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From Opus

Photo by ReelsPath to Musselburgh Lagoons
Photo by Reels
Path to Musselburgh Lagoons


[edit] Overview

Despite its unpromising and industrial appearance this site on the eastern outskirts of Edinburgh, is well-known as a birding site and in particular for seabirds, waders and waterfowl.

Although the numbers of birds are lower than they once were this site, where the River Esk meets the Firth of Forth, is still an excellent site for winter birding.

[edit] Birds

[edit] Notable Species

Great Crested Grebe and Red-throated Diver are regular in good numbers often joined by the scarcer Red-necked Grebe and Slavonian Grebe and Black-throated Diver. Scaup are present in winter but in much smaller numbers than formerly and other seaducks include Common Scoter and Velvet Scoter (occasionally also Surf Scoter), Common Eider, Common Goldeneye, Long-tailed Duck and Red-breasted Merganser.

Among the most numerous of the waders in winter are Bar-tailed Godwit, Knot, Dunlin and Oystercatcher with smaller numbers of Eurasian Curlew, Ruddy Turnstone, Ringed Plover and Grey Plover and Northern Lapwing.

There are large gull roosts at Musselburgh, mainly the commoner species but both Glaucous Gull and Iceland Gull are regular in winter.

During passage periods a wider range of waders occurs including large movements of Golden Plover, Common Redshank and Turnstone and smaller numbers of Ruff, Black-tailed Godwit, Whimbrel and Common Sandpiper. Of the scarcer species only Little Stint and Curlew Sandpiper are recorded regularly, although Little Ringed Plover is also now annual, with Temminck's Stint every few springs too..

Terns also occur on passage with large numbers of Sandwich Tern in late summer, joined by Common Tern and occasional Black Tern. Not being on a promontory, Musselburgh is not ideal for seawatching but sometimes Northern Fulmar, Manx Shearwater and Northern Gannet can be seen in late summer/autumn with regular Arctic Skua, scarcer Great Skua and very occasionally Pomarine Skua and Long-tailed Skua.

Passerines in the area in winter include Stonechat, Snow Bunting and Lapland Bunting, Twite and Eurasian Skylark.

[edit] Rarities

Mediterranean Gull is rare but regular in autumn, winter and spring and a few Little Gull occur in autumn, Ring-billed Gull has also been recorded in the area. Great White Egret is among the other rarities that have appeared here in recent years.

Surf Scoter is rare but regular but among the twitchers Musselburgh is famous for its Terns; Lesser Crested Tern, Forster's Tern and Scotland's first Royal Tern have all been recorded. Other notable rarities over the years have been Wilson's Phalarope, Franklin's Gull, Marsh Sandpiper, Western Sandpiper, Brunnich's Guillemot and Glossy Ibis.

A few rare passerines have also been seen, unusual for a site whch is basically "inland" rather than on the east coast. These include Eurasian Golden Oriole, Richard's Pipit, Water Pipit, Red-throated Pipit, Citrine Wagtail, Ortolan Bunting, Bluethroat, Horned Lark and Barred Warbler. Slightly further down the coast at the eastern end of the lagoons other migrants have been seen such as Red-backed Shrike and, once, a Black-throated Thrush.

[edit] Check-list

Birds you can see here include:

Red-throated Diver, Black-throated Diver, Great Crested Grebe, Red-necked Grebe, Slavonian Grebe, Northern Fulmar, Manx Shearwater, Northern Gannet, Great Cormorant, Grey Heron, Eurasian Wigeon, Common Teal, Mallard, Northern Pintail, Northern Shoveler, Greater Scaup, Common Eider, Long-tailed Duck, Common Scoter, Velvet Scoter, Surf Scoter, Common Goldeneye, Red-breasted Merganser, Eurasian Coot, Eurasian Oystercatcher, Ringed Plover, Eurasian Golden Plover, Grey Plover, Northern Lapwing, Red Knot, Sanderling, Little Stint, Curlew Sandpiper, Dunlin, Ruff, Black-tailed Godwit, Bar-tailed Godwit, Whimbrel, Eurasian Curlew, Common Redshank, Common Greenshank, Common Sandpiper, Ruddy Turnstone, Pomarine Skua, Arctic Skua, Great Skua, Little Gull, Mediterranean Gull, (mainly Sp), Black-headed Gull, Common Gull, Lesser Black-backed Gull, Herring Gull, Glaucous Gull, Iceland Gull, Great Black-backed Gull, Black-legged Kittiwake, Sandwich Tern, Common Tern, Little Tern, Black Tern, Common Guillemot, Black Guillemot, Little Auk, Eurasian Skylark, Meadow Pipit, Pied Wagtail, White Wagtail, Common Starling, House Sparrow, European Greenfinch, Eurasian Linnet, Twite, Lapland Bunting, Snow Bunting

[edit] Other Wildlife

Both Grey and Common Seals can be seen offshore. Other mammals are Brown Hare, Rabbit, Weasel, Stoat, Roe Deer and Short-tailed Voles. Bottle-nosed Dolphins are occassionally seen offshore too.

[edit] Site Information

Photo by ReelsGolden Plover at Musselburgh Lagoons
Photo by Reels
Golden Plover at Musselburgh Lagoons

[edit] Areas of Interest

To do

[edit] Access and Facilities

The A199 Leith to Musselburgh road provides a number of good viewpoints over the Firth of Forth.

For the River Esk take the main road east from Musselburgh and turn north just before reaching the racecourse. Turn right towards the river and follow it downstream to the end. The sea-wall on the eastern side of the river provides the best vantage point.

Alternatively go to the eastern end of Musselburgh and drive along the access road to the boating pond, from here you can access the Scrapes with three roofless, brick hides.

[edit] Other Nearby Sites

Aberlady Bay

[edit] External Links

Content and images originally posted by Steve

[edit] Reviews

border reiver's review is worth checking out. On a par with Aberlady you could combine the 2 sites in a day. Long tailed duck grey plover bar tailed godwits surf scoters, Slavonian & Red-necked grebes. Pros

  • Nice walk along Esk and sea wall


  • Scrape hides do not have a roof

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