Old Photograph Culbin Sands Moray Scotland

Old photograph of Culbin Sands in Moray, Scotland. Nowadays the name Culbin Sands means a beach, but formerly the name meant a large area of loose dune sand desert which is now the Culbin Forest. In its heyday, the dune system was the largest in Britain. This long strip of pristine beach is owned by the RSPB, due to its excellent bird habitat, home to Eurasian oystercatchers, Eurasian curlews, common redshanks and other birds. It is made up of a curious mixture of sand and long grass, but gets muddier further westwards. Much natural driftwood ends up on the sands. Three sand spits enclose a large salt marsh known as The Gut. The largest, known as The Bar, is the largest spit in Scotland. Towards Nairn, the beach is home to a wintering population of the Pale Bellied Brent Goose, one of only two in Scotland. The birds belong to the Svalbard population. In 1888 and 1889, the dunes hosted breeding pairs of Pallas's Sandgrouse, the only time this has ever been recorded in Scotland. The sands had a reputation for shifting, engulfing homesteads. This was due to removal of Marram from the dunes for thatching, as the roots helped to hold the soil together. The Forestry Commission sought to stabilise the dune in much a similar method by planting scrub, before giving the land over to forestry.

All photographs are copyright of Sandy Stevenson, Tour Scotland, and may not be used without permission.

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