Week ending 25th November   Leave a comment

Crail is much quieter. We’ve slipped into winter. There haven’t been any reports of the olivaceous warbler for a few days after its marathon stint down at Kilminning. I’d like to think it is on its way to East Africa now, but suspect the rotten weather of the last week finally did for it. Although we are now at the end of November, the expected dryer weather of the winter hasn’t appeared either. Another really wet week in a really wet year. At least this year’s rainfall total will be record breaking for Crail – even if it doesn’t rain any more from now until the New Year.

What do we have around Crail in winter? We have a lot of starlings. They come into Crail to roost every evening and flocks of hundreds feed in the fields between Crail and Fife Ness. Starlings create mixed feelings for people. Less appreciated when then are dominating bird tables, but undeniably beautiful as punctuation marks in the winter sky.

Starlings in a winter symphony

The other thing we have around Crail in winter, as everywhere on the coast does, and so often overlooked, are the gulls. Britain has millions of gulls that winter here and is perhaps the best place in Europe. All of them – even the common ones – herring, common, black-headed, lesser black-backed and great black-backed gulls, all winter around our coasts in globally important numbers. They are just as significant as our wintering goose flocks. But like the starlings, gulls create mixed feelings. I am always struck by how fantastic gulls are when I return from abroad because most places don’t have huge wheeling gull flocks, keeping every bit of shore alive with activity, or filling the otherwise empty fields. And watching the gulls following the plough on a sunny day is undoubtedly a winter wildlife spectacle. But gulls often just blend into the background and are taken for granted, or worse regarded as a noisy pest. Crail wouldn’t be half as interesting without its gulls and we are looking after them for large parts of Europe during the winter.

Common gull

Posted November 25, 2012 by wildcrail in Sightings

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