Week ending July 17th   Leave a comment

On early Sunday there was 30mm of rain between 3 and 4 in the morning. It woke me up which is not surprising considering that we often have months with less than 30mm, never mind that falling in an hour. The Brandyburn must have been a torrent. This morning there was the usual fan of soil washed out into the sea for several hundred meters. This brings our rainfall total to 76mm which is my highest monthly total ever for Crail and the month is only half done. It’s been warm and sunny between the showers at least.

The sand martins are still at Roome Bay and apparently still breeding. In contrast the grey herons in the churchyard have probably given up. I didn’t see any sign of activity this week. The nest was very late and was never likely to succeed but hopefully it will get started nice and early next year. Song thrushes and the occasional blackbird are still singing so they are still breeding.

The swifts have been very noisy this week, with a flock of 10-15 screaming around Crail, especially in the evening. These are probably sub-adult birds. Swifts probably take several years to get breeding and I think the younger birds move up from Africa in late June and July to prospect for mates and nesting holes. These screaming parties are perhaps the equivalent of the thrash and dash that goes on at Crail airfield – lots of noise and speed in the hope of getting noticed. Although we don’t know this for certain (remember these birds may not land at all for 3-4 years after fledging) we certainly have the most swifts in Crail from late June onwards, well before any young are fledged. One of the most impressive things these screaming parties do is to ascend every evening to roost on the wing. A tight flock will circle above Crail with periods of screaming and chasing interspersed with quiet periods as they climb. Gradually the screaming gets fainter and fainter as the flocks get higher and higher. I have watched these flocks at dusk until they disappear as tiny black specks above me, with my arms aching from holding my binoculars. If you look away for a second you can never find the flock again. They then sleep on the wing very high. This we do know from records from pilots and also watching them come down again at dawn the following day. Swifts are just brilliant. Enjoy them now because they will be mostly gone in three weeks. They are one of the earliest migrants to leave.

The lapwing chicks are doing well at the wader pools up at the crossroads. The two chicks are now growing feathers and looking much more like adults. I am hopeful that they are going to fledge successfully. There are a lot of whitethroats up in the hedges nearby as well indicating that they have bred successfully.

Well grown lapwing chick

Posted July 17, 2011 by wildcrail in Sightings

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: