February 2015 was chilly for the most part with temperatures mostly not rising above 7 degrees C, and with a light snowfall near the beginning of the month. There were no additions to the Garden’s wildlife list during February itself although two insects seen in January were identified and proved to be new records: Face Fly Musca autumnalis and the barkfly species Ectopsocus briggsi. Both were first recorded on 16 January. The list total at the end of February therefore stood at 743.
Birds Forty species of bird were recorded in the Garden during February. These included another post-1997 ‘first’ record of a bird not seen in the Garden for a long time – Water Rail, seen on 7th by a member of the public. There has been a Water Rail wintering in the reeds at Inverleith Pond since late January and it’s possible that this bird may have paid us a quick visit, or it could have been a different individual. The last record of Water Rail in RBGE was in 1977. Other good sightings were Buzzard (8th and 15th), Cormorant (16th and 19th), Grey Wagtail (25th), and Pheasant (22nd and 24th, a cock bird). Kingfisher was definitely recorded on 23 days and may well have been present every day of the month; as in January, most Kingfisher sightings were of a male but from mid-month onwards there appeared to be a pair and courtship was probably taking place. Once again it was a poor month for Redwing with only three sightings in the Garden. The full list of species recorded was: Blackbird, Blackcap, Black-headed Gull, Blue Tit, Bullfinch, Buzzard, Carrion Crow, Chaffinch, Coal Tit, Cormorant, Dunnock, Feral Pigeon, Goldcrest, Goldfinch, Great Spotted Woodpecker, Great Tit, Greenfinch, Grey Heron, Grey Wagtail, Herring Gull, Jackdaw, Kingfisher, Long-tailed Tit, Magpie, Mallard, Mistle Thrush, Moorhen, Oystercatcher, Pheasant, Redwing, Robin, Siskin, Song Thrush, Sparrowhawk, Stock Dove, Tawny Owl, Tree Creeper, Water Rail, Wood Pigeon, Wren.
Insects and other invertebrates: Because of the chilly weather, these were largely absent. A queen bumblebee (species not known, but most probably Buff-tailed Bumblebee Bombus terrestris) was seen in the third week of the month, the first one of the year. Flies included the bluebottle Calliphora vicina on 5th, 18th and 19th, and Phaonia tuguriorum on 5th and 9th. An early-instar nymph of the Forest ( =Red-legged) Shield-bug was seen on 18th.