Rare avian visitors cause flap at Basin

BIRDWATCHERS have been enjoying an unusual treat at Montrose Basin Nature Reserve recently after the arrival of three rare visitors.

The spoonbills were spotted at the reserve at the end of June and local twitchers have been flocking to the reserve’s visitor centre in the hope of catching a glimpse of the wading birds.

Sightings of the bird in the UK are rare with between 70 and 75 each year. Although still uncommon, spoonbills are usually seen on coastal sites in north-west and south-west England and East Anglia and rarely venture this far north. As a whole, the species is a European conservation concern

They take their name from their long, flattened spatula-like bills and their striking appearance is complemented by their white feathers and long black legs.

Scottish Wildlife Trust ranger Anna Cheshier said it was a rare chance for birdwatchers to record and photograph the large wading birds.

She said: “The spoonbill is unmistakable. It really stands out at Montrose Basin and we have been watching them carefully since the first sighting on June 28. I have never seen more than one spoonbill at Montrose Basin so it is great news to see a group.

The birds can grow to a similar size as a heron, around four feet high. They can be recognised in flight as they fly with necks and legs extended and in the water they feed with sideward sweeps of their bill.