Basin Notes - July 2006

Osprey gives impressive display

Although we think it is mid-summer, some of the wading birds think that it is autumn, and they have already left their breeding grounds and have arrived at the Montrose Basin ready for the winter!

Such birds include Golden Plovers, Dunlins and Bar-tailed Godwits, which usually arrive in fine summer plumage There soon will be a build-up of terns as they prepare for the journey south.

However, let's not think too far ahead because we are enjoying a hot spell of weather at the moment, which has brought out several butterflies and moths. The garden area around the SWT centre is particularly lovely at the moment, and it is possible to see Common Blues, Red Admirals, Meadow Browns, Small Tortoiseshells, Ringlets, Small Whites, Large Whites and Green-veined Whites drinking nectar from the rich variety of flowers The Viper's Bugloss is a particularly good example of this, and this blue flower also attracts several species of bees.

I have just heard about an unusual moth called the Death's-head Hawk Moth which was found at Arbroath Abbey, unfortunately dead, and was brought to the Wildlife Centre. It will eventually end up in Dundee Museum.

Most moths have wonderful names and some of the ones to look out for in this area within the next few weeks are Rosy Rustic, Flounced Rustic, Garden Dart, Lesser Broad-bordered Yellow Under-wing, Orange Swift, Dark Arches, Barred Straw, Common Wainscot and the lovely Canary Shouldered Thorn.

Pop into the library for an appropriate book and you will discover just how beautiful moths really are.

An Osprey has been visiting the Basin recently and has been giving us a display of its fishing prowess. There seem to be around 200 breeding pairs in Scotland now, although I believe that due to the cold, wet May we experienced the breeding success is not too high this year.

The songs of the birds start to wane a bit at this time of the year as the adult birds are busy feeding their offspring With a bit of luck there will be plenty of young birds around in the good weather.

It is sometimes tempting to pick up a young bird, especially if you think it is lost, but the probabilities are that a parent bird will not be too far away searching for food, so it is always best to steer clear.

If you happen to see flocks of geese, do not think that it is the Pinkfeet back already (it will be a good two months before they return from Iceland), but it is likely that it will be the Canada Geese heading up to the Beauly Firth to moult.

Most of our waterfowl go through a moult after the breeding season and it is most obvious in the Mallards when the drakes go into an "eclipse" plumage, which is not too dissimilar to that of the females This is the birds' way of obtaining fresh feathers — just like you and I buying a new jacket when the old one is worn out There are still many, many days of summery weather ahead of us, so go out and enjoy them when you can — and a lovely place to do it is at the Montrose Basin.