A couple of very ­welcome spring ­visitors


Goodness me, temperatures into double figures (just) at the weekend. Could this be spring at last?

The signs were all there. Chiffchaffs were singing everywhere and there were even sightings of the odd swallow and martin from around the Borders.

An even odder sight was reported from the Tweed near Innerleithen.

For most of last week, a velvet scoter was present on the river, much to the excitement of all the local birders.

To the uninformed, it is a wee black duck which has no business being on the Tweed in April.

It is a sea duck which winters off the east coast, from Scandinavia and western Siberia.

Perhaps it heard about our Siberian spring in the Borders and came for a closer look.

Another winter visitor from the same ilk had me all of a flutter on Saturday.

A lady from down the street popped in to say that she had a solitary waxwing in her back garden eating apples put out for the blackbirds and would I like to see it. Would I !

With camera at the ready, I took up position in her back kitchen and waited for it to appear.

Half an hour and a cup of coffee later, I was beginning to give up hope when suddenly it appeared from nowhere.

The back door was open and I had a clear view of this stunning bird from about 12ft away, as it tucked into the halved apple on the gravel path. Unfortunately, it stayed with its back to me all the time, but I managed to get a few shots before something spooked it and it disappeared.

It had been coming for most of the previous week and was obviously glad of the apples, as the berry crop in the wild is exhausted and there would be little else for it to eat.

Other readers in the Borders have reported similar visits during the past few weeks, but sadly they will soon depart for more northern climes to breed.

To illustrate the serious effect the unseasonably cold March and early April has had on our wildlife, the contents of my moth trap has been a great indicator.

Up until last Friday, I have had three moths this year. Last year over the same period, I had trapped 83. Surely this must have a marked effect on other creatures in the same food chain. Let’s hope things improve.