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  • January

    January and your new year’s resolution is to get out and enjoy your area more so, where to start? After the excess of Christmas and Hogmany, a bracing walk may well be in order. St Cyrus, Balmedie and the Waters of Philorth all fit the bill with great views and plenty of wildlife.   If possible, pick a cold day and be the first one on the beach. There is something magical about the sight of frost on the sand, with the movement of the sea creating shapes and small sand ridges which retain the frost on the shaded side whilst the sunny side melts.

  • February

    February can be very cold and the days are still short so wildlife experiences that are quick and provide lots to see are welcome. A trip to the Ythan, Loch of Strathbeg or Aberdeen can be used to learn your waders. For the keen birdwatcher, scour the gull flock and you are likely to find a gull without black wing tips. These could be either Glaucous or Iceland Gulls, both of which are rare visitors from the north.

  • March

    March is the start of spring. Ok, it may be cold but the Puffins and Guillemots will already be back at the breeding cliffs and three birds will be racing to be the first back from a more tropical winter... Sand Martins, Sandwich terns and Wheatears will all be arriving on the coast before the end of the month.

  • April

    April and the clocks change, making a short walk after work possible. Migration also increases, with the summer cast of wildlife from swallows to Arctic terns visible. However, for spectacle, I recommend the Torry Battery in Aberdeen. This can provide a great walk looking for wildlife but the star of the show will be obvious… Bottlenose dolphins are near daily visitors to the mouth of Aberdeen Harbour from October through to June and their activity peaks in April with amazing displays of breaching; sometimes up to 5 animals throw themselves clear of the water at one time.

  • May

    May brings great weather, lots of wildlife and just about anywhere on the coast will give great views. For me however, the star of the month will be just passing through. Britain’s waders are on the whole interesting and wonderful to watch but they are not always what you would call colourful. Drab browns and grey are great for camouflage but at this time of year, impressing the opposite sex is their main aim and their plumage becomes much more colourful.                   

    Stars of the Show
    The best example of this is the Black Tailed Godwit, a wader with a long straight bill that in summer is dark brick red. These can be seen at places such as the Ythan Estuary or more easily at the Loch of Strathbeg, where the RSPB provides telescopes and volunteers to help you find the birds from the comfort of warm visitor centres. Whilst there is no guarantee for seeing the Godwits, the terns and gulls that breed just outside the centre will provide an interest for young and old.

  • June

    June and breeding is in full swing for many species from eiders and terns at the Ythan to Meadow Pipits along the dunes. However, for sheer drama and excitement there is only one place to be. The RSPB Fowlsheugh Reserve south of Stonehaven is an assault on the senses; if you have never visited a seabird colony then a visit in June is something to remember.

  • July

    July can be a quiet month for the wildlife watcher as basically everything is just getting on with looking after its young. In fact, for birdwatchers the 1st of July is the first day of autumn! If you have not yet visited Fowlsheugh then please be quick - by the end of the 3rd week of the month all the birds will have left for a winter at sea. However, the weather should be great so a relaxed beach visit may well be in order. You can go rock pooling, snorkelling or just lie on one of the area’s fantastic Seaside Award beaches.

  • August

    August is time to try something new, from sea kayaking, surfing to climbing, there are opportunities all along the coast to learn new skills. For wildlife I suggest you pick a calm day and go whale and dolphin watching. With patience and luck, Minke whales, Risso’s dolphins, White Beaked dolphins and porpoises will be visible from any headland with a good view of the sea. You can also join one of the events held on National Whale and Dolphin Watching Week.

  • September

    September and wildlife starts to move again. Swifts will have already gone and the first skeins of Geese will be high overhead. As for the best place to be, I suggest Forvie NNR and the Ythan Estuary. Parking at the car park close to the golf course at Newburgh, it is a short walk to the estuary mouth. This is a beautiful site with views down the coast to Aberdeen but the sight of up to 400 Seals resting on the opposite side of the river will probably occupy you most.                      

    It is not just the Seals to look out for, there may be pirates about! Great and Arctic Skua may be seen anywhere along the coast harassing other seabirds for their catch. Whilst the Great Skua is basically a thug, watching the more graceful Arctic Skua chasing terns is a sight to behold.

  • October

    October and for birdwatchers the weather is all important, the worse the better! With luck it will be misty with a bit of rain and a strong wind from the east, in these conditions we may get a 'fall' when thousands if not millions of birds migrating south get diverted to our shores.   
    Many of the birds are familiar such as the Robin which lands exhausted but is soon fighting with other birds. Others are less familiar with rare birds such as Pallas's Warbler, Red Backed Shrike and Wryneck found each year.

  • November

    November and one of Britain’s great wildlife spectacles can be seen at the Loch of Strathbeg: up to 70,000 Geese leaving the safety of the loch to feed in the surrounding fields. If you are lucky, you may even see a White Tailed Eagle waiting to ambush them!

  • December

    December and there is a chance of one last Viking invasion. Aberdeen is normally the first place that Waxwings stop to eat every berry they can find before heading south throughout the rest of the UK. Kincorth and the Bridge of Don are traditionally very good places to see them, and flocks of up to 1,000 are not unusual.

    However, it may be a good time to do something to help our wildlife and coast. Early in December the Marine Conservation Society hold a beach clean and let’s face it, spending a Saturday picking up litter must be better than Christmas shopping, whatever the weather!

Wild Calendar

See puffins, watch dolphins and even spot whales! East Grampian Coast is abound with opportunities for wildlife watching with something for everyone. Specialists will delight in the diversity of species, many of which are nationally and even internationally rare. For those who would just like to get to know our wild neighbours a little better, nature reserves can be a great starting point for wildlife experiences. Read below to find out more…

Other Information
Information on Wildlife Crime
East Grampian's Coastal Nature Reserves
 
Useful Links
Sea Watch Foundation has lots of information on ocean wildlife, including identification information
Wildlife Web is an active forum with information on wildlife sightings

 

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