Published on 15/02/2017
WE ARE NOT TWITCHERS, we don’t go hunting for rare white-billed divers or elusive eastern black redstarts to tick them off a list. The most exotic sighting we have probably made in Scotland was a hoopoe on the island of Iona about 30 years ago. It landed in the garden of the house where we were spending the week, paraded its colourful crest, strutted around for a while then flew off in a flash of zebra-striped wings.
So we may not be twitchers but we love birds. There are bird feeders of varying kinds in the garden at Tolquhon which seem to be emptied with remarkable speed. For the last few years, we have taken part in the RSPB Big Garden Birdwatch. For one hour on the weekend of 28 – 30 January people all over the country were asked to count the birds in their gardens, then submit their findings to the RSPB.
These were our top ten birds this year.
The most common, the goldfinch, is the most colourful. They are attracted by plentiful supplies of niger seed. Other colourful visitors are great spotted woodpeckers; a pair visits regularly and they can be heard drumming in the trees. Perhaps most fascinating are treecreepers, beautifully camouflaged, they creep up tree trunks like little mice.
There seem to be fewer birds around than in previous years. We are hoping that may be due to the mild winter and food still being available to the birds in the woods and fields around us. It will be interesting to see the national results when they are published next month.
Clearly many artists share our enjoyment of birds. Looking round at the random display of paintings in the gallery in our Winter Collection, of 28 paintings in one gallery room, 12 feature birds. Some have birds as subjects, others just hint at birds in brushstrokes. They add life and liveliness to landscapes. There are also bird sculptures, bird wood carvings and bird ceramics.
We look forward to many more birds during 2017.