Basin Notes - June 2002

Vigorous but unseen

AT this time of year, however small a piece of water there Is always something happening that is different from yesterday.

Around and beneath the surface of every pond, natural or man-made, there is life - vigorous but often unseen. In contrast, bright yellow clumps of kingcups adorn the margin.

The cycle of life quickens, the greening of the willow and birch, abundant flourish on the blackthorn and gean.

Full throated bird song - the native great and blue tit and their garden neighbours blackies and thrushes cheer the passer-by and gardener alike.

Joining in the medley are the southern arrivals, the willow warbler, sand and house martins and the first of the swallows. They quickly locate their old haunts and are quite a sight - raking over the ponds and salt marsh finding insects.

Moorhen, mallard and eider will have sorted out their own preferred nesting sites on the saltmarsh.

Breeding swans too have their chosen site, and territorial defence follows the graceful pousette of their courtship rituals.

The moorhen suffers a great deal of predation in the breeding season but often builds her nest on the reeds in a flooded field, set up crannog-style over the shallow pool.

The broods of ducks such as shelduck and mallard are often raised along an old railway line or quiet ditch, then - probably in the early morning - they set out for the Basin, crossing roads en route.

Motorists do well to ca' canny along country roads to avoid wiping them out.

An interactive exhibition for children entitled "The Cycle of Life" is in the Montrose Basin Wildlife Centre, upstairs in the John Crichton Gallery.

It complements some of the activities in the Kiddies' Corner.

The House of Dun has invited members of the Scottish Wildlife Trust and its volunteers along to see around the house and garden on Wednesday, May 22 at 7.3Opm.

Also strengthening the links with this other attraction on the Basin, there are some children's activities arranged for the summer in their lovely grounds, led by the teacher/naturalists from the Wildlife Centre.

It's good to be even a tiny cog in the ever-growing movement to understand and care for our countryside and its wildlife - under constant threat from our modern technological society with its constant demands.

The slow rhythm of the countryside requires balance and thought to keep every walk and cycle ride full of interest and seasonal variety. The Montrose Basin is a special place, deserving our attention.