Wishing the old coot a happy Mother’s Day

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Icy blasts and snow flurries were the medicine dished up last weekend, so it was another blank night at the moth trap on Friday.

Things were better on Sunday, however, for the final wildfowl count of the winter. One of my lochs produced well over 100 birds, with an amazing swan count of over 40, most of which were whoopers.

Next were wigeon, but I was most pleased with the coot number, which topped the 20 mark. It was great to see this once common water bird making a bit of a comeback after a few years of mysterious decline.

On Sunday, it was a mixture of snow, hail and sunshine as I headed for St Mary’s Loch.

Being Mother’s Day I expected it to be really busy.

In my young days, the occasion usually entailed a run in the car and a high tea for mother at either the Gordon or Tibbie’s. Things have obviously changed, as at 2.30pm I found that mine was the only car in the extensive parking area near the Glen Café!

The big swan count earlier in the day reminded me that soon these winter visitors will be heading northwards to breed, to be replaced by the summer migrants which come here to nest.

It is a few years since I last published the list of summer visitors and their usual arrival times in the Borders, so here it is again for those who like to keep tabs on such things.

It was originally compiled many years ago by the late Tom Irving, an ornithologist from the Langholm area. With climate change now a reality, some of these dates may be a little different, but on the whole it should provide a rough guide.

Wheatears – April 2, chiffchaffs – April 4, ring ouzels – April 8, sand martins – April 10, swallows – April 12, common sandpiper and& willow warbler – April 15, yellow wagtail – April 19, house martins – April 23, tree pipits – April 24, cuckoo – April 24, redstarts – April 26, whitethroats, garden warblers and whinchats – May 1, wood warblers – May 2, pied flycatchers – May 3 (now probably extinct in the borders), blackcap & swifts – May 3, spotted flycatchers - may 6.

Why not cut out the list and keep it handy and if you spot any unusually early arrivals, drop me an e-mail.

Roll on the first wheatears, then spring can really get going.