Basin Notes - June 2011

Tayock - an overlooked corner of the Reserve

The month of June sees nature at its most prolific. The countryside is alive, vibrant and teaming with new life. It is an invitation to tune into nature, to look, listen and smell.

Enjoy the big picture - the great swathes of greenery - but also take time to look closely at the variety of insects and wildflowers around you, each playing their part in the rich web of life.

The Tayock corner of the Montrose Basin Nature Reserve is a mixed habitat of trees, grassland and scrub. It is a pleasant area for a walk and a number of wild-flowers provide a colourful show in summer. Red campion is a tall, showy plant with pinky-red flowers. There is a white variety which is much less common here and the two sometimes hybridise resulting in pale pink flowers.

Russian comfrey has a hanging cluster of purple tubular flowers and the purple heads of vetch can be seen clambering through the long grass. Viper's-bugloss is a tall handsome plant with pink buds opening to funnel shaped blue flowers. It is frequently found in coastal areas and its rich nectar is popular with butterflies and bees. Other blue flowers to be seen include green alganet at its best in June, along with the tiny flowers of common and field forget-me-nots.

Yellow is always eye-catching against the green surroundings and broom, buttercup and bird's foot trefoil provide bright splashes of colour at present.

Elder is a large shrub of hedgerows and waste ground and is in full bloom this month. The white heads are made up of numerous small, sweet smelling flowers, its nectar and pollen attracting a variety of insects. The flowers can be used in tea, wine and skin ointments and when the black berries ripen in the autumn, they are avidly eaten by pigeons, blackbirds, starlings and blackcaps.

It's mid June but already the green berries of rowan and whitebeam are well formed and some of the wild cherry berries, are beginning to ripen. Although the rich symphony of birdsong is now diminishing you will still hear blackbird, song thrush, goldfinch, willow warbler and whitethroat at this Tayock site.

Eider ducklings are how appearing on the Basin and around the Visitor Centre juvenile bluetits, great tits, robins, house and tree sparrows have been seen. Other notable sightings around the Basin include grasshopper warbler, barn owl, tawny owl, grey plover, ringed plover and four ospreys on the June 5.

Common seals are a familiar sight on the Basin at low tide but this month the cows will be hauling out on coves around our coasts to give birth. The pups are able to swim within a few hours. They suckle for up to six weeks and will then fend for themselves.