Perfect weekend for wildlife watch

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Last weekend was an absolute cracker for getting out and about into our glorious Borders countryside and I hope many of you made the most of it.

On Sunday, I visited one of my favourite beauty spots, Cauldshiels Loch near Melrose, and the conditions couldn’t have been more perfect – no wind, clear skies and a loch like a mirror. On the water were two pairs of adult mute swans and one juvenile, providing brilliant photographic opportunities with their snow-white plumage reflected on the water and the backdrop of stunning autumnal colours of the lochside woodland.

It was one of those days when you could hear a pin drop, sound carried so far. In the woodland I could hear every rustle from the birds feeding amongst the crispy fallen beech leaves, while overhead I could hear the soft rhythmic tapping of a great spotted woodpecker, searching for food. A jay’s rasping call came from the oaks as it hunted acorns and high overhead a trio of geese honked to one another as they traversed the clear blue sky.

A word of advice, however, to those intending to visit – stick to the woodland side of the loch unless you have wellies, as the opposite is extremely wet and muddy despite several gloriously dry days in a row.

Fridays won’t seem the same for a while as I try and get used to the idea of not setting up my moth trap every week. Last Friday was the final night of the national Garden Moth Survey which I have been taking part in for the past 36 weeks. It was the first time I had been involved and I have to say it was great fun and very revealing.

Over the period I trapped more than 500 moths. Some nights there was none, while one night I clocked up 76. Tying for the title of most numerous in my garden were the Hebrew Character and Garden Carpet, both with 43 being caught, while probably the best one was the Vestal, which is a migrant from Europe and only turns up in this country very rarely.

Numbers vary according to the weather conditions and time of year, and by now they are winding down for the winter. With only one Chestnut and one Spruce Carpet last Friday, it was a good time to bring down the curtain.

If anyone is interested in getting into mothing, drop me an email to and I will try and give some advice about requirements etc.