Basin Notes - December 1997

Computers and Bird Watching

"Twas the night before Christmas" and the kids won’t go to bed and the kitchen is awash with vegetables and cooling mince pies. Peace, I need peace to organise the presents! Finally, with small bodies a-slumber upstairs and the cook clearing up the chaos in the kitchen, I can rescue the presents from their hiding places. Top present is an "Internet Ready" computer which has to be put together and prepared for the onslaught of eager young fingers; now where does this plug go.?

Everything’s ready - let’s have a quick look and see if I can find somewhere for me to go birdwatching. A quick search on "birds" er no - I don’t want caged birds! How about "wild birds"? No, I don’t want to buy any bird food, but there are some interesting links. Back to the task - "Birdwatching" that’s better. Links to pages from all over the world. How about closer to home? Found the RSPB page but it is still in the process of being designed, so keep searching. The Grampian Bird News has all the latest news in the Grampian region and reports snow buntings at Loch of Skene. A possibility! How about this site in Norway, Fugleskue Birdwatch which has links to European Bird News and other pages recording unusual bird sightings? Still nothing local.

Now what can I find out about Montrose Basin? The Scottish Wildlife Trust has a page giving information about its reserves, and it says "The Wildlife Centre is a centre of tourism excellence, with many features to excite the visitor, with panoramic views over the Basin and its wildlife. In winter months, thousands of geese flock here. It is open all year." Unfortunately the Wildlife Centre is closed on Christmas Day and Boxing Day, but we can all go up there at the weekend.

For up-to-date information Usenet newsgroups might be better and uk.rec.birdwatching is the place to find out about any aspect of birding. There are plenty of people ready to help out with practical advice. Snow geese on the west coast of Britain and advice about buying telescopes are interesting discussions but no reports of anything local to see.

I could do with finding a hawfinch to complete my year’s list and UK400 has the gen on where they are commonly seen. The country’s top birders contribute to these pages - a twitcher’s paradise!

Suddenly, there’s soft footsteps and rustling in the direction of the fireplace! A sleepy head appears round the door "Are you coming to bed? It’s 2 in the morning!". "In a minute. I just want to check this last site about red headed smew on Hogganfield Loch". Maybe I can sneak off to Glasgow to see them Boxing Day! Or maybe some Virtual Birding if I get the kids off the computer - where’s that good site with all the photos