We’ve had friends from the States visiting us over the past week so there hasn’t been much time to do anything. I got out myself once, and found the first orchid on my patch: Common Spotted Orchid; and took a few of our friends up Arthur’s Seat in Holyrood Park to admire the view, also managing to spot a Peregrine high above Edinburgh.
Other than those two outings I’ve hardly been out, so today I changed that and had a good old stroll about the patch. Here’s how it went…
First good sighting was a Kestrel, the usual male with his missing tail feather, hovering over the path through the field, who then got buzzed by 4 Swallows who nest at the Montessori Arts School. Just by the school is a sort of run down farm building, like a small warehouse with no walls, just a roof, which the local Feral Pigeons tend to roost in. From the shrubs and plants growing in there I heard a Whitethroat, probably the one that I hear from the house but am yet to see.
He then flew out into some Elder and gave a few nice pics. Butterflies were about quite a lot today as the sun is shining. First was the usual Small Tortoiseshell, and then a couple of Ringlets which have all appeared as if from no where. The insect theme continued as I wandered along the path through the field and came across the not-quite-deafening buzz of a patch of Creeping Thistles, where almost all the common Bumblebee species were collecting pollen, as well as a few Hoverflies and various other flies.
There was also a couple of Common Carder Bees buzzing about and also a lot of Honeybees too.
I continued to see a lot of bees and butterflies throughout the walk.
Still going through the field some more Swallows from the stables at the bottom of the field were making a racket over my head and 2 Black-headed Gulls passed over high heading north. I have been noticing more and more Black-headed Gulls flying over and also appearing about Edinburgh, I’m guessing this is post-breeding dispersal? Hopefully post-breeding dispersal is going to give me a Crossbill patch or garden tick some point soon…
Once I’d finally stopped bugging the bees with my camera I made it to Liberton Tower where quite a lot of Linnets passed over. I haven’t seen any large flocks of Linnets since probably March, just pairs of them flying about, perhaps I was experiencing yet more post-breeding dispersal. A slight surprise was to see a hybrid Hooded x Carrion Crow on one of the houses up by Liberton Tower as I haven’t ever seen one outside the autumn/winter months. Quite nice to see though, makes a change from the usual. Unfortunately I didn’t catch up with the Tree Sparrows, was hoping I’d see some young but not even an adult in sight. Just this male House Sparrow.
I plodded along Braid Hills Drive to my usual Skywatching point; a bench on the other side of the road to my patch which gives views straight out across Edinburgh towards Holyrood park.
My totals are as follows…:
Feral Pigeon: 26
Lesser Black-backed Gull: 15
House Martin: 5
Herring Gull: 2
Sand Martin: 1
Great Black-backed Gull: 2
Carrion Crow: 2
The biggest surprise was probably the Sand Martin which put in a brief appearance directly above my head amongst the House Martins (looked like a family of 2 adults and 3 young) before disappearing behind a Poplar. Otherwise a pretty average haul, there’s always a Great-black Backed somewhere up by Liberton Tower, but here’s a pic of a Lesser Black-backed as the GBB was too far away for pics.
Once at the Howe Dean path I was very quickly aware that some young Wrens were being fed in a bush next to me so I moved on so as not to cause a fuss. I was tempted to go and check the pond on the Hermitage Golf Course as another birder had had a Green Sandpiper calling overhead very nearby a night or two ago, and I gave in to temptation. The pond is really more pond liner than water so it’s not really that good a pond, so no Green Sandpiper for me. It was worth the diversion though as I spotted two Common Spotted Orchids by the path. They seem to pop up everywhere now!
The next semi-significant sighting was a Brown Trout feeding on flies on the surface of the water in the burn, and I had another 2 good views of Trout in other spots along the burn. Must be a reason I’m seeing them a lot more now, can’t think why though… Post-breeding dispersal?
Another butterfly I’ve added to the patch list is Meadow Brown. Finding this butterfly made me realise how difficult it is to photograph them, it just wouldn’t sit still.
Further upstream I was caught in between an argumentative group of 3 Wrens who were shouting at eachother across the path, had one of those views of a large-ish Trout, and saw a flyover Stock Dove above the Scout Bridge.
The walk home produced an unidentified cricket, or lots of them but all the same species as far as I could see; some Jackdaws sunning themselves on the roof of the council depot. buildings; another view of a Trout in the burn, just next to the stables; and a doe Roe Deer next to the field, which didn’t have any Quail in it, believe me, I checked. Nearly home I flushed a large flock of about 30 Woodpigeons from an Elm near my house. Again I hadn’t seen any flocks of Woodpigeons since winter… post-breeding dispersal..?