Basin Notes - October 2002

Autumnal Changes

At this time of year there is a gradual change in the birdlife inhabiting the Basin. Arctic breeders have completed their life cycles and are beginning to move south to their wintering grounds on British estuaries.

There has been a steady trickle of waders during the past few weeks with seven Turnstone, still in their summer plumage, appearing on August 4 closely followed by 2 Ruff, 16 Greenshank, Green Sandpiper, Grey Plover, 33 Black tailed Godwit, Wood Sandpiper, 11 Knot, 2 Whimbrel and up to 1,000 Lapwing.

Our Little Egrets have now been on the Basin for over two months and show no signs of wanting to leave.

Once again our resident Water Rails have had two broods of young - a brood of 5 black downy chicks were seen with an adult from the Bank of Scotland hide on July 5th followed by two much larger juvenile birds on the pools below the Centre later in the month. These two ran the gauntlet of a hunting Stoat one morning, though the Stoat was very reluctant to get its feet wet in order to catch its prey.

Three juvenile Tree Sparrows have been seen around the feeding station recently. These latest sightings of this declining species are the first for quite a while.

After a rather quiet period of Osprey sightings, three have been observed recently fishing on the basin along with our resident Red throated Diver which has now been here since last winter and seems very reluctant to leave.

The first of our wintering wildfowl appeared on August 11th in the form of 3 Scaup.

During a lunch break at the viewing gallery, I witnessed a female Sparrowhawk taking a Moorhen from one of the pools below the centre.

The Moorhen had been caught amongst the reeds at the edge of the pool and the Sparrowhawk was seen carrying its prey with a few strands of reeds trailing behind only to disappear in to the trees to devour its prey. The remaining partner was obviously very distressed at what had happened and called loudly for some time afterwards.