Steve’s Soujorns Birding in Aberlady Bay.
Managed by East Lothian Council since 1952 Aberlady Bay is the oldest local nature reserve in Britain. About 12 miles east along the coast from Edinburgh. The site sits on the A198 about seven miles west of North Berwick. If travelling eastwards towards Aberlady it is about half a mile further on just before the road bends.
Some 250 species have been recorded in this area which is important for both breeding and passage waders and waterfowl. The reserve offers amazing birding as it has a range of habitats including mudflats, saltmarsh, freshwater marsh, dunes, beach and woodland.
It has been known for over 30,000 Pink Footed Geese to roost in winter and by the autumn easily up to 10,000 waders may be present.
The car park (Space for about fifteen cars) has a toilet block and parking is free. you can cross the wooden bridge, look out for Redshank, Lapwing, Bar-tailed Godwit, Grey Plover Curlew & Knot.
The main walk to the beach and back takes about one and half hours but do allow at least four hours to enjoy this site properly. At approximately 6 km long I would advise you to take a snack and water. The walking is flat and easy but can be muddy in the woodland section and the wooden bridge can sometimes be slippery. You are asked to keep to the paths at all times.
Offshore you can spot lot of marine species such as Red-necked and Slavonian grebes and big numbers of Eider and Common Scoter and occasional Long Tailed Ducks. The incfedble wildlife spectacle of Bass Rock is very close so you can extend your walk up to Gullane Point to look for Gannets.
A narrow path takes you through a small piece of woodland along with that by the bridge is good for migrants such as Grasshopper Warbler & Lesser Whitethroat. The path opens out to a freshwater loch with Reed Bunting, Sedge Warblers in spring, as well as Common Whitethroat, Garden Warbler and Blackcaps.
The path then heads into the open heath land with the golf course on the right. Short eared owls and merlin have been seen here in the winter with resident Peregrine. Look out for Fieldfares and some Redwings feeding in the sea buckthorn, there’s some woodland in this too, the marsh can also hold Snipe and Jack Snipe.
The beach at the end of the path is wonderful and if scanning the sandbar the tide can be quite a way out so a scope is vital as many scarcities have been recorded here including Lesser Sand Plover, Caspian plover White-Rumped & Buff-Breasted Sandpipers and Kentish Plovers have been spotted here.
The site is open all year but dogs are not permitted on the reserve.