RSPB Scotland Udale Bay Nature Reserve
Just outside of Inverness, this peaceful intertidal bay on the Black Isle (a peninsula well known for its rich farmland and local brewery) is home to thousands of waders, ducks, geese and fishing osprey from late summer through to April. Autumn is the busiest time at Udale as wintering birds start to arrive to take advantage of the rich feeding to be had in the bay. This vast coastal area of mudflat and wetland habitats is the perfect place to sit and unwind at any time of year. You can enjoy the views in the summer sunshine from our perfectly placed benches or shelter from the cold in the hide during winter. Like our Nigg Bay reserve, which is located on the other side of the Cromarty firth, the best time to visit is 2-3 hours before or after high tide.
What you will see:
Lapwing (also known as the peewit in imitation of its display calls), redshank and oystercatchers can all be seen at Udale bay. During the summer, look out for osprey (and their impressive 1.5 metre wingspan) as they fish in the bay. It is truly spectacular to witness these magnificent birds as they dive down vertically from as high as 70 metres to catch fish. From September through to March, thousands of pink-footed geese pass through the bay on their way north and remain until April. They will have travelled from as far as Spitsbergen, Iceland and Greenland. Wigeon arrive in October during migration from Iceland, Russia and Scandinavia. They can be seen feeding on the abundant eelgrass daily. Joining the thousands of wintering birds is a nationally-important flock of scaup. Scaup are the UK’s rarest breeding duck and great views can be had with binoculars from the Ivy Cottage car park especially around high tide. The viewing screen at Kirkmichael can be good for ducks and waders.
Images by: Eleanor Bentall, Andy Hay, Chris Gomersall, Steve Knell (rspb-images.com)