It was as happy as a wagtail in *&^$


After weeks of damp despair, Sunday finally threw up a decent day and what a joy it was to get out for a walk with the sun on my back.

I took our new pup Treacle up the local riverside for her first decent walk since we got her.

It was great for her to meet other dogs and socialise, and learn how to play.

The snowdrops were in full bloom and it was uplifting to hear the chaffinches, robins, dunnocks, great tits etc, in full song.

Even a great-spotted woodpecker was encouraged by the warm sunshine to do a bit of drumming on a distant tree.

On a shingle island just below Murray’s Cauld, was a resting party of 21 oystercatchers.

Despite the installation of the nearby hydro electric turbines during their winter holidays, the birds were unconcerned and had returned to the same island to meet up, as they have done for years and years.

The constant high river levels of recent weeks have taken their toll on the riverbank, where large sections of the footpath have disappeared due to the sustained erosive powers of the fast-flowing water.

I suppose that is little to be concerned about considering what has happened further south.

Passing some stables, I couldn’t help noticing a small bird hopping about on the adjacent steaming dung heap.

Its bobbing tail and yellow under parts told me it was a grey wagtail. In winter, these attractive little birds normally forsake their upland stream habitat and move lower down to places such as sewage works, farmyards or even to the coast, where food is more readily available.

It is testament to this current mild winter when we find such a bird still hanging around in the middle of February.

Grey wagtails are badly affected by harsh winters and have shown a recent decline in number.

As climate change takes hold, it is likely that extreme weather events become more common, affecting wagtails and other species.

Various wildlife organisations are working with researchers, scientists and other conservationists to monitor changes in our wildlife in order to be able to react to the adverse effects of climate change.

You can help: volunteer for your local wildlife charity and you’ll be able to monitor populations and survey habitats, adding to a growing bank of data on the effects of climate change.

There’s loads of ways you can become involved.

Simply look on the internet to find out which organisation is active in the Borders and which suits your particular interest best.

My email address is