Thursday, 18 March 2010

Edinburgh and the Garden

We’ve been away from the area over the past few days and so have little to report locally. Having said that, we did notice that hundreds of Geese are still using the fields along the A96 toward Inverness. Unfortunately they’ve chosen a place where it is too dangerous to slow down or stop, so I can only hazard a guess that they are the Pinkfoot we spotted a few weeks ago.

We had spent a few days at the rugby in Edinburgh over the weekend. (How did Scotland fail to beat them?!). On the Monday, I dropped Kate off at an event in Cramond so I took the opportunity to do some birdwatching down at Cramond Island. What a great spot this is; in all the years that I’ve visited Edinburgh I have never found this place! It’s quite popular with the locals, but still quiet enough to observe the various waders. I was counting my way through the hundreds of Redshanks (I gave up counting!) when I spotted a solitary Greenshank. It remained nearly motionless for at least 15 minutes, ignoring all the other activity going on around it.

Other species included 105 Curlews, thousands of Dunlin; or were they Knot? As ever, very hard to distinguish between them at this time of year, particularly when the light is difficult. None of them had the beginnings of the summer plumage (a distinctive dark underbelly), which would be the give away, but they were smaller than Knots, so I settled on Dunlin. There were also nine Shelduck and two Teal, but I suspect there were many more around the corner as they usually come in great numbers.

Heading back north we noticed the numbers of Buzzards increasing, a sure sign we were approaching home. Talking of home, five Lapwings flew over the house yesterday. We have noticed a real decline in the numbers of Lapwing. Not many years ago you were likely to see great flying displays of these birds in flocks of hundreds flashing black and white as they dived down to the fields and up again. Fantastic birds to watch; but where have they all gone?

Also at home we’ve been lucky enough to have two regular visitors in the garden that we have christened ‘the odd couple’. One is a full plumage Hooded Crow and the other a Carrion Crow. I suspect the latter is a cross, but there are no signs of the grey plumage. They visit together often during the day, with the Carrion dominating the partnership, always getting first stab at the food, and when it leaves, the Hooded follows. A great couple to observe as they go about their daily chores. Less welcome visitors are two Wood Pigeons that have just discovered our feeding station. These birds can dominate the garden. When we lived down south they were everywhere, and so I am not enamoured by their presence at all, which sounds a bit hypocritical I suppose, but hey ho!


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