Collieston Area Description

View from Cransdale Head
Positioned between the upper Ythan Estuary, the Forvie NNR and the rolling fields of the Buchan plain, Collieston is set high overlooking the harbour and small beach. A viewpoint and car-park area at Cransdale is ideal for seawatching and sometimes also attracts migrant birds. Cetacean watching can be very productive with Bottlenose Dolphin, Minke Whale and Harbour Porpoise all very regular. There are other  cetacean sightings of interest as well, including in the winter of 2011-2012, a small group of long-staying Humpback Whales.

"Foamy Sea", Cransdale Head

The sea sometime conjures up other surprises, such as the intermittent invasion by foam that can mark Easterly gales.

The village itself is divided into a number of smaller distinct communities, with Hightown, Lowtown surrounding the harbour, and Kirkton of Slains at the gateway to the village.
Birders tend to favour the roadside and churchyard bushes at Kirkton, and those these often prove productive , but the entire village has a history of producing surprising finds, as well as the regular movement of migrants through the gardens,fields and surrounding wilder ground often being impressive in extent. These finds have included Eastern Olivaceous Warbler, Lanceolated Warbler, multiple records of Greenish Warbler as well as numerous local rarities and scarcer migrants.
Short-eared Owl over the Sand Loch
The southern edge of the village adjoins the Forvie NNR, and the Sand Loch sits on that margin holding a range of wildfowl and wildlife at all times of the year. A number of paths radiate into the reserve from the edge of the loch, as well as one leading along to the Forvie Centre. The reserve is run by SNH, and the centre has much of interest for families and children, as well as documenting the points and sightings of interest in the reserve itself.
Reserve rarities have included Thrush Nightingale, Rough-legged Buzzard, Montague's Harrier and Subalpine Warbler. Obviously the adjoining Ythan Estuary is a major draw for birders and walkers alike.
As you come out of the village, passing the Forvie Centre, you will see Mains of Slains Farm, and beyond this as you approach the Collieston cross-roads, you will see Cotehill Loch on your left, and also the view across the western flank of the reserve. Cotehill loch itself has had many bird of interest over the years including Ringed-Necked Duck, Green-winged Teal, Marsh Sandpiper, Pectoral Sandpiper and Red-necked Grebe. More recently Montague's Harrier's have been seen.
Sunset at Collieston
Following the road round you reach the Collieston crossroads. The fields around here have paid host to a number of good birds, including Red-footed Falcon, Common Crane, Buff-breasted Sandpiper and are a regular site for Dotterel in spring. Turning right along the A975 passes the track way that comes out at Meikle Loch, now a RSPB reserve. Water levels have been too high for a number of years now so it is far less attractive to waders, but past rarities have included Scotlands first Whiskered Tern and the UKs second only Barrow's Goldeneye.
Meikle Loch
Further along the A975 here takes you into farmland that is dotted with smalls pools, that get intermittently drained, though tend to reappear despite this.Good especially in late Autumn, but throughout the winter with impressive geese flocks, the fields, pools and small plantations  have also hosted a wide variety of unusual species. This areas finds have included the 1st ever Scottish record of Hudsonian Godwit, 2 records of Pied Wheatear,  Desert Wheatear, Subalpine Warbler, Pallas's Grashopper Warbler, White-rumped Sandpiper, a number of Temmnick's Stint and Pectoral Sandpipers as well. Historically, in 1878, the area hosted an Eskimo Curlew! 

Pools in Slains area


Following the plough

The storm of December 2012


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