is popular with walkers, mountain bikers and, in winter, husky racers. Woodland species including Crossbills are found and owls,buzzards and deer might also be visible.
  • LNR Broughty Ferry

    InformationSatellite View
    Bank voles live among the long grass and are often seen crossing the paths or areas of short grass. Look and listen out for toads, tawny owls and various songbirds. Roe deer can sometimes be spotted hiding among the undergrowth.
  • LNR Montrose Basin Wildlife Centre

    WebsiteSatellite View
    Montrose, on the North East coast of Scotland, is notable for its tidal basin. There is a variety of different zones on the Montrose Basin Local Nature Reserve ranging from the mud, fresh water, sea water, brackish water, saltmarsh, reedbed, unimproved grassland and arable land.
  • LNR Riverside Nature Park

    WebpageSatellite View
    Riverside Nature Park has been created from Dundee's old landfill site with trees and wildflowers planted to form new wildlife habitats. The paths to the south of the Nature Park are ideal for watching wading birds feeding on the mud flats at low tide or roosting in Invergowrie Bay at high tide. Inside the park, ducks and waders can often be seen at the pool. As of January 2024, 168 species of birds have been seen on or near the Park.
  • LNR Trottick Mill Ponds

    WebpageSatellite View
    The wildlife to be found here may surprise you. There are a variety of birds that make the reserve and surrounding areas their home, including a resident pair of swans, a heron, dippers and lots of other familiar garden favourites.
  • NNR Corrie Fee

    InformationSatellite View
    Like a giant stone armchair, Corrie Fee is a wild amphitheatre of rocky landscape sculpted by the power of ice and water. The area is now a haven for the plants, birds and animals that are equipped to cope with the challenges of this harsh mountain environment. If you're lucky you might spot a golden eagle soaring overhead. Large car park at the road end (fee) and Ranger Centre with maps and information.
  • NR Murton

    WebsiteSatellite View
    Open 5 days a week 10am to 4pm. Closed Monday and Tuesday. On the A932 Forfar to Arbroath road about 1.5 miles east of Forfar, postcode DD8 2RZ. The nature reserve features several ponds, three hides, wild flower meadows and woodlands, created from worked out gravel pits. Breeding waders and a thriving Sand Martin colony, best site in Angus for Little Ringed Plover. Migrant duck and waders, wintering duck. There is a children's farm (admission fee) and café also on site.
  • RSPB Loch of Kinnordy

    WebpageSatellite View
    This shallow loch is situated in a natural basin surrounded by farmland and attracts all types of wildlife. One favourite summer visitor is the osprey, but you're just as likely to see otters, red squirrels and deer as wildfowl, not to mention butterflies and dragonflies aplenty.
  • SWT Balgavies Loch

    WebpageSatellite View
    Balgavies Loch has long been recognised by naturalists as an important site for wildlife. This inland loch is surrounded by reedbeds and willow carr, attracting water rail, great crested grebe and a number of wintering wildfowl, including goldeneye, teal and wigeon. The reserve is a haven for red squirrel.
  • SWT Loch of Lintrathen

    WebpageSatellite View
    This beautiful inland loch is a reservoir for Angus and Dundee. During the summer, the area is home to breeding songbirds, and in winter, large numbers of wintering birds, particularly greylag geese, visit the reserve.
  • SWT Montrose Basin Visitor Centre

    WebpageSatellite View
    Montrose Basin is an enclosed estuary of the river South Esk covering 750 hectares, home to over 80,000 migratory birds – including pink-footed geese, Arctic terns, knots and sedge warblers.
  • SWT Seaton Cliffs

    WebpageSatellite View
    Seaton Cliffs has spectacular red sandstone cliffs with numerous sea caves, stacks, blowholes and arches. The cliffs support a mosaic of habitats, including coastal grassland, sand dunes and woodland.
  • SWT The Miley

    WebpageSatellite View
    The Miley is part of a disused railway within walking distance of Dundee city centre. It was originally an impassable, mile-long rubbish tip, but now supports grassland, tall-herb communities, scrub and trees, making it a haven for birds, mammals and insects. The path offers a relaxing stroll, particularly in the summer when the reserve resonates with birdsong and the wildflowers are alive with butterflies.
Forums & Mailing Lists
  • Angus Birding Grapevine

    Forum
    The aim of the forum is to provide current information (and be a referral for past records) of Birds, Mammals and Cetaceans in the Angus and Eastern Scotland area. This is done via a forum open to public, where sightings can be posted and viewed freely. Sightings are obviously not guaranteed but filtered as best as possible and news regarding sensitive species may be edited if need be.
Places to Stay


Click on WAND to see Fatbirder’s Trip Report Repository…

  • The Haven B&B - Montrose

    Accommodation
    Some of Europe's finest and unspoilt coastline awaits you on the North east Coastal Trail, and, starting at St. Cyrus, Montrose is close enough to embark on your adventure through rich heritage, breath-taking views and many harbour pubs!
Other Links
  • Angus Birding

    Website
    The aim of this web site is to provide the Electronic Birding Community with information at there finger tips of what birds are currently about, primarily in the area of Angus and the Eastern Side of Scotland (Aberdeenshire, Highland & Fife). If there is something of interest fairly nearby, then that will get put on too!
  • Angus Birding

    Facebook Page
    @angusbirdwatching - Angus Birding.com is a FREE website that provides a News Forum for local Birds/Wildlife & Database. It also promotes the Angus & Dundee Bird Club. This Facebook page is not a replacement for the forum and sightings are still to be posted there for a historical & searchable database, but this FB page aims to be a good way to share photographs, chat and connect with other local birders and wildlife enthusiasts.
  • Birding the Angus Coast

    Article
    The following article is reproduced with permission from Birding Scotland magazine.
  • Birdwatching in Angus

    Article
    Having spent a year in Angus, Scotland, in 1979, it was nice to get back there 40 years later, to see the changes that have happened, and how the county has become a potential hotspot for wildlife tourism.
Blogs
  • Barry Farquharson - Stonefaction Birding

    BLOG
    A (mostly) Dundee, Scotland birding blog
  • David Adam - Sketchbook

    BLOG
    Artistic nature diary from the hills of Scotland
Photographers & Artists
  • Photographer - Mark Caunt

    Gallery
    Superb photos - the Latin American ones are particularly stunning!

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