June 11th   Leave a comment

Two trips out to Balcomie Beach today chasing waders. Last night a little stint and a ruff were seen there and both are pretty good Crail birds, especially a little stint. First thing this morning there was no sign of either, but there were four summer plumage sanderling running with the surf. They are the extreme high Arctic wader but these four were probably running late on their journey to hit the very brief window of summer up there. They were in the company of at least 25 turnstones also probably on their way north. But waders live a long time and some of them take a breeding holiday, or are just unlucky. As the summer progresses my opinion on these birds will probably change – another week and they will definitely be summering birds – and in three weeks’ time they will be joined by the first failed breeders on their way south for the winter.

Turnstone - a candidate for bird of the year - making a good living on every shore on the planet

Turnstone – a candidate for bird of the year – making a good living on every shore on the planet

John Anderson saw the ruff in the afternoon. I followed in the evening but no luck again for me. The turnstones were now feeding on the high tide line in the rotting piles of wrack washed in by the storms of a few weeks ago. They were digging holes in the wrack to get to the seaweed fly maggots. Some of them in pits so deep that I could only see the debris flying out of them, not the source. Turnstones are legendary for their flexibility in feeding. Any opportunity on the shore is exploited from feeding on whale (and even human) corpses to feeding on sewage as well as the usual worms and shellfish. I like to think that no matter what we do to the seashore, turnstones will always find a niche and will always be there.

The male ruff at Balcomie today - sadly the one that got away from me

The male ruff at Balcomie today – sadly the one that got away from me

Posted June 11, 2013 by wildcrail in Sightings

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