The latest Wetland Bird Survey (WeBS) was carried out at Montrose Basin yesterday afternoon and thankfully the weather was absolutely fantastic with nice bright sunshine, blue skies and calm conditions.
At Montrose we count during the couple of hours before high tide to make sure we count as many birds on the reserve as possible. Although yesterday’s tide was only supposed to be just over 4.5m at 15.52, by 14.20 is was looking more like a tide in excess of 5m and this caught us out slightly. The only explanation we can offer is that we were still experiencing the lag from extremely heavy rain and flooding upstream earlier in the week causing the tide to be slightly higher than predicted.
The issue when the tide is very high is that forces waders such as lapwing and curlew tight into the shore and onto the salt marsh where it is much more difficult to count them due to vegetation, so we knew our count was probably going to be a slight underestimation.
In addition, a lack of personnel due to holidays and illness meant we had the minimum number of counters out surveying but crucially we had enough! We persevered nonetheless and we all went our separate ways to survey our allocated sections of the reserve.
The most obvious difference in bird numbers this month was the increase in resident waders returning to winter on the Basin after spending the breeding season high in the Angus Glens and further afield.
Although only 290 lapwing were counted during yesterday’s survey, a flock of 643 were seen roosting and feeding right in front of the Visitor Centre on Saturday morning and today this number had increased to over 800 which were seen in several smaller flocks flying over the Basin by one of our volunteers.
Although our results might be a tad of an underestimation due to the unexpected high tide, we still managed to count over 4000 birds during our survey. This including six species of duck, nine species of wader, nine common guillemots and three spoonbills which are unbelievably still hanging around on the Basin and have been since 28th June, that’s an incredible 48 days!
A summary of our count from yesterday is posted below: