Migrant bird swaps the Med for Montrose

Glossy ibis by Neil Black
Glossy ibis by Neil Black

A migrant bird more often seen in southern Europe has made a rare visit to Montrose.

At least two of the birds have been spotted by visitors and staff at the Scottish Wildlife Trust’s Montrose Basin Visitor Centre and Wildlife Reserve in the past two weeks.

Glossy ibis by Mark Caunt Photography

Glossy ibis by Mark Caunt Photography

The glossy ibis is a similar shape and size to a curlew but has a distinctive bottle green wing and a sickle shaped beak.

The species winters in Africa and is more commonly found in the south of Europe during summer, but increasing numbers are finding their way to the UK.

Anna Cheshier, reserve ranger at Montrose Basin, said: “It’s unusual for a glossy ibis to come quite as far north as Montrose so it has caused a bit of a stir among visitors to the reserve over the past week.

“They are coming to the UK more frequently, possibly because drier conditions in countries, such as Spain, are pushing them north in search of more suitable habitat.”

Montrose Basin covers 1000 hectares and is located on an enclosed estuary of the River South Esk.

The reserve has a rich mosaic of saltmarsh, reed bed, mixed agriculture, extensive mudflats and a mix of fresh, brackish and salt water.

It is an important roosting and feeding area for a variety of migrant birds, and is internationally important for breeding eiders, wintering waders and wildfowl, attracting up to 80,000 pink-footed geese in winter.