Trip reports

Ormiston & Arniston House

House martin in flight
RSPB

Saturday, 25 April 2015

The gloomy weather forecasts from the previous day gradually improved and by the morning of our outing they were predicting it to be dry by noon and sunny by 3pm. Happily it turned out dry by 10 am and sunny by noon, so all was set for a good day out birding.

Meeting in the car park at Ormiston we saw grey heron and a sparrowhawk flying over, and song thrush, blackbird, blue tit and chaffinch in the trees. Making our way along the former railway track we realised that blackcaps were abundant, and willow warblers and chiffchaffs also plentiful. Robins and great tits seemed to follow us, but the dunnocks were more shy. Looking over the fields we enjoyed watching the swallows swooping to hoover up insects, and voted them a favourite summer bird. Skylarks were rising, circling, singing and parachuting down to earth again, and as we watched one of these displays a reed bunting settled on a branch above us. Yellowhammers stood out in the sunshine, appearing almost "day-glo", and we talked about why it is that the female yellowhammer is, apparently, more impressed by the russet reds in a male's plumage, rather than the vibrant yellow. Taking a loop away from the main track we saw linnet and a common whitethroat, while woodpigeon, rook and carrion crow completed our morning's sightings.

In the afternoon we moved to the grounds of Arniston House, arriving at "bird siesta time"! We saw many of the species from our morning list, and were delighted to watch the nuthatches in the big trees near the House. A great spotted woodpecker was also seen in this area, and an oystercatcher was strolling on the lawn. Walking down into the Glen we saw long-tailed tits, and there was a mixed flock of barn swallows and sand martins, with some house martins among them. A flock of goldfinches flew over as we followed the path beside the river, and a single mallard flew downstream. Coal tits could be heard, and we eventually spotted one, but the calling greenfinch eluded our binoculars. Just before we took the path out of the Glen a grey wagtail and dipper were spotted. While walking back through the woods to the House, wren, goldcrest and common buzzard were added to our sightings.
We had had a very amiable and interesting day's birding, and the grounds of Arniston House always provide a delightful walk.

Val Donaldson