Here is the second half of my review of 2015 as reflected in my weekly scribblings in Border Country.
July - At the start of the month I encountered my first problems trying to escape the town just to reach the countryside, thanks to the ongoing multi million pound flood protection scheme in Selkirk. Eventually, I did make it and found a beautiful example of the unusual fungus ‘chicken of the woods’. Butterflies were scarce but I did have an unusual visitor in my garden in the form of a rare Northern Brown Argus. I watched an otter fishing in the Ettrick on my home patch and by the end of the month, it was obvious that the summer was going to be bad for butterflies, moths and bees; however my cabbages were the best ever.
August - I spent some time looking at the many alien flower species found on the riverside. In my garden a blackbird with a deformed beak, which we christened ‘Beaky’ had become a regular visitor. She is unable to close it properly but seems to manage to feed, as she is still with us now. On a Sunday visit to Wilton Lodge Park to hear the band, have a coffee and a walk round the walled garden, things didn’t quite work out as expected. On arrival the band was packing up, the café had been demolished and the walled garden was closed for renovation!
September - The month started with an enjoyable walk round the newly completed ‘Ring o’ the Loch’ walk round St Mary’s Loch. The highlight was the discovery of a colony of rare small skipper butterflies and the lowlight was when Treacle the dog nearly swallowed a discarded set of angler’s pike hooks, which luckily became entangled in her beard. I discovered a new plant record for Selkirkshire – large-flowered evening primrose. A rare marsh tit started coming to my garden feeders and after last year’s new county record of the moth called the gem in my garden, I had another one! I took advantage by picking rosehips and elderberries for wine and sloes for sloe gin.
October - On a memorable walk to the Three Brethren cairns I counted a staggering 139 wind turbines, as I scanned the horizon with my binoculars. The first hedgehog of the year was spotted in my back garden. I had a touching e-mail from eight-year-old Molly from near Duns, who successfully rescued a tiny goldcrest which had flown into her window. By the month’s end, the winter thrushes were pouring in and the butterflies and moths had all but disappeared.
November - There was lots of fish action on the rivers, with salmon leaping and goosanders and herons reaping the harvest. Dahlias and roses still blooming and lots of wild flowers were having an extended season. Fungi too were enjoying the mild damp conditions and I photographed one called ‘fairy clubs’ for the first time. The first of the predicted winter storms blew in from the Atlantic bringing lots of rain but no flooding yet!
December - We may have missed the last one but we certainly made the acquaintance of Storm Desmond who wreaked havoc across the Borders. Large sections of my local riverside path have disappeared. Later huge numbers of waterfowl were recorded on local lochs on my monthly visit, with one loch yielding 21 whooper swans, 110 teal and 32 widgeon.
Yes it’s been a funny old year! It only remains for me to wish you all a Happy New Year and don’t forget to feed the birds in 2016.