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Insh Marshes - BirdForum Opus

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Photo by digi-birder
Insh Marshes Reserve


Much of this floodplain area is designated a Site of Special Scientific Interest and this is one of the most important tracts of such habitat in Scotland.

Lying between the Monadhliath Mountains to the west and the Cairngorms to the east, these marshes form part of the floodplain of the River Spey. A range of habitats is found on the 850ha reserve with much of the area covered by sedge fen, there are numerous old drainage dykes and reed-fringed permanent pools, willow carr and drier rough pastures.

Birch woodland and juniper scrub occur on the higher ground within the reserve grading into moorland in the Cairngorm foothills.


Notable Species

Breeding birds of the wetter areas include Greylag Goose and ducks such as Eurasian Wigeon, Northern Shoveler, Tufted Duck and Common Goldeneye. Eurasian Curlew, Common Snipe and Common Redshank nest as well as Common Sandpiper and very rare as a breeding bird in Britain, Wood Sandpiper usually nests in the area. Spotted Crake is usually present in summer, often heard but rarely seen.

Passerines present in summer include Grasshopper Warbler and Sedge Warbler and Reed Bunting in the reeds and sedge-beds and Grey Wagtail and Common Dipper along the streams.

The woodlands hold Eurasian Woodcock and Great Spotted Woodpecker, European Pied Flycatcher, Common Redstart and Tree Pipit.

In addition to breeding birds the Insh Marshes are of great importance as a haunt of waterfowl on passage and in winter. Around 200 Whooper Swan winter here as well as various ducks and Greylag Goose and Pink-footed Goose pass through in large numbers in spring and autumn.

Waders including Northern Lapwing and Eurasian Oystercatcher occur in good numbers in spring and Hen Harrier, Eurasian Sparrowhawk and Short-eared Owl hunt over the area in autumn and winter. Great Grey Shrike is also present most winters.


Birds you can see here include:

Grey Heron, Whooper Swan, Pink-footed Goose, Greylag Goose, Eurasian Wigeon, Common Teal, Mallard, Northern Shoveler, Tufted Duck, Common Goldeneye, Red-breasted Merganser, Goosander, Hen Harrier, Eurasian Sparrowhawk, Common Buzzard, Osprey, Common Kestrel, Eurasian Oystercatcher, Northern Lapwing, Spotted Crake, Eurasian Woodcock, Common Snipe, Eurasian Curlew, Common Redshank, Wood Sandpiper, Common Sandpiper, Black-headed Gull, Short-eared Owl, Great Spotted Woodpecker, Barn Swallow, Tree Pipit, Meadow Pipit, Grey Wagtail, Common Dipper, Common Wren, Dunnock, Eurasian Robin, Common Redstart, Eurasian Blackbird, Fieldfare, Song Thrush, Redwing, Mistle Thrush, Common Grasshopper Warbler, Sedge Warbler, Willow Warbler, European Pied Flycatcher, Coal Tit, Blue Tit, Great Tit, Common Treecreeper, Great Grey Shrike, Common Starling, House Sparrow, Chaffinch, Brambling, Lesser Redpoll, Reed Bunting

Other Wildlife

Mammals found here include Roe Deer and Otter and a number of rare insects have been recorded including Rannoch Sprawler, Kentish Glory and Cousin German.

A new spider species to Britain, the Hiawatha Spider, Wabasso quaestio, has recently been recorded here.

The main botanical interest is the extensive sedge-beds with the rare Greater Bladderwort and Least Yellow Water-lily in the wetter areas and Mountain Pansy and Wood Cranesbill in the drier grassland.

Site Information

History and Use

To do

Areas of Interest

To do

Access and Facilities

The Insh Marshes are located on Speyside between Kingussie and Loch Insh and the reserve car-park is entered off the B970 between Kingussie and Insh village.

There are hides overlooking the marshes and woodland trails giving excellent views over the reserve which can also be viewed from the B970 and B9152 roads.

Grid Ref: NN775998

Contact Details

Tel: 01540 661518 (RSPB)

External Links

Content and images originally posted by Steve