Farm News | February 23, 2021
Resident ecologist Leonie Alexander explains more about birdlife at Lauriston Farm, and how our plans will enhance the habitat for them
The birds have always been a highlight at Lauriston Farm partly because being so close to the sea it offers a refuge to species which feed on the intertidal zone like curlew, redshank and oystercatcher. But also because the fields are relatively undisturbed by people and dogs so the birds can retreat to the northern and middle fields at high tide and wait for the tide to turn when they can return to the shore to feed.
In the summer and autumn seeing around 120 curlew was not unusual roosting in the lower (northern) field or in the middle field. Lapwing and oystercatcher were frequent visitors feeding and roosting around the wetland area in the north. This wetland is interesting as it appears to have formed around the same time as the main sewer was installed running from west to east through the North field. If anyone knows the history of the wetland we would love to know more. The last time I was at the farm was in November. The grass had grown significantly since the final silage cut in the summer and I flushed a snipe no doubt attracted by the long grass and good cover. I can’t get to Lauriston Farm during lockdown as I stay outside of Edinburgh but a couple of local birdwatchers have given me some recent records.
Steve reports sightings of redshank and knot in the area, a few redwing which are thrushes visiting for the winter from Iceland and abundant songbirds including blue tit, great tit, coal tit and long-tailed tit. He also spotted brent geese a few weeks ago on the foreshore. Brent geese are compact around the size of a mallard with a dark head and a small white neck patch – well worth looking out for. Another local bird watcher has also spotted snipe plus geese and around 60 curlew in the middle field around a month ago plus buzzard and raven as well as fieldfare – another thrush from Scandinavia spending the winter in Scotland.
The aim of management at Lauriston Farm will be to enhance habitat for coastal and farmland birds by keeping the northern part of the farm relatively open to support waders and geese and in the rest of the farm to create more structural and plant species diversity to encourage more breeding and overwintering birds.
Thanks to Steve Marlow and Lee McPherson for their recent sightings and to Steve for the photos. We would love to hear about any good wildlife sightings at Lauriston Farm so please get in touch if you spot anything. If you are out walking and see flocks of birds in the lower fields try to avoid disturbing them by going round the edge and avoiding the northern part of the site.
(Bird in picture: Redwing)