My experience as a Visitor Centre Assistant at Montrose Basin

The past year has flown by and it’s now my final month working at the Montrose Basin Visitor Centre. I started in March 2019, and I can’t believe how quickly the last year has passed. Before I started this job, I barely knew anything about birds and wildlife. I could have told you what a few very common birds were, but that was about as far as my knowledge went. I remember when I attended the interview for the position, I was asked to identify some different pictures of birds, and I really struggled. I hadn’t even seen some of these birds before, let alone be able to name them. However, if you were to put those same pictures in front of me now a year later, I think I could name every single one.


Robin on the feeders


When I first started the job, I really worried that my lack of bird knowledge would be a hindrance, but when you work at a place like the Basin, you do start learning very quickly. It really helped to have lots of well-informed volunteers and members of staff who were available to answer any questions I had, and at that time I definitely had a lot of questions. As the time progressed, I found myself becoming a lot more confident with identifying birds and helping others identify them (although I do still struggle a bit with waders). It was definitely a difficult task right at the beginning though and I thought I would never be able to remember so many different species.


Sparrowhawk on the feeder


While working at the Basin, I have had the opportunity to see some truly amazing wildlife, and I don’t think I will ever forget the first time I saw a kingfisher. It happened just a few days after I started my job. I was honestly so stunned at first; I had no idea we could get birds in Scotland that were so brightly coloured and exotic looking. Even now, having seen the kingfisher almost every day for the last year, it still has that ‘wow-effect’ when it flies in to sit on its perch. 


Even my digiscoping skills have improved! My first ever kingfisher photo vs a more recent one.


Another bird that I really enjoyed seeing was the osprey. I remember being told when I first started that ospreys visited the Basin quite often during the summer, but hearing about it and seeing it were two entirely different experiences. It was incredible watching the osprey hovering up in the sky and then diving down to catch a fish, while also fending off the gulls and crows waiting to steal its meal. Once it did catch something, we could often see it sitting on one of the nearby fence posts for hours sometimes, just slowly eating away.


Osprey sitting on a fence post with a large fish


I would just like to say, if you ever get the opportunity to volunteer or work at the Montrose Basin, I urge you to go for it. It has genuinely been one of the best experiences I have had. This is partly due to the amazing scenery surrounding the visitor centre and all of the local wildlife, and also due to all of the lovely, knowledgeable people I’ve gotten to know during my time here. I would like to thank all of the staff, volunteers and visitors who have made my time here so enjoyable. I’m quite sad to be leaving so soon, but I’m also looking forward to the future and what the rest of the year will bring. I do hope to come back as a volunteer at some point though, so it’s only going to be goodbye for a little while.


Sunset from Tayock


I took all of the photos used in this blog with my mobile phone camera, mostly from the visitor centre by digiscoping.


Molly Murray

Visitor Centre Assistant

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The past year has flown by and it’s now my final month working at the Montrose Basin Visitor Centre. I started in March 2019, and I can’t believe how quickly …

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