Trip reports

A bird watching outing

A bird watching outing

Wednesday, 23 May 2012

We had an excellent day, in many ways. The weather was perfect, with warm sun and clear light, we saw good birds, and enjoyed convivial company. In Gifford, swifts, barn swallows and house martins were wheeling overhead and the woodland was alive with song. We saw dunnock, blackbird, great-, coal- and blue tits, house sparrow, chaffinch and bullfinch, and Mike heard nuthatch. From the bridge, we watched a pair of grey wagtail. On the moorland, red grouse with tiny chicks, red-legged partridge, and a flock of 16 golden plover were seen clearly, in addition to lapwing, curlew, woodpigeon, skylark and meadow pipit. At least one cuckoo was calling, and then John spotted it, and we spent a long time enjoying great views of the bird's behaviour. In the same area a kestrel, looked magnificent with its plumage glowing in the sunshine. Parking the cars, we walked the track to Faseny Cottage, and very soon heard ring ouzel, probably our main "target" bird for the day. We had superb views of a very accommodating male posing on fence posts, again giving us time to study shape, size and colouring. Eppie spotted our first mistle thrush, and by the stream, we added oystercatcher, common sandpiper and pied wagtail, with, over the moorland, common buzzard. Wheatear were much in evidence, as were brown hare.
After a sunbathing lunch beside the stream we had to force ourselves to move on from such an idyllic spot. We had seen a raptor flying along the crest of the hills, and after some discussion, thought that it was possibly a female hen harrier. On route to Longformacus Sam had great views of a perching jay, but, sadly, it didn't stay long enough for the rest of us to see, typical of this shy bird. Further along the road a lot of woodland had been cleared, giving us views of a patch of water not normally visible, so here we added teal, black-headed gull, moorhen, reed bunting, and a possible kingfisher to our list. Moving on we saw goldfinch, tree sparrows and jackdaw and carrion crow. Arriving at the patch of gorse that we call the "warbler stop" it was by now that quiet time of day for birds. However we did see sedge- and willow warblers, greylag geese, and, possibly, a red kite. Below the dam we got our best views of dipper, and pausing to overlook Whiteadder Reservoir, we watched greylag and Canada geese, both with young, and mallard with ducklings in tow. Tufted duck and redshank were also added to our list. Our final stop, for sand martins, didn't disappoint, and by this time we were all weary, sun-kissed instead of wind-swept for a change, and had opted to stay out for longer than usual to make the most of such a brilliant day. We got back to Gifford as the clock struck 5pm.
Val Donaldson