Trip reports

Coach outing to SWT Montrose Basin

Coach outing to SWT Montrose Basin
Yellowhammer - Rosie Filipiak

Sunday, 5 March 2017

We were treated to beautiful weather for our visit to SWT Montrose Basin - warm sun and clear light - ideal for birding. It also made for good sea views on our journey up the coast road from Arbroath to Montrose.

The morning walk from Old Mill Farm, through arable land to the edge of the Basin, gave us groups of birds; 5 little grebe, 6 common buzzard, a large flock of pink-footed geese that lifted and re-settled as the water level changed, flocks of linnet and twite, groups of goldeneye, oystercatcher, lapwing, and several stunning yellowhammers. There were numerous blackbirds but only a single mistle thrush, while the hedgerows gave us wren, dunnock, robin, great, blue and long-tailed tit, and a goldcrest. The flock of mute swans feeding on the crops, were deliberately chased off by the farmer and her dog, and as they flew low we enjoyed the distinctive sound of the air passing through their feathers. Swans feeding on crops is a problem and the SWT employ someone to keep them at bay.

The day's other raptor was a kestrel that landed in a ploughed field - instant camouflage! Singing skylarks were showing, and chaffinch, goldfinch, and a reed bunting and a meadow pipit were added to the list.

There had been so much to see in this area that time flew and we hurried back to the coach to head for the SWT Visitor Centre, with its welcoming and helpful staff, for our afternoon's birding. We enjoyed browsing the revamped interactive displays and sightings board before settling down to an afternoon of comfortable viewing from the Centre, with its 7 public-use scopes, and also from the Lower Hide.

Only a few were lucky enough to see the kingfisher. However flocks of knot were putting on a great display of synchronised flying, flashing white as they wheeled in the bright sunlight, and dunlin too were demonstrating their group-flying manoeuvres. The mudflats were full of birds; golden plover, redshank, greenshank, black-tailed godwit, curlew, with shelduck, mallard, pintail, shoveler, wigeon,teal, eider and red-breasted merganser in the stretches of water. We were pleased to see a line of scaup, though it was a distant view! A number of grey heron and cormorant were seen, along with black-headed, common, herring and great black-backed gulls.

The feeders provided easy food for tree and house sparrows, greenfinch, siskin and coal tit, with yellowhammers again catching the eye with their "day-glo" hue. Under-feeder debris was being hoovered up by woodpigeon, moorhen and pheasant, while a song thrush belted out its repertoire.
A prize sighting for some was a water rail, and we also added stock dove, collared dove, pied wagtail and starling to our bird list. Corvids seen were magpie, jackdaw and carrion crow to join the rooks we had seen on our journey. Including the goosander that had been spotted on the Tay, the group amassed a total of 67 species. Not a bad total after a good day out birding.

Val Donaldson,
Coach Outings Organiser