Darkness descends all too quickly during mid-winter and so members of the Scottish Wildlife Trust were limited to exploring just a small sector of the Hirsel Estate near Coldstream.
It’s a site with much mixed woodland and there we found a range of fungi which included Southern Bracket, Elder Whitewash, Hazel Woodwart, Coral Spot and Dead Man’s Fingers. Holly Speckle, Rhododendron Bud Blast and Root Rot Fungus were also there.
Expert help was on hand and that resulted in 43 different species of Bryophytes being discovered within a stretch of a few hundred yards.
A tiny moss – known as Short Pottia – was of particular interest; specimens are coloured bright green and grow just a few millimetres high.
Originally from New Zealand it typically favours shaded areas which are bare and compacted.
Local records have been confimed to the riverside paths of the Tweed, but, in this instance, it had jumped position.
The moss is apparently spread by the feet of fishermen and ramblers.
Woodland birds included Buzzards, a Great Spotted Woodpecker and several Nuthatches. Four Bullfinches also appeared beside us – their presence being noted thanks to a series of plaintive calls. The males were particularly handsome with a black cap, stout bill, red – pink breast and white rump. They feed on buds, seeds, berries and invertebrates. A series of game – plots at the Hirsel are always worth close examination. They provide both fuel and sanctuary for such species as Linnets, Goldfinches, Tree Sparrows and Red – Legged Partridge.
Three Grey Squirrels and a Roe Deer were also present that day.
Huge Armadas of waterfowl regularly congregate on the Hirsel Lake, with Greylag, Pink Feet and Canada Geese moving between there and the surrounding farmland.
They were joined by Little Grebes, Teal, Tufted Duck, Goldeneye and Goosanders. Coot are beginning to show signs of a national decline but seventeen could be observed. It is quite possible for both local birds and winter visitors to have been amongst the gathering.
The Scottish Wildlife Trust is a Scottish registered charity, number SC005792, and is based in Edinburgh.