October 19th   Leave a comment

This weekend the wind has gone round to the west and today we have a howling gale blowing through Crail. The wind is surreally warm so it doesn’t feel as bad as usual. But it’s bad enough to disrupt the birding. Wrong direction and too strong to see anything except in a few sheltered spots. At Kilminning the goldcrests were congregating in the lee of the trees. The blackbirds and redwings were more exposed, drawn out to the treetops for the berries. Despite the week of easterlies Friday morning brought nothing new in; Saturday was very quiet too and today there was no sign of anything apart from what was brought in in the middle of last week. I watched a chiff-chaff among a group of goldcrests, looking at it long and hard trying to make it something more exotic. It’s a chiff-chaff’s lot I’m afraid. Always looked at in hope for something more exciting but then never appreciated when identified. This one was a very brown and grey individual so may well have come from the east. Not much of a consolation for my anticipation of this weekend being the “big” one of the autumn.

Sparrowhawk - also enjoying the influx of blackbirds

Sparrowhawk – also enjoying the influx of blackbirds

Denburn is getting easier to see things in as the wind strips the leave away. There were some long-tailed tits in with the more usual tits and goldcrests this morning. As well as the return of long-tailed tits there was also a grey squirrel or two about. With the wind making it very hard to hear and see things the sparrowhawks were making merry. It must be a nightmare for small birds when it gets very windy because their usual early warning system of alarm calls doesn’t function and there are so many things moving to hide an approaching predator. The blackbirds are taking most of the sparrowhawk’s attention – I am seeing a couple of attacks every time out. Blackbirds are so abundant just now, are a nice size and are often out in the open making them the best prey for sparrowhawks. There is a probably a glut for sparrowhawks when the thrushes come in every year. The blue tits can probably breathe a sigh of relief for this short period when the sparrowhawks’ attention is elsewhere. Even on such a windy day.

One thing I have noticed this week as I toured the parish looking for rarities is the unusually large numbers of magpies this year. Whoever or whatever has been keeping the magpies in check has relaxed this summer and it looks like that several pairs have bred successfully at Crail, the airfield, Kilminning, Balcomie and Fife Ness. There are at least 4 and maybe 5 separate small flocks to be seen, I assume the adults with their young of this year.

Magpie - much commoner around Crail this autumn

Magpie – much commoner around Crail this autumn


Posted October 19, 2014 by wildcrail in Sightings

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