June 28th   Leave a comment

I have seen a couple of painted lady butterflies over the last few days. The first for the year. We have had a run of southerly winds and the first one I saw was so faded and ragged it looked like it might have come all the way from Morocco. Migrant birds coming from Africa are one thing, but migrant insects are another. Wind assistance makes a big difference.

A painted lady, just in from the sea at Kingsbarns yesterday

Posted June 28, 2022 by wildcrail in Sightings

June 25th   Leave a comment

The season is moving on. I saw my first goosander of the summer at Balcomie yesterday and adult black-headed gulls are now back along the shore. I had my first corn bunting chicks hatching at Kingsbarns early this week. The nests right next to the shore are the earliest ones, and last year it was the same. But there is a complete mix of ages of nests. I have had brand new nests being built this week and there are still singing males hoping that a female will settle in their territory. The chicks are fed big insects – mostly green caterpillars this week but also some large grub like things that are probably beetle larvae. The crops are a little bit more advanced down at the coast so the insects are too.

Corn bunting feeding day old chicks at Kingsbarns on the 23rd

Other things are fledging – I saw a lot of young swallows today. The broods stay close together, but often a long way from where there nest was. They sit on an elevated perch and the adults zoom in, barely pausing to drop a fly into their beaks as they go by.

And fledged swallows at Kingsbarns today, parents coming in from stage left

I had a trip to the May Island on the 23rd. Always fantastic in late June with the seabirds at their busiest. There are more Arctic terns breeding this year than ever before. David Steel’s (“Steely” the warden) efforts in creating safe habitat for them over the last few years have really paid off. New for this year is the addition of some gravel in front of the new visitor centre, where the terns can nest just a meter away from people. It was sheer magic to lean on the hand rail overlooking some chicks, with an adult bird perched directly alongside me. I have never been so close to a relatively relaxed Arctic tern – if you have been to the May you know you can get very close to Arctic terns as they mob and dive at you to protect their young. But it’s not very peaceful and it’s hard to appreciate the terns as they try to peck you. This was a different experience. Shoulder to shoulder with a calm Arctic tern, as we both watched over its chicks. There are 90,000 reasons to visit the May (the puffins…) and now there are several hundred more.

One of the Arctic tern families directly in front of the visitor centre on the May at the moment

Posted June 25, 2022 by wildcrail in Sightings

June 19th   Leave a comment

My run of cuckoos continues, with a fourth today, again at Kingsbarns. That they are all at Kingsbarns isn’t because there is one cuckoo doing the rounds, rather it reflects the fact that half the corn bunting territories I am monitoring intensively are at Kingsbarns so I am spending a lot of time there. Today’s cuckoo was feeding in a field prepared for brassicas, but left fallow for a couple of months so there are a lot of weeds and so, caterpillars. The cuckoo was shuffling around on the ground with occasional wing flaps to move in an ungainly fashion over to the next bed. They have short legs and waddle on the ground. It is a very distinctive gait, looking slightly disabled. The cuckoo suddenly appeared rearing up among the plants before lurching down flat among them and disappearing. Often the best way to keep track of it was to watch the skylarks and meadow pipits in the field which weren’t happy at all to be in its company. They followed the cuckoo, perching nearby or hovering above it. The cuckoo only had caterpillars for its journey ahead in mind, but the pipits weren’t to know that. The cuckoo was so intent on feeding that I could get just a bit closer than usual before it lost patience with me, or perhaps the small birds following it, and flew into an adjacent potato field, completely disappearing into the furrows between the plants.

The adult cuckoo at Kingsbarns this morning

Posted June 19, 2022 by wildcrail in Sightings

June 18th   Leave a comment

The end of this week has been quiet in the sense that things are staying much the same. I had another cuckoo on the 13th heading south over a field at Kingsbarns and a raven at Kippo on the 17th. There are more dead gannets along the shore because of bird flu, and I have not been seeing any more eider chicks. The corn buntings are now well into the early stages of breeding. Most territories are building nests or starting to incubate. I think the first territory to hatch chicks will appear at the end of next week. Some early nests have already failed. You can tell this even when you don’t know exactly where the nest is because the male sits close to an active nest much of the time when the female is incubating. They have a particular relaxed and slouchy posture as they more or less just wait for their chicks to hatch. If you come across a male sitting motionless on a low perch, barely singing, and reluctant to move, then you almost certainly have a nest nearby. Some males further confirm this by giving their distinctive buzzing “hey female on the nest or chicks there is a predator nearby so stay still” call. When a pair fails, then the males get much busier and the female is also visible in the territory again, with the male following it around as it prepares for a new nest. A couple of territories have been deserted after early nest failure. It probably makes sense for a pair to try a new area if they lose their first nest in their original territory, although I think this is only a good strategy early in the nesting season when there is still time to find and establish a new territory.

A “nest perched” corn bunting male – there is a female on a nest incubating in the spring barley somewhere close by

Posted June 18, 2022 by wildcrail in Sightings

June 14th   3 comments

I have been looking for eider chicks the last week but they are few and far between. I finally found some yesterday at Balcomie. The ratio of adults to chicks was 1:1. Not a good sign of a good breeding season so far. There should be tens of chicks for a group of five adult females in mid-June. Later on the ratio goes down, but not this early. The five eider chicks at least had a lot of undivided protective parental attention so perhaps they will survive better. Later I saw a group of mallard chicks in the irrigation pool at Balcomie Farm, of the same age as the eider chicks on the rocky shore below. In contrast, there were no parents to be seen. The ducklings were fending entirely for themselves.

Two contrasting parental care strategies – eiders very hands on, mallards much less so

I heard two quails at either end of one field between Lochty and the old railway line this morning. There are some very big fields in the area, with lots of interesting mixed grasses sown into them, and wild bird mix around the edges. Quail heaven I should think – not bad for corn buntings and grey partridges as well. There were a couple of male northern wheatears on the relatively barer soil around the edge. I always wonder if such late birds might be breeders, particularly because I see them every year up by the railway line well into June. And then I saw a cuckoo working its way along the fence around the field. Another good bird attracted to the insects in the field. Some farmland is better than others.

The cuckoo today – you can never get close to a cuckoo

Posted June 14, 2022 by wildcrail in Sightings

June 12th   Leave a comment

Spring passage ends, and as soon as it does, the return journey starts. I had my first returning cuckoo of the season. An adult heading down the coast, steadily south past Kingsbarns. They don’t stay long in Scotland – this bird may have been here just 6 weeks, but that is enough for a bird that doesn’t need to raise its own young. The cuckoo today will be back in central Africa in a few weeks, although tagging studies have shown that Scottish cuckoos may stop over in Italy for a bit on their journey south.

Cuckoo (John Anderson). Kilminning Coast over the next couple of weeks is the best time and place to connect with a migrating cuckoo close to Crail

Posted June 12, 2022 by wildcrail in Sightings

June 10th   Leave a comment

I was out between Boarhills and St Andrews this morning when I heard the deep honking of more Canada Geese. A flock of 50 heading towards the shore and probably the Kenly Water. And then a bigger bird soaring behind the geese. A red kite. Always a top bird for the Crail patch and only my third record in 20 years, although these were all in the last 4 years. Red kites are definitely getting commoner here, and across Scotland after their very successful reintroduction starting thirty years ago. Fife is almost the last place they are spreading back into and red kites are still on the Fife rare birds list (requiring a description to have the record accepted). But probably not for much longer. There are now several sightings a year across Fife and my bird this morning was seen by at least four other birders as it moved north during the day to the Eden, Leuchars and then the Tay Bridge. East Fife is a great place for red kites and it can’t be long before they are breeding near Crail.

Red kite (John Anderson)

Posted June 10, 2022 by wildcrail in Sightings

June 9th   Leave a comment

Spring migration had its last gasp today. There were easterlies on Tuesday and Wednesday bringing in the murk and the rain, but also a smattering of good birds to the May Island. Always a good sign to go looking at this time of year, particularly for a red-backed shrike. As usual we came off very much second best to the May, but today’s migrants included a spotted flycatcher and some willow warblers at Kilminning and a black redstart on the coastal path at the extreme east of the Kilminning Coast reserve. I checked Kilminning out in the morning and only found the spotted flycatcher by staking out the best corner of the reserve as the sun came out and the temperature rose, luring the flycatcher out from the canopy for a quick flycatch in the open. I was in a meeting this afternoon when I got a phone call that there was a black redstart close to Crail; I gave my apologies – it hasn’t been a spring of local rarities and you have to take your local patch excitement when you can get it. I was down by the bird in about 10 minutes. It was feeding along the rocks and mini cliff by the green golfing shed, more or less where the last red-breasted flycatcher at Kilminning was. The habitat there – if you mentally turn the gorse into a less leafy spiny shrub – is just like the top of a low Spanish mountain or rocky outcrop where they might breed. And the temperature climbing up in the strong sunshine, particularly after this last cool week added to the effect. It was a hungry bird, often finding quite big caterpillars which it then bashed against the rocks before eating. We never get more than a handful of black redstarts in any year, sometimes none – although when I look back at my records I see that I only had 2 years when I recorded them in the first 10 years, and 8 years in the last decade. So – they are getting more common – or I am spending more time birding. I was asked the other day by someone “do you work?”

The black redstart today at Kilminning. Males often don’t get their full summer plumage in the summer after they are born, and this one has some dark flights and the beginnings of a white wing patch so I think this is a 1 year old male

Posted June 9, 2022 by wildcrail in Sightings

June 5th   Leave a comment

I had my third quail of the year today, calling from a spring barley field on the approach road to Lower Kenly Farm. Unlike the other to this year, this bird was calling strongly and still going at least half an hour later. A breeding bird I hope. As usual I was perhaps about 25 meters away from it as it moved down a tram track in the field, but I couldn’t see it at all.

I made my first visit down to Balcomie in a week: the corn buntings have kept me mostly inland. It was very quiet apart from the starlings. The only shorebird I saw (apart from the ever present oystercatchers) was a ringed plover, that may well have been a local breeder, off duty from incubation. The starlings are filling the gap though. Adults and their three to four week, and so very capable, young are now down on the strandline of rotting seaweed, feasting on the maggot bonanza. The buzzing “chewwwwww” of the young starlings is the sound of the beach in June for me.

Starlings on the seaweed this week – the brown one on the right is a juvenile of this year. It will start moulting into adult plumage in August (John Anderson)

Posted June 5, 2022 by wildcrail in Sightings

June 4th   Leave a comment

After the spring passage period – and it is pretty much over now – there is the summer passage when failed, non or post-breeding birds appear along the shore to take it easy before the autumn migration begins. One of the earliest to appear are the Canada Geese. Last year I had my first migrating flock on May 30th, and today I had a flock of about 30 flying into the Forth at Kilrenny. As usual their loud, deep honking – a parody of a goose call really – caught my attention before I saw them. Canada Geese will be with us in increasingly larger post-breeding, moulting flocks right through the summer, before they go back to Yorkshire or the West Midlands in the autumn. The Kenly Burn mouth is the most reliable place to see them: although few would twitch a Canada Goose, I think these local short distance migrants are a legitimate and interesting addition to the Crail list. I heard flocks of Canada Geese flying south over my house in the autumn when I was a boy living in New Jersey where they are “proper” geese and as meaningful to the feeling of the passing of the seasons as you can get. It is not so different to hear their honks 40 years later over Crail and use them as the indicator of the start of the summer season. As I tracked the flock over the Forth, they flew over a pod of about 25 bottle-nosed dolphins also heading west into the Forth. There have been dolphins about all spring, but I haven’t seen such a big group this year. I hope they stay in the area all summer: everyone loves to see a dolphin.

Canada Geese (John Anderson)

Posted June 4, 2022 by wildcrail in Sightings

June 1st   2 comments

As I go around the fields mapping the corn buntings I occasionally encounter unusual ones. Yesterday I had a quail calling quietly from a grassy field edge at Pitmilly. We are moving into quail breeding time rather than just passage birds so I will check the area out again in a few days to see if it is still there. Its field is planted with mixed grasses, clovers and some other species to mimic a more natural meadow. There is a lot more of this enhanced grass and clover mix that is being planted this year (good examples of what I mean are in the fields around Bowhouse) and it is much better insect and so bird habitat than monocultures of grass. It is good for species like grey partridges and corn buntings, as well as the much rarer quail.

Today’s unusual bird was a short-eared owl along the road at East Pitcorthie. They were cutting the verges and as the tractor approached me slowly on the other side of the road, the owl flew out of a roadside hawthorn, flying straight towards me into another hawthorn just in front of me. I staked the bush out and waited for the tractor to get to it and had a brilliant view of the short-eared owl flying at me and then past me at just a few meters. Its double startle – the tractor and then finding me on the other side of the bush – caused it to raise it ear tufts as it flew by – little nubs compared to a long-eared owl’s, but little horns nonetheless.  We have had some easterlies the last couple of days and this was probably a late migrant. I don’t think I have ever seen a short-eared owl around Crail from June to August.

Short-eared owl (John Anderson)

Posted June 1, 2022 by wildcrail in Sightings

May 29th   Leave a comment

The wind died down finally over this weekend making corn bunting survey a bit more realistic. The territories of the males that have been singing for six weeks are now being infilled by – I assume – first year males. The females are, I think still in the main, circulating around the territories making their minds up where to breed. I keep picking up single birds in territories that after a while fly off for hundreds of meters or more, landing several territories away. There are pairs forming in a few of territories now. We have about 210 territories since the beginning of May, and 240 since the beginning of April (some males have changed their mind and moved).

Spring land bird migration is winding down. I only had two wheatears in the fields this weekend – both together – they definitely stick together at passage sites just like whinchats. Surprisingly, I had a late white wagtail today in a field at Easter Grangemuir, just north of Pittenweem. Everything else is here now and frantically breeding. I relocated a female yellow wagtail between Troustrie and Sypsies at the same location as May 15th, but in a winter wheat field. The cabbage field where they were last time has now been cleared and ploughed. I hope they were/are nesting in this adjacent winter wheat field. The female was sticking to a relatively small area of and circling about as if it might have a nest but was reluctant to go back on with me in the vicinity. If there is a nest, it is in the egg stage: no sign of the male or of feeding chicks.

I watched a buzzard yesterday being harassed by a couple of carrion crows. The buzzard had a newly killed woodpigeon in its talons. The crows were trying to provoke the buzzard to make a strike at them and so to let go of the woodpigeon, or to just drop the woodpigeon in agitation. One crow would lunge at the woodpigeon under the buzzard and the buzzard would lunge and flap at the crow, dragging the woodpigeon along behind like an anchor. As it did this, the second crow would then make a lunge at the exposed woodpigeon from behind the buzzard. I have seen this a lot with sparrowhawks which then lose their prey to this tag team, semi-cooperation by the crows. I say semi-cooperation because the two crows are not very well coordinated and mostly seem to be taking their best chance, rather than acting strategically. And when they do steal the prey, they don’t share. The winning crow excludes the other. On this occasion there was no chance for this cheating, the buzzard just hung on to the woodpigeon, eventually flying off with it into a nearby group of trees. Crows seem very reluctant to follow raptors into cover, and they then left it alone.

Not a great photo but you get the idea: the buzzard facing off to the two crows. The buzzard might be stronger, but the crows are much, much smarter

Posted May 29, 2022 by wildcrail in Sightings

May 25th   Leave a comment

Mid to late May is a good time to see marsh harriers around Crail. I had an adult female over the fields at Troustrie this morning: a bright golden yellow crown and shoulder patches but otherwise all very dark brown. At a distance, marsh harriers always look like lanky buzzards so they stand out if you are familiar with the shape of buzzards. But in any case it is always worth looking at buzzards, particularly at this time of year. My first marsh harrier of the year – they seem to be becoming more common and last year was a good one for them – but most of this is probably just because I am spending so much time looking at the wide, open farmland that they like to hunt in. Much less common – although my third Crail record in the past year – was a hen harrier at Cornceres a bit later. A white-rumped, brown harrier flew over being mobbed by crows, heading for Kilrenny. I tried to make it one of the rarer harriers because of the time of year and because it looked skinny, but I suspect this was because I had just seen the bulkier looking marsh harrier. Wishful thinking – a pale underwing probably made it an immature male hen harrier. There should be hen and marsh harriers all over Fife with a little bit more farmland habitat set aside and no persecution, and it was easy to imagine this morning.

The wind got up again by lunchtime and the corn buntings started doing more of their stealth singing so I headed back to Crail. I was checking the last territory at Oldbarns, but close to the coastal path when I heard a yellow wagtail calling a few times and then glimpsed the male heading over the road towards Oldbarns. Whether there has been a successful nest here I still don’t know, but it is good to know they are still about. As I scanned the newly planted Brassica field for the wagtail I saw the ringed plover (see May 15th) sitting on a nest. It is in an unfleeced part of the field that will hopefully not be now. Otherwise it is disaster for this nesting attempt.

Spot the nest… The white stuff in the background is the fleece, which might keep the cabbages warm but won’t do the eggs any good.
Ringed plover on the nest at Oldbarns (I’m on the edge of the field, fully zoomed in, so a long way from the nest, as its relaxed posture shows).

Posted May 25, 2022 by wildcrail in Sightings

May 22nd   Leave a comment

There seems to be a rapid turnover of waders at Balcomie Beach. Today there were many fewer sanderling and dunlin, but more turnstones, perhaps more than 40. Still a single redshank, I don’t expect to see one from the beginning of May until the end of June even though they are ubiquitous on the shore the rest of the year. The number of wheatears continues to go down – only 6 on the driving range now and another three on the rocks at Balcomie.

Turnstone at Balcomie (John Anderson)

Posted May 22, 2022 by wildcrail in Sightings

May 21st   Leave a comment

The wind has continued over the last two days and continued my frustration at detecting corn buntings. I am finding them only by searching along the dykes or fences for their hunched and dumpy shape. They seem very reluctant to sing – perhaps only 10% of the time. I need to stay in a territory for fifteen or twenty minutes to have a reasonable chance of hearing one sing, and then the wind makes it audible over about half the territory. I am also finding that some of the early May territories, particularly those in the same place as last year, but where now the crop is recently ploughed soil or flowering rape, are disappearing. That is fine, ultimately, because this is what I am studying, but it adds to sense of feeling I am not going forward very fast in mapping the territories for this year.

Yesterday I was mostly at Lower Kenly Farm where I found 5 territories (11 last year). The low detectability is more likely to blame than a big decrease: more visits are needed. It was fairly quiet up there all around. The pair of ravens flew over from Kippo Farm, one nicely mobbed by both a jackdaw and a carrion crow to show the array of crow size well. I saw a fox crossing the fields, looking lean and jackal like. I hardly ever see foxes when I am surveying and they are not tolerated on most of the local farms. I am always pleased to see them. Like magpies and other crows, they may cause us problems, but they are the species that are most like us – exploiting every opportunity ruthlessly to get by.

The fox at Lower Kenly yesterday. Looking very skinny so perhaps a female with a den full of hungry cubs somewhere

Today I stayed closer to Crail, checking the fields at Wormiston. It was a bit less windy but still hard work finding the corn buntings. I came back along the shore where the high Arctic breeding waders have appeared on their way north. All along the shore at Balcomie there were ringed plovers, dunlin, sanderling and turnstones – many in summer plumage. It was low tide so they were hard to count, but easily over 200 birds in total. The flock of 100+ arctic terns was still on the rocks, mostly roosting but occasionally flying up in a big, noisy, circling frenzy with birds displaying to each other. Wheatear numbers have been going down all week but I still had 9 on the driving range at Balcomie this morning and another 5 along the shore. Yesterday, where I covered much more ground (31km) I had over 20 by the end of the day. These birds all seem large and orangey fitting Greenland wheatears. Like the waders, their breeding season only starts, at best, in a couple of weeks so they can hang around Crail feeding up for a bit longer. I saw my first fully fledged starling chick today, out from cover and following an adult, so it will have left the nest a week ago. The end of the starling breeding season always comes very quickly, even before the spring migration season is over.

Three of the high Arctic wader species coming through Balcomie today – also sanderlings, a single redshank, and two days ago, John Anderson had a flock of knot. The turnstone, ringed plover and dunlin here are all in summer breeding plumage, and some of the dunlin were even singing on the shore this morning

Posted May 21, 2022 by wildcrail in Sightings

May 19th   Leave a comment

Unusually there was a St Andrews Bay style flock of sea duck off Balcomie today. About 150. Mostly common scoter, with a few velvet scoter and at least three scaup. They were in a synchronized diving frenzy, with some herring gulls around the edge of the flock, like herding sheep dogs around black sheep, but waiting to dash in for the scraps. In the foreground, there was a big flock of Arctic tern. Almost certainly May Island birds. They always seem to spend a few days on the shore at Balcomie before committing to egg laying on the May. Inland the house martins were busy making their nests. They are spoilt for choice after the heavy rain earlier in the week, with plenty of muddy puddles to choose from. The ponds at Pinkerton may be work in progress but they were just fine for the house martins this morning (and the swallows), providing mud for all the nests in the area.

House martins collecting the two components of their nest, mud for the outer shell and feathers for lining, from a puddle at Balcomie Cottages yesterday (John Anderson)

Posted May 19, 2022 by wildcrail in Sightings

May 18th   Leave a comment

The wind was back west today and fairly strong. In 18 kilometers only one corn bunting bothered to sing. I was surveying edge of range so it was frustrating – false negatives or not? I did find three pairs of breeding lapwing around Airdrie Farm. Every year they get rarer and harder to find. All the birds were in a harrowed stubble field, creating a bare, flat field, but not uniform, so a nest and eggs would be hard to find. Any overflying crows were escorted off the premises in any case. I got excited when I saw two small black and white things bobbling about at one of the distant lapwing’s feet, but they were another couple of migrant wheatears not chicks. If lapwing chicks freeze (and the adults call to them to do so if you are anywhere close) then they are impossible to see. Any breeding pair should have hatched chicks by now.

A wary breeding lapwing today, hopefully guarding its chicks

Posted May 18, 2022 by wildcrail in Sightings

May 17th   Leave a comment

This morning there was no rain but the haar was in for most of the morning to the east of Crail. As expected, there were migrants about, brought in and down by the winds and rain of yesterday. From Kilminning to Balcomie cottages I had four spotted flycatchers, a garden warbler and best of all, three lesser whitethroat. Never a common bird, with only a handful in a year on the Crail patch, three lesser whitethroats is, I think, a day record for me – and I missed another one at Lower Kilminning as well. The lesser whitethroats were singing their rattly song making them easy to find, particularly one at Upper Kilminning around the pines. I learnt lesser whitethroat song when I was 14 and had a singing bird in my front garden in Hertfordshire all summer. I knew it was a new, different song but I could never find the singer, hidden in the middle of a dense bush. Finally, I got a glimpse, weeks into its residency, and finally identified it. I can’t hear a lesser whitethroat now without thinking about peering out of my childhood bedroom window for hours trying to puzzle out the song. Lesser whitethroats breed at low density in England but are rare in Scotland. They are another climate change winner, spreading north in the last thirty years and colonizing south-west Scotland. Perhaps today’s influx will be tempted to stay in Fife and continue the process.

Lesser whitethroat – this one not an obvious one in the sense that it lacked darker ear-coverts. Generally though, the shorter tail and more battlefield grey and brown colour makes them quite distinctive.
But the easiest way to identify a lesser whitethroat is when it sings. They do a common whitethroat like scratchy warble (but this is hard to hear) but this then ends in a very far carrying, very distinctive, rattle
Spotted flycatcher. Like the lesser whitethroat above, in the haar, hence the washed out look

Posted May 17, 2022 by wildcrail in Sightings

May 16th   Leave a comment

It rained all day – 12.6mm. And with two days of easterlies, there had to be some migrants about. I tried Kilminning this morning before the rain got really established and found a spotted flycatcher. It sat in a hawthorn looking soggy, shaking the water off its wings between sallies. By 9 am it was too rainy to be out birding. I tried again an hour before sunset after the rain stopped this evening, bizarrely the brightest part of the day. This time The Patch. Another spotted flycatcher and the first garden warbler of the year that gave itself away by short phrases of its better than blackcap song, which is saying something. So some migrants for sure and far from great conditions to find them today. Tomorrow morning there may be a bluethroat out there somewhere around Fife Ness: there was one on the May Island today.

Garden warbler (John Anderson)

Posted May 16, 2022 by wildcrail in Sightings

May 15th   Leave a comment

I finally refound some yellow wagtails today. The male channel wagtail from May 3rd (although it might possibly be another bird) and a female yellow wagtail, by the irrigation ponds between Troustrie and Sypsies and then in the adjacent cauliflower field. This field is immediately to the north of where a pair bred last year (in potatoes, this year winter wheat) and two fields away from the winter wheat field at Oldbarns where they have bred every year, except apparently this one. I still can’t find any evidence of a nest associated with the male yellow wagtail that a few people have seen over the last two weeks on the south side of the road at Oldbarns.

The yellow wagtail pair this afternoon, with the male being a channel wagtail (blue-headed x yellow wagtail hybrid)

Over the last week I have come across a couple of pairs of ringed plover that look like they are trying to breed – like the local oystercatchers – in the fields above the beach, rather than the beach itself. Today there was another one in the fleeced field of brassicas just on the left as you come out of Crail to Anstruther. The field was in the process of being defleeced – a strange sight as the tractor runs backwards as it rolls the fleece up, looking like someone has put the video in reverse – and there were a lot of people tramping up the rows so I hope there wasn’t another bird already on eggs in the field. It really is tough being a breeding ringed plover around Crail: a choice of being trampled on the beaches or trampled in the fields.

Ringed plover adapting to circumstances, although not quite there yet

Posted May 15, 2022 by wildcrail in Sightings

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