After yesterday’s trip to Musselburgh with the aim of adding a few new bird species towards my unofficial Ornithologist medal, now sitting at 44 out of the 50 required, I was keen to continue my search. My target zone for this birding twitch was Restoration, down in Dalkeith Country Park. My plan was to scoot down on the Swifty Air kick scooter, along with a picnic lunch and spend some time simply sitting at the benches and watching, and waiting, and most importantly listening, to see what birds were in the area.
But before we go birding, something I want to share. On the way down I was thinking, as you do between turf zones, about additional Planet Gary medals to try for and the idea came to me when a grey squirrel dashed across the path in front of me. We already have bird spotting medals so why not animal spotting medals? This medal is called Nature Watch.
So, your mission for this medal, unofficial remember, is to identify different species of animal from within turf zones. There are medals available for 5, 10 and, this is perhaps something of a long shot, 25 animals. Animals can be wild, tame or domestic, be they Badass the Badger, Hooray Henry the Horse, Mickey le Hoose Moose, Hardcore the Hamster, Shaun the Sheep, Raunchy the Rabbit, Happy Harriet the Highland Haggis or even an escaped animal from Nick Park’s Creature Comforts. All count as long as they are witnessed from within a turf zone. Each species of animal only counts once and there’s no limit to the number of zones you can visit. Should be fun and quite possibly a mighty challenge as well. Note that taking the family mutt or borrowing the neighbour’s cat and taking it with you is probably cheating.
Arriving at zone Restoration at 11.45 am. I parked my butt on the bench within the zone and spent a very relaxing 45 minutes eating lunch and watching and listening for birdies. The weather alternated between scorching in the sunshine and freezing cold when it didn’t. Not ideal conditions to be sitting around. It didn’t take long to list a good dozen species including two I could add to the tally, woodpigeon and coal tit. Initially I thought I could add homing pigeon to the list but this is really just a Rock dove underneath, same as a feral pigeon which I’ve already listed. This brings me to 46 out of 50, just another 4 species needed and that elusive Ornithologist medal will be mine, all mine!
…later that evening…
A quick spin around Bonnyrigg on the Surly Ogre while Cathryn aka ChoccyMuffin did her meditation class. At my very first zone of the session, zone Pittendreich, a fine adult specimen of Oryctolagus cuniculus hopping about on the grass and munching same. Of course, this got me thinking I can use this to start my first Nature Watch medal. Yes, it’s a European rabbit if you haven’t already guessed. Then, at zone LadyMarion a few minutes later, man’s best friend, a dog. No idea what kind of dog but it was a dog, so tick number two on the list. Was hoping to spot a cat during the session but no luck. I suspect some night-time turf sessions might be productive for cats, and also deer, fox, hedgehogs and bats. More soon.
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