August 3rd   Leave a comment

At least when August gets here there is no pretence that the summer is still to come. Autumn is only a few weeks ahead and breeding is over for almost everything. The residents are taking it easy with a few species taking their annual “holidays”. The jackdaws and many of the rooks have decamped to the beaches like the starlings did a month ago. House sparrows have moved out to the ripening wheat fields. When I was growing up and house sparrows were much more common the August flocks involved hundreds of birds. Now I am lucky if I find a flock of fifty and most are smaller than twenty. Those fields that have already been harvested and also the drying out rape fields are then a magnet for swallows and martins. The insects left in the stubble fields are easier to catch and rape fields are really good for insects even before harvest.

I walked from Kingsbarns back to Crail this morning. I counted over 500 arctic terns on the rocks in four large flocks. They were mostly juveniles which really reinforces that they have definitely had a good breeding year. Out at sea there were the same number of adults fishing close in and further out to the horizon to blend in with the gannets and kittiwakes (and a single distant great skua), with some coming back every so often  with a fish for their offspring. There were a handful of common and sandwich terns but this year is the year of arctic terns.

Arctic tern juvenile being fed by an adult - part of the large post-breeding flocks on the rocks between Fife Ness and Kingsbarns just now

Arctic tern juvenile being fed by an adult – part of the large post-breeding flocks on the rocks between Fife Ness and Kingsbarns just now

The migrants are coming back now. There were 10 turnstones on the rocks with the terns by Kingsbarn’s beach car park. Further down the beach a whistling whimbrel, a common sandpiper and a couple of knots, still with their pinky red breeding underparts. Yesterday I recorded another four of my colour-ringed redshanks back in Crail making 10 back so far for the winter. The first juveniles are back too at least four, standing out with their neatly spotted backs. As the adults laze about and seem to spend most of the time roosting in the sun, the juveniles keep feeding. Their priority is to learn how and where to survive the winter and how to fit in with their new neighbours, whereas the adults’ priority is just to save energy and wear and tear – they already know their place and their trade.

Post-breeding knot on its way back to Africa

Post-breeding knot on its way back to Africa

Posted August 3, 2014 by wildcrail in Sightings

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s