September 25th   Leave a comment

What a day! There have been strong easterlies since Sunday evening and they turned into a full blown gale by yesterday afternoon. The wind peaked early this morning with gusts of 60 miles an hour, although mostly it was about 40. There are several trees or large bits of trees down in Denburn. The sea watching has been brilliant. The visibility has not been great though, with the winds blowing up so much spray that it was like a thin fog. As it began to die down mid-morning I could finally see what was passing. Almost all of it going east and back out of the Forth after being blown in. It has been a constant spectacle since then. Perhaps not as exciting as the Inner Forth has been today, where everything was concentrated, but pretty good nonetheless. I try to avoid just listing but it seems unavoidable today. Sooty shearwaters, manx shearwaters, great skuas, arctic skuas, a great northern diver, guillemots (thousands) razorbills, gannets, puffins, two slavonian grebes (very good Crail birds), little gulls, kittiwakes, velvet scoters, common scoters, teal, wigeon, fulmars, a pink-footed goose, red-throated divers, red-breasted mergansers and sandwich terns. The thing about good sea watching is that you stay still and a conveyor belt of birds comes by, every so often a really good one, dipping in and out of sight behind the tall waves and then gone. But always followed by something else. It’s very addictive, you just want to wait for the next bird, and today waiting was constantly rewarded. Just shuffle the list above, with another 20 other species in a never repeating sequence. And all to a back drop of a breath taking sea with huge waves dwarfing the two meter wing span gannets.

Guillemot, one of thousands passing Crail today and trying to leave the Forth

All the time the easterlies are bringing in migrants as well. There wasn’t much point looking for them today. Far too windy and they will keep coming in tonight and more will be brought down by tonight’s rain. Tomorrow, however, will be a different story. As I sea watched out of my window I did see a wheatear in my garden. A new garden bird for me bringing my garden list up to 123. Wheatears normally like open places, but I think a bit of sheltered foraging was in order today even for a wheatear. I did have a quick walk around Denburn. I saw a couple of spotted flycatchers and a chiff-chaff on the sheltered side of the wood by the churchyard. There will be much more in there to find tomorrow.

Roome Bay had about 10 little gulls feeding there. One or two were very close in and feeding like storm petrels. Hovering into the wind like a kite just above the surface of the sea and then walking on the water with their dangling feet, occasionally pecking the surface. I think they may be my favourite gull (although kittiwakes are pretty special too). If you are down at Roome Bay tomorrow check the black-headed gulls carefully. Look for a smaller gull without black in its upperwings contrasting with a smoky grey underwing. Little gulls feed far out at sea off Fife Ness at this time of year but the strong winds have blown them closer today. I have never had such good views of little gulls in Crail, usually they are a technical far out identification based on the flashing black and white of their under and upperwing patterns. It was the same with the puffins today. I never see them at sea after August, but today a lot must have been blown in to us from far out in the North Sea. All the birds I saw were young of this year and all hurrying as fast as the headwind would allow back out to sea

A little gull, passing by Crail, looking even tinier than usual against the monstrous seas

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Posted September 25, 2012 by wildcrail in Sightings

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