Tis the Season to get out along the Firth of Forth!

The Edinburgh Shoreline project began in February 2018 – an initiative from the Royal Botanic Garden Edinburgh to encourage people to connect with the coastline in our capital city. In today’s guest blog, Project Manager Charlotte Johnson tells us why this is the perfect time of year to explore the area.

Redshank shoreline small

Redshank ©Lorne Gill/SNH

Through exhibitions, walks, talks, planting sessions and more, almost 50,000 people have learned a little bit more about how special a place this shoreline is for wildlife and for people. But did you know it’s just as fantastic to explore our coast in the winter as it is on a warm summer’s day? As well as crisp, clear days giving excellent views from our coastline, it’s an important time of year for our internationally important populations of wading birds. They spend their winters here with us in Scotland, and can be found making the most of the food found on our shoreline.

Anti tank blocks at Cramond on the Firth of Forth. March 2018. ©Lorne Gill/SNH

Cramond ©Lorne Gill/SNH

Scottish Natural Heritage has made a grant to the project to continue community engagement work over winter 2019-2020, and we’ve already been up to lots of exciting things. Primary schools in Edinburgh have been given the opportunity to visit an RSPB reserve in the Inner Forth area to look at how the habitats along the Firth of Forth change from inland estuary out to sea. Pupils have had chance to explore and play, and learn more about why our wildlife chooses to make this landscape their home each winter.

A male Goldeneye duck.©Lorne Gill/SNH

Goldeneye ©Lorne Gill/SNH

We’ve also led walks for adults too, visiting the North Berwick coast to watch birds (and even a few seals!) as well as venturing out to Cramond Island with lichenologist Rebecca Yahr from the Royal Botanic Garden Edinburgh to identify the lichens that find refuge there from the air pollution of the city. In early 2020 we’ll be continuing our work with young people, and are looking forward to a boat trip on the Forth Princess to get up-close-and-personal with the landscape and the wildlife that calls it home.

Only a short bus ride or cycle from the city centre, the Edinburgh coastline is a great way to get away from the bustle of busy life. Taking in the views and sea air is a great way to unwind, de-stress and get some exercise. There’s plenty to see and do whilst there: from uncovering stories of the cities industrial past, to hunting for the plant life that colonises secluded spots.

Oystercatcher-D0595 small

Oystercatcher ©Lorne Gill/SNH

If you’re looking for inspiration of what to do with an afternoon over the Christmas and New Year break, or on a quiet January weekend, why not try an activity from our Edinburgh Shoreline activity pack? There’s lots of inspiration to be found inside, from going rock-pooling to conducting your own beach cleans. There are easy-to-follow instructions for each activity, which are suitable for families, individuals, clubs and school classes. Just make sure you wrap up warm! You can download a copy of our activity pack from www.edinbughshoreline.org.uk or to receive a hard copy please contact our Project Manager Charlotte Johnson on cjohnson@rbge.org.uk

For more information on the work the project does please visit www.edinburghshoreline.org.uk. Click to read more about the Firth of Forth SSSI.

Our project is kindly supported by Scottish Natural Heritage.

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