September 15th   Leave a comment

Bottle-nosed dolphin

Bottle-nosed dolphin

This weekend has been one of contrasts. Saturday like the last day of summer and today like the first of winter. The sea was flat calm yesterday but today full of white horses in the westerly gale. And a huge contrast with last weekend as well. Then the winds were from the south-east. Looking out to sea today, all I could see were gannets screaming by, propelled by the winds out of the Forth. Anything else had already been blown out to sea far from Crail. Last week everything was being blown into the Forth and close in to Crail. You need to pick your winds for sea watching from Crail.

Yesterday with the flat seas, it was very easy to see dolphins. I saw a few passing Saucehope after lunch. My third sighting this week. They have been continuing to keep the kittiwakes company, all presumably feeding on shoals of fish out in the Forth. One feeding group was relatively close in yesterday morning. There were about a hundred kittiwakes hovering and swooping over the surface of the sea, moving in slow wave over the water, with birds at the back of the flock leapfrogging those in front. Every so often I could see black and white flashes of little gulls and lighter, more hovery arctic and common terns also dipping down to the water amongst the kittiwakes.  In between them, manx shearwaters and guillemots were diving from the surface, with the manx shearwaters really only visible when they flew occasionally to rejoin the flock as they got left behind. And then suddenly the whole flock of gulls and terns would head straight upwards with frantic wing beats as an attendant arctic skua took off from nearby and started to chase a hapless kittiwake or arctic tern that had just caught a fish. I couldn’t really see the dolphins below them all but an occasional dorsal fin gave them away. It’s a fantastic spectacle – not quite as up close as you see it on the BBC – but just as exciting, and best of all happening right on our doorstep, rather than in some obscurely named current off the coast of Africa.

There have been a lot of red-throated divers passing Crail this week. Most coming into the Forth for the winter. Divers have a very hump-backed silhouette as they fly and relatively small wings making them very distinctive.

Red-throated diver

Red-throated diver

Posted September 15, 2013 by wildcrail in Sightings

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