Seabirds and shorebirds

Our rich seas and long coastline mean seabirds and shorebirds are a speciality. Scotland has many internationally important colonies.

Scotland’s long and winding shoreline is largely undeveloped, providing vast and diverse habitats for shorebirds.

Major estuaries like the Firth of Forth and Solway Firth are home to internationally important numbers of wintering waders such as the oystercatcher, knot, and bar-tailed godwit.

Orkney’s undisturbed rocky and sandy shores are a major wintering and migration stopover for the turnstone.

Our rocky islands and mainland sea cliffs are the summertime home of hundreds of thousands of seabirds, making for some amazing wildlife spectacles.

Sheltered coastal waters are a safe winter haven for mergansers and divers. And the productive seas of the continental shelf lie within easy foraging distance off Scotland’s west coast.

Panting Cormorants
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As birds don’t sweat, they have to lose heat by panting (or by the gular flutter), the rapid vibration of the throat you can see in these cormorants.

(C)Catriona Reid/NatureScot

Find out more

Read our guidance for planners and developers on protected animals.

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