Trip reports

RSPB Outing

male stonechat perched on bramble

Saturday, 3 May 2014

Lammermuir Circuit

The woods around the Bleacher Field in Gifford were quieter than usual, though woodpigeon, dunnock, robin, blackbird, great- and blue tits, jackdaw and chaffinch were out feeding. From the bridge over Gifford Water we had great views of a pair of dipper and a very colourful male grey wagtail.

At our first stop on the moor we heard a cuckoo, always a pleasure, and adjusted our eyes to pick out calling skylarks. Several snipe were flying, and we were treated to the drumming sound made by their vibrating tail feathers. Lapwings were everywhere, with some taking exception to the proximity of a group of brown hares. Oystercatcher, curlew, black-headed gull, barn swallow, meadow pipit and reed bunting were also seen.

Moving on into the hills we stopped to walk to Faseny Cottage. We were amused by a red grouse sitting on a gatepost, and watched a kestrel and common buzzard on the skyline. As we were watching a wheatear a possible golden plover flew over, calling loudly. We could hear ring ouzel but couldn't find it, so walked back, noting herring gull en route.

Next stop, Faseny Bridge, with pied wagtail and a stonechat at the start of the walk. We were hoping to see ring ouzel, and were concerned that the area appeared quiet. However, we did find 2 males prospecting for territory, and then saw a third. A mountain hare was spotted as we headed back down for lunch, during which a wren flew downstream.

Continuing, we stopped briefly to look down over Dye Water, and added goosander, moorhen, redshank, lesser black-backed gull, sand martin and carrion crow to our list. By the farm cottages we spotted house sparrows, and Eppie heard tree sparrows.

Leaving the upland part of our circuit we dropped down into different habitats. The next stop gave us an excellent view of a linnet perched high on the gorse, with willow warbler, chiffchaff, goldfinch and yellowhammer nearby. A song thrush was in the field, along with a solitary mallard moving purposefully across the grass. At stop 6, the Whiteadder Dam, we spotted 2 pairs of common sandpipers, red-legged partridge, a pheasant and it melanistic morph, and starlings.

Overlooking Whiteadder Reservoir we were delighted to see greylag and Canada geese with lots of goslings. A group of 7 barnacle geese on the bank was a surprise, and teal and tufted duck were on the water. A mistle thrush was sitting on a fence post behind us, and our final bird, at the last stop, was a little grebe at the end of the reservoir.

Glowing from our day out, and with an interesting bird list of 54 species seen (+ 2 heard) we headed home.

Val Donaldson