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Pat's Guide to Glasgow West End

The nuthatches have arrived in Strathaven!

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I've been into birds since I was a youngster. The first book I ever bought with my saved up pocket money was The Observer's Book of Birds' Eggs. I was about 10 years old at the time, and it cost the princely sum of 5/-. The second book I bought was the The Observer's Book of Birds.   I remember feeling envious, as I leafed through the pages, about England having more species than Scotland. It's mainly a climate thing, and I was particularly miffed about us not having any nuthatches. It's a beautiful wee blue and yellow bird, with black and white facial streaks, and a long woodpecker like beak.

It seems every time I watched a BBC wildlife program which featured garden bird tables, there would be nuthatches, great spotted woodpeckers, green woodpeckers, goldfinches and siskins paying a visit. I got a siskin once, and some coal tits, and one time even a willow tit, but nothing more 'exotic' than that. I was in my 50s when I saw my first local great spotted woodpecker. I could hear it drumming on one of the dead trees at Strathaven castle, and ventured up there to see if I could spot it, which I did. Since then, I've seen two more, the most recent a fortnight ago, on a walk up to the wind turbines on the Kype Hills. Lots of locals now get them at their feeders. Goldfinches are another bird that I never saw as a boy. They're now quite ubiquitous, probably mainly due to garden bird feeders.

I've yet to see a nuthatch, though. I was aware that they had recently crossed Hadrian's wall, and that they had even been spotted as far north as Invernessshire. Today, someone posted a photo of a nuthatch on a bird feeder in their garden, on the Strathaven Facebook page. Within a short space of time, another four people reported they'd also had them. Time to fill up the feeder, I think. I stopped using it because jackdaws took it over, and nothing else got a look in. A grey squirrel even worked out how to untie the knot, so that the feeder fell on to the lawn. But, I've got a cunning plan. Here's an extract from a google:

Nuthatches were first recorded in Scotland in 1989 and they are gradually increasing their range northwards. This spring a nesting pair was recorded in Inverness-shire. Their spread is believed to be a result of climate change.

Paul Anderson, Assistant Ranger at Loch of the Lowes said: “We regularly see climbing birds including tree creepers and greater spotted woodpeckers at the reserve but these colourful new arrivals have been causing quite a stir at our viewing window.

“The nuthatch has been increasing its range north for decades. We were aware that they had been seen relatively close by at Killiekrankie in recent years so it was really just a matter of time until we started to see them at Loch of the Lowes and it is a delight to have our first pair.

“However, while it’s great to have another colourful and interesting bird to show visitors we are conscious that their presence here is likely down to climate change, something which could have other less welcome effects on our native wildlife as temperatures increase.”

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