Local wildlife and Plora Wood
Set next to the River Tweed, surrounded by farmland and hills, Walkerburn is fortunate to have a wide range of habitats and hence a rich biodiversity of species.
Starting with the Tweed itself, this local stretch has not only rich pickings for fisherman but for birds and mammals too. The burns feeding into the river are fast flowing and the presence of rich vegetation and clear water is perfect for the numerous insect larvae on which young fish, frogs, toads, and birds such as the dipper, live. Other birds to be seen here are grey heron, mallard, mute swans, goosanders and in the summer months, oystercatchers and grey wagtails, as well as sand martins nesting in the banks. If you are lucky you might see an Osprey snacking from the Tweed or catch sight of a Golden Eagle soaring over Minch Moor. Walk along the riverside, particularly at dawn or dusk and you may see the local otters. Dusk is also the time to see Daubenton’s bats skimming the water surface for insects.
Beside the river, Alexandra Park has trees at various stages of maturity and the grassland here and in the nearby fields supports all the birds we might see in our garden. The banks, nearby verges and field margins are rich in wild flowers, which along with native hedging, support numerous butterflies, moths and other insects as well as providing shelter and nest sites for birds, such as pheasants, and small mammals. Voles, shrews and mice abound and support tawny owls, barn owls and kestrels. Sparrowhawks take other birds from blue tits to blackbirds, whilst the larger buzzard can frequently be heard ‘kewing’ overhead, hunting for rabbits. Hedgehogs hide in long grass and stoats patrol the stone dykes.
West Bold Wood and the larger Plora Wood are home to a host of woodland birds. The Green Woodpecker can be heard laughing, in the spring particularly, and the Greater Spotted woodpecker will venture to nearby gardens to those kind enough to provide feeders. One might spot nuthatches, numerous members of the tit family, thrushes, robins, wrens and chaffinches – the list is almost endless!
Much of the higher ground is planted in commercial forestry, not a rich environment for wildlife, but not desolate. Siskins and redpolls feed on conifer seed, and there are both grey and red squirrels, although red squirrels are becoming rare. Roe deer venture down from higher areas to feed in the fields and amongst the brambles and woodland. The stony uplands, cleared forestry and more open hillsides make foxes and hares more visible and are home to curlews in the summer, more often heard than seen.
Amongst the buildings of the village, swallows, swifts and house martins make summer nests, black headed gulls and jackdaws clear the school playground of dropped crumbs at playtime, crows and rooks clear up the roads and pipistrelle bats clear the air of midges!
Everywhere there is something to see. Walkerburn has a rich and varied environment for a host of living things. Great walks, great views, great diversity of life.