1999: Tree Sparrows at Usan, Angus

Not a headline you can get today but from October 1 at the end of the old century:

“Scotland again! Yipee! I did not seem to have suffered after a day’s gruelling drive up from the Midlands, including 45 minutes waiting for the police to clear a horse-box from the M80. God, I hate horse-boxes — even more now. I was up at seven and on the beach at Auchmithie with the yellowhammers, stonechats and rock pipits. A visit to Montrose Basin later in the day produced pink-footed geese and a couple of barnacles.

“But all of this, no matter how unusual further south, was more or less expected. The highlight of the day belonged to Fishtown of Usan, a scrubby, maltreated place at the end of a road from Montrose. I had parked the car and started on the mud track down to the little bay. Immediately small birds flew across my path into bushes. What where they? A little searching produced house sparrows, then more yellowhammers. Still I was hopeful of more.

“Finally a different sparrow revealed itself – a tree sparrow, then one more and another. I had only seen them once this year on the feeders at Rutland Water. The colony at Upton Warren seemed to have gone. So, this was a welcome surprise.”

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