Trip reports

Bavelaw and Pentlands

Spotted flycatcher on perch
Spotted Flycatcher - RSPB

Saturday, 13 June 2015

A group of 10 of us met at Threipmuir car park on a cool, overcast, but pleasant morning - a lot cooler than the previous few days, but actually it turned out to be very good weather for birding as the light was excellent and the birds were active. The route took us along to the bridge by Bavelaw Marsh, up the hill to Bavelaw Castle and then though the Green Cleugh to the Waterfalls, with the return by the same route.

We had a superb day's birding, with 55 species recorded, including ring ouzels (up to 3 pairs, we reckoned) and a pair of spotted flycatchers.

Walking from the car park to the bridge, there were many small birds including a number of redpoll, in ones and twos, calling as they flew over. Other birds seen and heard were bullfinch, blackcaps, and lots of willow warblers. At Bavelaw Marsh there were several tufted duck, a few mallard, coot, little grebe, cormorant, mute swan, goldcrest, goldfinch, grey heron and cuckoo calling.

Then up the steep hill, (which didn't seem to be a problem for anyone!), to Bavelaw Castle. Many birds, including the spotted flycatchers in the woods, treecreeper, tits, mistle and song thrushes, and very good views of a great spotted woodpecker.

Walking through the Green Cleugh was an interesting experience as none of us had seen it so busy, with many DofE expedition groups, loads of cyclists and lots of walkers! Despite this, we were still able to see snipe, linnet, ring ouzel, buzzard, curlew, skylark, meadow pipit and reed bunting.

At the waterfall, which, given the dry weather was only a trickle, we saw dipper, grey wagtail (visiting its nest), more ring ouzels, with one pair being chased by kestrel, and sand martins nesting in the stream bank. We also had good views of wheatears, stonechats, and a very vociferous raven! Perhaps the only disappointment was in not seeing or hearing whinchat, but this was not unexpected as I haven't seen any on this side of the Pentlands this year.

In summary, a very good walk with excellent birds - considerably more than any of us had anticipated!

Lawrence Mitchell