I say eventually because I haven’t been in the best of moods recently. Wasn’t motivated to do anything really, possibly due to the weather which hasn’t been great. But yesterday, the first of April, I finally forced myself to get out the house despite the looming clouds that appeared to be clinging on to their rain drops until I went out.
Luckily I was not the target of the rain clouds and they moved on. I’ll just do a brief summary of what I saw today as it’s quite late and I’d like to mainly blog about the best bits of my day.
The Hermitage was, once again, where I headed, and the first bird I saw was a Moorhen, one of the residents on the golf course. Above the council depot I heard a lot of Greenfinches and counted 6, which by the end of the day was a total of 16. Quite high compared to most of my previous counts. A Chiffchaff chiff chaffing by the burn was nice to hear, as it always is. The male Kestrel was very active throughout the day and gave me great views from almost everywhere I went, including the kitchen window. Speaking of window, a male Sparrowhawk landed next to the feeder in our garden today and only flew off once my camera got into focus. Typical!
I did see 1 Sparrowhawk whilst I was out,and one Buzzard too. I still haven’t managed to redeem myself after not seeing the Nuthatch on my 2 hour challenge,but heard the pewpewpewpewpew of a Nuthatch twice today and once yesterday (When I say today I mean the 1st of April and yesterday means the 31st of March, just to clarify). Quite agrivating when you can hear that a bird is in the branches in front of you but you can’t quite find it, and then you hear it way off across the valley. Oh well, another day.
I have however seen the Treecreepers, today I saw 2 of them at Aggasiz Rock in the Hermitage which is a place that I’ve only seen them this year. They must be spreading.
Going back to the Kestrel, yesterday I had a very close encounter with him. Pics below…
Other notable sightings would be the Dipper, busy as ever, and 2 Mallards who appear to have chosen to nest in a boggy patch in the middle of the woods.
A rather aesthetic Grey Squirrel, would rather it was Red though…
Mr Kestrel perched atop a tree.
Now on to the really interesting stuff. I’ve recently become more interested in mammals and so I’ve been trying to see them more. I’ve been carrying around a tub of seed, listening for squeaks, looking for tracks and holes, etc. Finally, finally, I managed to see a small mammal and identify it.
I was walking back home along a path which I usually walk along as it’s so muddy that not many other people use it, so I have more chance of having the birds to myself. As I was walking I heard the undeniable squeaking of a small rodent. I haven’t enough experience with rodents yet to know what it was. So I waited and watched. Eventually I saw something out the corner of my eye, in an old tree stump which now had grass growing over it. A small, slim-ish, grey creature going back and forward and calling all the time. I knew straight away that it was a Common Shrew, thanks to my relatively new book: Mammals of Europe, North Africa and the Middle East. I punched the air. Perhaps a bit over the top but I was getting a bit bored of not seeing Nuthatches. I continued to watch the Shrew’s antics for about five minutes, working out where his run lead to as I’d see him come out of the hole in the stump, disappear into another,see a flash of grey as he went along his run in the thick grass, and then hear him squeaking in some grass further up the bank. Very happy 🙂
The hole which I viewed the Shrew through.
Prime rodent habitat.
Possible Water Shrew habitat?
I continued back along the path and decided to pick up the pellets that I was passing. I thought at the time that they were owl pellets but they might not be. I’ll probably talk about that more in the next post.
So I got back on to Blackford Glen Road as I walked home. Along this section of my walk I rarely look up from the burn as I know that there are things in there that I haven’t seen before such as the Water Rail, possible Water Shrews, Bank Voles, and probably more. I was actually thinking about this as my eyes came across something that I was not expecting to see at all. A female Goosander in the burn! She quickly took off and wheeled around heading for the golf course. I took a few pics, with my jaw dropped down to my chest.
I was not expecting Goosander to be my next patch tick at all, but I’m not complaining! That’s my 64th patch tick, and a really good one too, haven’t seen anyone reporting Goosander in the Braid Burn before so maybe a first for the area, I dunno. I kept walking downstream towards the golf course, checked the section of the burn that runs through the golf course and there she was preening beside the water. What a lovely bird.
And after another punch at the air, I went home.