On 31 August 2016 some of our members went to Ratho for a trip on a Barge operated by the Seabull Trust.

There are pictures below, but here are the words of Mary Tebble (from an extract for the Seabird Centre Volunteers Bulletin), who went on the trip, and pointed out so much wildlife.

Today, I was lucky enough to be included in a party of ten of us to go in our lovely bus to Ratho, where we were very well looked after by our own Day Centre helpers and several volunteers from the Seagull Trust . We had a really enjoyable leisurely and fine weather trip down the Canal , being served with coffee or tea and biscuits, and later a delicious selection of sandwiches and grapes, and wee cakes. I undertook to record birds and wild flowers seen on our journey there , and later along the Canal. We were able to sit in the bows on the Barge,and could almost touch the sides of the Canal.

On the way there, we saw that the CREEPING THISTLES had all developed their fluffy seed heads, and there were many bushes of ROWAN covered with red berries, and the white balls of SNOWBERRY in the hedges. There was a great deal of ROSEBAY WILLOW HERB [ also known as FIREWEED because it thrived on the bomb sites during WW2 ],and also GREAT HAIRY WILLOW HERB, both these willow herb have dark pinky red flowers and are tall. There were several roundabouts sown with beautiful selections of wild flowers that included bright red POPPIES , blue CORNFLOWERS,and yellow CORN MARIGOLDS. On the verges , there were many patches of OXEYE DAISIES , and I saw in the hedgerows ELDER BERRIES forming and WILD PRIVET in flower, with a few wild white ROSES, and the pink JAPANESE ROSES in bloom . On the fields we saw BLACK-HEADED, BLACK-BACKED, and HERRING GULLS feeding with a few crows and rooks among them.YARROW and COMMON RAGWORT were prolific on all the roadside verges.

On the Canal banks, we were able to identify a nice selection of wild flowers which included WATER MINT and WATER FORGET ME NOT [a brighter blue than the common forget me not ] and the small pink flowers of HERB ROBERT as well as the deeper red and taller RED CAMPION. The white fluffy flowers of the tall MEADOWSWEET were very attractive, and I was able to see that the PYRENEAN VALEREAN which we had seen in abundance on our earlier trip this year had grown very tall and straggly, with some GIANT HOGWEED amongst it. The WILLOWHERBS were to be seen here too, and the yellow flowers of WOOD AVENS and the deep yellow petal-less flowers of my favourite TANSY , which I wrote about in a recent newsletter from the Scottish Seabird Centre.

My friend Amy Cassie and I were able to list the trees we saw, which included LARCH, OAK , BEECH, ALDER, SCOTS PINE, ASH, WILLOW, ELDER, and HOLLY. At the very end of our trip before we had to turn back, we were very lucky to be able to watch a BUZZARD hovering high in the sky, searching for its prey, [we knew it was too large for a KESTREL the most famous hovering bird of prey !  And we could also see the pale patches on its underwings which clinched our identification. We did not hear its call which is like a cat's mewing].

On our return journey in our lovely JANE MCMINN 'S-photographs-decorated , and very well-driven bus, the best things I saw were a SWEET CHESTNUT tree laden with fruit and some bright yellow BROOM in flower..

All the North Berwick Day Centre members who were on this trip, including the four men [ two of whom like me lived in leafy Warwickshire as children] really enjoyed this wonderful day out and thank all the kind staff of the Day Centre, and the volunteers of the Seagull Trust,now over 50 years in existence, for their kind help and courtesy ]

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