Trip reports

Group Outing

Willow warbler

Wednesday, 23 April 2014

Harestanes and Woodside Garden

Harestanes Countryside Visitor Centre is a few miles north of Jedburgh and sits almost in the shadow of the Waterloo Monument on Peniel Heugh. Nine members met up on a pleasantly sunny morning hoping for a good day in the surrounding fields, woods and riverbanks. We were not disappointed. This is a new-style Morecambe and Wise report; that is it has all the right birds, just not in the right order. Now that nuthatches are well-established in Scotland we were hoping for prime sightings. Once we were off and into the woods it did not take long before the calls were picked up and the first sightings were confirmed. A more open area with a bridge over a stream provided a perfect point to view a nuthatch nest site high up on a tree. The entrance to the hole in the tree had been largely filled with mud with the birds leaving just a nuthatch-sized hole.

Eventually we dragged ourselves away from exhibit one to go in search of more highlights. The woods were full of birdsong and with not too many leaves on the trees hopes were high of sighting the songsters. Optimism proved not to be misplaced; willow warbler, chiffchaff and blackcap, male and female, were all tracked down and provided fine viewing. Song thrush and mistle thrush were also subject to extended scrutiny.

To round off the morning we visited the Woodside Walled Garden and Plant Centre where the RSPB Borders Group has constructed a wildlife garden with a very fine garden shed/visitor centre with birdcams and screens. With the sun shining, picnic tables back at the Centre were perfect for a civilised lunch with the opportunity to visit an exhibition devoted to the hare, including photographs by Laurie Campbell, paintings and sculptures. Heading out again our next target was the River Teviot. The water brought us pied wagtail, grey heron, goosander, mute swan, black-headed gull, house martin and common sandpiper. Having crossed and re-crossed the river and decided not to explore a short way back serendipity struck and we found ourselves in two groups with one group persisting until a garden warbler was seen and confirmed while others were rewarded with grey wagtail. We also saw goldcrest and had buzzard overhead. We didn't manage treecreeper but all of the other species one could reasonably expect in the habitats were seen.

If we count yellowhammer and bullfinch which may have been seen or heard but were not confirmed our total was 40. It was a really satisfying day out with the sun shining and the birds putting on a great show for us, fine singing and splendid costumes. Alex Wight