Firth of Forth SPA

Status: Designated

Description

Site overview

This site is on the east coast of central Scotland and is made up of a series of estuaries that span 100 km from the River Forth at Stirling, eastwards past Edinburgh, and along the coasts of Fife and East Lothian. Saltmarshes, dune systems, maritime grasslands, heath and fen, cliff slopes, shingle and brackish lagoons make up the habitats in this site.  Eelgrass grows on the main mud-flats, which provide an important food source for the large numbers of migrating and wintering waterbirds that depend on the estuary.  Divers, sea-ducks, geese, other ducks, waders and terns all come through this area when migrating. 

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 October 2001

Surface Area

63.22 km2 (24.41 mi.2)

Perimeter

459.09 km (285.26 mi.)

  • Ruddy turnstone (Arenaria interpres)

    A small shore bird whose name refers to its habit of creeping and fluttering over rocks, picking out food from under stones.

  • Ringed plover (Charadrius hiaticula)

    A small, dumpy, short-legged wading bird that breed on beaches around the coast.

  • Great cormorant (Phalacrocorax carbo)

    A large, dark waterbird. Often seen standing with its wings spread out to dry. The UK provides internationally important wintering grounds for these birds.

  • Red-throated diver (Gavia stellata)

    The smallest of Scotland’s diver species. Typically breeds on inland water bodies in open moorland or blanket bog landscapes. Feeds on a mix of freshwater and marine prey, mainly fish.

  • Eurasian wigeon (Anas penelope)

    Sites in the UK are an important wintering ground for these small ducks.

  • Bar-tailed godwit (Limosa lapponica)

    A long-billed, long-legged wading bird that visits the UK in the winter.

  • Waterfowl assemblage

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

  • Red-breasted merganser (Mergus serrator)

    A diving duck often seen in large groups during the non-breeding season. It feeds on small fish along with small amounts of vegetation and other tiny water animals.

  • Common redshank (Tringa totanus)

    As this bird’s name suggests, its’ most distinctive features are its’ bright orange-red legs.

  • 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.

  • Eurasian oystercatcher (Haematopus ostralegus)

    A familiar, stocky, black and white wading bird that mostly depends on mussels and cockles.

  • Common goldeneye (Bucephala clangula)

    A medium sized diving duck with a distinctive yellow eye.

  • Dunlin (Calidris alpina alpina)

    The commonest small wading bird found around UK shores with a distinctive black belly in the summer.

  • Long-tailed duck (Clangula hyemalis)

    Long-tailed duck is a gregarious seaduck that forms large non-breeding flocks. Long-tailed duck dives to the seabed to forage on a range of prey including benthic molluscs, crustaceans, and small fish.

  • Velvet scoter (Melanitta fusca)

    Velvet scoter is a non-breeding visitor to Scotland that typically feeds and roosts far offshore, often in association with common scoter. Forages on benthic species, mainly molluscs.

  • Black (common) scoter (Melanitta nigra)

    The common scoter is seaduck. The UK breeding population of this small diving seaduck has substantially declined and it is now a Red List species.

  • Grey plover (Pluvialis squatarola)

    A widely distributed shorebird that prefers sandy and muddy estuaries.

  • Common eider (Somateria mollissima)

    A record-breaking seaduck - the eider is both our heaviest and fastest flying. It seldom strays from the coast.

  • Common shelduck (Tadorna tadorna)

    This is a big, colourful duck, bigger than a mallard but smaller than a goose.

  • Mallard (Anas platyrhynchos)

    Widely distributed and familiar duck. The males have a green head and yellow bill while the females are brown.

  • Greater scaup (Aythya marila)

    The UK’s rarest breeding duck.

  • Eurasian curlew (Numenius arquata)

    This widely distributed wading bird with its distinctive long, curved bill is threatened by habitat loss.

  • Slavonian grebe (Podiceps auritus)

    Slavonian grebe is an migratory species seen in the seas around Scotland in the non-breeding season. A strong swimmer and diver that feeds mainly on fish and crustaceans.

  • Great crested grebe (Podiceps cristatus)

    Hunted for its feathers this stunning waterbird was almost lost from the UK. They are well known for the elaborate courtship dance they do and for carrying their tiny young on their backs.

  • Northern lapwing (Vanellus vanellus)

    This familiar farmland bird has suffered significant declines. It is also known as a ‘peewit’ after it’s call and get’s the name lapwing from its wavering flight.

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

Did you know?…

Over half a million people have voiced their support for ‘marine protected area’ designation in the UK through our campaigns

Over 500,000 records on undersea habitats and species have been collected by volunteer Seasearch divers providing significant evidence for inshore ‘marine protected areas’

To the shelf limits, Scotland has 61% of UK waters, of which 23% are now in existing or new ‘marine protected areas’

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