Basin Notes - September 2008

An Ordinary Day at the Basin

The beginning of September brings the end of the main tourist season although holiday-makers continue to arrive at the Visitor Centre from all parts of the world. Many are driving-by on touring holidays and are attracted by the roadside sign.

Most are uncertain about what they will find, as evidenced by a Dutch Visitor who had expected the centre to comprise an exhibition of stuffed animals

When she and her husband left, having spent an extremely enjoyable two hours watching the (very much alive) wildlife on The Basin, they told us the experience had been the highlight of their holiday

What was interesting about their experience was that they visited on a day when nothing extraordinary happened There were no very rare birds or unusual sightings, just an ordinary day on the giant expanse of mud Our visitors however did not see it as an "ordinary day" They saw a spectacular nature reserve offering them the opportunity to closely observe birds and animals which are not part of their everyday life

The experience of meeting our summer visitors, and sharing in their pleasure of all that The Basin has to offer, prompts questions about how many of our friends and neighbours in Montrose know what is on their doorstep

Most of us are familiar with the alternating black and white flashes of a lapwing as it appears to tumble through the sky, and with its distinctive "peewit" call from which it derives one of its many common names

Viewed through a telescope in The Centre, that monochrome appearance is transformed, as the spectacular crest and wing feathers, shading from bottle-green through browns to deep purple, come into focus

From the same seat in The Centre the visitor has sight of a dozen common seals basking on a sand bank, over two hundred mute swans shimmering in the sunlight, hundreds of oystercatchers flashing low across the surface of the water The list goes on, and with the passing of the seasons the cast changes as the migratory species arrive and depart

There are no "ordinary days" on The Basin They are all special I managed to spend my teenage years in Montrose only vaguely aware that there might be something interesting out on the mud, but at least I had the excuse that there was no Wildlife Centre in those days

Now it is possible to sit in comfort, to use the telescopes and binoculars provided by The Centre to observe the wildlife, and to talk with the staff and volunteers about what you observe The birds which breed in colder climates to the north of Britain are beginning to return in large numbers to enjoy what they consider the mild winter around Montrose So as our holiday-makers desert us, our feathered winter visitors arrive