On 3 January 2015, Gavin Powell, one of the RBGE Visitor Welcome team, spotted an unusual bird with bright yellow head perched on brambles opposite the Cryptogamic Garden. It was a Yellowhammer (Emberiza citrinella), an unusual visitor to town gardens and the first record of this species for RBGE. This was the first new Garden wildlife record for 2015 and brings the Edinburgh Garden bird list up to 91 since 1997 and 98 in total.
Yellowhammers are more typically found in farmland and open countryside with hedgerows. In the Lothians, I have seen them in the Balerno area, out towards the reservoirs (Bavelaw, Harlaw and Threipmuir) in the Pentlands, as well as in East Lothian. In an email, Gavin writes that he frequently sees them between Stenton and Gifford in East Lothian but he has seen them in Edinburgh only between Duddingston Loch and the Innocent Railway path. To find one in the Botanics, barely a mile from Princes Street, is certainly very unusual.
Yellowhammer is Red-Listed in the UK and is in the Lothians Biodiversity Action Plan for seed-eating birds. If you see one in the Botanics please let me know.