Thursday, 16 January 2020

BTO WeBS Wetland Bird Survey - Union Canal Linlithgow to Philpstoun, Jan 2020

c.230 wigeon on Flood Field near Philpstoun

Another New Year. Resolutions and all that.

One of mine is (probably?) to see if I can put up a quick post each month summarising my British Trust for Ornithology (BTO) Wetland Bird Survey (WeBS). Partly as a way of encouraging me to stick to another resolution - make sure I do carry out the surveys!

I volunteer for two monthly counts:

- a linear there-and-back 11km ish walk along the Union Canal towpath from Linlithgow to Philpstoun, in Lothian. All waterbirds making use of canal AND making use of one field width on either side of canal. Read more about it in my 2012 post which introduces the route -

NB - this is also a really good Scotland By Rail walk. Get the train to Linlithgow, visit a cafe before you start and another cafe (or a nice pub) when you get back. Don't forget The Line Gallery, Far From The Madding Crowd independent bookshop, Linlithgow Palace, great charity shops, wholefood shop, Fairtrade shop...

- a small pond, the Binn Pond, above Burntisland, in Fife. All waterbirds on or around the pond. I'm not sure if I will or won't blog this one.

Wetland Bird Survey - Union Canal Linlithgow to Philpstoun, Jan 2020

09:30 - 13:00
quite strong wind from west. Flood Field east of Park Farm very substantial - main flood is currently large, plus 3 or 4 small patches

Cormorant - 1
Curlew - 8               - on Flood Field
Goosander - 1
Grey Heron - 1
Greylag Goose - 16       - on Flood Field
Mallard - 21               - on Flood Field
Moorhen - 2
Mute Swan - 3
Wigeon - c.230               - on Flood Field
Black-headed Gull - 2   - on Flood Field
Common Gull - 2       - on Flood Field
Grey Wagtail - 1       - on Flood Field
Reed Bunting - 2

I reckon there will have been snipe on the Flood Field too but they're so hard to spot at this distance.

Linlithgow Canal Basin (visitable, cafe, boat trips). My count starts here

Childhood patch.Where the canal leaves Linlithgow. I understand this whole long field may (will?) soon be houses.
What about our favourite sledging spot? What about the fox cubs I watched here? What about the huge flock of linnets I see here? What about the yellowhammers?

Narrowboat Farm Market Garden

the Flood Field! Wonderful spot. This is where the vast majority of birds on my count are spotted.

more the Flood Field

yellowhammer male (yellow face)

reed bunting, back of

song thrush singing

my turnaround at the end of the route.
A mysterious dry, squeeky, creaky, cracky wood, sided by Philpstoun shale bings

spot the bing

touch of red

coffee spot sketch spot

coffee spot sketch.
Great tits, blue tits, blackbird.
One great tit alarm calling right at me, coming gradually closer and closer. Not sure if curious or if trying to get rid of me.


How to get there:

Linlithgow is very well served on the flagship Edinburgh - Glasgow line. 

Enough trains that you really don't need to check the timetable, but if you do want to - 'Central Belt' here.

Many thanks to ScotRail for their support of my Scotland By Rail work.

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