Iridescent blue-green to be more precise! This swift blue flash excitedly grabbed my attention as it mirrored over a small pond at the bottom of the Chinese Hillside Garden at the Royal Botanical Garden, Edinburgh yesterday. What a spectacle we were treated to :-)
Not being totally convinced that the rain would stay away and only on the look out for plants in flower, I wasn’t prepared for such a special sighting from a very shy bird - no video camera or zoom lens packed :-( Photo crops below are more record shots for myself but what a great start to a new gardenwatching year!
Usually we approach this pond, with its small waterside Pavilion (or T'ing), from the top via the winding paths and bridges that cross small rocky waterfalls which tumble into the pond at the bottom. On this occasion we approached the building from a lower, outer path and perhaps that was key to what we were about to see! It was just before noon, the winding paths were quiet of people and sound.
For those that haven’t guessed – we were treated to the spectacle of a Kingfisher hunting for food! I still can’t believe our very lucky timing. It perched on shrub and tree branches on both sides of the pond and in the distance to the left of the Heron. Not having sufficient zoom on my camera or binoculars in my coat pocket, I couldn't see if its dives were successful or not. Back and forth it went, swiftly in and out of the water. We watched it for over 20 minutes :-)
A wide variety of birds will find shelter in the dense planting of shrubs and trees in the Chinese Hillside Garden at Edinburgh Botanics. The bounty of its berries are sure to be a valuable food supply during winter. However, when the pond freezes that’s the food supply for the Kingfisher completely cut off! Oh dear… I’ve seen this a few times. I will look at this area quite differently now.
I hope the Kingfisher can successfully go hunting in the bigger, deeper pond in another area of the garden that may not freeze completely over. I’m guessing it is feeling the temps dropping and knows it needs to feed up for as long as it can before the snow and ice come. I do hope we see it again another day but the garden is not usually as quiet as it was yesterday. I am happy to have my record shots to know where to look out for it - I will be returning with my video camera :-)
For visitors to Edinburgh Botanical Gardens , other birds I’ve spotted in the Chinese Hillside area include: Blackbirds, Moorhens, Coal tits, Blue tits, Great tits, Long-tailed tits, Bullfinches, Treecreepers, Woodpigeons and Magpies. If you add the Kingfisher, Grey Heron and Robin that’s 13 species for the RSPB Big Garden Birdwatch (this year its the weekend of 30-31 January).
There are other birds to be seen in this Botanical garden and I’d definitely encourage families to go bird watching there and in other Botancial gardens and parks close to you. You will be surprised what you could see there if you stand still and look a little closer. Just take your camera with you ;-)
This post was published by Shirley for shirls gardenwatch in January 2016.