Basin Notes - September 2003

Birds and Butterflies

One of the benefits of the hot weather is the number of butterflies around the SWT Montrose Basin at the moment.

This is the time of year for some migrant species to appear and utilise the many Buddleia bushes which are around as well as other late flowering species such as the purple Creeping of Field Thistle, the yellow Ragworts, and the white Sneezeworts. The main migrant butterflies are the Painted Ladies, Red Admirals and Peacocks which can originate from France or Spain. The latter two can overwinter in Scotland as adults but most will perish, and if it was not for a mass migration in the spring the species would be extinct in this country.

The Painted Lady also has a second brood emerging in late summer, some of which will attempt to overwinter, but without success. The other species which you will find on the late-flowering plants are Large White (cabbage white), Small White, Green-veined White, Small Copper, Meadow Brown, Ringlet and Small Tortoiseshell which can be very common and is easily recognised by its orange, black and white (tortoiseshell) colours with blue edges to the wings. In some years, the Clouded Yellows arrive from the continent, but I have not seen any around the Basin this summer.

Other arrivals will be of the avian variety, and will include wading birds such as Knots still in their red breeding plumage, Black-tailed Godwits (also their brick-red plumage), Golden Plovers with remnants of their black bellies, Dunlins (also with traces of black feathering on their underside), Lapwings with their "peewit" calls and the unmistakable Curlews which, as the largest European wader with the longest curved bill, is one of the best-known waders.

Other distinctive sounds at the moment are the combined raucous of dozens of Sandwich Terns. Adults and young (some still being fed) gather in the Basin before their migration south to their wintering grounds in southern Europe, west and south Africa.