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Ythan Estuary - BirdForum Opus

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Photo by Ken Hall
View from the Walkmill Hide


This is arguably the premier birding site in north east Scotland, if it's waders and wildfowl you're after. Of course, other rarities turn up regularly in the surrounding area. All the birds mentioned can be seen in the appropriate season, with spring and autumn passage being the peak times.


Notable Species

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Birds you can see here include:

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Other Wildlife

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Site Information

History and Use

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Areas of Interest

Logie Buchan Bridge

Let's start at the upstream end, at Logie Buchan Bridge.Map This bridge is now closed to vehicles, and is best approached from the north side. There is room to park a car at the bridge, but please don't block any access.

There are extensive reed beds lining the river, with occasional Bearded Tits, Marsh Harrier and Common Kingfisher seen.

Waulkmill Hide

Moving downstream, we come to the Waulkmill hide.Map The access track is about 200m long, and narrow, with no passing places, so you might have to be good at reversing if you're unlucky enough to meet another car. The Forvie Burn has produced Kingfishers. I prefer to park just short of the hide, and view from the car. There is space for two or three vehicles here. The hide itself is not very appealing, mainly because it faces south west, so unless you are there in the morning, you will be squinting into the light. The hide is now in a poor state. The wooden shutters are broken, and the floor is covered in litter.

This is a good place to see Ospreys, either fishing, or perched on the fence posts on the far side, 500m away. The most I have seen at any one time is 5. A telescope is useful here. Other scarce birds I have noted include 2 Avocets, and escaped Bar-headed Geese. There is an extensive gull roost, and there will normally be lots of swans, waders, plovers and ducks.

The Snub

Photo by Ken Hall
The Snub

There are two laybys opposite The Snub,Map the topmost one is a good picnic site. Neither is accessible to minibuses or campervans, due to the height and width restrictions. When leaving the topmost layby, it is advisable to use the exit at the top end. The other exit is very close to a blind bend, on what is a very fast road. The shoreline here seems particularly good for Common Greenshank, as well as large numbers of Common Redshank, Eurasian Curlew and Northern Lapwing. It's another good Osprey fishing spot, and double figure counts of Grey Heron are common.

It is possible to park, with care, on the verge opposite a row of cottages, to look at Inch Geck, Mapthe principal high tide roost. Beware of passing traffic.

Waterside Bridge

There are car parks at both sides of Waterside Bridge.Map The one on the north side has access for larger vehicles, but not the one on the south side. From here, it is worth taking a walk along the shore in both directions. The car park on the north side gives access to the path network on the Forvie National Nature Reserve.Map This is a very large area of heather and grass covered dunes, and makes an interesting walk. The southern part is home to a large nesting colony of Eiders, with the sandier parts being home to a large colony of terns. There is no access to these areas during the nesting season. The terns can be easily watched from the opposite shore, indeed they are plentiful throughout the whole estuary.

Photo by Ken Hall
The Inches

The Inches

One of the easiest places to view the birds on the estuary, is at The Inches, at the end of Inch Road. Map

Drive slowly along the road, checking the Foveran Burn as you go, through a builders' yard, and park at the very end. Towards high water, lots of Eiders are present just 10m from you. They make good photographic opportunities, as long as you stay in your car. If you get out, they will shuffle reluctantly off into the river.

The estuary from Waterside Bridge down to the sea is a popular fishing spot, with most of the activity taking place from July to September, on a falling tide. Also, high water can be popular with windsurfers, so remember to check tide times before your visit.

Photo by Ken Hall
The Inches

Golf Course

The car park nearest the sea is accessed by the road to the golf course, at the south end of Newburgh. MapThere is no access for large vehicles.

From the car park, you can walk towards the river mouth by way of various tracks and paths through the extensive gorse bushes. These are good for finches, buntings and warblers. Alternatively, you can take the boardwalk that heads south up to a viewpoint, and then into the sand dunes. The Foveran Bushes are a regular migrant trap. At the river mouth, there will often be seals hauled up onto the far shore, or bobbing about in the river. This can be a good place to watch skuas harassing the terns. The only downside I have found to birding near the river mouth, is the number of dog walkers, and on a fine day, lots of people using the beach.

Contact Details

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External Links