Borders became a twilight zone as eerie silence fell at eclipse


I could hardly let this week pass without mention of last Friday’s amazing eclipse of the sun.

Some people remained quite nonplussed about the whole affair, but I must admit that it had quite a moving effect on me.

I was busy in the garden when it started. There was a thin layer of quickly moving broken cloud and the sun shone briefly through the gaps. While partly obscured by cloud, I could clearly see the edge of the moon edging inwards. At about 9.30am the sun was almost completely obscured and the temperature dropped noticeably.

Then an eerie silence fell as the birds stopped singing, all except a robin which kept going throughout.

The strange twilight only lasted a few minutes, but it was long enough to give me the creeps. I wondered what the primitive people of centuries ago thought was happening and how terrifying it must have been.

As the light gradually increased, the first birds to start up again were the cooing wood pigeons, followed closely by some nearby rooks at their nests, much the same order as at a normal dawn.

A few minutes later it was business as usual, the sun was back at full strength and normality returned.

I was glad I managed to get a few pictures of this thrilling natural event, as I don’t know if I’ll be around for the next one!

Over recent years, I have lamented on the virtual disappearance of lapwings from the Borders and recently, I think I discovered where most of them have gone.

Returning home from a break in Perthshire, via the single track road running down Glen Quaich from Kenmore, I couldn’t believe the number of lapwings feeding in the roadside fields. There were literally hundreds, as well as curlew and oystercatcher.

A few miles further on, between Amulree and the Sma’ Glen I had to stop the car to watch red kite, kestrel, buzzard and both red and black grouse.

On previous trips I have also watched short-eared owls hunting at the same location – real birding hot spot.

One of the highlights for me at the weekend was the discovery of a palmate newt in my new garden pond.

I had found one previously in the autumn, but it was good to know that it had successfully hibernated somewhere (probably in my log pile) and returned to the pond to breed.

Let’s hope it finds a mate.