The Firth of Forth is home to spectacular seabirds with over 300,000 seabirds including puffins, guillemots, shags, kittiwakes returning to this haven for wildlife in early spring to nest each year. See thousands of puffins from end March/early April, spring cleaning their burrows for the arrival of their new chicks, on the Isle of May (a National Nature Reserve owned by SNH) and the islands of Craigleith and Fidra.
From January onwards 150,000 Atlantic gannets return to the Bass Rock, the world’s largest single island rock gannet colony, described by Sir David Attenborough as ‘one of the wildlife wonders of the world’. Returning to the same mate and the same nest every year, they spend most of the year on the Bass, until the end of October, when the last chicks set out on their long journey down to the West Coast of Africa, with the adults returning again in January.
The five star Scottish Seabird Centre attracts tourists for the many bird species and marine wildlife viewable on the Firth of Forth islands. Here you can see guillemots, puffins, shags, fulmars and seals on interactive live cameras that visitors control within the award-winning Discovery Centre. A range of boat trips are also available throughout the summer months. The Centre is open all year round and is a great all weather attraction where there is different wildlife to be seen every season.
Braveheart Boat trips is run by 2 local skippers, characters who are knowledgeable about the local wildlife, geology, RSPB work and much more! Tours are also available for ‘Twitchers’. Click on the above link for more information.
To the east there are a number of small coastal sites such as Seacliff, Scoughall and Pefferside that are good places for bird watching, off the beaten path.
Aberlady Bay lies just seven miles away from North Berwick and is the oldest local nature reserve in Scotland. With over 250 species on its list, Aberlady is undoubtedly one of Scotland’s and Britain’s finest birding sites and home to The Scottish Ornithological Club. Open to the public, it offers advice on bird watching and one of the largest collections of related books in the world. Aberlady Bay is particularly popular with birders in October, when thousands of pink-footed geese return to roost. It is also a great place to view ducks and waders like golden plover and sanderling.
Immediately south-west of Aberlady Bay lies Gosford Bay, which is the best site in Scotland for red-necked grebe, particularly in the late summer months. During the winter, slavonian grebes can be found here, and this is one of the more regular sites in East Lothian for black-necked grebe, great northern diver and black-throated diver.