December 12th   Leave a comment

I have been looking out for little auks for a few weeks now. I was surprised however to see my first of the winter in a shoebox down at Crail harbour. One had been found flailing around in a garden and had been brought to my house for “rescue”. My wife then carried it down to the harbour where I was catching redshanks that afternoon (two birds caught and two wellies full of water because of the high tide but worth it). It was an early Christmas present opening a box and finding a beautiful little auk inside. They look like miniature penguins: black and white and with short wings. Little auks can fly, but barely, and their response on being grounded, even on land, is to attempt to swim away. Consequently when one turns up in your garden, blown inland by strong winds or disorientated while flying along the coast at night, they can look helpless and injured. This bird was typical, actually in good health apart from a scratch on its wing, and just desperate for the sea. We released it from Harbour Beach and it swam strongly away – last seen heading well out to sea in the Firth of Forth. With more northerly winds forecast for the end of the week I think we will be seeing more little auks, but hopefully passing safely along the coast well out to sea.

Little auk

Posted December 16, 2011 by wildcrail in Sightings

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