Conditions terrible, situation normal

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Wind and drizzle were the order of the day as I set out with the forlorn hope of seeing something interesting to write about.

Cauldshiels Loch near Melrose is usually a good bet at this time of year, so the venue was decided.

When I arrived, I was struck by the lack of bird song in the woodland, due no doubt to the weather and the fact that most birds are into their annual moult now and are keeping a low profile.

On the water were a few motley-looking mallards, also in mid plumage change, and a pair of mute swans with one surviving cygnet from what would have been a much bigger brood.

I heard the whinnying call of a little grebe but it was hidden in the reed bed.

With little of interest in the woodland on the northern shore I walked round to the south side which is more open.

The unimproved grassy banks were peppered with the tiny four-petalled flower called tormentil.

It is one of our commonest grassland flowers. The name tormentil is said to be derived from the Latin tormentum, from its herbal use as a remedy for the relief of stomach cramps and diarrhoea which were enough to torment anyone.

The almost permanently high level of the loch means that access is extremely difficult on the south side, with the lochside track being submerged for most of its length.

It is unfortunate because this area is the most interesting from a wildlife point of view.

On the water are rafts of the lovely pink-flowered amphibious bistort and hundreds of orchids grow in the wet margins along the water’s edge. As I walked through the long grass, I disturbed several ringlet butterflies and common blue damselflies, which were sheltering from the elements.

By the time I regained the welcome shelter of the car, I was quite surprised at how much I had seen despite the unpromising conditions.

It just illustrated that no matter how bad it looks outside, dress up appropriately and get out into the countryside.

There’s always something interesting to look at and new things to discover.