December 27th   Leave a comment

The thaw set in today. A whole day and night above freezing. The first for about a month. You can feel the birds relaxing. As I walked down to Roome Bay you could hear birds calling and even some brave robins singing for the first time in weeks.

Greenshank - note this is one of my own photos not John's - hence the poor quality

The wader show at Roome Bay continued today. Joining the snipe, woodcock, redshank and dunlin down at the tide’s edge was a greenshank. Most greenshanks winter in Africa and most will be well south of the Sahara in places like the Niger delta all the way down to Cape Town. But some individuals save the enormous energetic expense and hazard of migration by remaining in Scotland. There are probably only a few hundred individuals that winter in Scotland compared to the two thousand or so birds that breed here. They have probably become more common here in winter as the climate has warmed (it is still warming despite the recent month’s weather). Today’s bird was my first winter record from Crail.

Greenshanks are quite similar to redshanks as you can see from my (admittedly) poor photos. But they have green legs (the green shanks) not red legs and longer slightly upcurved bills compared to redshanks. And also as you can see they are much greyer and paler than redshanks. I knew there was probably a greenshank in the bay from Castle Walk because I could see one of the “redshanks” was a much paler grey than the rest. On migration they often call – a ringing whistle repeated three times “tew – tew – tew”. This is usually the best way to pick up on a greenshank passing through.

Redshank on left, greenshank on right (and a common gull and two turnstones)

Posted December 28, 2010 by wildcrail in Sightings

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