Week ending April 24th   1 comment

I have been away this week in Cyprus, but came back on Saturday to catch up with the spring here. For those of a smug disposition, the eastern Mediterranean is having a cold spring. It was warmer in Scotland for much of this week compared to Cyprus. I was working on the highest mountain in Cyprus and had snow and very cold hands for most of the week. I was glad to get back to sunny Crail.

Migrant northern wheatear

There have been many more migrants arriving this week. This Sunday was typical with swallows visibly arriving from the sea at Roome Bay in the light south-westerly winds. There was also northern wheatear which landed on the rocks briefly, possibly making its first landfall after flying continuously for a day or so. There are now flocks of house martins over the town and there was a willow warbler singing from the edge of the sheep field above Roome Bay. Sandwich terns were passing earlier in the week. The other terns are usually later with common terns turning up in Roome Bay in the first week of May and arctic terns a week later.

The winter birds have now more or less left although there is still a passage of red-breasted mergansers. There was a group of 8 in Roome Bay on Sunday displaying to each other. All the waders have left the shore except for a few oystercatchers that will stay and breed in the barer fields behind the shore, and ringed plovers on the more deserted beaches of Fife Ness. Just as the numbers of people on the beaches increases so the waders disappear. It’s a happy coincidence; even if they were not moving on to breed I think they would have to leave because of the disturbance. The oystercatchers seem to manage although they can feed inland if necessary. It always seems a bit lonely down at Roome Bay without the redshanks, turnstones, and curlews. They won’t be back until late summer although we may get a few passage birds passing from further south through until the end of May.

One shorebird to look out for this week is the whimbrel. These are smaller versions of curlews that are summer migrants. They have a fantastic clear series of seven whistles that they utter while they are migrating. Even when they pass high overhead, unseen, you still know whimbrels are passing. They occasionally stop on the shore. Look for a shorter billed curlew with a striped head pattern, or listen out for their seven whistles when they fly away.

Whimbrel - listen for the whistles

Migration will be continuing this week and many more summer migrants will turn up. There is a lot of bird song as these newly arriving migrants (a cuckoo or two if we are lucky) start to breed. I am leading a guided bird song walk at Cambo next Saturday (30th April), kick off at 05:30 if you want some help in identifying the various songsters, or just want to enjoy this annual aural event.

The primroses are making a lovely show out at West Braes at the moment.

Posted April 24, 2011 by wildcrail in Sightings

One response to “Week ending April 24th

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  1. I would have like to have seen a nice picture of the primroses – it would give a nicer more rounded picture of springtime in the area. Sorry about my personal predilictions! MJC

    Mrs M.J.Cresswell

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