December 2nd   Leave a comment

It has been a beautiful day, very sunny but very cold, with ice and frozen ground pretty much all day. Just before sunrise I was out in the back garden and I heard a waxwing. Their trilling call is a giveaway. It was over my garden in a flash, another trill and a whirr of wings high overhead and it was gone. There are a lot of waxwings about at the moment on a country scale but it takes a bit of luck to connect with them. When they find a good berry tree they will stay for a few days, but then they move tens of miles to find another one. One solitary waxwing is unusual and I bet it was looking more for other waxwings than berries.

I walked around Balcomie and Fife Ness this afternoon. There were a lot of sanderling on the beach at least initially. Most were leaving to roost on the rocks at Fife Ness as the tide moved up but a single bird stayed on the beach. It must have been hungry, staying put even as we approached to within 15 meters. Or perhaps it was one of John Anderson’s regulars. John gets even closer when he is photographing them and one or two must get used to it. A frosty, sunny day is the best way to see the subtleties of a beautifully black and white sanderling.

Sanderling in the late afternoon winter sun at Balcomie

Sanderling in the late afternoon winter sun at Balcomie

There were a couple of long-tailed ducks, four goldeneye and a red-breasted merganser all diving close in to the shore. A few red-throated divers were passing, heading south, but otherwise the sea is fairly quiet as is typical at this time of year. Everything is far out or further south. But it is purple sandpiper time of year for us and there were plenty at Fife Ness today. They were flying to roost at the high tide too, when they stand out amongst the pale sanderlings, dunlins and ringed plovers (that are the same size) as much darker. When they land though they disappear amongst the rocks. Often I only see one or two purps on some rocks, and it’s only if they fly that I realise that were actually 20 or so there. They have some sort of active camouflage I’m sure.

Close up of a purple sandpiper

Close up of a purple sandpiper

Posted December 2, 2012 by wildcrail in Sightings

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