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!