Birdsong through the misty hills

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Sadly, the weekend weather failed to live up to the balmy conditions further south and we had to make do with mist and murk.

On Saturday, after a look at the street market in Hawick, which was part of the Reivers Festival, I popped in to one of my favourite eateries near the bridge to the Common Haugh.

The main attraction for me, other than the food, has to be the huge windows overlooking the Teviot. Previously, I have seen an otter fishing in the pool, where the Slitrig converges with the Teviot, while enjoying my meal.

It wasn’t quite as spectacular on Saturday, but interesting nonetheless.

A pair of goosanders were diving for fish in the pool, while a grey wagtail energetically checked the water’s edge of the island facing the window, searching for tiny invertebrates.

Just downstream of the main pool was a small shingle island which was being used as a base by a pied wagtail.

Every few minutes it would fly out and hover above the deep water for a few seconds before dipping down and scooping a tiny fly from the surface. The energy used up in this activity was surely not replenished by that tiny morsel, but nonetheless it continued all the time I was there.

On Sunday, I embarked on a habitat survey in the hills above Selkirk as a preliminary to the Breeding Bird Survey, which I will embark on shortly, once the summer migrants arrive.

Just now, the resident birds have it all their own way when it comes to singing to proclaim their territories.

The conditions were windless and very misty, allowing the bird song to carry with great clarity.

Top of the pops were the thrushes.

Both the monotonous mistle and tuneful song thrushes were giving it their all, while the chaffinches, wrens and chiffchaffs struggled to compete.

The higher I got, the thicker the mist got and as I left the woods to cross some grassland, I could hear the unmistakable spring sound of bleating lambs.

I could see nothing for some time until eventually a family group of mum and twins appeared eerily from the murk.

They stood and looked at me for a few minutes before melting away into the greyness once more, as if they had never been there.

Don’t forget you can e-mail me with any unusual sightings or pictures of local wildlife you come across this spring at