11th & 18th October 2019 - Barns Ness (we swapped the planned October and November outings because of the closure of the Chain Bridge)
On the 11th, twelve of us visited Barns Ness on a bright and mild but distinctly blustery morning. The total number of species noted came to 25, about average for our outings. Although there were no particular rarities spotted, there was a good variety with the accent on waders (Redshank, Oystercatcher, Curlew and Ringed Plover) and smaller shore birds (Starling, Rock Pipit and Pied Wagtail). It was good to hear a Skylark still singing at this time of year although not many were quick enough to spot it. Likewise the Kestrel that flew over quickly and was gone. Many of the smaller birds were keeping a low profile in the wind, but we did see Linnet, Goldfinch and Chaffinch. The old quarry at Whitesands had a variety of ducks and geese, but they were all very distant and with the sun reflecting on the water identification was almost impossible.
Our repeat visit on the 18th was very wet, but much less windy. The different conditions probably accounted for being able to spot Stonechat and Reed Bunting on the grassland, with a particularly good view of the latter. We also added Turnstone to the list of waders and saw Goldeneye on the quarry.
8th & 15th November 2019 - River Tweed at the Chain Bridge
A dozen of us enjoyed bright, dry weather (if not ideal conditions underfoot!) on the 8th for a walk along the riverbank from the Chain Bridge to below Paxton House. The selection of birds wasn't spectacular, but the final total was a reasonable 22 species. Highlights were several Little Grebes and Goosander on the river and three Nuthatches, a few Redwing and a Great Spotted Woodpecker in the woods.
On the return visit on the 15th we saw 25 species, but only 16 were the same as last time. Just goes to show it's always worth visiting more than once! Highlights that we didn't see first time included Bullfinch, Buzzard, Goldeneye, Jay, Treecreeper and Whooper Swan; however the Woodpecker and Redwing didn't show up.
13th December - Druridge Bay
Eight of us put our faith in the BBC weather forecast that said it would be better further south and drove through the rain to a bright and sunny (but bitingly cold!) Druridge Bay where we spent most of the day visiting Cresswell Pond, the Druridge Pools and the beach. We saw an impressive 42 different species of birds. There were three birds we have never seen before on our outings: Jack Snipe, Long Tailed Duck and Scaup, all at Cresswell Pond. Other good sightings included Kingfisher (at Druridge Pools) and both Red Throated Diver and a winter-plumage Guillemot off the beach.
10th January - Berwick Beach
We'd a good turnout on a bright chilly morning at Berwick Beach where we saw a total of 28 species. Prize sighting was probably the Sparrowhawk that flew through scattering the Redshanks and the leucistic Blackbird seen around the car park was also a bit different. While we didn't see any unusual waders, Redshank, Turnstone and Oystercatcher were present in good numbers, along with a few Curlew, not to mention several Grey Heron and a few Rock Pipit. Otherwise the absence of ducks was notable, with only a pair of Eider offshore and some very distant Mallard on the estuary.
14th February - Aberlady Bay
Thirteen of us braved the windy conditions at Aberlady. Predictably, the ducks and waders were impervious to the conditions but smaller birds were few and far between, and very difficult to identify when we did see them. It wasn't the weather for a small bird to perch, their flight was even more erratic than usual and it was often difficult even to hold binoculars steady! The result was only fifteen species identified, ten of which were seen from the car park before we even set foot on the reserve.
13th March - The Hirsel
Fifteen of us made the trip to the Hirsel. As a change from Dundock Woods (which can be very muddy at this time of year as we've seen in the past), we started from the main car park with a look at the waterfowl on the lake before walking up the drive past the big house and returning round the walled garden, giving us a variety of woodland, farmland and garden habitats. The result was a good haul of 31 species and although there were no spectacular rarities, there was plenty of song and some courting activity - spring is in the air! Notable sightings on the lake included Goldeneye, with the males showing off to the females with their little neck stretching dances, and Little Grebes (Dabchicks) calling loudly. In the trees, there were several Nuthatches and a Song Thrush along with the regular finches and tits, with a Long Tailed Tit showing well on a feeder in the cottage garden by the car park. Some of us managed a brief sighting of a Great Spotted Woodpecker, and another was heard later.
Apart from the bird sightings, we were also able to watch one of the herd of highland cattle giving birth to a calf in the field, quite a remarkable sight!