Feb 212024

Shorthope Street, Musselburgh EH21 

Stone bridge spanning a river and green grass walkway with buildings and trees in the background.
River Esk Mouth in Musselburgh
©Musselburgh District Angling Association

Running through Midlothian and East Lothian, the River Esk ends in the neighbouring city of Musselburgh. The mouth of the River Esk is a good place to spot groups of swans, Canada geese, gulls, Goldeneyes, Mergansers, and Goosanders. Spanning from the city centre of Musselburgh (‘Store’ Footbridge) to the seashore, the walk ends with a view over Edinburgh and the bay.

White swan with an orange beak floating in dark blue waters.
A Mute Swan
©Yerpo, Wikimedia Commons

Especially at low tide, many waders breeding at the nearby Lagoons can be seen feeding. Between mid-summer and early autumn, up to 200 Mute Swans gather here on their migrating journey.

Profile photo of a white and black duck with a green head and yellow eye floating in dark waters.
A male Common Goldeneye in winter plumage
©Stefan Berndtsson, Wikimedia Commons


Individual Researcher Walk; East Lothian Council

Feb 212024

Musselburgh Lagoons, Musselburgh EH21 7QE 

Walkway alongside blue lagoon waters with hills in the distance.
Musselburgh Lagoons
©M.J. Richardson, Geograph

Following the path along the shore beyond the River Esk, the Musselburgh Lagoons is one of the most famous birdwatching sites in the Lothians. It is home to wintering species of waders, terns, gulls, seaducks and grebes. Several hides are located around the different lagoons as a way to quietly and closely observe the birds without disturbing them. From the shore, often visible species include Velvet and Common Scoter, Cormorants and Divers, as well as Terns, Gannets, and other seabirds breeding on the Islands of the Firth of Forth. From the Lagoons, Long-tailed ducks, Teals, Shovelers, Oystercatchers, Lapwings, Curlews, Bar-tailed, and Black-tailed Godwits can be observed from the different lagoons.  

Profile photo of a black duck with white on its wing and a yellow beak floating in light blue water.
A Velvet Scoter
©Vince, Wikimedia Commons

The Musselburgh Lagoons were originally created in 1964 to store ash waste from the former Cockenzie Power Station. The ash lagoons have been capped and landscaped over the years by Scottish Power. Later, with support from the RSPB, two of the lagoons were reconstituted to be wetland areas for breeding birds. As the area is an important breeding ground, it is now part of the Firth of Forth Site of Special Scientific Interest and Special Protection Area.  

Profile photo of an iridescent green bird with a black and white face, and voluminous black feathers on its head, standing in sand.
A Northern Lapwing
©Eddy Van 3000, Wikimedia Commons


Individual Researcher Walk; RSPB (Scottish Nature Note by Molly Martin); Birdingplaces.eu; RSPB (Edinburgh Area Local Group)

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