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Location United Kingdom, Scotland
Central coordinates 4o 2.36' West  57o 43.53' North
IBA criteria A4i, A4iii, B1i, B2, B3, C2, C3, C4, C6
Area 16,262 ha
Altitude 0 - 10m
Year of IBA assessment 2007

Royal Society for the Protection of Birds



Site description A complex area of coastline and estuary, including Loch Fleet, Dornoch Firth, Loch Eye, Cromarty Firth, Beauly Firth, and Moray Firth (south shore including Burghead and Spey Bay), stretching from Helmsdale south to Spey Bay. These coastal areas form an integral unit that is important for populations of wintering and passage wildfowl, and for breeding Phalacrocorax carbo.

Populations of IBA trigger species

Species Season Period Population estimate Quality of estimate IBA Criteria IUCN Category
Greylag Goose Anser anser winter  2001-2006  3,434 individuals  good  B1i, C3  Least Concern 
Whooper Swan Cygnus cygnus winter  2001-2006  68 individuals  good  C6  Least Concern 
Eurasian Wigeon Anas penelope passage  2001-2006  31,016 individuals  good  A4i, B1i, C3  Least Concern 
Eurasian Wigeon Anas penelope winter  2001-2006  16,709 individuals  good  B1i, C3  Least Concern 
Common Teal Anas crecca passage  2001-2006  4,160 individuals  good  B1i, C3  Least Concern 
Common Teal Anas crecca winter  2001-2006  5,107 individuals  good  B1i, C3  Least Concern 
Greater Scaup Aythya marila winter  2001-2006  782 individuals  good  B2  Least Concern 
Melanitta fusca winter  2001-2006  1,738 individuals  good  B2  Not Recognised 
Eurasian Oystercatcher Haematopus ostralegus passage  2001-2006  9,116 individuals  good  B1i, C3  Least Concern 
Common Redshank Tringa totanus passage  2001-2006  4,131 individuals  good  A4i, B1i, C3  Least Concern 
Common Redshank Tringa totanus winter  2001-2006  4,287 individuals  good  A4i, B1i, C3  Least Concern 
Bar-tailed Godwit Limosa lapponica passage  2001-2006  1,279 individuals  good  A4i, B1i, B2, C2, C6  Least Concern 
Bar-tailed Godwit Limosa lapponica winter  2001-2006  3,494 individuals  good  A4i, B1i, B2, C2, C6  Least Concern 
Eurasian Curlew Numenius arquata passage  2001-2006  3,719 individuals  good  A4i, B1i, C3  Near Threatened 
Eurasian Curlew Numenius arquata winter  2001-2006  3,615 individuals  good  A4i, B1i, B2, C3  Near Threatened 
Red Knot Calidris canutus winter  2001-2006  8,150 individuals  good  B1i, B2, C3  Least Concern 
Great Black-backed Gull Larus marinus breeding  1999-2000  230 breeding pairs  good  B3  Least Concern 
Common Tern Sterna hirundo breeding  2000  527 breeding pairs  good  C6  Least Concern 
A4iii Species group - waterbirds passage  2001-2006  71,037 individuals  good  A4iii, C4   
A4iii Species group - waterbirds winter  2001-2006  87,459 individuals  good  A4iii, C4   

Protected areas

Protected area Designation Area (ha) Relationship with IBA Overlap with IBA (ha)  
Beauly Firth Site of Special Scientific Interest 1,243 protected area contained by site 2,062  
Cromarty Firth Birds Directive 3,766 protected area contained by site 3,766  
Cromarty Firth Site of Special Scientific Interest 3,585 protected area contained by site 3,585  
Cromarty Firth Wetlands of International Importance (Ramsar) 4,197 protected area contained by site 4,197  
Culbin Sands RSPB Reserve 1,135 protected area overlaps with site 1,028  
Culbin Sands, Forest and Findhorn Bay Site of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI) 4,916 protected area overlaps with site 2,089  
Dornoch Firth Site of Special Scientific Interest 3,577 protected area contained by site 3,577  
Dornoch Firth and Loch Fleet Birds Directive 7,899 protected area contained by site 7,899  
Dornoch Firth and Loch Fleet Wetlands of International Importance (Ramsar) 7,836 protected area contained by site 7,836  
Dornoch Firth and Morrich More Habitats Directive 7,477 protected area overlaps with site 6,248  
Inner Moray Firth Birds Directive 2,339 protected area contained by site 2,339  
Inner Moray Firth Wetlands of International Importance (Ramsar) 2,339 protected area contained by site 2,339  
Loch Fleet National Nature Reserve 1,058 protected area contained by site 1,058  
Loch Fleet Site of Special Scientific Interest 1,238 protected area contained by site 1,238  
Loch Fleet (SWT) Reserve 1,247 protected area overlaps with site 1,226  
Moray and Nairn Coast Birds Directive 2,412 protected area contained by site 2,412  
Moray and Nairn Coast Wetlands of International Importance (Ramsar) 2,410 protected area contained by site 2,410  
Morrich More Site of Special Scientific Interest 2,975 protected area contained by site 2,975  
Nigg and Udale Bays RSPB Reserve 1,606 protected area overlaps with site 1,482  

Habitats

IUCN habitat Habitat detail Extent (% of site)
Shrubland Heathland; Scrub  -
Grassland   -
Wetlands (inland) Mud flats and sand flats; Salt marshes; Sand dunes and beaches; Shingle or stony beaches; Standing freshwater; Tidal rivers and enclosed tidal waters  -
Sea Open Sea  -
Coastline Sea cliffs and rocky shores  -

Land use

Land-use Extent (% of site)
fisheries/aquaculture -
tourism/recreation -

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Recommended citation  BirdLife International (2014) Important Bird Areas factsheet: Moray Basin, Firths and Bays. Downloaded from http://www.birdlife.org on 14/07/2014

To provide new information to update this factsheet or to correct any errors, please email BirdLife