December 2014 was a month of varied weather, starting rather cold but sunny with some slight frosts, with a wetter, stormier period in the middle of the month, then some more sunny days with slight frosts, some more rain, and finally another quiet spell to end the year. There were snow showers on one day (11th). One species was added to the Garden’s list which ended the year at 736. This was another species of harvestman, Oligolophus hanseni.
Birds Thirty-seven bird species were recorded at Edinburgh during December. Like November, Kingfisher was seen on 14 different dates out of a possible 25 days when recording took place. By contrast it has been a poor winter so far for winter thrushes, with Redwing recorded on only seven occasions and Fieldfare not recorded at all. Other notable records were Pied Wagtail (1st and 2nd, both near the John Hope Gateway), Whooper Swan (12th, flying over), Goosander (a pair on the Pond on at least 17th, 18th and 21st) and Buzzard (21st). The full list of species recorded was: Blackbird, Black-headed Gull, Blue Tit, Bullfinch, Buzzard, Carrion Crow, Chaffinch, Coal Tit, Curlew, Dunnock, Feral Pigeon, Goldcrest, Goldfinch, Goosander, Great Spotted Woodpecker, Great Tit, Greenfinch, Grey Heron, Grey Wagtail, Herring Gull, Jackdaw, Kingfisher, Long-tailed Tit, Magpie, Mallard, Mistle Thrush, Moorhen, Oystercatcher, Pied Wagtail, Redwing, Robin, Siskin, Song Thrush, Sparrowhawk, Tawny Owl, Tree Creeper, Whooper Swan, Wood Pigeon, Wren.
Insects and other invertebrates: No butterflies, moths, bees or wasps, hoverflies, or bugs were recorded during December, as one might expect because of the relative absence of flowers and leaves as food, pollen or nectar sources. Winter Gnats were swarming on 17th and a bluebottle was seen on 5th. The leaf-mine Phytomyza ranunculi was recorded on buttercup leaves near the John Hope Gateway; it had probably been overlooked earlier in the year because of the denser vegetation, most of which has now died back for winter. Careful scrutiny of tree trunks resulted in a Pine Ladybird being spotted on 17th, and two species of harvestman being recorded: Common Harvestman on 4th and 15th, and another species Oligolophus hanseni on 4th, which as mentioned above was the month’s only new wildlife record.