At least the couple of inches of nice white clean snow covered up the couple of inches of not so nice brown mud on my usual riverside ramble.
To get the New Year off to a good start, I usually try to do something different, which I can continue on through the rest of the year. I was ruminating on just that subject, seeking inspiration, when the answer popped through the letterbox.
It was the latest edition of the Borders Bird Report No 31, covering 2014, which has just been published by the Scottish Ornithologist’s Club and put together by Ray Murray from Eddleston. As usual it is packed with all the information you’ll ever need about the status, whereabouts and breeding success of all the birds you are likely to encounter in the Borders.
How you can get your copy is at the end of this week’s column.
In it Ray encouraged bird watchers to take note of all the birds encountered on a regular walk and log the results on the British Trust for Ornithology’s website “Bird Track” rather than just tick each species.
Previously I had been used to keeping a list of species seen each year, just for my own amusement, but I thought how much more useful it would be, to take a note of numbers as well as species and log the results officially – citizen science in action!
My first walk, under the new regime was most successful.
I soon got the hang of estimating large flocks of chaffinches or wood pigeons, but what really improved my outing was the fact that I was looking at everything that moved.
Walking along the mill lade, I saw movement just ahead, under an overhanging bush, which normally I would have ignored.
I stopped and zoomed in on the area with my binoculars and was thrilled to see a kingfisher sitting on a twig.
My usual beat is tending to take a little longer than previously, but is much more interesting.
To get your copy of the excellent Borders Bird Report 2014, send a cheque for £8.50 including p&p to Malcolm Ross, Westfield Cottage, Smailholm, Kelso TD5 7PN, made out to SOC Borders Branch. For more details phone Malcolm on 01573 460699.