September 10th   Leave a comment

Today dawned very murky with rain showers and mist over the sea. I could just about make out a great skua and a sooty shearwater passing close by Crail during my before breakfast scope out of my son’s bedroom window. Sometimes it definitely isn’t worth seawatching. I’m fairly sure of my skua and shearwater but anything further out than 200m wasn’t really identifiable. It was a shame because I had those two great birds in two minutes. What I couldn’t see passing was probably exceptional. It has been a frustrating week sea watching. The gales earlier in the week pushed a lot of birds past Crail but much of it was far out or passed by very quickly with the wind behind it. I probably had three pomarine skuas on Tuesday but they shot by leaving me with only their apparent chunky shape to point to pomarines rather than arctic skuas. And in a gale apparent size and shape gets distorted quite a lot.

I went out to Fife Ness this evening. I picked up a spotted flycatcher and a whinchat flycatching on the rocky shore straight away. Both are reasonably scarce migrants. Spotted flycatchers are more usually to be seen in woodland but on migration birds will feed anywhere there is food. The rocky shore on the ness is sheltered from the westerly wind and full of seaweed flies so is often a good place to find migrants. Balcomie Beach had a large roost of sandwich terns on it and about 10 bar-tailed godwits. Out to sea I picked up a nearly adult mediterranean gull passing in a flock of kittiwakes. There is a bit of a med gull fest in Fife at the moment with tens being recorded daily – there are over ten at Buckhaven, Leven just now (where John took the photo below). Med gulls are really nice gulls with nearly pure white plumage and a little half mask of black behind their eye in winter plumage. They used to be very rare British birds but now they are pretty common with hundreds in Southern England. They are beginning to be more common in Scotland. I saw my first in Scotland in 1989 and had to submit a description to the Lothian bird recorder to have my record accepted because of its rarity. I shouldn’t think they bother now. There are some winners in the bird world in the face of climate change and mediterranean gulls appear to be one of them. I look forward to when they are a common Crail bird – to date I have only had 3 records in the last 8 years.

Adult mediterranean gull at Buckhaven, Leven

Other good birds this evening were a merlin hunting along the same rocky shore that the flycatcher and whinchat were on – good food there for them and so good food for the merlin. There were a couple of red-throated divers flying over the ness making a short cut into the Forth. Further out were at least 3 arctic skuas harrying the feeding flocks of kittiwakes. It was a lovely evening after the earlier rain and it felt like anything was possible. I think I will go out again tomorrow and see.

Migrating red-throated divers past Fife Ness

Posted September 10, 2011 by wildcrail in Sightings

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