September 24th   Leave a comment

There were thousands of seabirds out from Fife Ness this morning. The usual kittiwakes in dense flocks out at the horizon were joined by at least tens of little gulls. Only the close in birds were identifiable. It has not been a good summer for little gulls once again. I noticed last week that were big flocks reported off the Northumberland coast so possibly the days of Fife being their late summer gathering ground are over. At one point the gulls were joined by a swarm of at least 100 gannets diving off the rocks of Balcomie. There were also one or two arctic and great skuas and a sooty shearwater passing.

Sandwich terns are much less common but are still passing south and there were a couple of common terns on Balcomie Beach. Also on the beach were the first grey plover of the winter. There are usually only one or two between Kingsbarns and Fife Ness. They prefer open, more muddy areas like estuaries.

Grey Plover on Balcomie Beach

I had a quick walk around the Patch at Fife Ness. I was lured in by a strange “suwee” call, half way between a greenish warbler (extremely rare) and a yellow-browed warbler (quite rare) that I could hear even down on the shore. I tracked the call down to a chiff-chaff. It turns out juveniles occasionally make this call rather than their more typical willow warbler-like “who-eet” (if you ever want to track down what a bird sounds like type “xeno canto” into Google – this gets you to a global database of sound recordings, where I found a hundred or so examples of chiff-chaff songs and calls). I had a very exciting few minutes anyway wondering if I had finally found a “mega”. I did find my first fieldfare of the winter, newly in from Scandinavia and on its way inland to spend the winter with us.


Posted September 25, 2011 by wildcrail in Sightings

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