This morning while walking through the top part of the Chinese Hillside on the way to my office I heard an unusual ‘chup-chup’ call that I had not heard in the Garden before. It reminded me of Crossbill and Nuthatch. Playing recordings of both species available on the internet confirmed the identification as Nuthatch!
Nuthatch is rare in Scotland but has been spreading north for some years. There have been Nuthatches at Dawyck Botanic Garden for some time now and they can often be seen on the feeders outside the visitor centre there. In Edinburgh they remain rare although one has once visited my own bird feeder in west Edinburgh. One was found dead in Stockbridge a couple of years ago by one of our Garden Guides and I realised then that it would only be a matter of time before they would be seen (or heard) in the Garden as we have perfect habitat for them.
Listen to this recording by Francesco Sottile (Italy) from the bird-song site xeno-canto.org, licensed under Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 3.0
and you will hear the same call that I heard; listen out for it in the Garden and look out for a small bird with slaty-grey upperparts and pinkish-white underparts that can climb DOWN trees (not UP them like the brown-mottled Tree Creeper). Nuthatches have a variety of other calls and a loud trilling song.
This is the second addition to the Edinburgh Garden’s bird list this year, the first being the Cuckoo last month. Unlike the Cuckoo, which must have been on passage to somewhere else with better habitat, Nuthatch could well become a resident in the Edinburgh Garden, just as it has become at Dawyck. Let’s hope so.