May 14th   Leave a comment

Gannet with seaweed for its nest on Bass Rock

There have been some perfect evenings this week. This Friday evening was beautifully sunny after earlier rain showers so that everything was crystal clear. At Fife Ness the seabirds were shuttling by in the sunshine and the light westerly winds. Many of the gannets were carrying seaweed. Some, sensibly going into the Forth, back to Bass Rock to build their nests. But at least half carrying seaweed out of the Forth, away from Bass Rock. It seems unlikely they are going anywhere else in that direction to nest; the next gannetry is well past Aberdeen. They must therefore collect several bits at a time and make proper large scale trips out to collect seaweed, rather than just picking up bits as they return from foraging. It looked like there was a good patch for seaweed northeast of Fife Ness, about a kilometre out. Tens of gannets were landing on the sea in a relatively small area and then flying up with beaks full of seaweed.

There were some later season migrants at Fife Ness as well. A flock of eight or so sanderling with a single dunlin were on the rocks. Both were in summer plumage and were probably heading up to the very far north where breeding won’t start for at least another three weeks. There were two female northern wheatears on the beach. Again they are probably high Arctic breeders just stopping with us for a few days to refuel before attempting the next part of the remaining 1000-2000km of their migration. That these birds will have been in somewhere like Mali or Niger or Senegal two months ago, and are still nowhere near the destination is incredible. The same is true for the sanderling, although they were perhaps on a beach in Namibia in March, and are heading for the far east of Siberia.

Sanderling in summer plumage

Posted May 14, 2011 by wildcrail in Sightings

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