Monday, 6 December 2010

Winter Birds

It was snowing heavily when I made my usual Monday walk round the Dells, along the Water of Leith today. It's a wonderful place at any time of the year but there is a special magic in the snow - a real winter wonderland. Unfortunately there's been so much snow that some trees have lost branches or fallen under the weight. If you're thinking of wandering round the Dells, do be careful, the path is partially blocked in places! I have cut back some of the smaller branches and also the ivy attached to some of the fallen trees, but I don't have the tools (or the skills!) to deal with the larger fallen branches. The Water of Leith Conservation Trust and the Edinburgh Countryside rangers will deal with these issues as and when they can. You also need to take care underfoot, the snow is soft and very nice for walking on, but it's easy to stray from the path and find yourself falling in a hole!

I saw lots of birds today. A heron took flight from the river almost as soon as I got into the Dells. I saw two dippers, one standing on a snow covered rock in the middle of the river, singing. We think of the robin as being the only bird in the UK that really sings in the winter, but the dipper (whose song is almost unexpected in its very existence) also sings now, a lovely song. It's a very early breeder so I guess its starting to stake its claim to territory extra early. I also had a very close view of a goldcrest, the tiniest British bird, but from a distance more likely to be confused with a coal tit or a blue tit than with a wren (and I saw one of those today as well!). I also had an excellent view of a buzzard that was being mobbed by a group of crows.

As I was leaving the Dells, I walked into an area that was full of long tailed tits. I saw about 15 of them, all bouncing from branch to branch, chatting away to each other.

On the way back into town, I passed a row of white berried rowan trees, and saw a small group of waxwings flying towards me. They landed in the rowan tree and started ripping off the berries!

Conservation organisations tell us to be extra careful not to disturb birds at this time of year, which is very true as they need to conserve their energy and don't want to be flying around all the time avoiding potential threats. However I think it is often true that birds are likely to come very close of their own accord at this time of year!

14 comments:

Naquillity said...

sounds like a lovely walk despite the fallen trees. i saw three or four hawks on my way to the doctor's office today. i wasn't quick enough with my camera to capture even one, sigh. hope all is well.

Kat Mortensen said...

I think the buzzard and crows might be worthy of a poem.

Christina said...

Your descriptions of your lovely country and surroudings are always like a breath of fresh air.

Lizzy Frizzfrock said...

I enjoyed the walk with you & the link to see & hear the birds you saw. Here in central Texas we have the heron, titmouse (looking like the coal tit), wren & buzzard. As a matter of fact vultures/buzzards winter in my neighborhood. They arrive in September by the hundreds and stay until spring. I live in a very wooded area (with pine trees) and the vultures roost here.
Thanks for the walk & I love your banner photo.

Lizzy Frizzfrock said...

Oh, we also have cedar waxwings migrate through in the fall!

Jenn Jilks said...

Beautiful. We are covered in snow. Blue jays fighting with one another for seeds. Cat chasing deer from their feed. Normal day! That's My World !

FrecklesandDeb said...

You make it sound so lovely! We wish we were walking along with you.

Rabbits' Guy said...

What a nice walk. I didn't even get cold! Our herons sit along the roadside ditches and open fields, searchng for food.

Sandy's witterings said...

I was amazed at the amount of snow the other day as I moved from the bottom left hand corner of the country up to the top right. Maybe it's making the birds more visable as they forage about for something to eat. You've certainly got a few on the checklist for the day - I've only seen dippers once or twice and a goldcrest once (offshore as it happens - or maybe it was that other wee bird that looks awfully like it). Still no waxwings!

sandy said...

I'll bet a poem comes from that walk, too.
How are the bird reacting to so much snow?
I think the goldcrest is what we call the kinglet here.

Crafty Green Poet said...

Sandy - the kinglet and goldcrest are certainly almost identical, I#m not sure they're the same species though...

leavesnbloom said...

I've only seen the waxwings once this month - I thought they might have moved further south due to how cold it is here. Maybe I'll still get to see some over the winter here if they are still in Edinburgh.

Carver said...

Sounds like a great walk and so good to site all the birds. I know this time of year is hard on the wildlife but I agree sometimes they come close to people of their own accord.

Cathy said...

Goodness, you do see a lot of interesting birds Juliet. I would love to see a goldcrest and dippers, although I was lucky enough to spot a huge number of waxwings stripping berries off a local tree a few years ago. They are gorgeous.