Monday, 2 April 2012
Birding while gardening: Crossbills and hunting Peregrine!
Yesterday's clear skies tempted me out into the garden and I spent the day rejuvenating various raised beds for this year's growing season. I was trimming back leggy herbs when I was startled to hear the explosive 'jip' call of Crossbills. An almost daily experience on my North Wales patch but only the second time I've seen them from the garden here in Edinburgh (single bird 5 July 2010) - another real garden rarity hot on the heels of yesterday's Snow Bunting and Fulmar! As I stood up the flock of 9 Crossbills passed low over the houses and then headed off down the hill giving me a nice view of a selection of red, green and yellowish rumps bobbing away into the distance. The Hermitage of Braid looked like a possible destination, although of course they may not have stopped...
For much of the day my head was down as I worked on the soil, but in general the sky seemed lacking in birdlife. With the wind direction slowly swinging to northerly, the clear blue skies, cold air and warm sun seemed an odd combination for this time of year. It was not until late afternoon that raptor activity hotted up. Several Common Buzzards in the air included some hanging fairly low over the garden and a couple in the distance indulging in aerial display. A single Sparrowhawk sighting over the course of the day must rank as one of the lowest hawk-per-minute sighting ratios from the garden. Best of all was something that I have never seen before from here - a Peregrine at full speed hunting pace directly overhead, and then just failing to hit a feral pigeon. Half an hour later it was overhead lugging prey - clearly persistence pays off (see top photo).