Freshwater birds

Scotland’s freshwater environments are diverse, extensive and typically have high water quality, so support a wide range of bird species.

Across Scotland, our small burns, lowland lochs and even nutrient-poor upland lochs all support a diverse range of bird species.

Small burns provide nesting habitat for:

  • grey wagtail
  • dipper
  • goosander
  • common sandpiper

The shores of nutrient-poor upland lochs are breeding sites for:

  • red-throated diver
  • black-throated diver
  • greylag goose

Lowland lochs support nesting:

  • tufted duck
  • mallard
  • gadwall
  • shoveler
  • pintail (Orkney only)

Larger lochs support important numbers of wintering ducks and geese.

Habitat loss

Many previously extensive wetlands have been much reduced or lost altogether due to drainage and agricultural improvement.

Such sites can be recovered with appropriate management, however. For example, wetlands at Loch Leven National Nature Reserve provide superb habitats for nesting and wintering ducks.

Find out more

Read our guidance for planners and developers on protected animals.

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