Frenzy for food as winter closes in

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Readers' letters, e-mails and photographs continue to pour in from the latest round of The Scotsman's popular Wildlife Watch.

I WAS lucky enough to see five ptarmigan when I was walking in the hills near Applecross – I'm afraid I don't have a more detailed grid reference than that. Despite it being winter they're not in their full winter plumage of pure white – still a few brown feathers showing.

Carina Norris

Fife

MY SIGHTINGS are as follows. Saturday: common seal near Ascog, outside Rothesay, Isle of Bute; and roe deer near Kerrycroy, Isle of Bute. Sunday: a kestrel, three blackbirds and two robins in garden of Ivybank B&B, Rothesay, Isle of Bute; and three or four harbour porpoises from Rothesay to Wemyss Bay ferry.

David Maguire

Musselburgh, East Lothain

AS THE temperatures were down to -9C this weekend, the birds were stocking up on the nuts and seeds. There were lots of blue tits and great tits and chaffinches but not so many coal tits as usual. I think their numbers are down this year as there used to be lots all the time. I also saw a crested tit – they usually come in pairs but we have only seen one at a time. We have not seen any long tail tits yet, but they do tend to come when the weather is very cold. There are three regular red squirrel visitors and sometimes as many as four at any one time, but they then fight and none of them finishes up with any food. It is fun to see them chasing each other up and down the trees. How they don't fall off I shall never know, as they go at such speed and take great risks when jumping to another tree to escape one another.

Helen Banks

Carrbridge, Highlands

THERE were a few purple sandpiper among the turnstones, knots and other waders at Gullane Point on Sunday.

Alastair White

Gullane, East Lothian

SUNDAY: One goldfinch on niger seed feeder (also used by the robin); and ten fieldfares squabbling with several blackbirds over windfall apples in my garden. Recently, several goldfinches feeding on the niger seed feeder and a male greater spotted woodpecker feeding on nut feeder in the garden next door.

Helen Marlborough

Bearsden, Glasgow

HERE are my results for the latest Wildlife Watch. All species were seen along the coastline west of Rosehearty. Recent gales (87mph was recorded here in November) have reduced the heath to duns and greys; the greatest colour is provided by patches of bright orange and soft greenish lichens. The only wildflowers still in flower are gorse, daisy, groundsel and a very stunted milk thistle. In more sheltered spots a few parched brown chalices, the seed heads of sea campion remain. Birds seen included a single heron, starlings, oyster catchers, curlews and redshanks. There were rafts of eiders grumbling and cooing quietly – sounding exactly like ladies in a tea shop sharing particularly salacious gossip.

Janet M McLeman

Rosehearty, Aberdeenshire

ON SATURDAY, we saw: One robin (usually there are lots), a wren, blackbirds, a woodcock, two buzzards, a sparrowhawk, a kestrel, a field of migrating geese, six partridges, deer and a grey squirrel. Mum saw a foxglove flowering. At the bird table, we have blue tits, chaffinches, thrushes and sparrows. On Sunday, we saw a badger sett and a heron and we watched a peregrine falcon. The frost was amazing on the trees, it looked like snow.

Cameron Millar (aged nine)

Berwickshire

HOW TO TAKE PART IN WILDLIFE WATCH

IT'S not too late to take part in the winter Scotsman Wildlife Watch, which is supported by the Scottish Wildlife Trust (SWT). You can e-mail your photographs and notes taken over the weekend to wildlife@scotsman.com or post them to: Wildlife Watch, The Scotsman, 108 Holyrood Road, Edinburgh, EH8 8AS.

A selection of readers' pictures and letters will be published in The Scotsman. All records received will be passed on to Biological Recording in Scotland (BRISC), which will distribute the details among its network of local records centres (LRC) and local recorders. The information may be used in conservation work.

To be useful, the records should include: the name of the species you saw; where you saw it (including a six-figure grid reference or postcode whenever possible); the date on which you saw it; and also your own name and contact details.

We are interested in sightings of mammals, birds and other creatures, from towns and cities, through the countryside and the coast.

Information about species seen on SWT wildlife reserves will be passed on to the trust, while any sightings of squirrels will be passed on to the Scottish Squirrel Survey.

&#149 For more details on Wildlife Watch, visit www.scotsman.com/wildlife