Basin Notes - August 2008

Autumn is just around the corner

Do not worry, it is still summer, but for much of the wildlife in and around the SWT Montrose Basin, autumn is starting.

Many of the wading birds are returning from the hills after the breeding season, and this week the first Golden Plover arrived Before too long, a flock of over 100 of these birds (minus the black bellies of their breeding plumage) will be wheeling around the Basin calling their plaintive notes

Already the Redshank population is increasing, and their "T V" calls can be heard from the Centre Even waders which have not bred in Scotland will be arriving at the Basin Birds such as Green Sandpipers and Greenshanks which have bred in Scandinavia will be gracing our shores, augmenting the numbers of Dunlins, Curlews and Oystercatchers

Some of the duck species have arrived earlier than normal this year with 5 Velvet and 19 Black Scoters already settled in the Basin These northern breeding birds are not common on the reserve, and have created a bit of interest amongst the local birdwatchers

Some of you with gardens may have noticed small yellowish warblers lurking in the bushes These could be immature Willow Warblers dispersing from the breeding areas, and feeding up prior to heading off to Africa Young Swallows and Martins are also gathering on telephone wires, soon to have the inevitable urge to move south

Also in your gardens, have a look for any butterflies These beautiful insects have been in short supply this summer probably due to a poor autumn last year and a poor May this year when eggs would have been laid

Buddleias are the best plants on which to look for the reddish Small Tortoiseshells, Red Admirals and Peacocks The three common 'whites' (Small, Large and Green-veined) are also on the wing at the moment along with Small Heaths and Meadow Browns.

Look out also for the migrant Painted Lady which is paler than the first three and a much faster flier I have seen some in pristine condition, making them probably ones which have just emerged locally, but at the Basin, one or two worn specimens have also been noted, making them probably true Continental migrants

The Little Terns have been having good success along the Montrose foreshore, and the new raft in the Basin has also been having its share of success with 12 pairs of Arctic and Common Terns nesting and 15 young birds hatching out This is really extremely good when you consider that this is the first year it has been launched

Still thinking of the autumn for wildlife, a Kingfisher has made an appearance at the Basin, and Ospreys have been seen fishing prior to beginning their long journey to West Africa

However, it will be the middle of September before the 'real' autumn starts when we hear the first calls of the Pink-footed Geese arriving from Iceland

Remember to come along to the 'Family Fun Day' on the 24th of August when there will be a host of activities to get involved in including adventures in the mud and seeing some local craft work It will be a good idea to get in touch with the Centre (676336) as the mad sampling can be very popular and you may have to book

As the duck and wader numbers build up in the Basin, watch out for increased activity from the local Peregrine Falcon as it chases one of these birds