September 27th   Leave a comment

A bluethroat was seen down at Balcomie first thing this morning. We used to get a lot more bluethroats here and the numbers on the Isle of May were legendary, but in the last ten years they have got fewer and fewer. Bluethroats, unusually amongst migrants are doing OK overall in Europe, so their near disappearance from Crail seems to be something to do with either changing weather during migration, or their populations changing. Certainly the Swedish population has been in decline while populations in Holland have increased. The Swedish birds that start their migration well to the northeast of us are much more likely to make it to Crail on their way down, whereas the Dutch birds start of to the south of us. The result is that bluethroats are now much harder to see around Crail. And this is on top of the fact that any that turn up are really hard to see anyway. Bluethroats are skulkers favouring ditches and long grass. You can see where I might be going with this. Bluethroats are special birds to see, I haven’t seen one in Crail and I didn’t manage to see the bird this morning. Chasing birds has its disappointments sometimes. I stumped around the cabbage field and grassy edges of Balcomie for an hour this morning but no luck. Later on I tried to see a barred warbler reported from Fife Ness at lunchtime with the same result. Not so much pressure for a barred warbler and as I have written before, they are even worse skulkers than bluethroats, so my expectations were low. Even so, a contrast to the highlights of the last two days.

Lesser whitethroat – a new migrant seen at Balcomie today

There were the remnants of the winds still around today – the bluethroat and the barred warbler for example. I did see a spotted flycatcher and a lesser whitethroat at Balcomie. And, bizarrely, a guillemot in the cabbage field as I searched for the bluethroat. There will have been a lot of other auks blown inland (“wrecked”) by the storms and a lot of them will also wash up on the beaches over the next few days.

Guillemot – there have been a lot close in at Roome Bay, some of them will be damaged and poorly after the storm


Posted September 27, 2012 by wildcrail in Sightings

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