In case I haven’t mentioned it before, temple is the village my dad lives in. It’s about a 25 minute drive from Edinburgh, near Gorebridge. And also near Gladhouse, but that’s not where I went this evening (1•5•15).
Dad was watching TV so I just went out for a little potter around the farmland around the village, also planning to go and check out some trees in Arniston Estate which I wanted to identify.
I started off by heading out the top end of the village and into the fields there, where I immediately stumbled upon two Redshank by a marshy patch in a field. My first inland Redshanks. A great way to start off my walk! This was followed by a productive pile of manure, first just a pair of Chaffinches, but soon a couple Tree Sparrows joined in the foraging and a stunning male Yellowhammer also made an appearance. In the pine plantation by the field I could hear Goldcrests calling and see a Goldfinch, plus a Carrion Crow on the nest. While all this was happening, I was being serenaded by at least 3 Blackbirds and possibly a Song Thrush too. The Tree Sparrows appeared to be nesting in a Hawthorn bush, with another pair also present.
Into the next field I spotted another wader, a single Lapwing this time who was very concerned about a Crow being quite close to where I assume the nestsite was, so he quicky warned the big shadow of a bird away. Above the field I noticed a particularly flappy bird, a male Sparrowhawk. He soared round over the field, dodging some Herring Gulls and the returning Carrion Crow. Once I was in the next field I turned around to witness the Sprawk diving straight down, and heard the shrill peeps of a Meadow Pipit as it escaped the clutches of the bigger birds talons. A good experience.
One observation I made throughout my walk was that I heard no Chiffchaffs but did hear quite a few Willow Warblers. Unsuitable habitats? Too much competition between the species? I dunno.
As I was taking my camera out to takes picture of a Buzzard sitting on a Spruce branch, I heard the grass tussock in front of me rustle… But I took little note of it and moved closer to the Buzzard, about halfway across a field. I’ve I had sufficient numbers of not particularly high quality shots, I decided to take note of the Buzzard so I could blog about it later. After searching all 6 possible pockets I found that my SRUC (Scottish Rural College) pen was not with me. And then it clicked, when I took my camera out my pocket I’d dropped my pen Ito the tussock if grass, making it rustle. SO I headed back to the grassy knoll… And then realised that about 7 of them all looked exactly the same.
I spent about 15 minutes searching the same 7 tussocks before a glint of silver caught my eye.
Well, finding my pen did raise my spirits a bit. And it also meant I could note down that within my 15 minute searching period I’d had 2 Sand Martins flyover plus pairs of Oystercatcher and Greylag Goose.
Heading round the final edge of the fields I come across some rather gnarled-looking Scot’s Pines, complete with pair of Coal Tits.
More Wheatears at the edge of the field, I counted at least 4. This is a bird that, until just over 3 weeks ago, I hadn’t seen before in my life. Now I’m almost being plagued by them, but it’s an OK plague, because they are nice-looking birds which pose for photos.
A male Roe Deer wandered out the woods on my right not far ahead of me and didn’t really take any notice. So I took some pictures and let him be on his way. I also started taking pictures of tree bark, which I’ll post here tomorrow as I’m currently typing with a phone that lags about 10seconds behind me, and I’m not even exaggerating.
I could see the trees I wanted to get to. They are in Arniston Estate, which is a large estate just down the road from Temple. While walking along the road to the entrance of the Estate, I passed a bit of the ten foot high wall that had been knocked down by a car or a tree or something. Being the lazy guy I am, I decided to climb over this bit of the wall and get to the trees even quicker.
Anyway, on the way to the massive tree that I could see above all the others, I passed a tree which had had it’s bark sort of stained by the colour of the mud it was growing in. I think it was an Ash but I can’t remember.
Finally at the tree, I picked up some of the cones from beneath it. Very round, not like any other cones I’d seen. And the trunk was absolutely massive. And the height of the thing, wow. A massive organism. After some looking in my book at a couple of the trees I’d suspected it was, my suspicions were confirmed. A Giant Sequoia. Not a native tree, but a brilliant one to have so close to home.
On my walk out of Arniston I passed some other huge trees and admired them for a bit… Then realised these weren’t the same species as the one I’d already seen. I’m still unsure as to what they are, but I think they are some sort of Cypress.
A very good day walking amongst giants.