January 22nd   Leave a comment

Today was a fantastic day, feeling like the year had really turned with warm sunshine and the cold wind of yesterday a pleasant breeze. I had my first shelduck of the year passing down the coast towards Fife Ness. The pair or two that breed in the area become more elusive during the winter.  It’s always nice to see these handsome and distinctive ducks, although they really are much more like geese in size and shape as you see them flying by

Shelduck - more of a goose really

I was out looking for colour-ringed redshanks again. We caught a few more in the harbour during the very low tides of a couple of weeks ago and it was nice to see a couple of the new birds in Roome Bay. One of the birds I caught on the beach at the harbour in December was seen on the Isle of May last week. I saw it 2 days after I caught it, still around the harbour, but since then nothing, presumably because it had moved. It was a first year bird. I am beginning to wonder if they are more likely to leave Crail after I catch and ring them. It makes sense. If I catch an adult, it already has an idea that Crail is a fairly safe and benign place – after all it has survived just fine for at least one winter, and probably many winters, here. A first year bird, however, still hasn’t really made its mind up about the place. This theory is hard to prove, and if correct causes some problems. If young birds are more likely to leave when they are caught for ringing, this means we are less likely to see them again compared to adults. This means that young birds will appear to have lower survival than adults. Anytime one of my ringed birds disappears I pretty much assume they have died, but of course they only need to move somewhere else for me not to see them. I got lucky with this one juvenile being seen on the Isle of May. I really have no idea whether other disappearing redshanks through the years have actually also gone somewhere else rather than dying. It will be interesting to see if the Isle of May bird comes back though.

RYBG (Red Yellow Blue Green) in the harbour at low tide (as of the last 5 years)

Posted January 22, 2012 by wildcrail in Sightings

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