Forth Mammals and Coast Walks
The Firth of Forth is home to many beautiful mammals and seabirds, but have you seen the visitors we often get? Some of you may be aware of the humpback whale visitors we’ve had in recent years, and the unfortunate case of the humpback that sadly passed away and was found on an East Lothian beach. However, most of the time the humpbacks have safely visited the Forth, and have entertained whale watchers with fabulous displays. I had the pleasure of watching one of these stunning humpbacks in 2018 from the car park at Pettycur Harbour in Kinghorn. Here, it performed an amazing display of acrobats for all the lucky whale watchers!
BBC News reported on one of the many humpback sightings in 2018. In one report, birdwatcher Adrian Plumb says he went looking for a particular bird, but instead was surprised to spot a humpback performing a spectacular display in the Forth. He managed to take a few stunning photos, and you can view these in the article ‘Birdwatcher snaps surprise whale shot in front of castle’.
Surprise Sightings in the Forth
In the 11 years I have lived in Fife, I have seen some amazing species that live here, and creatures that occasionally visit our waters. As well as the humpback whale sighting, I have seen harbour porpoise, bottlenose dolphins, pilot whales, harbour seals and grey seals. In 2017, I was pleasantly surprised to see a lone bottlenose dolphin playing and eating a fish close to the shore of Pettycur Bay. I was amazed to see it roughly 10 metres from the shore tail flapping and tossing the fish into its mouth! The only other time I have seen this behaviour in bottlenose dolphins (extremely close to the shore) is at Chanonry Point in Fortrose on the Black Isle, Scotland. I reported my sighting of this lone dolphin to the Sea Watch Foundation which is the marine environmental charity working to improve the conservation of whales, dolphins and porpoises around the UK. Please remember to report any sightings to the Sea Watch Foundation for monitoring and conservation of these beautiful mammals.
British Divers Marine Life Rescue
If you have been whale watching around the Forth, you may have met volunteers from the British Divers Marine Life Rescue. These inspirational volunteers intervene when a mammal is reported to be in danger, and they have a wide range of equipment placed throughout the UK to deal with animal strandings, oil spills, and fishing gear entanglements. If you see a whale, dolphin or seal that is injured, stranded or entangled in fishing gear you can contact the BDMLR on their rescue hotline:
01825 765546 Monday-Friday 9am-5pm
07787 433412 Out of office hours and Bank Holidays
My Favourite Forth Coast Walks & Viewing Points
- I love to have a walk down Pettycur Harbour, and the beach offers spectacular views across the Firth of Forth. As well as my first sighting of the beautiful humpback in 2018, I have regularly seen seals popping their heads out of the water. At this viewing point, you can often see an amazing display of diving gannets. A volunteer from the BDMLR gave me a whale watching tip: he told me to always look where the gannets are diving. Often, whales can be seen feeding in the area where gannets are diving.
- Seafield Beach is another one of my favourite spots, and this was the winner of a Keep Scotland Beautiful 2018 Beach Award. For a real dose of ultimate cuteness, you can watch seals chilling out on the rocks just ten minutes further down from Seafield Beach. From the car park, follow the Fife Coastal path South where you will often find a large number of seals.
- Hawcraig Point, Aberdour offers stunning views over the Firth of Forth. Here, again you can see many seabirds and seals, but it is one of my favourite spots just for the stunning panoramic views. The walk up to Hawcraig Point (which was an experimental sonar station in World War One) will really take your breath away, and a brisk walk following the coastal path is a great work out and stress buster!
Fife Coast & Countryside Trust offers information and ideas on many stunning walks across Fife from the coast to the countryside, and also the Lomond Hills Regional Park. The organisation is committed to “ensuring that everyone has the opportunity to experience Fife’s great outdoors”. Have a look through the many places you can explore around Fife, and check out the range of events ran by Fife Coast & Countryside Trust.|