Basin Notes - January 2010

Variety is spice of life at Basin

This month's column is a resume of 2009, highlighting significant sightings recorded around the Basin during the year.

In early January 166 pintail were counted and 136 teal at Rossie Spit which included a green-winged teal. Also seen were 1950 knot, 96 whooper swan and 120 twite, three long-eared owl and one short-eared owl were present mid month and at Old Montrose pier there were eight little grebe, a kingfisher and two otter. Tree creeper, siskin and long-tailed tit appeared in front of the Visitor Centre.

February sightings included fieldfare, redwing, twite, merlin, barn owl, red-necked grebe, stonechat and grey partridge.

There were 13,000 pink-footed geese along with 161 greylag and 21 purple sandpiper were seen at Ferryden. Mammals included otter, fox and stoat.

In March 208 twite were caught and colour ringed at Mains of Dun farm. Our first summer migrants arrived on the 21st in the form of four sand martins at Bridge of Dun. A red admiral butterfly was seen at the Visitor Centre on the 4th and 18th.

First arrival dates in April of African migrants were as follows: 1st, wheatear; 2nd, osprey; 5th, swallow; 12th, willow warbler and sedge warbler and a very early spotted flycatcher; 19th, common sandpiper; 21st, chiffchaff and 24th, house martin. Also seen in April at the centre were bullfinch and long-eared owl.

May sightings included little ringed plover, red-legged partridge, little tern, roseate tern, whimbrel and gadwall with 1200 pink-footed geese still present and during the last week eider duck and shelduck ducklings appeared as did water rail and moorhen chicks.

June included two marsh harriers on the 7th, little egret on the 15th and two ruddy shelduck on the 21st, the latter staying until August.

On the 16th the first common tern chick hatched and four swallow chicks were ringed at the Visitor Centre.

A spoonbill and little egret appeared in July along with green sandpiper, spotted redshank, reed warbler, marsh harrier, great crested grebe and 23 common sandpiper.

The year's rarest sighting on August 1 was a white-rumped sandpiper. It is North American breeder and a vagrant to Europe. It ringed, then seen again the following day at the mouth of the Mill burn.

Other August sightings were ruff, redstart, three osprey and 115 Canada geese. Butterflies were plentiful around the buddleia at the Visitor Centre. Best day counts were 40 painted lady, 12 small tortoiseshell, 2 dark green fritillary and a comma.

The first pink-footed geese returned on September 8. Other sightings were barn owl, green-shank, ruff, whimbrel, woodcock and yellow wagtail. The last osprey was seen on the 27th and the pink-footed geese had risen to 19,000.

October saw a record 51,000 pink-footed geese. Other geese numbers were 16 pale-bellied Brent, 13 greylag, 12 barnacle and a blue phase snow goose.

In November a mink was seen at Old Montrose pier and three separate sightings of fox were noted.

Mistle thrush, woodcock, short-eared owl and tree sparrow were also recorded.

December was a quiet month but the cold spell brought in over 100 fieldfare at Sleepyhillock on the 23rd.