December was a very wet and stormy month, with three named storms: Desmond over the first weekend, Eva in mid-month and Frank towards the end. The Garden was closed on some days because of the weather. Despite this, one species was added to the Garden’s list, which ended the year on 789.
Birds Thirty-four bird species were recorded at the Edinburgh Garden during December. The Dipper first seen last month visited on at least four occasions (20th, 22nd, 23rd and 31st), again always beside the upper two Biodiversity Garden ponds beside the John Hope Gateway, and might well have been present on other dates over the Christmas period when no recording could be done. Other notable records were Redwing on seven dates, a wintering Blackcap (7th, 17th), Grey Wagtail on 14th, 23rd and 24th, and Buzzard on 10th and 11th. Three Mute Swans flew over on 15th, a relatively unusual sight at the Garden although they are resident on the pond in nearby Inverleith Park. Mallards were once again back in residence on our Pond on almost all dates, after their November ‘holiday’. A pair of Tawny Owls was heard calling in the early evening of 15th. The complete list of 34 species recorded during December was: Blackbird, Blackcap, Black-headed Gull, Blue Tit, Bullfinch, Buzzard, Carrion Crow, Chaffinch, Coal Tit, Dipper, Dunnock, Feral Pigeon, Goldfinch, Great Spotted Woodpecker, Great Tit, Greenfinch, Grey Heron, Grey Wagtail, Herring Gull, Jackdaw, Long-tailed Tit, Magpie, Mallard, Moorhen, Mute Swan, Oystercatcher, Redwing, Robin, Siskin, Song Thrush, Sparrowhawk, Tawny Owl, Wood Pigeon, Wren.
Insects and other invertebrates: Very few invertebrate records were made in December 2015. This was partly due to the time of year, when flowers have stopped blooming and leaves have all fallen, but the incessant rain and wind also played a significant part. In past Decembers there have been occasional sightings of bees, bugs or even butterflies but these were all absent in December 2015. However, one hoverfly was surprisingly spotted on 18th and identified as a Syrphus species, most likely S. torvus. The mines of two species of leaf-mining moth and three leaf-mining flies were seen on the few remaining leaves. Among other flies, Winter Gnat was seen on 10th and the fly Phaonia tuguriorum was seen on 4th. Three harvestmen species were seen: Dicranopalpus ramosus at its usual spot near the herbarium on 3rd and 4th, Oligolophus hanseni on 7th and Oligolophus tridens on 18th. The latter was the only new Garden record of the month and the last addition to the 2015 list.