Images taken at Scottish Natural Heritage (SNH) national nature reserves at Forvie, Loch Leven and Caerlaverock reveal the mass migration of wild birds from Iceland, Greenland and Svalbard.
Stuart MacQuarrie, SNH’s Head of Nature Reserves, said: “To see a flock of geese as they lift off from their night-time roost is one of Scotland’s greatest wildlife spectacles. It’s such a remarkable aerial display, made even better by the chorus of their high-pitched calls.
“These amazing birds migrate as far as 3,400 miles to reach Scotland for their winter feeding, before returning to more northern climes in the spring. And there’s plenty of time for people to come out to one of our nature reserves over the next few months and see this marvellous display for themselves.”
At Forvie, there are about 5500 waders, including 12 different species, on the Ythan estuary over autumn. There are good numbers of redshanks, lapwings, curlews, dunlins, golden plovers and oyster catchers.
An occasional rarity also shows up at Forvie, this year including a great egret, 10 common cranes – and a terek sandpiper, only the second ever spotted in North East Scotland and the 13th in Scotland.
The best places to watch them are from the hide at Waulkmill or the two laybys that overlook the estuary north of Newburgh on the A975, where you can use your car as a hide and watch the undisturbed birds.
There are also good views to be had by parking at the car park at Waterside and walking down the north side of the river on the Dune Trail.
SNH’s Forvie reserve manage, David Pickett, explains: “These fantastic viewpoints make the Ythan one of the most accessible birdwatching spots in Scotland for waders. The best time to watch these amazing waders is approaching high tide, as the water is moving the birds closer to you.”
For more information about Loch Leven, Forvie and Caerlaverock national nature reserves, as well as the other 40 NNRs throughout Scotland, see www.nnr-scotland.org.uk