October 25th   Leave a comment


A juvenile gannet on the lookout for fish

A fish spotted

A fish spotted

This week there has been an interesting contrast at sea. If you have been looking out there these last two weeks it will have seemed pretty similar – strong winds and rough seas. The contrast is in the wind direction. Up until the end of last week we had strong easterlies and since we have had strong westerlies. The result is a huge decrease in the number of seabirds passing Crail. One evening this week I looked out and saw only two gannets in ten minutes rather than the 200 of a week before. The same is true for kittiwakes. There has still been a steady passage of auks to and fro all week. Today at Fife Ness I had a juvenile pomarine skua going south like a rocket well out to sea, soaring sideways into the wind in loops that made it appear and disappear in big arcs on the horizon. This is “dynamic soaring” that the bigger seabirds do, looping down and up and travelling hundreds of miles in a day with barely a wing beat. Apart from this pom nothing else of great note this week. No little gulls or shearwaters (not even fulmars still!).

A fish targeted!

A fish targeted!

This afternoon I went out to Anstruther to look for a couple of Mediterranean gulls reported yesterday evening. It was very windy and I only managed to track down the usual. But it was nice watching the black-headed gulls behaving like storm petrels – kiting into the wind and trailing their feet just into the water to stabilise themselves and then picking up small prey from the surface of the sea. As I was in Anstruther I checked out all the redshanks for any of my colour-ringed birds. There is one, LLLR (Lime over Lime on the left leg and Lime over Red on the right), that moved to Cellardyke the winter after I first caught it (as an adult) in the harbour in Crail. It’s been over there for two winters now so I think it has changed its wintering territory for good. Most of the redshanks I mark in Crail stay here for the rest of their life, although birds in the first year sometimes disappear a few weeks after I catch them (I may have made them feel insecure about Crail as a safe place…). It is hard to say if a bird disappears whether it has moved or died. Anything that moves further away than Anstruther is unlikely to be resighted. I suspect at least one or two of the other adults that have apparently died have just moved elsewhere in the Forth, but by and large I think this is unusual. It is much better to stick with where you know and any adult moving will have to find space in another place that will already likely be full of other redshanks. I didn’t find LLLR but coincidentally John Anderson did, complete with photo. It was roosting on the very high tide in the churchyard at Anstruther – all the usual sites were completely covered and it is very sheltered there. Probably not the safest place with respect to cats and sparrowhawks but yesterday there will have been few options out of the wind at high tide.

The Crail redshank that has moved to live in Anstruther.

The Crail redshank that has moved to live in Anstruther.

Posted October 26, 2014 by wildcrail in Sightings

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