April 26th   Leave a comment

Third time lucky with a ring ouzel today. I chased one reported from Balcomie yesterday evening early this morning. It was still misty and raining. I could barely see the opposite end of the field where it had been seen so perhaps it was not surprising I didn’t find it. There was a flock of six bramblings high in the sycamores at Kilminning as a consolation. These finches were heading north to breed in Scandinavia and nearly in their full handsome black and orange breeding plumage. They were feeding alongside a couple of willow warblers and a blackcap – winter and summer visitors fuelling up together. I finally found the ring ouzel in the afternoon in the same field I had checked in the morning. It was a handsome male, occasionally obvious when looking for worms just like a blackbird in the middle of the field, but then very inconspicuous after flying to perch on the stone wall around the field or bushes in cottage gardens when disturbed.

Male ring ouzel

Male ring ouzel

Ring ouzels are good Crail birds. Some years we only have one or two. But today’s star bird was a raven. My first for Crail and a major east Fife rarity. There are a couple of pairs in west Fife, maybe one in the northeast, and of course they are fairly common in the Lothians and further north and west. But not around here: a legacy of the same persecution in intensive agricultural areas that removed buzzards from much of the east of Scotland until quite recently. I have been hoping for a raven in Crail for 11 years now and I was so thrilled to see one over the cowfield opposite the airfield this afternoon. When their huge size can’t be appreciated, their lanky more angular wings and long diamond shaped tail make them very distinctive. I watched it fly over with a huge grin on my face. A carrion crow was less thrilled and began chasing it as it flew off towards Wormiston. I look forward to pairs of ravens breeding back with us sometime in the future. In Scandinavia where they were not persecuted you find ravens all over farmland like Fife, along with red kites, another victim of the last two misguided centuries in Britain. Both are on their way back to Crail at last – I now look forward to my first Crail red kite.

Raven

Raven

Posted April 26, 2014 by wildcrail in Sightings

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