Slightly snowy Holyrood

This Thursday I went to Holyrood Park again to do some of my John Muir Award. I decided to do some bird counts as I’d gotten my counting sheets sorted out. As you can see from the title, it was a bit snowy, so this will hopefully change the number of birds in the area. I’ll only find out after I’ve done lots of counts in different conditions though 🙂
I must first explain something though. I have three areas which I’m exploring (Lilyhill, Whinny Hill and Dunsapie) and walking through. Then my walk is split into transects (sections) and these transects are usually different habitats. So for example, on the Whiny Hill I’ve got the first transect which is mainly Pine Plantation with a couple of Birches, the second is a few deciduous trees, the next is mainly Gorse and Broom, after that it opens out into open grassland (which I split into two transects as it’s quite a large area of grassland, and the last is mainly Gorse again with a few Larches. So…

I headed up to my first area (Lilyhill) and started my first count, which very quickly became quite fruitful! In the first transect I added 5 Goldfinches in an Alder tree but I could hear more. Into the next transect I added a year tick almost straight away! 3 Siskin. Lovely bird, picking at the Alder cones. I also had a Song Thrush showing nicely before it flew away.

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Moving on, the next couple of transects had barely anything in them. This changed in the next one though with 15 species in it. This included 8 Goldfinch, 3 more Siskin, 4 Long-tailed Tits, and most surprisingly 2 Pheasants and a Redwing flying past at a million miles an hour, only to sit in the top of an Elder and stare at me for a bit.

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Spot the Pheasant!

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Siskins

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Noisy Male Goldfinch

IMG_4825 More Siskins.

In total, Lilyhill gave me:
Blackbird: 8
Carrion Crow: 4
Black-headed Gull: 1
Great Tit: 9
Wren: 3
Goldfinch: 20
Siskin: 6
Chaffinch: 11
Song Thrush: 1
Robin: 2
Long-tailed Tit: 7
Blue Tit: 5
Woodpigeon: 14
Dunnock: 2
Pheasant: 2
Redwing: 1
House Sparrow: 1
Goldcrest: 1
Magpie: 4
Bullfinch: 4
Greenfinch: 2

On to the Whinny Hill plantation, where I knew I’d find Goldcrests. Sure enough, 5 in the first transect. Tricky to take a picture of though!

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Another species I usually see in here is Bullfinch which I saw 5 of in the first three transects, plus 2 more Goldcrest. 2 Long-tailed Tits in the treetops with a couple of Magpies too. As this is mainly a Scot’s Pine plantation Coal Tit is never hard to find, but I only got 1. It was very close though, arms length away in the low branches of a birch. The last three transects (open grassland) had virtually nothing in them. A couple of Woodpigeons and a Magpie. It’ll be interesting to compare this to warmer weather.

The totals for Whinny Hill was:
Goldcrest: 7
Bullfinch: 5
Coal Tit: 1
Blue Tit: 1
Long-tailed Tit: 2
Carrion Crow: 1
Magpie: 3
Dunnock: 1
Woodpigeon: 2

IMG_4827 Best I managed of Long-tailed Tit.

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IMG_4836 The only Crow I recognise most times I’m at Holyrood is this one, as it has slightly pale colouration on it’s wings.

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IMG_4838 Bullfinches

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IMG_4834 The view across the Forth from Whinny Hill

I had my lunch on the way up to Dunsapie which I hadn’t decided on transects so I had to do it on my walk. To start off with I walked around Dunsapie Loch, adding 19 Black-headed Gulls, 2 Carrion Crows, 2 Mute Swans (Sid and Sally are resident on Dunsapie), 3 Tufted Ducks, 3 Common Gulls, 1 Herring Gull, 6 Mallard, and 1 Woodpigeon.

IMG_4840 A coming-out-of first winter Herring Gull

Next I walked up Dunsapie Crag as I figured in the summer there’ll be more birds on the Crag. This paid off as I added my first Meadow Pipit of the year, cheeping away at the top of the crag with a Carrion Crow joining it. Not much else to add in this area unfortunately. A nice singing Bullfinch was a goodish find though.

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Totals for Dunsapie were:
Black-headed Gull: 19
Carrion Crow: 4
Kestrel: 1
Mute Swan: 2
Tufted Duck: 3
Common Gull: 3
Herring Gull: 1
Mallard: 6
Woodpigeon: 5
Jackdaw: 3
Goldfinch: 2
Meadow Pipit: 1
Bullfinch: 4
Great Tit: 3
Blue Tit: 2
Dunnock: 1

I then headed back to the Historic Scotland office, and got halfway there before realising I was pretty early, so grabbed some pics around St. Margaret’s Loch…

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I also returned to Lilyhill and got a few more pics. And I got a very close encounter with a Wren which I could have crouched down and stroked had it not been so jittery. I would also have been able to get some better pictures had it not been so jittery…

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And to finish off, some landscape-y pictures…

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Slightly snowy Holyrood

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