Is winter the best time to visit Montrose Basin?

From the 1st of November, the Montrose Basin Visitor Centre will be moving onto its ‘winter hours’, which ends on the 10th of February 2020. This means that instead of being open every day of the week, we’ll only be open Friday, Saturday, Sunday and Monday, and we’ll be closing at 4pm instead of 5pm (because it’s dark by 5pm anyway!).

A common question we get at Montrose Basin is ‘when is the best time of year to visit?’. We always attempt to answer this question concisely, and then inevitably end up endlessly listing all the great things you can see at different times of year. It turns out there is no ‘best time’ to visit Montrose Basin – it just depends on what you want to see. You can read a past blog post here that delves into what wildlife you see on the reserve in the different seasons.

Are you a kingfisher seeker? A wader enthusiast? A duck identifier? If you tick one or all of these boxes then, actually, winter might be the best time to visit Montrose Basin! A huge number and variety of ducks and waders can be found on the reserve in the winter months. It’s not at all improbable for you to see a dozen different species of duck in a day on the reserve, as well as over 10 species of wader including redshank, greenshank, knot, dunlin, black- and bar-tailed godwit, and lapwing. Up to 10,000 pink-footed geese often over-winter on the reserve too, although the largest numbers usually occur in October.

Dunlin go beautifully pale in the winter. © Scottish Wildlife Trust

Kingfisher sightings go from infrequent in the summer time, to daily in the winter time. We’ve been seeing a kingfisher or two a day from the visitor centre for the past few weeks, and this kind of frequency is likely to remain steady for the rest of the season.

Kingfishers are seen regularly in the winter from the visitor centre and Bank of Scotland hide. © Ron Mitchell

Winter also brings with it that sliver of hope that we might see a stoat in ermine. Stoat sightings are fairly frequent on the reserve, but it’s always extra special to see one in its white coat.

Stoats in ermine aren’t so well-camouflaged when there isn’t any snow to blend in with… This one was seen in 2017. © Ron Mitchell

So don’t let the reduced visitor centre hours fool you! They in no way mean that there’s less to see. Walks and hides around the Basin will stay open 24/7 as usual (click here for information on the walks), and we’re looking forward to welcoming in lots of visitors on Fridays, Saturdays, Sundays, and Mondays until we’re open up full-time again from February 10th onwards.

Joanna Peaker (Visitor Centre Assistant Manager)

Help protect Scotland’s wildlife

Our work to save Scotland’s wildlife is made possible thanks to the generosity of our members and supporters.

Join today from just £3 a month to help protect the species you love.

Join today


Preface

From the 1st of November, the Montrose Basin Visitor Centre will be moving onto its ‘winter hours’, which ends on the 10th of February 2020. This means that instead of …

Posted in

Blogs -

Stay up to date with the Scottish Wildlife Trust by subscribing to our mailing list 

Back to top