Thursday, 19 January 2017


A short 15 minute walk from my house brings me to the local Figgate Park. It is here that over the past few years the Council have made many excellent improvements, both for wildlife and visitors alike. So much so that we are seeing a rise in the variety of wildlife frequent its central pond and burn.

There is a resident swan family on the pond, and they successfully raise young every year. They are definitely the bosses of the pond, and once the signets are on the water, the male chases all other birds away, should they stray too close.

Earlier last year we were treated to the exotic looking Mandarin Duck, with it's bright orange feathers, which hung around for most of the year. Then during the year there were many sightings of a young otter. This was a great surprise, though I haven't seen it myself, yet.

The list is huge; Tufted Duck, Mallard, Canada Geese, Greylag geese, Coot, Moorhen, Blackheaded Gulls, Heron, Goosander. Then there's the woodland and other birds; Robin, various Tits, Swallow, Thrush, Goldcrest, Bullfinch, Redwing, Sand Martin, Buzzard, Woodpecker, Chaffinch, Black Bird, Sparrow . . . jeez, the list just goes on and on.

My friend Pauline is a frequent visitor to the park and has spotted way more than I have. Plus I have a little difficulty in recognising the different types. On Monday I wandered through the park in search of one particular bird, which I'll mention in a moment, when I spotted a bird I hadn't seen before, hopping up the trunk of a tree. Thanks to a "Twitcher" standing close by with her camera, I found out it was a Tree Creeper, a rare visitor to the park apparently.

But it was the day before that I had a spectacular view of a even rarer visitor, a Kingfisher. It scoots along low over the small burn that runs through the park, perching on overhanging branches occasionally. The burn is very close to the public path, but it seems to be un-phased by people passing by, so much so, that it has become the place for photographers to capture stunning images regularly.

On this day though, despite waiting for a fair amount of time, it did not appear. With shopping to be done in the local high street, I left the Figgate Park and headed toward Portobello. My route took me through a much smaller park, called Rosefield, and the same burn twists through here on its way to the sea. Not expecting anything, I had it in my mind that wouldn't it be great if the Kingfisher were here.

Within just a few minutes there it was! The sun broke through briefly and lit its iridescent plumage. I stood for an age, just watching, as it perched on a little branch, not moving. I thought of all the other people waiting patiently in the park, just over the main road. There is a long, narrow, connecting tunnel between the two parks that the burn runs through, and though unbelievable, I guess it has no fear and flies through the long tunnel between the parks.

So far I haven't managed to capture an image of it, but sometimes it's just nice to stand there and enjoy the view. However, I couldn't resist posting a picture of it, so here's a cracker that someone took in Figgate Park recently.

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