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Eden Estuary

The modest estuary of the River Eden on the East Coast of Scotland extends from Guardbridge in NE Fife to opens into the North Sea at Eden Mouth, to the north of St. Andrews. Extending to 3 miles / 5 km in length and 1¼ miles / 2 km at its broadest, its entrance narrows to around a half-mile (1 km), leading to an accumulation of mud within the estuary. Across the entrance there are extensive deposits of sand and a system of sand dunes. The mudflats and associated salt marshes provide an important ecosystem for invertebrates, plants and birds. The area has been designated as a Site of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI) and with the Firth of Tay, forms a Special Area of Conservation (2005). The nature reserve here extends to 891 ha (2220 acres) and is managed by the Fife Coast & Countryside Trust, which maintains a small visitor centre (the Eden Estuary Centre) at Guardbridge, with facilities for bird watching . The northern shore of the estuary is inaccessible due to the military presence at Leuchars Station.

The mudflats provide a varied habitat, with beds of mussels, brown algae and eelgrass, with a rich invertebrate fauna. There are large concentrations of wintering waterfowl and waders. Internationally significant numbers of shelduck occur in winter, while oystercatcher, grey plover, black-tailed and bar-tailed godwits and redshank occur in nationally significant numbers, using the estuary for feeding and roosting. Other waders pass through this area during the spring or autumn, including ringed plover. The estuary is also used by nationally important numbers of greylag geese as a nocturnal roost. Other significant bird species include pink-footed geese, wigeon, teal, dunlin and curlew. Historically, the site has supported a colony of little terns, which was for a time, the largest little tern colony in Eastern Scotland.

There are also otter and common seals.


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