Living in Edinburgh, I’ve come to realise that you sort of have to dress assuming it’s going to rain soon. Most of the time I don’t bother and end up getting cold or wet. So yesterday I did what I should have done very other time. I had my hoodie, my big gilet jacket and my waterproof in my bag with a pair of gloves. Of course, the weather was lovely. Warm, sunny, not all that breezy. A very nice day relative to the last few windy days we’ve had. I was trapped in my warm clothes for the whole day. That being said, it was a good day of birding and other activities.
As it is actually my John Muir award day, I couldn’t just sit at Duddigston Loch watching birds all day so I only did that for about and hour. Highlights there were all the Chiffchaffs making it feel like a lovely summer day, meeting the hybrid Greylag x Canada Goose again and having a wee catch-up, and just looking out across the water at all the wildfowl minding their own business. There were a few times I heard Moorhens and mistakened them for Water Rails, and the Coots were a lot of fun to watch being territorial across the other side of the Loch. Unfortunately I didn’t see the Great Crested Grebe that has apparently taken up residence but never mind, another time. The only raptor I saw there was a Kestrel hunting over the hill.
First Chiffchaff of the day
Carrion Crow admiring the view with me
Hybrid Greylag x Canada Goose Duddingston Loch Mute Swan
Pair of Grey Wagtails LBBG Greylag thought he was a Canada Magpie Dunnock feeding in car park
I then headed up the hill to Dunsapie Loch to start some tree counts. Meaning I was working out which trees were in my areas so I can see if there area relationships between the birds and the trees, which I’m sure there are. For example the Siskins that I’ve seen have only been in the Alders, and Coal Tits only near Scot’s Pines. It’s also helping me broaden my range of identifiable things 🙂
Dunsapie, however, doesn’t have many trees. There’s one spot with Scot’s Pine, Birch and Alder where I see quite a lot of Goldfinches, some Greenfinches and Bullfinches in amongst the brambles. Easy to explain, the finches eat the seeds from the Alder Cones and it’s suitable nesting habitat with the thick shrubs on the ground.
Of course the usual birds were in the area too and I was also (as I always am now) looking for signs of mammals. Loads of vole runs amongst the long grass on Dunsapie Crag, and I think I found a Weasel hole next to the path I was on.
Lesser Black-backed Gull Dunsapie Loch Suspected Weasel hole Rangers ranging
Once finished at Dunsapie I headed towards Lilyhill to count trees, seeing plenty Greenfinches.
Checked a little puddle that’s formed under an Elder bush which I’ve seen birds bathing in before. Had good views of a female Chaffinch and a couple of House Sparrows having a lovely time.
But the real bathing highlight was later on when I looked in one of the drainage ditches at the frogspawn and a male Sparrowhawk flew up out of the same ditch a bit further along.
I stood still for a while and he realised I was letting him finish his bath. So he flew back down and gave me great views as he got everywhere washed, including behind the ears. Wasn’t very easy to get a picture between all the branches.
After standing for over 5 minutes I figured he must’ve had enough of a wash so I moved on a bit along the path towards him. He flew up into the branch again so I stopped and let him ruffle his feathers a bit and dislodge some of the water, before continuing through the woods and he flew off between the trees. Thank you Mr Sprawk!
Here are a couple of the other pics I took.
Magpie in Scot’s Pine
Once I was done there I went into the Whinny Hill plantation which is mainly Scot’s Pine, some Birch, and lots of Gorse and Broom.
I decided to sit in an open grassy patch and do a few sketches. I didn’t have my 2B pencil with me but made do with my mechanical one. My first sketch wasn’t very good, a Robin. But without colour or shading it doesn’t really look that good. Next I sketched the Magpie that was in the Scot’s Pine and then I sketched my view across the Firth of Forth.
The word in the middle is “Euronay” which was what it said on the sir of the ship in the middle of the Forth. Whilst I was sitting there I had quite a few fly-overs. Loads of gulls, a Grey Heron, and a Peregrine, which really made my day.
After my sketching I got up and walked all the way round the hill and then cut through the centre if the park past Hunter’s Bog where a couple of photographers were taking photos of the resident Pheasant while I took more interest in all the crows and found a hybrid Hooded x Carrion amongst all the Carrion Crows who had gathered around the water’s edge.
Hybrid in centre shot
Big Crow calling from some rocks above me.
My attention then turned to a Magpie who was running along the path in front of me, and I figured since I hadn’t used any of my bird feed to entice mammals out of their homes, I might as well give some to this Magpie who thanked me and I left him to enjoy his dinner then headed home to enjoy mine.