Trip reports

Blackford Hill Dawn Chorus

Male blackcap in hawthorn bush

Sunday, 3 May 2015

A gie dreich Sunday morning for our 40th anniversary Blackford Hill Dawn Chorus walk but six hardy stalwarts appeared at the Blackford Pond carpark. Undaunted by the thick dark cloud we progressed to the pond. En-route magpie, chaffinch, willow warbler and female blackbird were spotted. Perched on the limb of a fallen tree, hidden behind fresh foliage, a grey heron surveyed the water beneath. Tufted duck swam towards us expectantly while lesser black backed gull, mallard, coot and moorhen sailed over the pond or pecked around the fringe. On the island a mute swan lay with its' head beneath the wing. Blue tit, hanging upside down on the beech twigs, were joined by great tit searching for insects. Cathy spotted dunnock on the wall beside the path. Throughout the walk the ever present woodpigeon sat observing us from a height or foraged on the ground as carrion crow flew above. As we entered the Wetland Patch Anne spotted a treecreeper whilst a wren sang. Eying up the immaculate allotments jackdaw and robin were seen searching the well turned over soil. Dave pointed out a coal tit with beak stuffed with insects and a long tailed tit made a brief appearance. Light rain threatened to dampen things down but we pressed on up the steep steps to be met with a chill wind as we traversed across the gorse covered top seeing goldfinch on the trees. Following the path round and down the slope through the wood we made for the sturdy bridge over the braid burn. In a far off tree a couple of male bullfinch sat. Sadly no grey wagtail or dipper showed a feather. As we climbed the hill back along the main path towards the pond two treecreeper were identified spiralling their way up a trunk. Good views of song thrush were had throughout the walk. Occasionally a chiffchaff could be heard but remained unspotted. As we branched up the right hand path running along the hillside we debated the scene over the city towards Craighouse and Corstorphine hills. A greenfinch obligingly called from atop a tree above the gorse then, looking down the slope an excellent view of a male blackcap singing was had by all just as a swallow took its' circuit out over the pond area. Twenty eight species over a couple of cold wet hours was not a bad score at all.

Winnie Thomson