March 16th   Leave a comment

A great spotted woodpecker

A great spotted woodpecker

There is a great spotted woodpecker drumming in Beech Walk Park. One in the woods at Kilrenny Common too. A drumming woodpecker is a background sound. Until you really listen out for them, their drumming is easy to overlook. Unless you are right under the tree it is almost subliminal: if you find yourself thinking strangely about woodpeckers you probably have just heard one but haven’t consciously identified it. A great spotted woodpecker’s contact call is much more loud and obvious but much harder to identify as coming from a woodpecker unless you know it. It’s a hard, sharp “specht” call. Woodpecker wise we only really get great spotteds in Crail – it’s starling sized, and black and white with bright red on its head and vent if you see it well. The other woodpeckers are green woodpecker – only very occasionally in Crail, and obviously quite green and larger than a thrush, and with a mad laughing call rather than a drum – and lesser spotted woodpecker, which is a sparrow sized version of a great spot, now very rare in the UK and almost never found on Scotland. Basically, any woodpecker in Crail is going to be a great spotted woodpecker.

The wind over the weekend has got me down again. The weather last week was really shaping up nicely for the spring but its back to gales now. A strong wind just makes it hard to concentrate on anything. I saw almost nothing on Saturday in Kilrenny (apart from some woodpeckers) and the same on a circuit around Fife Ness today. There was a pair of grey partridges at Kilminning. The coveys of winter break up in March to form territorial pairs. I hope they have a bumper year like last year and really get the numbers up. Many areas have lost their grey partridges but they hang, fairly well I think, around Crail. The only noticeable new arrivals, or passage birds, were meadow pipits that move north and inland during late March, and lots more gannets back to breed. It is now getting to the point that gannets are common again and indeed, Bass Rock is looking much whiter as more and more birds have come back.

More and more gannets are back every day

More and more gannets are back every day

As I cycled back into Crail this morning, very slowly straight into the wind, I was passed by a peregrine shooting over the airfield with the wind behind it, very low. It jinked a little higher to cross the road but continued like a bullet about a meter above the ground. What potential prey can do to avoid a peregrine moving like this – probably at about 50 miles an hour – as they hunker into, or fly against the wind I don’t really know. But then again the peregrine might just have been enjoying itself, as I had been on the way to Fife Ness at top speed with wind behind me a little earlier in the morning.

Posted March 16, 2014 by wildcrail in Sightings

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