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Swan Watch

For all you swan watchers, the single mum at Murrayfield is now the proud parent of 3 cygnets.


Water of Leith Management Plan - Public Consultation 26th May to 18th June

A management plan has been prepared for the Water of Leith on behalf of the Water of Leith Action Group.  The plan, which has been funded by Scottish Natural Heritage and City of Edinburgh Council, is an action led plan aimed at the organisations who actively manage the river. 

The Action Group would welcome the input of those who have an interest in the management of the river prior to the plan being finalised.  A copy of the plan is available to download below (if the links work) or from the Management page, under The River on our website. The Plan is accompanied by a pro-forma for responses, and copies of all the accompanying maps.

Paper copies can be viewed at the following locations:

  •        Water of Leith Visitor Centre
  •        Harlaw Visitor Centre in Pentland Park
  •        Hermitage of Braid Visitor Centre
  •        Leith Library
  •        Stockbridge Library
  •        Council offices at Waverley Court.

If you have comments to make please return a completed pro-forma and send it to by 18th June 2010.

Water of Leith Management Plan - Draft for Consultation

Feedback proforma - your views

Two plans have been produced to accompany the draft management plan.

The first 5 plans show the location of environmental assets adjacent to the river channel.  The river is shown on five sheets extending from Balerno (Env Assets sheet 1) to Leith (Env Assets sheet 5).

Environmental Asset Sheet 1 - Balerno to Juniper Green

Environmental Asset Sheet 2 - Juniper Green to Slateford

Environmental Asset Sheet 3 - Slateford to Gorgie

Environmental Asset Sheet 4 - Gorgie to Canonmills

Environmental Asset Sheet 5 - Canonmills to Leith

The second set of plans shows the location of selected management issues (SMI).  These are grouped into four files which extend from Balerno (SMI 01 Sheets 1 – 6) to Leith (SMI 04 Sheets 18 – 22).

SMI Plan 1 (Sheets 1 - 6 Balerno to Kinleith in Currie)

SMI Plan 2 (Sheets 7 - 12 Kinleith to Gorgie Road)

SMI Plan 3 (Sheets 13 - 17 Gorgie Road to Stockbridge)

SMI Plan 4 (Sheets 18 - 22 Stockbridge to Leith)


Wildlife Photos 

Summer has arrived, I guess we have skipped spring, wildlife abounds on the river, here are some lovely pictures we have been sent by Patrol Volunteer Steve Morrison. Do not forget we are interested in your wildlife sightings and photos, we would love to see wildflowers and butterflies as the weather is warmer.



Swan deaths - the expert reports

Our thanks to Allan Brown for the following details on the Water of Leith Swan population. By all accounts the female at Murrayfield is getting on ok.

The loss of one bird of a breeding pair occurs most years at one or more sites throughout the Lothians and Fife but both males and females can be very good at being single parents – unless they are harassed by an intruding pair trying to move into their territory.

As it is the cob that has died from the Murrayfield pair (I understand that he was not ringed) then there is a good chance that the female will continue to incubate and hatch the eggs.  Incubation is for 5 weeks on completion of the clutch so she should be close to hatching by now. The female is green IVD (metal ring W07565) and was ringed as a cygnet at the R. Esk, Musselburgh on 20th September 2002. Original ring green HPA and re-ringed green IVD at Musselburgh on 30th May 2005.  When nesting the female can go a considerable time without feeding and the loss of her mate may discourage her leaving the nest unguarded.  Once the eggs hatch there should be adequate feeding in the river (mainly aquatic plants) but people can supplement this by providing grain.  Brown bread is preferable to white but should not be the main food source. Actually, even at sites such as St. Margaret’s Loch where birds are regularly fed on bread their droppings clearly indicate that they still eat their greens!!

This bird has moved around various Edinburgh sites – St. Margaret’s Loch,  Inverleith Pond and Cramond -  but has been recorded on the Water of Leith in the Saughton/Murrayfield area every spring/summer since 2006 with occasional movements down to Powderhall/Bonnington. The only known breeding attempt before this year was at Murrayfield in 2007 but without success. She was originally paired with green ILX but he died in 2008.

At Leith it is unfortunately the female (green HZX) who has died. The SSPCA reported no suspicious circumstances so no post-mortem was undertaken. I understand that this pair may have attempted to nest at the same location as last year, under the arch of Bernard Street Bridge, but that there was less material available to complete the nest this year, although they may have moved up-river to the Quilts area.

Both of these birds were ringed:-

The cob is green ISS (metal W18485) ringed as a cygnet at Duddingston Loch on 9th October 2004 (but hatched at nearby Well’s O’Wearie Pond).  Original ring was green IIY, re-ringed green ISSat Duddingston Loch on 6thFebruary 2005. This bird moved around the Edinburgh flock sites – Cramond, St. Margaret’s Loch, Duddingston, Musselburgh – before pairing-up with HZX at Leith by February 2008 and successfully breeding there in 2008 and 2009.

The deceased pen green HZX (metal Z79000) was originally ringed as a cygnet at Monikie Reservoir, near Dundee, on 20th August 1995 (as white NYB). Stayed around the Tay area and re-ringed green HZXat Broughty Ferry on 10thMarch 2004. Was taken to Middlebank from just below Perth on 17th January 2007 as she was in a thin condition. She must have been released in the Edinburgh area as she was at Musselburgh in May 2007 and bred on the Water of Leith at Leith in 2008 and 2009 with green ISS. Fledged 7 young in 2008 and 2009.

The site at Leith has been used for breeding for many years so it is very likely that a new pair will try and occupy the territory, unless the cob can entice a new female to join him at the location (it seems to be very much the female who has the final say in where to nest!).


Swan Update

Post-mortem results of the Swan at Bell's Weir have shown no apparent cause of death.  Lead poisoning has been eliminated.  We now just await the toxicology reports and if that proves negative then the cause of death will remain unknown.
In regards to the nesting Swan, brown bread is certainly better for female Sawn than white, but needs to be broken up well and soaked before she can swallow it.  Do not throw whole slices to the swan as she can't manage them and these will just lie around and be a temptation for rats. Similarly lettuce leaves need to be broken up too. We continue to monitor the situation.  Keep us posted.