Words and photos by James Duncan
As the winter season is nearing its end, spring will soon be upon us and it’s the best time of year to listen to the birdsong that fills the air.
Nature has great health benefits for us all because it can reduce your feelings of stress or anger and improve your physical health.
Being in nature also helps you be more active.
The new walkway at Dumbarton Harbour – along the quayside to Dumbarton Bridge, across to Posties Park and then down to Sandpoint Marina provides a gentle walk or cycle and it’s wheelchair friendly.
You can enjoy some beautiful views, looking over to Dumbarton Rock and Castle.
By taking your time along the quayside you will see the abundant wildlife the area has to offer.
It is best viewed on an incoming tide where the River Leven, the second fastest flowing river in Scotland, joins the River Clyde at the Rock.
Our walk begins at the harbour, where we can look out for the following birds on the river…
The Common Goldeneye is a winter visitor to the area and the male performs a complex series of courtship displays, including the bending of his head right back to touch his rump, thrusting forward, and kicking up water with his feet!
Little Grebe (aka Dabchick) and Mute Swans are plentiful along the entire river, and Common Seals have been noted on Loch Lomond having made their way up from the Clyde.
Otters and Kingfishers are a delight to see but unfortunately, more often than not, all you see is a flash of blue as the Kingfisher flies along the river.
Cormorants are often seen hanging out to dry on a boat buoy or tree branch.
Grey Herons can be spotted anywhere, and so can the crows like the Magpie, Carrion Crow, Rook and Jackdaw.
Not forgetting the numerous gulls who make their habitat along the river, including some of our rarer visitors like the Icelandic and Mediterranean gulls.
Our walk now continues from the harbour along the quayside, over Dumbarton Bridge and across to Posties Park, where you may be rewarded with sightings of Dipper, Goosander, Wren, Robin, Song Thrush, Blackbird, Tree creeper and Grey or Pied Wagtails.
The riverside is also a great place to watch out for the buddleia plant, appropriately known as the ‘butterfly bush’ – irresistible to butterflies such as the Peacock, Small Tortoiseshell and Red Admiral.
The area around Sandpoint Marina, looking across to Dumbarton Rock, is very good for the occasional wintering Red-throated Diver, Curlew, Teal, Little Egret, Shelduck, Red-breasted Merganser, Oystercatcher and Pintail, and it’s an important roosting site for Redshanks.
A pair of binoculars and a camera are handy to have with you to observe and record the wildlife along the river, but remember you can also just use your ears and listen to the sounds around
Above all, enjoy what the natural world in this area has to offer!
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