Yesterday was an excellent day at Montrose Basin. Throughout the day sandwich terns and an osprey were seen fishing on the reserve and the feeders around the Centre were visited by a great spotted woodpecker and 6 tree sparrow.
The big attraction throughout the afternoon was the excitement created by a visitor to our tern raft. It wasn’t a tern, however, as you might expect, but in fact a male wheatear.
We often get wheatear on the reserve during their migration to and from their breeding grounds, and this little guy dropped in, spending over an hour resting on the raft, before continuing on his journey.
Last night I decided to go for a walk on the Mains of Dun and was rewarded with 2 displaying snipe and the first record of whitethroat on the reserve this season, with 2 feeding in a field of oil seed rape.
I walked to the Shelduck Hide which overlooks the River South Esk and over the next couple of hours the highlights were a pair of gadwall, a scaup, 4 goosander and a greenshank on the river.
Just as it was getting dark 2 whooper swans, possibly on their migration north, dropped down onto the river to spend the night and a flock of around 150 sand martins were flying low over the water.
A couple of minutes later I could hear a lot of sand martins calling, but couldn’t see them, so stepping outside the hide I was greeted by the sight of at least 500 sand martins swirling around in a tight flock above the Shelduck Hide before diving into the Slunks Reedbed to roost, a superb sight.
Leaving the hide and making my way back to the car park I heard 4 grasshopper warblers singing and watched as a skein of about 1500 pink-footed geese whiffled into the safety of the Basin where they roost before leaving at first light to feed.
By the time I made it back to my car it was completely dark and as I passed over the Bridge of Dun on my drive home, sitting on the edge of the bridge was a barn owl!
This was a fantastic sight to see as we found several dead barn owls over the winter and were concerned as the severe weather may have taken a toll on our owl population.
It has also been a good weekend for butterflies on the reserve and the first orange tips of the year were seen with 3 being recorded at the bottom of the Visitor Centre car park, along with 8 small whites.
Adam – Montrose Basin Ranger