January 8th   Leave a comment

More snow last night although after an hour it turned to rain so there was little trace today. But it is still cold with a bitter south-westerly wind and a lot of ice about. Despite this it was a nice sunny Crail winter’s day again starting with a lovely sunrise. Venus is still very visible an hour before sunrise, still over the Isle of May as the brightest star in the morning sky.

The black redstart is still in residence at the east end of Roome Bay feeding on the shore, the cliffs and for the last couple of days up in the gorse. There has been a steady stream of birders visiting it all week, perhaps 50 in total I would estimate. When we have a really rare bird here we can have hundreds in a day. The black redstart is the only bird of above average interest reported in Fife at the moment. There are bound to be other interesting birds about but most of the rest of Fife is still much colder than us, and with a new dose of snow most birders are probably not out looking for new birds.

Why the black redstart likes it in Roome Bay: lots of seaweed flies to eat!

Moving higher up the food chain: the flies attract the smaller birds which in turn attract the birds of prey like this common buzzard

Also at Roome Bay there was a small flock of dunlin feeding; they are there most days at low tide at the moment. These are greyish waders half the size of redshanks with longish fairly decurved bills. Roome Bay is a great place to be just now – a whole variety of waders and lots of rock pipits, grey and pied wagtails, starlings and of course the redstart. This attracts in the birds of prey – I have seen kestrel, buzzard, sparrowhawk, peregrine and merlin all hunting the smaller birds that are gathered there this week.

There were some lapland buntings reported from the airfield at Kilminning on Thursday so I went up there this morning to see if they were still about. It was the usual trek over the stubbles keeping faith until a couple popped up a few meters in front of me. There were a few birders also looking for them so I was able to bring them over to the right area where I found another flock of 9. I was really pleased to be able to produce the birds for them; for a couple of the birders these were new birds. It really has been a fantastic winter for lapland buntings around Crail and it was a real pleasure to be able to share them.

As I tramped over the stubbles I flushed a single woodcock. We may see a return of them to Crail if the snow stays inland. There were also some fieldfares.

Posted January 8, 2011 by wildcrail in Sightings

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