Saturday December 17th 2016
This was a very dull day, the harsh morning light completely robbing most birds of any colour, and the branches of the trees standing out as skeletons against the clouds beyond. It had also been raining during the night and whilst dry during my walk, it was never warm or sunny. Perhaps not surprisingly, there was little about, the 18 species being the lowest monthly total in 2016, and what was there was pretty quiet. The odd Robin briefly ‘warbled’ a soft sub-song, but even the Nuthatches were hardly calling. At least two Great spotted Woodpeckers could be heard making their distinct ‘chipping’ call and I watched a female high up in the branches of a Lime feeding for a while, picking stuff from the twigs.
The winter thrushes have all left the hill – no Redwings to be seen this time, nor Fieldfares and only a solitary Blackbird and Mistle thrush. My hope that some of the Waxwings that have been seen in Dunblane this past three weeks might make it up on to the hill went unfulfilled. Indeed the Waxwings have largely, but not totally left the area, though for a week or so it was possibe to see a flock of well over 200 of these spectacular Winter visitors from Scandinavia feeding on the Rowan berries on the edge of Tesco’s car park! Otherwise, even the birds I did see were in very small numbers and for a change I didn’t even see any of our resident Roe deer.
A Review of 2016
Looking back over this year’s surveys, in the ten standard one hour visits I did in 2016, we had a total of 33 different species recorded as using the hill, compared to 37 (from 11 visits) last year. This only includes birds seen during the regular monthly morning count, when I follow the same route each time, and not others seen at other times of the day or year (like Tawny Owl or Peregrine). And neither does this include species flying over, such as gulls, geese, swans, swallows, sky larks, oystercatchers, etc. but not making use of the site itself.
Of the 33 species in 2016, twelve were always present (Blackbird, Blue tit, Carrion crow, Chaffinch, Dunnock, Great tit, Jackdaw, Magpie, Robin, Stock dove, Wood pigeon and Wren), a couple more 9 times out of ten (Nuthatch and Rook), whilst others were there only during Summer (Chiffchaff, Blackcap), or Winter (Redwing) or seen only once (Bullfinch, Fieldfare, Red kite, Sparrowhawk and Treecreeper this year). The number of species seen varied from 24 (November) down to 18 (December), with individual species varying from over 80 (Rooks) and 60 (Jackdaws) down to single birds, such as Sparrowhawk.
Other than birds, the resident Roe deer were nearly always seen, numbers usually 3, but as high as 5, with Grey squirrels and Rabbits even more common. Signs (or in the case of the fox smells) of moles and a fox were also recorded. Although I saw the odd butterfly, as the counts are undertaken in the early morning, this is totally the wrong time for recording these species. And the same would be true for nocturnal species, such as Bats.
Click here to see the bird report for December 2016. Links to all Chris’ blogs, and a note about his survey method, can be found here.
Image: Wikipedia. “Robin” © Francis C. Franklin / CC-BY-SA-3.0