Week ending January 16th   Leave a comment

It has suddenly gone mild. During the last two days, day time temperatures have been above 10 degrees. It has immediately made it feel like the year is turning. This has been helped by the arrival of the fulmars back on the cliffs below Castle Walk. There are also a few gannets back in the Forth. It is a couple of months before the breeding season starts in earnest, but for long-lived seabirds like fulmars and gannets, they like to get established early. Even though some of the fulmar pairs in Crail may have been coming back for 30 or more years, they take the early stages of breeding very seriously. The key with almost all bird species, and the more experienced pairs are able to do this, is starting early. Early birds have a much better chance of successful breeding.

Sparrowhawk

The black redstart probably left Roome Bay on Thursday. There was no sign of it on Friday or on Saturday. The rock pipits seem to have left Roome Bay as well. Whether it is the change in the availability of seaweed flies that they were both feeding on or a change in the wind direction making it more exposed, both may have made Roome Bay less attractive. Alternatively the sparrowhawks may have got too much. Even today when the beach was practically deserted of birds I saw a sparrowhawk making an attack. It swept down vertically from the top of the cliffs, diving vertically and narrowly missing, I think, a wren that was still feeding on the wrack. I don’t think it was aiming for anything in particular when it started to attack, it was probably relying on the fact that during the past week the beach has been full of probably hundreds of potential victims and it started attacking blind. This would have made sense if the birds hadn’t moved on: sparrowhawks are more or less only successful if they make a surprise attack and any time spent scoping out targets would have probably led to one of the birds on the beach seeing it early, so losing its crucial element of surprise.

Denburn Wood is still full of redwings. Today there was also a treecreeper. Other birds to look out for are purple sandpipers on the rocks at the low tide line at Roome Bay.

Posted January 16, 2011 by wildcrail in Sightings

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