August 14th   Leave a comment

One of the tiny spiders that were everywhere this morning

One of the tiny spiders that were everywhere this morning

I had the day off today for my birthday – with the weather settling down at last and switching back to summer. I checked out the terns again at Kingsbarns this morning. About half the numbers of the weekend and no roseates, but still plenty of arctic and commons with a handful of sandwich terns. Two greenshank flew up from the beach – my first for this year and always a welcome sight. There were tiny spiders everywhere – parachuting on silken threads – and landing on every surface in sight (including my neck which is very distracting when trying to scrutinise terns through a telescope). The swallows and swifts were enjoying them though, even nearly landing on the leaves of the trees as they scooped them up. When I got back to Crail they were everywhere too, so there must be a simultaneous release of young spiders today just like the flying ants of last week.

I spent mid-afternoon seawatching at Fife Ness. The sea was flat calm and the earlier rain showers kept it cool so there was barely any heat haze. Just perfect conditions for seeing seabirds a long way out, although perhaps not windy enough to get them moving. It’s a trade-off and I can’t really complain because no waves and no wind are perfect for seeing cetaceans and today I hit the jackpot. Within a minute I picked up a minke whale. I got lucky and it surfaced in the patch of sea I was just scanning with my telescope. I tracked it for a couple of breaths – no visible spout, a long rolling back and then a large (larger than usual it seemed) back swept dorsal fin appearing before it disappeared completely under the water. I saw it, or another, two more times in the following hour. I suspect one was feeding in front of me all the time and those three occasions were just when where I was looking and the whale surfacing coincided. It’s always a bit mixed watching a whale – tremendously exciting to see this massive wild animal – but also a bit technical and frustrating – you only see the tip of the iceberg and then only for a fleeting second or two. But any whale, and on my birthday, is not bad. The birds were okay too. A couple more greenshank, a great skua, a whimbrel and 100 or so manx shearwaters.

Greenshank at Fife Ness

Greenshank at Fife Ness

Posted August 14, 2014 by wildcrail in Sightings

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