Great spots by our eagle-eyed readers


Just over a year ago, I wrote about a visit to the Lake District where I discovered lots of the plant Great Burnet growing by the roadside.

I was aware it was rare here in the Borders and knew of only one place near Selkirk where it grew.

Following publication, I received a letter from reader D. D. from Selkirk, who also knew of its existence, but hers were on Selkirk Hill and not where I had found it. Unfortunately, I ran out of time to go and look for it, so I filed the letter away.

Last week, M. L. from Galashiels also found a colony near Selkirk and this was yet another different location.

This spurred me into action, so I fished out my filed letter and set out on Sunday to Selkirk Hill to try and find it.

The directions were spot on and I walked straight to it. To the untrained eye it was quite difficult to spot as the dark red pom-pom flower heads were similar to the dead flower heads of knapweed, which grew in abundance in the area, making it easily overlooked.

Due to its unspectacular nature and habit of growing amongst other similar straggly plants, I wonder if it is perhaps more common than originally thought.

If any other reader knows of a colony, drop me an e-mail at

On the subject of rarities, another reader, M. McN. of Kelso, sent me a picture taken in a friend’s garden in Gordon of a bird at a feeder which he’d never seen before, and couldn’t find in his bird book.

I had only seen it once before on a holiday many years ago in Croatia.

It was a Rose-coloured Starling!

On checking the internet for recent sightings in the UK, I discovered they were Orkney, Shetland, Cornwall, The Scilly Isles and – Gordon.

The breeding range of this bird is from easternmost Europe across temperate southern Asia.

It is a strong migrant, and winters in India and tropical Asia.

In India in winter, it often appears to outnumber the local starlings and mynas.

The rose-coloured starling is a bird of steppe and open agricultural land.

In years when grasshoppers and other insects are abundant, it will erupt well beyond its core range, with significant numbers reaching France and occasionally the United Kingdom.

Well done Border Country readers for this week’s excellent observations.

Keep them coming!