Trip reports

An RSPB Outing

Female house sparrow perched on dead branch

Saturday, 15 June 2013

A slightly lower turnout than usual, though it didn't turn out to be an unlucky 13, and a few new faces were made welcome. Our list started before we left the car park with swifts passing overhead. The path through the woods gave good sightings (and sound) of Wrens and Willow Warblers. Some of us also spotted a Bullfinch and a few Long-tailed Tits. Both sides of the reservoir were very quiet, with a Liitle Grebe being the best sighting. Walking up the hill towards the castle the people at the back of the group had a possible woodpecker fly across, but didn't get a clear view. Once we got out onto the hills it was pretty windy, though fortunately the earlier rain had now stopped. I reckon the wind was keeping the activity down, as we didn't get the swallows and martins that I would have expected. A tantalising call from a reedbed could have been a snipe, but if so, it stayed well hidden.
As we moved along the trail we got a bit more shelter from the wind and the birding picked up a bit. Meadow Pipits were common, and some Stonechats and a single male Reed Bunting were seen. A couple of the group had to turn back as they were finding it rather cold, but the rest of us pushed on along the Green Cleugh towards the Logan Burn. We were checking out some Sand Martins when a thrush size bird was briefly spotted disappearing into the vegetation. Could it be... Yes! Ring Ouzel! And then another one. Male and female feeding on the hillside. A family of Whinchats, both adults and at least 2 young completed a memorable section of the walk.
The area beside the burn where I had hoped to stop for lunch was already taken, so we went on slightly further, adding both Pied and Grey Wagtail on the way. Our lunch break also brought the only raptor sightings of the day with Kestrel and Buzzard being seen, the Kestrel carrying something in its talons. We continued briefly along the burn afterward, as not everyone had seen the wagtails, and I had just picked up the Grey Wagtail again, when Manuel, one of our newcomers, spotted a Dipper. It took off, but flew towards us rather than away, and landed fairly close so we all got good views. As we moved on it flew again, at first down the burn away from us, but then turned and came back up past us, and as it landed again we saw a second one nearby.
It was time to turn back, and although the rain came on again on the way back, we managed to get the Ring Ouzels, Whinchats, Stonechats and Reed Bunting again, and a Skylark even braved the wind and rain to sing above us. All in all, a most successful outing.
Hugh M. Conner