The open weather continues and most of my garden birds have temporarily deserted me in favour of the still plentiful food supply in the wild.
One bird, however, turned up on the river close to where I live and was extremely unexpected to say the least. I got a phone call from an excited local bird watcher to say he’d just seen a Glaucous Gull.
This huge gull is normally found in Arctic regions and it turns up here only occasionally. It was too good a chance to miss, so I nipped across to the river to see if it was still about. Typically, it had gone, but I met my informer, who had seen it twice on consecutive days, so there is a chance I may see it yet.
It is worth keeping a close eye on gull groups during the winter months as rarities do sometimes appear with the more common species. Last year, an Icelandic Gull turned up at Gunknowe Loch in Tweedbank. The Glaucous Gull is quite easy to distinguish due to its large size and lack of black or grey plumage. Its feathers are creamy white, flecked with brown.
On a another glorious sunny day last Sunday, I had a lovely walk through Bowhill Estate along the Lady’s Walk, which follows the banks of the Yarrow Water as it cascades over rocky rapids. Birdlife was quite sparse, other than the dippers on the river, which were extremely vocal in proclaiming their breeding territories.
The light was stunning and the crystal clear atmosphere and cloudless sky made ideal conditions for landscape photography in one of the most beautiful corners of the Borders.
With Christmas just around the corner, I would like to take this opportunity to suggest an ideal gift for the ornithologist in your life. Just published is the 29th Annual Borders Bird Report which is jam-packed with all you need to know about numbers, locations and breeding success of every species to have been recorded in the Borders last year.
Illustrated throughout with locally-taken photographs and supplemented with a fascinating article on a Mandarin Duck Survey on the Eye Water, a comprehensive Bird Ringing Report and a feature on the changes in warbler numbers at the Mire Loch at St Abbs, it is essential for any self-respecting bird watcher.
To get your copy by post, send a cheque for £8.50 made payable to “SOC Borders Branch” to Malcolm Ross, Westfield Cottage, Smailholm, Kelso, TD5 7PN.
Remember, you can email me on firstname.lastname@example.org