The diverse coast of East Grampian is a haven for wildlife, where nature can be viewed in its natural habitat. The area has many protected areas to safeguard the most environmentally important sites and ensure the conservation and enhancement of both habitats and species. Protected sites include the Loch of Strathbeg near Fraserburgh, which is internationally renowned for its migratory wildfowl including pink-footed geese, black-tailed godwits and mute swans. Forvie National Nature Reserve covers almost 1000ha of sand dunes, dune heath and the River Ythan estuary which supports Britain’s largest colony of breeding Eider ducks. The reserve at St. Cyrus is particularly noted for its distinctive range of plants and insects. There are also many smaller protected sites along the coast including Buchan Ness, Waters of Philorth and Donmouth.
Even if an area is not noted for its conservation value, do not rule out a visit, what is special to one may not be special to you.
The area is great for watching cetaceans especially harbour porpoise and bottlenose dolphins in the harbour area of Aberdeen, with excellent sightings from the shore. For information on the species you are likely to see in our waters and how to identify them, please see our Land Based Watching page. When watching marine life please abide by the Marine Wildlife Watching Code.
Kinnaird Head by Fraserburgh is a very good site to see Storm Petrels in the late summer as well as cetaceans
Loch of Strathbeg is exciting all year-round. During the winter months, thousands of geese, swans and ducks come to the loch. Whilst in spring and summer, gulls and wading birds raise their young; otters can be seen fishing in the loch. Parking and visitor centre with toilets on site.
Rattray Head has a fantastic beach running all the way from St Combs to Peterhead as well as internationally important sand dunes which, during the spring and summer months are full of coastal flora. The best place to look is heading South along the beach (towards the gas terminal) for about 200 meters, then go into the dunes to the large dune slack which is an area of low lying ground amongst the sand dunes. Here you will find an abundance of wild flowers including orchids which flourish in wet areas such as these. Ample parking and tea room.
Boddom by Peterhead is a great place for watching seals both hauled out on the rocks and in the water.
Donmouth, though so close to a major city is a haven for wildlife with waders, terns and sea birds as well as Grey seals and the occasional deer grazing on the banks and island. Ample parking to the south along the Beach Esplanade, toilets nearby by the junction with King Street.
Fowlsheugh is a great place to go bird watching. Parking can be limited on busy days
This site is hosted by The James Hutton Institute