Ythan Estuary, Sands of Forvie and Meikle Loch SPA

Status: Designated


Site overview

These lochs are located north of Aberdeen on the east coast of Scotland. The site comprises the long, narrow estuary of the River Ythan and Meikle Loch. It contains both sand dunes and mud-flats. During the breeding season the area is home to common terns, little terns, and Sandwich terns. In winter this site is home to about 9% of the UK’s population of pink-footed geese

MPA Type

Special Protection Area

Special Protection Areas (SPAs) are strictly protected sites designated uner European legislation. They are established to protect rare and vulnerable birds and for regularly occurring migratory species.

Designation date

1 March 1998

Surface Area

10.15 km2 (3.92 mi.2)


61.49 km (38.21 mi.)

  • Little tern (Sterna albifrons)

    This bird is one of the smallest of its species. Breeding colonies are located on beaches nearby shallow, sheltered waters which offer good foraging for small fish and invertebrates.

  • Waterfowl assemblage

    Important areas where a number of waterfowl species occur in significant numbers.

  • Common tern (Sterna hirundo)

    A silvery-grey and white bird sometimes called a ‘sea swallow’ because of it’s long tail.

  • Pink-footed goose (Anser brachyrhynchus)

    A medium-sized goose that winters in the UK. Numbers are increasing in England, probably because of better protection at winter roosts.

  • Sandwich tern (Sterna sandvicensis)

    One of Scotland’s four regularly breeding tern species.

  • Tidal rivers, Estuaries, Mud flats, Sand flats, Lagoons (including saltwork basins)
  • Salt marshes, Salt pastures, Salt steppes

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