Basin Notes - October 2006

Flights of fancy

How lucky we are to live in Angus. This thought readily comes to mind often when out enjoying the Natural History pleasures to be found in our part of the east coast of Scotland.

For many of us the Montrose Basin Wildlife Centre is the fulcrum of local activities and it is here that wildlife spectacles are very much in evidence and can be seen and enjoyed.

What finer sight can be witnessed than the late afternoon arrival, or the early morning departure to their feeding grounds, of 20,000 pink footed geese at Montrose Basin?

Or the leisurely unhurried flight of 100s of lapwings, or 100s of golden plover flying in perfect harmony with never even a hint of a single collision taking place in such dense flocks?

The same pattern of skillful ,almost radar like control, of a dense silver grey flock of knot again numbering 100s is also pleasing and captivating and relaxing to the eye of the interested observer.

Both species of Godwit can be seen regularly on the Basin, the Black Tailed Godwit once uncommon now is a regular sight and can be looked for at the high tide roost at Rossie Spit.

I notice "our " white Oystercatcher is back to spend another winter with us amongst upwards of 600+ "normal" Oystercatchers and it too can best be seen at Rossie Spit at high tide, or on the CCTV monitor inside the center itself.

Waterfowl numbers of our annual winter visitors are rapidly building up on the basin, with Wigeon totals approaching 3500+ in addition, the lovely Pintail Duck and Scaup are arriving daily, and our resident mute swan flock will soon be supplemented by their close cousins the whooper swans.

The big winter attraction on the basin is undoubtedly the wintering geese and the spectacular " whiffling" in of thousands of pink footed geese is a sight to behold, the supporting cast m recent years has been an increasing number of Barnacle Geese, plus smaller numbers of Brent and Greylag Geese.

The annual goose breakfast takes place on October 29, giving those attending an opportunity to witness the departure at dawn of 1000s of geese leaving for their feeding grounds, an unforgettable sight, book your breakfast with the centre staff if you wish to take part in this great spectacle.

In addition to the highlights detailed above, other local special sights can take the form of sightings of rare passage migrants, which are spotted by the increasing number of keen local 'birders' in our area and only last Sunday a rare Radde's Warbler was found at Castle Sea Bay.

This bird breeds in eastern Siberia and winters in South East Asia It had been brought onto our eastern coastline by the south easterly winds occurring over the past few days.

Many saw the bird which was off next day heading for its winter quarters, we wish it a safe journey.