Sun in all its glory

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Sometimes, even on the dreichest of January days, Mother Nature can simply takes your breath away.

While travelling to work at St Boswells one morning, I was stunned by the sunrise over the Cheviot Hills. I thought the colours of the morning sky couldn’t be bettered – until later the same day, when the sunset over Selkirk was even more awe-inspiring. Thank goodness I had my camera to capture both.

As I write, the first signs of spring are becoming apparent. Some birds such as the great tit and dunnock are tentatively trying their songs, while the odd great spotted woodpecker is drumming to proclaim its territory. Snowdrops are poking through the ground and the sprouting bulbils of few-flowered leek are exposed along the riverbanks where recent floods washed away the topsoil.

As the bird-watching season nears its most interesting period, it is perhaps a good time to buy the latest edition of the Borders Bird Report No 26, just out, which covers 2009 and will help you get the most from this fascinating hobby. You will find everything you need to know about birds in the Borders and where to see them. It is compiled annually from records sent in by Borders birders, chiefly local members of the Scottish Ornithologists Club. It contains information on all bird species seen in the Borders that year, where they were seen, how many in both breeding and non-breeding seasons, and lots of other relevant information.

There is also a very interesting article by Ray Murray on the spread of nuthatches through the Borders since 1989. From only a handful of breeding pairs, this attractive little bird has crashed through the 1,000 pairs mark and has colonised virtually every suitable habitat in our region, in its inexorable northward expansion.

To buy the booklet, send a cheque for £9.70 (including P&P) payable to “SOC Borders Branch” to Malcolm Ross, Westfield Cottage, Smailholm, Kelso, TD5 7PN.