I have written previously about getting the service bus to Berwick for a day’s bird watching and at a recent Scottish Wildlife Trust committee meeting I happened to mention what an enjoyable day it was – big mistake!
The Trust usually runs a bird watching bus to a far-flung reserve each year, but recent spiralling costs had made it a risky venture financially.
It was therefore suggested that we try and replicate my adventure, as it would do away with the need to book a bus, be eco-friendly as no cars were needed and there was no risk of a late cancellation, as the bus would be going anyway ... and, of course, I should lead it!
The big day was last Saturday and after seeing the rather dodgy forecast, I was more confident that hordes of birdwatchers wouldn’t appear and keep normal passengers from getting a seat.
As it transpired, a dozen turned out, complete with rucksacks and optical paraphernalia for the two-hour journey, which was just the perfect number.
By the time we reached our starting point at Berwick station, the predicted sea mist and drizzle had not materialised and the sun was trying to get out.
After I gave a brief outline of the day’s programme, I suffered the ultimate embarrassment of not being able to navigate the group out of the station car park! Eventually we got on track and headed for the river for the two-mile trek upstream to the bypass bridge.
After a brief refreshment stop we began to earnestly add to our quickly growing list of birds, as we passed through different habitats.
Many summer migrants were already in full song such as blackcap, chiffchaff and willow warbler, and we added several species of gull and wader from the adjacent Tweed estuary.
Spring flowers, too, were in evidence and four species of butterfly were identified.
Near the bridge, we crossed a large pasture by the river, which at first looked unpromising, but here we got some of our best birds.
Several recently-arrived migrant wheatears were hopping around with a group of yellowhammers and pied wagtails, while a tree sparrow was spotted on a nearby hedge.
One of our group was convinced that he saw a rare yellow wagtail, but the sighting was uncorroborated and failed to make the list.
Best birds of the day were seen on the return leg, when, as the group watched a rare long-tailed duck on the river, a peregrine flew slowly past just above head height, giving everyone a great view.
Unfortunately, we fell one short of 50 species for the walk, but it was thoroughly enjoyed by all and introduced several members to the combined joys of public transport and some lovely countryside around Berwick.