Explore the huge sand dunes and heather moor, cliff tops and hidden bay. With the constant shifting of the dunes, layers of history have come and gone.
Bird life is plentiful, from wading birds in winter to the largest population of eiders in the UK in summer. Tern species nest in the dunes and seals are frequently seen at the mouth of the estuary.
This is a must for anyone visiting the North East of Scotland. It can be reached by road following the A975 coastal road from Aberdeen to Cruden Bay. Access to the Reserve can be gained via sign-posted entrances from the A975. The road itself skirts part of the Reserve, The Ythan Estuary.
The number of bird species recorded to date is 225 with 43 of these as breeding species. The Eider Duck is the bird which is most associated with the Ythan Estuary, where it has its biggest breeding colony in the U.K. with up to 6000 birds coming to the area in the summer. Even during the winter up to 1000 birds stay on the estuary with the rest of the population moving south to over winter on the Tay Estuary.
The reserve also contains the largest breeding colony of Sandwich Terns in Scotland (approx 1500), along with Arctic, Common and the rare Little Tern.
Winter is the time for Wildfowl and Waders. The most noticeable of the winter migrants are the geese, which can number anything up to 10,000 on and around the Estuary. Greylag and Pinkfoot are the most common. There are large numbers of Ducks - Mallard, Teal, Tufted Duck, Wigeon, Goldeneye and Long-tailed Duck. Also present are a small number of Whooper Swans, which are joined by large flocks of Mute Swans. Waders are present as breeding species but their numbers increase during the winter, were there can be flocks of thousands, the commonest being Lapwing, Dunlin, Redshank and Golden Plover, with smaller numbers of Greenshank, Knot, Ruff and Bar-tailed Godwit.
This huge area of sand dunes and coastal heath lies next to the Ythan Estuary. The estuary, riverside and seacliffs combine to make this a particularly rich area for a variety of plants and wildlife. In particular, it supports the largest colony of breeding eider duck in Britain and attracts large numbers of geese and waders in winter.