Thursday, 7 January 2016

A flash of blue brings in 2016

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!


View from Pavilion, a standing Grey Heron can be seen in the distance.


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 :-)


Record shots of perch areas, top right shows the first blue flash with reflection.


Cropped shot showing best image – such a shame no zoom lens packed.


View from other side, no luck in sightings after walking along this path.


Robin followed me over from the Pavilion – they are very tame there.


Another surprise sighting – Male bullfinch bathing near the Heron!


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.

9 comments:

Lisa Greenbow said...

This post is a treat for me too. I love kingfishers. Yours is a beauty. Where I live we have the Belted Kingfisher. Fun to watch them diving for small fish. Your little robin is a sweetie too. The perfect way to begin a year. A great garden and lovely birds. Those red berries in the distance really add to that photo too.

Lisa Greenbow said...

OOps upon closer inspection that was the red bridge. It sure looks bright during winter. :)

Shirley said...

Lisa, I’m delighted that you enjoyed this. It’s always great to share our UK/European birds with you. As we both know, our Robins are very different in size and colour. Just looked up images of your US Kingfisher and I see they are similar shapes but ours is brighter in colour but lacks the stripe patterns yours has.

Botanical Gardens in the middle of cities, as this one is, must bring a wealth of bird life and species to the gardens around it – what fun. Ha-ha… yes that red is the strong colour of the bridges and of the Pavilion I was standing in – it looks especially good in the duller winter months. Funnily enough, lots of pale orange berries caught my eye on this visit.

Midmarsh John said...

How lovely to catch sight of a Kingfisher. Your best crop looks good.

Sue Garrett said...

Seeing a kingfisher is always a special event. We have had the good fortune to see one a couple of times and be near enough to get some photographs with a zoom lens but we are still on the lookout for that special one.

SeagullSuzie said...

So lovely to see all these birds and wonderful that you got to see and actually photograph a Kingfisher. Well done!

Anna said...

I'm most envious Shirl. I've never seen a kingfisher and I'm sure that if I ever do I will not have a camera with me :) A lovely spot to visit on a January day.

Angie said...

Lucky you! Makes the day out much more special I think. We apparently have a kingfisher that lives along the river here but I've never seen it so only have to take said person's word for it.

Shirley said...

Hello again to you all, thanks for popping by and leaving your comments :-)

There’s been another fun, tricky to spot sighting since (back in my own garden) of a Goldcrest – need images to be absolutely certain though.

John, it was great timing to be passing that way on this day. Thanks, I’m delighted to have a clear record shot :-)

Sue, all nature programmes agree there. How lucky for you to see the Kingfisher more than once - wishing you a great photo opportunity one day. I probably won’t see it in this garden again but that’s what makes this sighting all the more special :-)

Suzie, it is, with the wealth of mature trees, shrubs and ground cover it’s no surprise Botanical gardens can attract so many bird species. It’s great for visitors too :-)

Anna, I can understand that :-) I genuinely couldn’t believe we were watching a Kingfisher diving for food. The garden was almost spookily quiet of visitors on this day. This is one of my favourite spots in this garden. I guess the first week in January is a good time to take a camera to a botanical garden!

Angie, We were – very!! I was thinking of you (knowing you visit this garden too) when I was making the montage image of record shots to show where the Kingfisher perched. You’ll know where to look too now. How great to think you’ve a Kingfisher so close to you. Hope you get to see it one day. Also guessing by images on your blog that this river has flooded – hope your Kingfishers have survived.