September 2nd   Leave a comment

Common tern on its way to African shores

Common tern on its way to African shores

This weekend the gannets have been fledging from Bass Rock in a big way. There have been dribs and drabs of juveniles for the last week but on Saturday morning the exodus from the Forth started in earnest. In the morning about 10% of birds flying east past Crail were young ones, by lunchtime this was up to about a quarter and by mid-afternoon half. And then by the evening back down to about 5%. It makes sense – if you are going to fledge then see if the day is developing into a good one, but don’t leave it too late. Saturday was a calm and fine day with little wind so any unconfident fledglings would not have been challenged. Today there were many fewer young ones passing so most may have already gone. I wish them well as they move into the North Sea and learn to fish and look after themselves in the next couple of weeks. I don’t think the parents stay with them after fledging so they only have their (extensive!) fat reserves and their instincts to help them. There were a couple of new fledglings fishing with some adults off Fife Ness this morning. There was a flock diving into shallow water so only doing dives from just above the water and at a shallow angle. It seemed like a good training event for the youngsters. I couldn’t see if any were successful but I would expect the young ones to have a much lower success rate than the adults probably for many months. Lots will starve before they gain the necessary skills to allow them to fish in all conditions and all weathers.

It was very warm today for late September. Up to 20 degrees and with a big heat haze over the sea as a consequence. Out at Fife Ness anything interesting was lost in the shimmer in the distance. Closer in there was a steady passage of sandwich, common and arctic terns with a single juvenile arctic skua on hand to hurry them on. There was also quite a considerable passage of swallows coming in from the sea. Perhaps birds that had taken a short cut from the Aberdeen coast to the north-east. Everywhere you looked you could see the flickering of swallow wings just above the waves. The swallows have been leaving in earnest since the middle of the week coincident with it getting much colder from Monday onwards. Today must be a bit of a reprieve for them.

A barn swallow also now on its way to Africa. Flocks were passing over Crail all weekend.

A barn swallow also now on its way to Africa. Flocks were passing over Crail all weekend.

Posted September 22, 2013 by wildcrail in Sightings

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