The Winter months of January and February were what a normal winter should be, cold and sunny conditions with spells of rain, sleet and snow. March was a bit exceptional, as well as being cold it was very wet. The cold conditions ran through April which was basically a dry month, making Spring migration difficult The wind being in a northerly direction caused migrant birds to remain in the south, with a rush of birds passing through in the last weeks of the month.
A large herd of 140 Whooper Swans grazed a potato field at Loanend into late March and were joined by 550 Pink footed Geese in March. A large flock of mixed finches were found in weedy fields near the Ord Industrial estate with c.180 Bramblings, 34 Yellowhammers and 10 Reed Buntings amongst them.
By mid February Teal numbers had reached 170 at Middle Ord pond with 50 Wigeon also there. On the Tweed estuary 4 Long-tailed Ducks had joined the wintering Goldeneye.
Around West Ord the Oystercatcher started to gather in March, with 36+ birds by the 26th. The appearance of an adult Osprey over East Ord the following day gave us the thought of the approaching Spring, particularly with 4 Brown Hares seen ‘boxing’ in fields near Middle Ord.
However the cold conditions put migration on ‘hold’. Early April saw winter migrants on the move with a flock of 14+ Waxwings around gardens in the East Ord area which regularly ‘commuted’ into Berwick, such as nine birds reported in Aldi’s car park on the 8th.
The first Sand Martins were late with 3 seen on the river on the 15th, followed by the first Swallows the following day. An early House Martin was seen on the 17th, with Willow Warbler also calling.
A surprise on the 25th was a pair of Common Terns feeding over the river, beside the farm. Scarce birds this far upstream from the Estuary.
Two striking ‘Greenland race’ Wheatears on the riverbank on the 28th along with a resplendant male Yellow Wagtail. This form of the Wheatear is a long distant migrant, often flying large distances over the Atlantic between Spain, Western Ireland and Greenland on migration. They are bold upright birds with a soft buffy hue and a bold white eyestripe which continues right across the eye. A splendid sight for those who are patient and observant. Such are the simple pleasures of birdwatching.
As always my thanks to Malcolm Hutcheson for his observations of the wildlife in our immediate area, makes me realise that i must go around with my eyes closed a lot of the time!