May 5th   Leave a comment

Common swift back for a brief summer

The swifts are in. There was a pair of swifts over the high street this evening, coming in on the front from the south. They will only be with us for the summer – late arriving and gone by the middle of August. Swifts are such a characteristic sight and sound of the summer, especially when they start their aerial chasing and screaming in the next few days as they start breeding immediately.

You can feel it getting warmer as the prevailing easterly wind of the last week or so has shifted more to the south, bringing rain and hopefully more migrants. We are now having the first rain, more or less, for about 5 weeks. There was only 4mm of rain during April in Crail and none in St Andrews at all in April.

The strong south-easterly wind of the last few days that has brought us the sunny but cool weather has also brought in the seabirds close to Crail. Yesterday evening, for example, there were hundreds of seabirds passing by Crail at any one time. Mostly the gannets, gulls and auks that are breeding on the islands in the Forth, but also some passage migrants such as a few manx shearwaters. On Tuesday night the first arctic terns of the year came past. Strings of them flying rapidly round Fife Ness and heading north to the Arctic to complete their passage from Antarctica. It always astounds me, every year, to watch them passing – some may have made the journey, effectively around the world, 20 or more times. I haven’t made it to Antarctica yet, but at least they have.

Arctic tern back from Antarctica

The weather at the weekend is still setting up for good rarer birds turning up in Crail. As a taster (I hope) we had a couple of common redstarts at Fife Ness on Wednesday, and there was a whimbrel passing over tonight. The rain tonight and forecast for Friday should bring the migrants down. I can’t wait for Saturday!

Posted May 5, 2011 by wildcrail in Sightings

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