Trip reports

Blackford Hill

Great tit perched in small tree
Great tit - RSPB Images

Wednesday, 8 June 2016

29 happy people joined me on our annual summer evening outing. Clear sunny skies greeted us as we gathered by Blackford Pond. With help from my local group friends we embarked on our saunter round the pond spotting Mute Swans with cygnets, Tufted duck, Mallard, Coot and even a Moorhen nesting in the branches of a tree on the island. Alex informed me she had just begun sitting which suggested she may be on eggs. We shall have to watch to see. Jackdaw, Crow, Feral pigeon, Black-headed gull and Lesser Black-backed gull flew around or settled on the pond and an obliging magpie flew into a small tree by the water's edge. A wren could be heard singing from the wetland patch. Passing the allotments, we could hear the elusive Blackcap but did not see it whilst a Chiffchaff sang somewhere in the tall trees. Wood Pigeon soared overhead. Dave spotted Long-tailed tits in an open shrub area as a Robin sang from the top of a white flowering shrub while a Blue tit searched for insects amongst the flowers. Chaffinch and Willow Warbler could be heard at regular intervals and as we reached the wooded area where the canopy enclosed us Great Tit were observed.

We descended the slope towards the bridge over the Braid Burn and to our delight one, then two Dippers were found feeding amongst the stones on the river bed. Surfacing every now and again with larvae in their beaks. Dave spotted a Kestrel hovering up on the horizon. Meanwhile, one of our American guests spotted three Goldfinch flying across. Could we find that Song Thrush? No! But we did see the Bullfinch.

Heading back up the hill and across the top towards the Observatory Greenfinch and Dunnock were spotted, as distant Yellow Hammer sang. Swift and a possible swallow were seen by Eppie. As we gingerly made our way down the steep steps some heard and others saw a Whitethroat beneath the cliff. Traversing the hillside, we looked down into the canopy and up the hill in a vain effort to spot the elusive Blackcap which flitted in and out of the sycamore leaves. Walking down the steps to arrive back at the pond I saw the reflection of a grey heron fly over, which Alex confirmed. He was one of the lucky ones to spot the Song thrush.

It was a grand evening's walk around Blackford Hill and pond with several of our number as visitors from abroad including locals enjoying the outing.

Winnie Thomson

PS. Alex later informed me he had revisited the pond that evening and found the elusive Little Grebe.