Trip reports

Birnie and Gaddon Lochs

Male snipe singing in the rain
Snipe - RSPB Images

Wednesday, 5 October 2016

Birnie and Gaddon Lochs were excavated in the late 1980s/early 1990s as sand and gravel quarries. Quarrying below the water table meant the workings flooded as the pits deepened, to give the lochs you see today.

Eight Edinburgh group members drove over to the lochs near Collessie, Fife, noting progress on the new Queensferry Crossing as the present Forth Road Bridge was crossed. The trees round the lochs have been chosen to attract wildlife and the plants along the loch edges are all native to Fife. The site is now well matured and attracts both birdwatchers and locals.

Birdwatching could start immediately as moorhen scuttled over the grass at the car park, a mallard came to enquire what was happening and a robin was singing in the bushes. The group started on a circuit of both lochs which took over two hours, with frequent watching stops. A good variety of birds were seen or heard, both woodland species and waterbirds. These included bullfinch, goldcrest, grey wagtail, little grebe, long-tailed tit, jay (heard) and good views of song thrush.

We returned to the car park about 12:30 to find Winnie enjoying her lunch. Not to be outdone, we joined her. The weather being kind, we were able to sit out at the picnic tables and benches.

After lunch, we visited three other sites close to Collessie: Letham Pools, Angle Park Gravel Pit and The Wilderness (this name is on the relevant OS map), near Ladybank. Viewing for all these sites is from roadside verges, so great care must be taken to birdwatch safely. The first of these, Letham Pools, are large ponds in waterlogged fields, with the pool on the North side of the road usually getting the better birds. Angle Park and The Wilderness were originally excavated as sand and gravel quarries.

Our first stop was at Letham Pools and added a number of good birds to our group list, including gadwall, common snipe, black-tailed godwit and shoveler. We moved on to Angle Park Gravel Pit. Viewing from this site is not as easy as it used to be as you have to look through a smallholding to see the birds. Some late swallows overhead were notable. Our final stop was The Wilderness and added bar-tailed godwit and curlew to the list. To alleviate parking problems, we had left some cars at Birnie Loch Car Park but this was only a few minutes away, so the cars were quickly collected. Shortly after 3pm we were all on our way back to Edinburgh.

John Hamilton

Group Bird List:
Little Grebe; Grey Heron; Mute Swan; Wigeon; Gadwall; Teal, Mallard; Shoveler; Tufted Duck; Moorhen; Lapwing; Snipe; Bar-tailed Godwit; Curlew; Black-headed Gull; Lesser Black-backed Gull; Common Gull; Herring Gull; Great Black-backed Gull; Wood Pigeon; Swallow; Meadow Pipit; Grey Wagtail; Pied Wagtail; Wren; Dunnock; Robin; Blackbird; Song Thrush; Goldcrest; Long tailed Tit; Coal Tit; Blue Tit; Great Tit; Jay (heard); Magpie; Jackdaw; Rook; Carrion Crow; Chaffinch; Bullfinch. (41 birds)