There goes the neighbourhood

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After quite a prolonged cold spell, the weekend’s higher temperatures thawed enough ice on my usual lochs to permit a monthly wildfowl count.

As is often the case, the smallest body of water produced the most birds.

The pond at Smedheugh just outside Selkirk, had almost thirty whooper swans enjoying a small area of open water, much to the annoyance of the two regular mute swans whose peace was being shattered in a big way.

A big thank you to all who emailed about the mystery bird, which flew into a reader’s window last week, leaving a clear dust print on the glass.

The favourite candidate was, as I suspected, a sparrowhawk, but M.L. of Kelso told me: “I would suggest that the bird in question is a wood pigeon. (stupid birds). I have had around three a year flying into our windows, in most cases they fly away slightly stunned.”

Last week, another reader commented on the lack of goldfinches in their garden, but not everyone has been finding this.

A.D. sent me a nice picture of two which regularly visit his niger seed feeder.

Staying with the bird theme, and judging by the amount of interest Border Country readers demonstrate whenever the subject comes up, there is a book just published which should be of interest to birdwatchers all over the Borders.

The 2012 edition of the annual Borders Bird Report, published by the Scottish Ornithologists’ Club, is now available and is a worthy addition to the bookshelf of any self-respecting Borders birder.

If you want to know the best places to see certain species, how well or badly they are faring, breeding status or even what has been learned from ringing recoveries in our area, then this is the book for you.

There are fascinating articles on black grouse and the rookeries of Peeblesshire and the book is illustrated throughout by some excellent photographs.

The amount of data inside is mind boggling, but even the casual observer will be able to glean some useful information from this wonderful publication.

At £7 it would make an ideal last-minute gift for the birder in your life.

Postal copies (£8.50 incl. p&p) can be had from Mr Malcolm Ross, Westfield Cottage, Smailholm, Kelso TD5 7PN, by sending your details and a cheque made payable to “SOC Borders Branch”.