Return to the Borders



Common Buzzard on the lookout and a view of the river Tweed looking back towards the bridge and Coldstream.


We enjoyed our last holiday to the borders so much (see previous blog 31/10/21) that we decided to go back. Usually, we take a week in February but decided to go a bit later towards the end of March as we thought the weather might be a bit better. More on that decision later in the blog.

After a good night's sleep we were up early for a walk before breakfast, a roughly 2-mile walk from the cottage, down a track, and along a couple of roads. It was a beautiful morning, the birds were singing and there was wildlife to be seen. I counted at least 6 Chiffchaffs singing, Yellowhammers around field edges, Hares running down the road in front of us and in the fields, and a brief view of a Roe Deer running down the edge of a field. If you get up early enough it really is amazing what you can see.


Chiffchaff and Yellowhammer


Roe Deer running down the edge of a field

Hare Running and calmly sat in a field away from traffic


This was a good area for Hares. For more information on the protection of Hares please check this website: http://hare-preservation-trust.com/


I make no apologies for the possibility of more Beautiful Hare Photos later in the Blog!


In the afternoon we visited the Hirsel Estate on the edge of Coldstream. Check out their website: https://www.dandaestates.co.uk/visitor-facilities/hirsel-visitor-facilities.php and https://www.tripadvisor.co.uk/Attraction_Review-g940866-d3820226-Reviews-Hirsel_Estate-Coldstream_Scottish_Borders_Scotland.html

(lots of photos on the TripAdvisor website)


The recent storms had caused a lot of damage around the estate so the main footpath around the lake was closed but we could still get to the hide. We were hoping to see Otter again as we did in 2021, but on this occasion, it did appear. There was however plenty of birdlife on the lake. See photos below:

Coot Action Photos


Greylag swimming peacefully



The beautiful graceful Mute Swan



A Male Goldeneye


It was quite early in the year but I was still hoping I would find some Moths. I bought my homemade 50W Mercury Vapour trap but I only had it out for 2 nights as the weather turned much colder with rain snow sleet and hail putting an end to the Moth watching. I did however find 16 Moths of 7 species. Check this link for details of how to build your own MV Moth trap: http://www.eakringbirds.com/mothsmvlighttrap.htm


See photos below of 2 of the moths I found:



Clouded Drab and Twin Spotted Quaker


On Monday morning, after some google searching in the area, we came across Twizel Castle and bridge, not far away, so we decided to pay them a visit and perhaps have a nice walk.


On a sad note whilst on route, we came across a dead Badger at the side of the road, a victim of today's modern traffic. Once we were parked, I walked back and removed it from the road so it wasn't hit any further and placed it on the grassy verge behind the barrier so any animals that would help to dispose of the carcass can do so safely.


We opted to walk to the bridge first and have a look. It is a Tudor Arch bridge, Grade 1 listed and scheduled ancient monument.


Check these links for details on the bridge and the castle: https://www.flodden1513ecomuseum.org/places/local/twizel-bridge

https://www.sjbsscottishbordersguide.co.uk/2018/07/twizel-castle-northumberland.html



View from the old bridge looking towards the new road bridge, and a view of the river Til + a view from the river to the bridge.


After the bridge, we walked through the woodland up to the fields at the top to have a look at the ruined castle. It was closed to the public and fenced off for safety so sadly not able to look any closer. Photos of the castle are below and a link for more information:



We walked down from the castle and through the woodland for a beautiful walk along the river Till. It was a glorious sunny morning, blue skies and the sweet aroma of Wild Garlic filled the air. The woodland was absolutely full of it, I have never seen so much Wild Garlic before.



Check this link for more information on Wild Garlic and some interesting recipes to try out: https://www.countryfile.com/how-to/food-recipes/wild-garlic-guide-where-to-find-how-to-cook-it-and-recipe-ideas/

It wasn't just Garlic in the wood, we came across an interesting plant I did not recognize. Using a very useful app on my phone (https://observation.org/apps/obsidentify/) I was able to ID the plant and find out more about it.



The plant was called Butterbur, also known as Pestilence Wort, and a host of other names.

The photos show the flower emerging from the ground before its leaves have formed and with leaves. Try these links to find out more about the plant and its possible uses. including helping with headaches & migraines.



https://www.shootgardening.co.uk/plant/petasites-hybridus

https://www.nccih.nih.gov/health/butterbur#:~:text=The%20name%2C%20butterbur%2C%20is%20attributed,%2C%20asthma%2C%20and%20skin%20wounds.


We also came across Pussy/Goat Willow and Lesser Celandine. Try these links for more info:

https://www.woodlandtrust.org.uk/trees-woods-and-wildlife/british-trees/a-z-of-british-trees/goat-willow/

https://www.woodlandtrust.org.uk/trees-woods-and-wildlife/plants/wild-flowers/lesser-celandine/




It was a perfect day for a riverside walk. Birds singing and my first Orange Tip Butterfly of the year fluttered by rather quickly in the sunshine. Sadly not able to get a photo of this beautiful spring Butterfly but check this link for more info:

https://butterfly-conservation.org/butterflies/orange-tip


We walked as far as Twizel Viaduct, https://co-curate.ncl.ac.uk/twizel-viaduct/ before we turned back and headed through the mass of Garlic once more.

Various views of River Til and the Viaduct


A pair of Goosanders glimpsed through the trees, swimming along the river Till


On Tuesday morning we woke to a very foggy and mysterious landscape. As we looked out the window, we noticed a Buzzard sat on a nearby post,

A very Misty Buzzard


After our morning walk and some breakfast, we decided to head for the coastal town of North Berwick, about 1hr's drive away and about 20 miles from Edinburgh. Just off the coast of North Berwick lies Bass Rock, home to the world's largest colony of Gannets although not much was seen flying in the mist. Also on the shore opposite lies the Scottish Seabird centre highlighting the Scottish marine environment, it is a great place for the kids to learn about the sea and the animals that live there with interactive cameras that they can use. For more info on these attractions and the town itself please check the links below:

https://www.visitscotland.com/info/towns-villages/north-berwick-p240511

https://hiddenscotland.co/listings/the-bass-rock/

https://www.seabird.org/


As the mist came down over the sea, not much could be seen apart from these lovely Eider ducks close inshore as we sat on the sea wall.


An afternoon walk produced more sightings of Hares:




On Wednesday morning, shortly after we returned from our walk the skies opened and it was a full-blown Blizzard. it settled on the ground quite quickly but once it had stopped and brightened up it soon went on the lower levels. Looking in the distance though, you could make out the snow-capped hills of the Cheviots.



For more information on the Cheviots go to: https://www.northumberlandnationalpark.org.uk/places-to-visit/the-cheviots/



In the afternoon the weather had improved, the sun was out and the sky was blue so we decided to pop into Coldstream for a walk along the river on the English side of the border in Northumberland. Swans were swimming along, a fisherman was fishing and a Little Egret was poking about in the reeds, the woods were yet again filled with the aroma of Wild Garlic.



We walked through the woods away from the river and along the edge of some recently ploughed fields, at the top of the track in the picture above we found what I think was the skull of a Fallow Deer. (pictured below)

For more info on the Fallow Deer:

https://www.wildlifetrusts.org/wildlife-explorer/mammals/fallow-deer


Thurs was a mixed weather day with snow, hail, sleet, rain, and sun. We went for a drive but got caught out by the weather so stayed in the car. We did however get out for a walk later in the afternoon. From the cottage along the edges of fields and back up the track.


When I first looked into the field, I thought I was looking at a mound of soil. Upon closer inspection, It was yet another beautiful Hare. Keep reading and you might just see another and prob the best Hare photo of the week.


On our last full day in Scotland we opted for a longer morning walk (roughly 4.5 miles) after breakfast. We walked up the road through a wood and along the river Tweed heading towards Norham bridge. It was a beautiful morning, the wood was filled yet again with more Wild Garlic, we found fish bones up a tree! how on earth did they get there I wonder? what appeared to be the remains of a Deer on the river bank and some Jelly Fungus growing on a piece of wood. If you look all around you when you go for a walk it is amazing what you might find. A Goosander flew past along the river, Swans flew overhead looking like a pair of fighter Jets coming into land and ducks paddled. We didn't get as far as Norham bridge but it was a good walk on our last day and I even managed to get 1 more photo of a very obliging Hare. Take a look at some of the photos of the walk below:







Jelly Ear Fungi was found in the wood alongside the river.


https://www.woodlandtrust.org.uk/trees-woods-and-wildlife/fungi-and-lichens/jelly-ear/












Remains of a Deer by the river








A very beautiful Hare


In the afternoon we went into Coldstream to Hendersons Viewpoint with some fantastic views over the river Tweed, bright sunshine, blue sky and a perfect end to a perfect week away.

(https://www.scotborders.gov.uk/directory_record/45390/henderson_park_coldstream)



Views of the Tweed and the bridge in/out of Coldstream and a gorgeous Male Goosander.


This was a much needed break away from the normal everyday. Beautiful countryside, amazing scenery, fantastic wildlife, It is a great area to visit and comes highly recommended. I leave you with a view from our cottage, I hope you enjoyed this blog, please do leave a google review about this and other blogs on the link at the bottom of the website homepage.





















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