After the glorious weather of Thursday and Friday when temperatures hit a toasty 24˚C, conditions for our Coastal Crawl Walk were bracing to say the least! A strong onshore easterly wind greeted the posse of unwavering walkers as we gathered at Mains of Usan farm, just a few miles south of Montrose.
Organised by Angus Council as part of their programme of events for the Angus Glens Walking Festival, the walk was led by Richard, the Angus Council Ranger at the Basin, although a couple of volunteers and I went along to help out and answer any wildlife questions.
Starting off we heard all about the fantastic historic buildings which still stand on the shore at Mains of Usan, including an 18th century flax mill and St. Mary’s well which can also still be seen here.
Following the rocky coastline north, the grass and boulders were covered in a beautiful carpet of pink as the thrift is in full bloom and roosting on the rocks, seemingly undisturbed by either our presence or the crashing waves were eiders, ringed plovers, oystercatchers, shags and curlews.
Reached the point at Scurdiness, Richard told us about the lighthouse which began operating in 1871. It was designed by David Stevenson whose father, Robert Stevenson, designed the famous Bell Rock lighthouse located offshore from Arbroath.
As we stood at Scurdiness the group were mesmerised by dozens of gannets effortlessly glided on the strong winds and diving from a height of 50-60 feet to catch fish which must’ve been pushed towards the shore by the tides. With a six foot wingspan and almost pure white plumage with black wing tips, yellow head and electric blue eye, gannets are certainly have a conspicuous presence.
Leaving the coastline behind we moved inland, following the River South Esk to the quaint fishing village of Ferryden before making our way back to the Montrose Basin Visitor Centre via the back roads, passing Craig House on the way from where we got excellent panoramic views across the Basin.
After a delicious lunch of sandwiches and cakes we spent an hour birdwatching from the viewing gallery and the walkers were delighted to see eiders, shelduck, sand martins and nesting common terns to name a few, but the highlight for many was witnessing a fishing osprey – couldn’t have timed it better if we tried!
Adam – Montrose Basin Ranger