The first month of 2015 started off mild, bringing out a few invertebrates, but turned colder from mid-month with some frosts and light snow. There were a few stormy days with the Garden being closed for part of the day on 9th and 12th. Four species were added to the Garden’s list during the month: Yellowhammer (see the Birds section below), a harvestman species, Opilio saxatilis (5th), a barkfly (16th) and an earthworm species (8th), unidentifiable because it was not adult but nevertheless surprisingly the first earthworm to have actually been recorded in the Garden even though birds are seen eating them on occasion! Those four records, plus a record of a Devil’s Coach Horse beetle (Ocypus oleris) dating from summer 2008 but only just passed to me, brought the Garden’s list up from December 2014’s total of 736 to 741.
Birds The Botanics birding year got off to a very good start with 44 bird species recorded during January. One of these, a Yellowhammer, seen in the Ecological Garden area by one of the Visitor Welcome Team on 3rd (for more details see http://stories.rbge.org.uk/archives/13782), was a new post-1997 Garden record and the first for a very long time, maybe half a century or more. Other good sightings were Buzzard (25th and 26th), Goosander (12th), and Whooper Swan (27th). Kingfisher was recorded on 19 different dates, usually a single bird (male) but occasionally two (another male, or on at least one date a female). After a year without any House Sparrows being recorded it was encouraging to receive a record of one on 11th. Winter thrushes remained conspicuous by their absence, with Redwing seen only once and Fieldfare not at all. The full list of species recorded was: Blackbird, Blackcap, Black-headed Gull, Blue Tit, Bullfinch, Buzzard, Carrion Crow, Chaffinch, Coal Tit, Collared Dove, Curlew, Dunnock, Feral Pigeon, Goldcrest, Goldfinch, Goosander, Great Spotted Woodpecker, Great Tit, Greenfinch, Grey Heron, Herring Gull, House Sparrow, Jackdaw, Kingfisher, Long-tailed Tit, Magpie, Mallard, Mistle Thrush, Moorhen, Oystercatcher, Pied Wagtail, Pink-footed Goose, Redwing, Robin, Siskin, Song Thrush, Sparrowhawk, Stock Dove, Tawny Owl, Tree Creeper, Whooper Swan, Wood Pigeon, Wren, Yellowhammer.
Insects and other invertebrates: Recording of these got off to an early start on 5th, with winter gnats, two species of harvestmen (Common Harvestman, and Opilio saxatilis which was a new Garden record), an early Common Wasp, a Hawthorn Shieldbug nymph and even a hoverfly, Platycheirus scutatus, all being recorded. Bluebottles were out and about on 19th and 21st. The barkfly Ectopsocus briggsi was recorded on poplar bark on 16th, only the second barkfly species recorded in the Garden and another new Garden record although it is common in east-central Scotland . No butterflies, moths, bees, or beetles were recorded during January.