I started my new role as Visitor Centre Assistant on Monday 4/3/19. When I started I honestly knew next to nothing about birds and other wildlife around Montrose, but over the last few weeks I have been doing a lot of research and I feel that I have learned enough to try writing a blog. I tried to limit myself to only writing about a couple of birds that really interested me, but I got quite carried away, and wrote far more than I intended to so I’m going to have to split this blog into several parts so that I won’t send everyone to sleep. Anyway, today I’m going to talk about two of the first birds I learned about that have become favourites of mine throughout my time at the wildlife centre.
Firstly, the Little Egret.
They seem to like the salt pans at the Basin as that is where we usually spot one or two of them during the day. Usually we only see one of them at a time but there have been a few times over the past few weeks where I have seen two in the salt pans at once. The Little Egret is a rather recognisable bird, due to its bright white colouring they are easily visible from a distance even without the use of a telescope or binoculars, as they are so white that they appear to almost glow, especially on particularly sunny days. I was very surprised to see just how white they were and that they manage to stay so clean while they are around the rather muddy Basin. They also have bright yellow feet, rather reminiscent of little welly boots, although their feet are usually either under the water or in the mud so it’s rare that you actually get to see them unless the Little Egret has taken flight. The Little Egret was the first bird I learned the name of on my very first day so I will probably always have a bit of a soft spot for it.
The next bird that I found quite interesting is similar to the Little Egret, although much bigger, the Grey Heron.
The Grey Heron may not seem like a particularly interesting bird to many birdwatchers as they are not especially rare or uncommon to see, but after looking through some bird guides it caught my eye and I hoped to see one. I was very happy when one appeared near the end of my first week, standing in the salt pans. While I already knew that the Grey Heron was a large bird, I was startled by just how large it was. It was easily seen without any sort of magnification, similar to the Little Egret, however while it is the Little Egret’s colour that makes it stand out, it was the sheer size of the Grey Heron that drew attention to it. Every time I have seen one, it has been standing patiently in the salt pans, sometimes for several hours, waiting for food to cross its path. As the name suggests, they are mostly grey in colour, with black markings on their head and wings and a lighter white/grey underneath. While some people might find these colours rather bland, I like how the Grey Heron looks and I always keep an eye out for them whenever I’m looking out at the Basin.
Visitor Centre Assistant