On the wild side: Large herds of whooper swans a familiar sight along the Tweed

Whooper swans at the Hirsel
Whooper swans at the Hirsel

A n uncommon visitor – a cattle egret - remained on Holy Island for a few days at the end of the month attracting many ‘Twitchers’ keen to record their first sighting.

Another unusual visitor on was a red-throated diver to Hoselaw Loch near Yetholm. Small numbers of little grebes also reappeared at the Hirsel and on the Tweed and the Whiteadder. I was thrilled to listen to the “yaffling” of a green woodpecker near 
Lochton.

Large herds of whooper swans were a familiar sight in the Carham – West Learmouth – Coldstream area throughout January with numbers in excess of 200 by the end of the month. Mute swans united in large groups and I encountered greylag and pink-footed geese regularly. Many wetland refuges froze over during late January making the Tweed unusually busy. On a stretch near Redden I came across more than 200 teal and over 150 wigeon.

While lunching high on the cliffs at Callercove Point near Coldingham I observed a small raft of common scoters and three long-tailed ducks. Goosanders were seen almost daily with haunts including the Bowmont valley, Blackadder Water (Greenlaw), the Tweed valley and the Hirsel.

On my first visit to Dogden Moss near Greenlaw I was rewarded by the presence of a red-legged partridge and a number of red grouse. A grey plover and a purple sandpiper were reported to be near Siccar Point and I counted 32 snipe as they rose from a snow-free patch of grassland near Redden. Single green sandpipers were seen beside the Blackadder Water and the Tweed whilst small flocks of turnstones rested on Linkim shore and within the harbour at St Abbs.

January 7 proved to be a good night for seeing barn owls because they appeared, like giant white moths in my headlights at Bowden, Roxburgh and St Boswells. About ten pipits gorged on flies associated with rotting kelp at the mouth of the Milldown Burn (Coldingham).

Recent waxwing sightings have been disappointing despite reports of up to 80 near Dunbar. Rivers such as the Bowmont, Blackadder and Jed Waters all supported populations of dippers with some birds in full song.

Sightings of ravens included one in Linkim Bay where it rested for a time. Only one siskin visited my garden during the cold weather and I spotted bramblings, about 70 yellowhammers and eight reed buntings at Wark.

Sightings of a pair of peregrines were reported on the Berwickshire cliffs. This concludes my report of bird sightings throughout January with some interesting vagrants amongst “the usual suspects”.

Tonight, April 4, is our AGM with members slideshows, we meet at 7.30pm in Duns kirk hall, entry is £1.50 which includes refreshments. You don’t have to be a member, just interested in wildlife.