Tom Gray’s Nature Notes: the nature of Christmas week

I had nothing more exciting to report in the run up to Christmas than the continuing presence of a very large family of Long-tailed Tits which flit round the bird tables in both my front and back gardens in competition with Great and Blue tits, and with the House Sparrows which seem to have developed a taste for fat balls in recent years.

However during a shopping trip to the town centre with Mrs Gray I chose to rest my legs and take a seat on the bench at the entrance to Poundland.

I was grateful to be recognised by several passing readers of the Gazette Nature Notes who stopped to pass on their wildlife information which included news that at least one garden, and possibly more, is receiving regular visits from parties of Goldfinches.

At best I only get an occasional Goldfinch visitor. Perhaps it is time to change the variety of bird seed I put out!

Someone else told me of the flocks of Fieldfares which have been passing through the town (I have only seen a few Redwings myself).

Both of these thrush species are no doubt attracted by the availability of Service and Cotoneaster berries which are in plentiful supply in the absence of competition from Scandinavian Waxwings whose presence has not been reported locally this winter so far.

I was quietly amused by one lady who, getting forgetful like myself, stopped to say that she had had a wildlife query to ask of me next time she saw me, but surprised by my presence it had gone clean out of her mind!

However I was pleased when I got home to open an e-mail which I had received through the Gazette office with the news that another lady had on two recent occasions come across the presence of a Grey Heron by the fish ladder at the overspill from Riverside Park pond where perhaps it is able to pick out a late migratory Brown Trout to enhance the Sticklebacks from the burn which form the basis of its diet at this time of year.

And may I take this opportunity to say Merry Christmas to the readers of the Nature Notes column, and add a thank you to all those who pass on information to supplement its contents.

* Tom Gray writes a column for the Glenrothes Gazette