August 10th   Leave a comment

There were some roseate terns among the hundreds of arctic terns at Kingsbarns this weekend. The terns are all roosting on the beach when not disturbed by dog walkers and can be seen best early in the morning before the beach gets too busy. The rest of the time the terns are out on the rocks and it’s tricky to tell the different species apart – even with a telescope. This morning I saw at least two roseates, including a distinctive juvenile. Although it was difficult seeing them I could hear them calling much more easily – a clear “kee – wick” – obviously a tern but quite different from the squeaky calls of the arctics or longer drawn out complaining calls of the common terns. Roseate terns are rare breeders in the UK and are more usually found on tropical islands. There is a small colony that breeds by the Forth Road Bridge in some summers and larger colonies in Northumberland, Wales and Ireland. They come up to hang around the Forth in late summer after breeding as do all the other species. This morning it was a treat to see four species: roseate, common, arctic and sandwich all side by side. I expect them to all be here for most of August so they are worth looking out for, close to the car park at Kingsbarns Beach, over the next few weeks.

Adult roseate tern

Adult roseate tern

Canary-shouldered thorn moth

Canary-shouldered thorn moth

As I walked back into the village from Kingsbarns Beach, just as the rain set in, I was lucky to see what I thought was a sparrowhawk perched on a post alongside the cow field. A closer look revealed it to be a cuckoo – a young bird on its way to Africa for the first time. The adults left in July and many will be already back in central Africa. Cuckoos really underline the fact that most migrants find their way to Africa totally on their own, without any guidance or any parents to follow. The cuckoo was flying down to pick up caterpillars from the grass and refuelling for the next leg of its journey.

August is great for month for moth trapping and I have been getting quite a range in my garden this year. This morning’s highlight was a canary-shouldered thorn.

Posted August 10, 2014 by wildcrail in Sightings

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