Here at Dalkeith Country Park, we love birds! With over 30 species, our birds thrive amongst the vast array of wildlife & nature that call The Park home. From the colorful goldfinch to the elusive tree creeper, use this guide to help you spot your favourites and even identify some you may have never laid eyes on before.
This small colorful bird can be seen throughout The Park, in hedgerows, flowering shrubs and in the woodlands. Many blue tits nested here this spring with lots of nests sighted in the Old Oak Wood. This year we were delighted to have a blue tit nest above the gate at Restoration Yard!
Fun Fact: In winter, family flocks join up with other tits as they search for food.
Where to find it: Hedgerows, flowering shrubs and woodlands.
The largest of the UK’s tit family. The great tit can be seen throughout The Park and our woodlands. They will chase off smaller birds in search for insects on the branches of trees. Keep your ears open as they have a distinctive call that can be heard along all of our woodland paths.
Fun Fact: Both male and female great tits have identical appearances.
Where to find it: Woodlands, specifically the Old Oak Wood Trail.
For being such a small woodland bird the wren is notably loud! Detecting your presence from the low shrubs on the forest floor, these tiny birds will jump from branch to branch warding off danger with their tik-tik-tik call. Wrens are widespread can be seen throughout The Park, however, they are especially present in the Old Oak Wood and on the yellow trail.
Fun Fact: An adult wren weighs about the same as a £1 coin.
Where to find it: The Old Oak Wood and yellow trail.
Greater Spotted Woodpecker
In The Park we have been made aware and discovered a total of five active woodpecker nests this year. We can therefore assume we have 10 adults in The Park. These birds can be seen in mature broadleaf woodlands. They are regularly sighted and heard on our red and purple trails. The oak trees in the Old Oak Wood bear the sights of many years of woodpecker nests.
Fun Fact: Woodpeckers have shock-absorbent tissue between the base of the bill and the skull to cushion the impact of drumming.
Where to find it: Red and purple trails.
Tree Creepers can be spotted on the bark of trees. These birds look very similar to mice as they hunt their way upwards. Once they reach the top of the tree they will fly down to the bottom of a nearby tree and start the process upwards all over again. Tree creepers will use their beak to find insects in the bark. Due to their method of hunting they will tend to favor barks with features, so look out for our native trees.
Fun Fact: Tree Creepers only ever hunt upwards and not down.
Where to find it: Old Oak Wood, yellow trail and in the north wood.
We are very pleased with our mistle thrush population in The Park. Due to their red conservation status these birds are especially wonderful to see and hear. We have a good number and the best places to see them are in the steel field car park and the overflow car park early in the morning, when they are gathering worms. During the day these birds have been seen in the woodland under Go Ape and along the purple trail.
Fun Fact: The mistle thrush is named after its love of mistletoe berries.
Where to find it: Steel field car park and purple trail.
Long Tailed Tit
These delightful birds can usually be seen in groups, if you spot one long tailed tit you are likely to see a few more. In a group they will travel from tree to tree or in the shrubs. They are most often seen travelling down the banks of the River Esk. During nesting season they will collect spider webs, as their preferred building material.
Fun Fact: A long tailed tit’s tail is longer than its body.
Where to find it: Red trail by the River Esk.
Similar to the tree creeper, these birds scurry up and down the barks of trees looking for insects, seeds and nuts. Their bandit like eye banding and electric blue colour are striking identifiers. They will descend trees head first and can be heard beating their powerful beaks against nuts and seeds which they will lodge into the bark to open. If you’re struggling to spot one, keep your ears open for their distinctive call which often exposes their presence.
Fun Fact: People often mistake nuthatches for woodpeckers because of their long, pointed beaks and foraging behavior.
Where to find it: The Old Oak Wood.
We have lots of these colorful birds in Dalkeith Country Park. They are especially abundant between April – September. Their pointy beaks can feed from difficult to reach places like thistles and teasels. They will also eat the seeds from dandelion and ragwort making their appearance very likely. We have a group that makes the journey from behind Fort Douglas to Cat Haugh several times a day.
Fun Fact: The collective name for goldfinches is a charm.
These fairly scarce birds are a delight to see if you can spot them. They hunt river flies, prefer fast flowing water and will wag their tail up and down when perched. We have had one spotted in The Park on a number of occasions, seen along the South Esk. Look from the banks at The Orangerie or along the path on the yellow trail for your best chance to spot a grey wagtail.
Fun Fact: With amber conservation status these birds are one for the twitchers watch list.
Where to find it: Along the banks at The Orangerie and yellow trail paths.
The robin has been crowned as the UK’s favorite bird. A gardener’s companion, they are opportunist birds who love to find juicy worms to feed on. They can be seen throughout The Park and are most likely to be spotted in bramble patches, hedgerows or on a fence post. Their loud chirping will give away their presence and can be a delight to watch as they can get quite close.
Fun Fact: In the UK robins are renowned for their friendliness. However, in the rest of Europe they are shy and generally unapproachable.
Where to find it: Bramble patches, hedgerows and on fence posts.
The call of the chiffchaff for many signals the start of the spring season. These birds can be seen and heard from March and depart around September. Look out for acrobatic like movements from branch to branch, as these agile birds feed on insects and spiders. They are often seen on the yellow trail and have also been seen in the Old Oak Wood.
Fun Fact: Chiffchaffs may fly all the way to sub-Saharan Africa to overwinter – not bad for a bird that weighs less than a £1 coin.
Where to find it: Yellow trail and Old Oak Wood.
These fascinating birds can be seen and heard screeching down the rivers. A fast moving, low flying, river dwelling bird, they are regularly seen on the north esk. They feed on underwater insects and nest under bridges or low overhanging rocks. Once perched on a rock they do a distinctive “bobbing” up and down motion. Look out for them all year round.
Fun Fact: Dippers are monogamous, and the pair-bond usually lasts only for the duration of the breeding season.
Where to find it: North River Esk.
Quite often these water birds are seen flying over the rivers in The Park. These supreme fishers are often seen with their wings held out behind them when they are perched on the rocks. They can travel far and wide so it is lucky if you get to see one of these birds. They’ve been spotted on the north esk and from the bowl next to Dalkeith Palace.
Fun Fact: Cormorant mothers and fathers take turns sitting on their eggs.
Where to find it: North River Esk and The Palace bowl.
Now you have all of the information you need to spot the wonderful birds that call Dalkeith Country Park home… how to find The Park trails you ask? Take a look at all of our park trails and plan your bird watching visit today.