There’s plenty of wildlife to see along the banks of the Whiteadder

The clumps of grass on the branches of the willow bushes show how high the floodwater ran.
The clumps of grass on the branches of the willow bushes show how high the floodwater ran.

Early spring is always a nice time to go pottering down by a river and the Whiteadder at Edrington Mill is a nice sheltered spot to spend an hour or two watching and listening to the wildlife.

Access can be had from Paxton village, following a route marked by the Chirnside and Paxton Pathways, it takes you along the side of some fields then down a fairly steep descent to the river.

At times this can be a bit muddy with wet leaves and you should wear stout old shoes or boots.

People are in the process of improving the drainage right now and you should have no trouble going down the path. It will only take about 10 minutes to walk from Paxton down to the river.

If you are feeling more energetic you can follow the path all the way to Foulden which is a three mile walk but you will have to organise your transport to avoid walking back the same route.

Under the trees on the riverside banks a host of spring flowers are just starting to bloom with Primroses, bright yellow Lesser Celandines and the Opposite-leaved Golden Saxifrage quite prominent. The latter grows in low mats in damp place and has greenish yellow flowers.

There are lots of willows down by the river and the yellow pussy willow catkins are shedding their pollen.

The willows are an important source of food for bumble bees and if it is warm and sunny several species may be buzzing around.

Many of the willow bushes have great clumps of grass and rubbish stuck amongst their branches, deposited by the winter floods which must have been as much as 10 feet deep.

Two trees, Alder and Hazel, have male flowers as catkins and are starting to shed their pollen. Both are wind pollinated and they rely on the chance that the fine pollen grains will blow in the wind and land on the small female flowers for pollination to take place.

On the flat ground near the river there are lots of young Ash trees but sadly many are showing the signs of Ash Die Back, a disease that in time will kill the trees. Lots of them have dead tops and side branches and I am sure it will be very noticeable when it is time for the new leaves to emerge.

On a recent visit lots of birds were in song.

A pair of splendid Grey Wagtails were feeding along the waters edge, a pair of Mute Swans, Mallards and a Goosander were on the river and a Heron stood still like a statue in the hope it would remain unseen.

Lots of small birds were flitting around the trees and scrub including Long-tailed Tits, Nuthatch. Goldcrest and Blue, Coal and Great tits.

Also look out for frogs, a lot of croaking revealed a pool where many were laying their spawn.