Thursday, 8 March 2018

birds in the city

The forecast was improving so Mary suggested an urbaneering trip through Holyrood, up to the Braids, maybe Craiglockhart then home via the canal. We got hopped up on strong coffee, threw some jackets in back packs (in case we returned through the Botanics) and set off at a very modest pace - legs still tired from the weekend.

muppet tree?

As we progressed the weather improved. Nothing much to see in Holyrood but it's always nice to have a nosey in the grand gardens of the Grange and see what is growing there.

the showers grew less as we went and this rainbow marked the last of them for a while

Blackford Hill

photo Mary

this robin was giving it max volume
unfortunately it stopped by the time I found the right focus

I asked the coach if we could follow the burn through the Hermitage as I had seen just a glimpse of a Dipper last time through which was with Aisling and Laura last weekend. This is one of my all time favourite birds. Dapper little things in dark chocolate brown with a white bib, that are extremely proficient swimmers in fast flowing water. Within 10 yards of joining the burn one flew past, but then landed just downstream. With breath held we slowly approached and got some photos and video. The light was not brilliant - being in something of a gorge between tree lined rises either side, but the little bird was sufficiently unspooked by our presence for us to get a few shots and some video, albeit at max zoom. When we got home I was more impressed by the 4k video (of the TZ100) than the still images. Unfortunately my old video software doesn't work in Windows 10 so I am currently limited by the Windows 10 video editing stuff and rather anodyne soundtracks they offer. The Dipper though was fantastic. 

I was totally stoked and went on about chocolate dippers for quite some time. We saw 2 near the same spot and I began to think there might be loads, however I kept watch as we ran upstream and didn't see another the whole way.

Next up was Craiglockhart Hill where work is going on restoring or developing the mansion type buildings there. Good to see something coming of these - hopefully not just a shopping mall.

Traditionally on this route we call in at the Post Office at Craiglockhart and Mary gets a can of posh lemonade. She is sucking bits of flapjack out her teeth in the photo below while showing off her fancy juice.

some parts of the canal were frozen, some were not

gulls on canal ice


scooby doo

On one of the bridges over the canal the light reflecting off the water was lighting up this pigeon nest. Interesting to see how the spikes have not totally deterred the pigeons!

There was a noticeable lack of duckies for a long stretch of the canal. Not even any mallards. I was beginning to wonder where they had all gone when we came upon a gang of goosanders. Also known as mergansers also known as sawtooths: they have serrated edges to their bills which help hold onto slippery fish. I had some bread to tempt them to come over for a photo, mainly with the intent of getting a pic of those remarkable teeth. I mean, a duck with teeth! This was not as easy as just taking a photo while they were reaching out for the bread. They were extremely fast and most of the pics I took were blurred or out of focus. Mary took over throwing the bread and I got slightly better at timing the lunges but most of the pics went straight to delete. The females have ginger heads, the males, green. A mallard couple were resting in the reeds and some gulls were competing for the bread. We spent some time speaking to them and Mary was now calling them merganisers.



ok, where is this?
You'll have passed it many times, for additional clues follow our route on the map.

onto the Meadows where the crocuses were doing Springtime 2.0
after a bit of a set back with all that snow

There were also lots of Redwings. I thought they might be Fieldfares, but knew they were thrushes of some sort. The light was poor and they were refusing to stand close by in the sunshine!

The team were much delighted about all the wildlife and sunshine out and about today and it took their minds off the aches and pains and slow running that might otherwise dog a person's soul. Amazing what a little wildlife can do to cheer up a person. We realised we were fast becoming people in their 50s who are more excited by birdsong and spring flowers than other perhaps more traditionally rock'n'roll stuff. 

you'll have passed this a million times too
but what is it stuck on?

14 miles of birdy fun