This year has seen some challenging weather conditions, the ground has been sodden since mid summer, but some how even with the Tweed rising and falling all season, there have been some remarkable sightings of bird life.
Fishing has not fared so well, as the river never enjoyed it’s usual summer time levels and as a result our catch numbers for Salmon and Sea Trout are substantially down
September and October are the peak migration period, when summer birds depart to be replaced by winter visitors form the Arctic areas of the Baltic and Scandinavia, with some scarcer species coming from Serbia.
September; Along the coast there was a strong movement of seabirds with Gannets passing south at the rate of 600 per hour on the 6th. with Kittiwakes building up to 860 roosting on the walls of Berwick Pier. Around West Ord, Warblers like Chiffchaf and Blackcap were passing through, while hirundines (Swallow family), gathered in large feeding flocks over the Tweed. Also of note was a large flock of 76+ Goldfinches feeding on the Thistle and Ragwort seedheads. By the months end, small groups of Teal (4 on 18th) and a pair of Tufted Duck joined the local Mallard from there Icelandic breeding grounds. The early arrival of 12 Pink footed Geese appeared over Berwick on the 23rd.
October; The first winter thrushes appeared with Redwing and Blackbirds noted flying off the sea and up the Tweed in steady numbers on the 12th.. Some of these birds weakened by their journey were simple targets for the marauding Gulls waiting for them at the estuary mouth where more than one Blackbird was force into the River. Nature can be cruel. Other birds with them included a party of Fieldfares over Berwick, 11 Goldcrest feeding in the Parish churchyard and a party of Long tailed Tits in Castle Terrace. A group of 18 Whooper Swans also seen heading westwards.
At West Ord a Kingfisher was feeding on the River which was in spate on the 21st., with 4 late Swallows feeding overhead and a solitary Jay flying west ‘into Scotland’!! Later that week several parties of ‘grey’Geese were flying both north and south, commuting between feeding grounds in south Northumberland and the fells around Coldingham over the Border. By the 26th 18 Goldeneye had returned to the Tweed and a group of 22 Whooper Swans were in the fields at Loanend.
Many thanks as always to Malcolm Hutcheson for his observations.