December 31st   Leave a comment

Mute Swan

There were a pair of mute swans around harbour beach this morning. They were in Roome Bay last night: we only have mute swans visiting Crail about once a year. The pair were clearly from somewhere where they get fed, approaching anyone who wandered close to the water’s edge. I saw the pair persistently following a family on Harbour Beach looking for a hand out until the protective father chased the swans back out into the sea. My dog (a grumpy mongrel terrier) was also intimidated by the swans. He rushed out into the surf at them but soon came back as the male swan puffed itself up and hissed at him. Mute swans are fairly large birds but their ability to do harm is mostly bluff. When you handle swans they are usually fairly docile and they are incredibly light for their size. I shouldn’t think that the pair will stay around Crail. They are fairly happy on coastal waters, but I think the lack of ready bread will cause this pair to move on.

Woodcock kill

Denburn Wood is now empty of woodcocks. They disappeared with the snow. They have left behind a few piles of feathers and a few corpses to show that they were probably the most popular item on the buzzards’ and sparrowhawks’ menus in the last few weeks. Their camouflage will have been ineffective in the snow and their habit of feeding on the ground will have made them particularly vulnerable. I found three woodcock kills today, including one (pictured right) on the shore below Castle Walk. Because the wings are intact but the body has been eaten, this was probably killed by a peregrine.

There has certainly been a lot of peregrine activity around Crail in the last few days. I think at least a couple of peregrines are coming in daily to hunt the starlings that roost around Marketgate and Pinkerton. If you see some starlings dashing around in a panic at dusk then look for the peregrine. One of the peregrines is missing some of its left flight feathers so its wing looks like it has a hole in it. This must affect its flying ability although I couldn’t detect any reduction in speed or intensity during its attacks and the starlings didn’t seem to be more relaxed either.

Peregrine with feral pigeon prey

Posted January 1, 2011 by wildcrail in Sightings

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