On BirdForum, James, a birder who lives near me, posted a sort of challenge for people who go birding in the Hermitage. He managed to see 42 species in 2 hours, so I decided to have a go on Thursday as we had a half day at school.
Started off in the field at 14:50, first bird was a flyover Goldfinch, joined by five flyover Feral Pigeons. Next followed all the birds I usually see in the field. Carrion Crow, Lesser Black-backed Gull, Common Gull, Herring Gull, Woodpigeon, and Magpie. Other birds I saw at te top of the field were a pair of Rooks, c25 Starlings, 4 Stock Doves, 30 Linnets, some unseen, but certainly heard, House Sparrows, a single Great Tit, 3 Long-tailed Tits, and a singing Robin. Further down the field I found 5 Pied Wagtails, one of which I suspect was a White Wagtail but might have been a female Pied. More Linnets joined them and I saw a Skylark in the long grass, singing with another 2 individuals.
Linnets (circled in blue)
Pied Wags (possible White on the left)
Another Stock Dove
The last few birds the field provided were a group of c30 Jackdaws, 1 singin male Chaffinch, and 2 Meadow Pipits flushed from the bottom of the field.
Into the Hemitage I was planning to go over the top of Blackford Hill to the pond to add plenty birds. The first bird I saw in the Hermitage though was a Blackbird making sure I was aware of her presence. A Buzzard in it’s usual spot gave me my 25th day tick after Grey Heron and Moorhen were seen in the burn. A Great Spotted Woodpecker flew from some large trees towards the middle of the Hermitage while a Greenfinch did it’s scratchy call from some gorse. Wren, Blue Tit, Bullfinch, and Goldcrest were all added while I trekked over the hill towards the pond.
Robin in the darkness
Of course the pond gave me all the usual waterbirds I needed: Mallard, Mute Swan, Coot, Black-headed Gull, Canada Goose, Greylag Goose, and Tufted Duck all added pretty easily. The only non-water bird I managed to see here was a Dunnock picking up bread from around the pond.
Foundations of a Magpies nest
Carrion Crow with partial Leucism
After the pond I went deep into the Hermitage where I was hoping to see some more woodland species, especially Nuthatch! The first bird I saw that I hadn’t already seen was a Song Thrush doing it’s best not to be seen. A pair of Coal Tits in a pine tree gave me species number 41 and number 42 followed much later on as two Mistle Thrushes alerted me to their presence by chasing away some Jackdaws. I’d equalled James’ total, but didn’t know it at the time so kept searching. Back along Blackford Glen Road at the bottom of the field a Dipper started warbling in the burn and my last effort to add a final species to my day list meant going on to the golf course and desperately trying to flush a Pheasant. Mr. Pheasant duly obliged and flew up out some thick grass giving me A. A big fright and B. My 44th species.
A total that I’m very happy with. Although… I did have a few glaring omissions. Raptors were lacking, no Sparrowhawk or Kestrel. Tree climbing species lacking too, no Treecreeper or Nuthatch. And I still haven’t seen the Braid Burn Grey Wagtails! Despite this I did manage to beat the 42 species mark, but I’m sure someone will beat my total sooner or later. Plenty birds I didn’t see that can be seen if you know what you’re doing. Chiffchaff, Water Rail, Grey Partridge, Red-legged Partridge, Peregrine, Redwing, Teal, all possibke! And when the summer month are here we’ll have even more. Willow Warbler, Whitethroat, Lesser Whitethroat, Blackcap, Yellowhammer, Wheatear, Swallow , Swift, House Martin, loads of then. Aaand there always the birds that turn up every now and then. Lapwing, Tree Sparrow, Little Egret, Osprey, Sand Martin, Kingfisher. I could go on and on… But anyway, I better finish this post here!