Edinburgh and Lothians
There's a surprising amount of greenspace and wildlife both within and beyond the boundaries of Scotland's capital city. Try the Royal Botanic Garden for starters - a haven of green calm where you're sure to encounter grey squirrels and see plenty of birds among the nature trees. Then go for an amble along the banks of the capital's wildlife gem - the Water of Leith. 12 miles of footpath allow possible sightings of willow warbler, chiffchaff, great spotted woodpecker, sparrowhawk, grey wagtail, dipper, grey heron and even kingfisher, among other birds more commonly associated with the countryside. You can get access to the river in many places such as near the Lanark Road or close to the city centre at Dean Village and Stockbridge.
Hidden behind the crouching lion of Arthur's Seat, Duddingston Loch is a surprising, scenic oasis of nature within the city limits. In summer, breeding species likely to be encountered include greylag and Canada geese, mute swans, great crested grebe, little grebe, moorhen, coot and tufted duck. Winter visitors include pochard, teal, goldeneye and occasionally goosander. Adjacent reedbeds provide breeding grounds for grey heron and sedge warblers while the surrounding woodland accommodates blackcap, chiffchaff and green woodpecker. Grey wagtails may also be seen roosting in the reedbeds here.
There's a good scattering of country parks across the Lothians. Check them out to get the benefit of advice or guided tours from countryside rangers. On the east coast, go to Aberlady Bay beside the village of the same name to see orchids and burnet rose in summer and hordes of waders in winter. Or follow the nature trail along the coastal grassland and cliffs of the John Muir Country Park, starting in Dunbar.
Take a boat out from South Queensferry, Leith or Dunbar to watch seabirds in the Firth of Forth, including the renowned Bass Rock gannets. The Bass, the Isle of May and Fidra can all now be viewed by video link from the Scottish Seabird Centre, a fantastic and informative all-weather attraction, at North Berwick.