Ythan Estuary, Sands of Forvie and Meikle Loch

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

Designation Status
Last Updated
6 June 2017
MPA Type
Special Protection Area
MPA Purpose
areas of the most important habitat for rare (listed on Annex I to the Directive) and migratory birds within the European Union


57° 20' 11" North,
1° 58' 29" West

Surface Area

10.15 km2
(3.92 mi.2 )

Iconic features protected by this site


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


  • Little tern (Sterna albifrons) (Annex I (species))


  • Waterfowl assemblage


  • Common tern (Sterna hirundo) (Annex I (species))
  • Pink-footed goose (Anser brachyrhynchus) (Regularly occurring migratory species)
  • Sandwich tern (Sterna sandvicensis) (Annex I (species))