September 7th   Leave a comment

It was another quiet morning out at Balcomie and Fife Ness today. There were a few dunlins around Balcomie beach. They were flickering round nervously in a small flock from high tide rock to high tide rock. Much less an easy target for a peregrine than the single knot on the beach at high tide earlier in the week. I checked them out carefully for curlew sandpipers – which have obvious square white rumps rather than a thick black bar through the middle – because there is a major passage of them at the moment through the UK. There have been 6 up at the Eden Estuary, for example, this weekend.

Flock of dunlins at Balcomie

Flock of dunlins at Balcomie

Everything at sea from Fife Ness was miles out apart from the sandwich terns. Every few minutes a flock of 5 – 10 birds would pass out of the Forth noisily. I really don’t understand the movements of sandwich terns – some days they are all heading into the Forth and others they are all leaving it. One theory is that sandwich terns move around the coast (or even the North sea from the Netherlands to Germany to Northumberland) to see which colonies have fared well and so to inform their choice of breeding colony the following year. What bothers me about this apparently sensible idea is that – if everyone is moving around and looking to see whether there are lots of young birds in some areas than others then who is staying at home to provide the reliable information? My theory is that the adults are showing their juveniles round. The young birds of the year are still following their parents but are not being fed fish very much if at all. But perhaps they are being fed information that will allow the young to find good feeding areas the following year and the location of the breeding colonies.

Juvenile sandwich tern - prospecting?

Juvenile sandwich tern – prospecting?

Posted September 7, 2014 by wildcrail in Sightings

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