SPA description
(information as published 2001)

Inner Moray Firth

image: SPA location map 


The Inner Moray Firth is located to the north of Inverness in Scotland and is one of the major arms of the Moray Firth. It comprises the Beauly Firth and Inverness Firth (including Munlochy Bay) which together form the easternmost estuarine component of the Moray Basin ecosystem. The site contains extensive intertidal flats and smaller areas of saltmarsh. The rich invertebrate fauna of the intertidal flats, with beds of eelgrass Zostera spp., Glasswort Salicornia spp., and Enteromorpha algae, all provide important food sources for large numbers of wintering and migrating waterbirds (geese, ducks and waders). With adjacent estuarine areas elsewhere in the Moray Firth, this site is the most northerly major wintering area for wildfowl and waders in Europe. The Firth is also of importance as a feeding area for locally breeding Osprey Pandion haliaetus as well as for breeding terns.

The Inner Moray Firth SPA forms an integral ecological component of Moray Basin Firths and Bays.


Qualifying species

For individual species accounts visit the Species Accounts section

This site qualifies under Article 4.1 of the Directive (79/409/EEC) by supporting populations of European importance of the following species listed on Annex I of the Directive:
During the breeding season;
Common Tern Sterna hirundo, 310 pairs representing at least 2.5% of the breeding population in Great Britain (Seabird Census Register)
Osprey Pandion haliaetus, 4 pairs representing at least 4.0% of the breeding population in Great Britain (Early 1990s)
Over winter;
Bar-tailed Godwit Limosa lapponica, 1,155 individuals representing at least 2.2% of the wintering population in Great Britain (winter peak mean)
This site also qualifies under Article 4.2 of the Directive (79/409/EEC) by supporting populations of European importance of the following migratory species:
Over winter;
Greylag Goose Anser anser, 1,731 individuals representing at least 1.7% of the wintering Iceland/UK/Ireland population (winter peak mean)
Red-breasted Merganser Mergus serrator, 1,731 individuals representing at least 1.4% of the wintering Northwestern/Central Europe population (winter peak mean)
Redshank Tringa totanus, 1,811 individuals representing at least 1.2% of the wintering Eastern Atlantic - wintering population (winter peak mean)
Scaup Aythya marila, 97 individuals representing <0.1% of the wintering Northern/Western Europe population (Counts 1991-96)
Assemblage qualification: A wetland of international importance.
The area qualifies under Article 4.2 of the Directive (79/409/EEC) by regularly supporting at least 20,000 waterfowl
Over winter, the area regularly supports 33,148 individual waterfowl (5 year peak mean 1991/2 - 1995/6)
including: Scaup Aythya marila, Curlew Numenius arquata, Oystercatcher Haematopus ostralegus, Goosander Mergus merganser, Goldeneye Bucephala clangula, Teal Anas crecca, Wigeon Anas penelope, Cormorant Phalacrocorax carbo, Redshank Tringa totanus, Red-breasted Merganser Mergus serrator, Greylag Goose Anser anser, Bar-tailed Godwit Limosa lapponica.



Many designated sites are on private land: the listing of a site in these pages does not imply any right of public access.
Note that sites selected for waterbird species on the basis of their occurrence in the breeding, passage or winter periods also provide legal protection for these species when they occur at other times of the year.