Saturday, 5 January 2013

First day of Foot It

Being away for New Year I had been vicariously enjoying the Foot It blog but frustrated not to be able to join in until today. So, feeling that I was playing catch-up, I set off from home this morning at first light and was glad that the weather was calm. The common corvids, gulls and finches started appearing as I headed into the Hermitage of Braid and with over 20 species by 9:00am I started to relax. I was glad to get both winter thrushes early as I hadn't noticed many of either species around this year. The first real goodie was a Water Rail streaking away like some sort of two-legged rat deep into a thick tangled patch upstream of Howe Dean bridge. I have only seen this species in this area on three previous occasions and was delighted to see it on my first attempt this year. A Dipper zipped past - it is regular here and is always a pleasure to see.

Next a couple of stake-outs. Tower Farm area for Tree Sparrow but not the 'dead-cert' Yellowhammers. Back home to check the back garden feeder for Brambling, which obliged - fortunate that one of the ones that arrived in December is still hanging on to the free hand-outs. A male Sparrowhawk then put in an appearance and flushed the finch flock so I was glad to have headed home when I did.

After a restorative coffee I was quickly back out and back up towards Alnwickhill. Yellowhammers put in an appearance and the Stock Doves were in their usual fields around Mortonhall. Mistle Thrush and Treecreeper were handy additions in this area as they have taken a few days in the past to find them around here in January. A bite to eat at Klondyke and Linnets and Reed Buntings were in their usual areas at Broomhills and Liberton Kennels. The fields did not yield partridges or snipe despite a couple of hours of effort - snow, please... Best bird in this area was a smart hybrid Crow and then another different bird a few fields away an hour later.

Hybrid Hooded x Carrion Crow at Alnwickhill, 5 Jan 2013
Second hybrid Hooded x Carrion Crow, Tower Farm, 5 Jan 2013

Only dip of the day was a skein of grey geese that I didn't get on to quickly enough, so I had to content myself with some Greylags and other assorted wildfowl at Blackford Pond. Before heading back home over Blackford Hill. Highlight here was my fourth raptor of the day - a nice Peregrine Falcon flypast.

So, since the hybrid doesn't really add a 0.5 the tally ended up at 49 which is 75% of my target. Not bad for a 9 mile walk... More tomorrow hopefully.

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