Basin Notes - September 2007

An exciting sighting on the reserve

The latest big news from the SWT Montrose Basin is that one of 15 released White-tailed Eagles has been sighted on the reserve!

The bird has an 'N' wing tag, and is part of the RSPB programme to re-introduce these magnificent birds of prey to the east coast of Scotland.

This is a first record for the reserve, and hopefully will not be the last as up until the year 2011, up to 20 birds per year should be released along our coastline to augment the existing 30 breeding pairs in Scotland as a whole.

These huge and unmistakable birds have a massive eight-foot wingspan, which makes a Golden Eagle appear relatively small.

Interestingly, I was in Scandinavia recently and was watching this species at their breeding grounds, and it would be nice to think that our bird may be related to the ones I saw.

If anyone spots one of these birds, please contact the RSPB at

I was also watching the migration of Greylag Geese heading probably down through Germany to their wintering grounds in the Coto Donana in southern Spain. Our own Pink-footed Geese have arrived quite early this year, with the first birds appearing on September 9. At present, there are a few hundred of them, and this figure will reach several thousand in the coming weeks.

The Ospreys have not quite left us yet for the west coast of Africa, and birds can still be seen refuelling in the Basin. I will be in The Gambia in November, and hopefully may see some of our own birds there.

The wading birds are also building up, and we have over 100 Black-tailed Godwits frequenting the mudflats along with rarer waders such as Curlew Sandpipers.

The Green Sandpipers have been with us since the end of June, and more frequently have been overwintering whilst most of their relatives head for warmer climes.

The smaller relative of the Curlew, namely the Whimbrel, has been also been passing through, and it is really only when it calls that you are certain of its true identity because in America it is known as the 'seven whistler' compared to the Curlew which calls its name.

All too soon, more and more Scandinavian birds will be heading towards our shores to spend what is normally a milder winter. With so much strange weather happening recently, we shall wait to see if that is the case.

Regardless, I am sure that they will come, and one of the species which migrates in huge numbers is the Redwing (a smaller relative of the Song Thrush), and these, birds migrate at night.

The best evening to be out to listen for the high-pitched, plaintive calls is when there is virtually no wind and some coastal fog.

Our upstairs photographic exhibition at the moment is by local Andy Wakelin and is entitled The Nature of Montrose, and will be on show until the end of the month.

After that, there will be an exhibition on Scottish Coastal Archaeology and the Problem of Erosion.

Also if you are interested in buying a pair of binoculars to see our wildlife better, pop along this weekend (September 22 and 23) to the Optical Day.

It is great to be out and about at the moment as summer changes to autumn. The Horse Chestnuts in particular are starting to show a bit of colour, and the berry bushes are turning red. Swallows and Martins are still around, although I defy anyone to claim a Swift, but at the same time, passage migrant bird are heading south whilst some winter visitors are arriving to stay with us.

If you wish to learn more about what is happening in our area, pop into the centre and find out.