February 7th   Leave a comment

On Wednesday night I was walking down Marketgate back home when I heard the quavering hoot of a tawny owl from Denburn. If you live close to Denburn or Beech Walk Park then you will hear the hoots a lot during late winter – they sound like someone pretending to be an owl more than a real owl – or their “kee-wik” shrieks in autumn. My house is just far enough away on the High Street that the road and traffic noise is enough that I can’t quite hear them calling. I could just hear this one until the Town Hall but no further. If I am ever to get a tawny owl on my garden list – just another 120 meters further on – then I will need either a really noisy owl or a very quiet night. Tawny owls do wander away from the woods and I have seen them silhouetted against a bright moon on chimney tops, but you have to be very lucky. A calling owl is much easier to notice. It made me realise just how noisy even quiet Crail is. There was no wind on Wednesday and it was just the rumble and swish of cars that drowned the owl. Urban tawny owls probably have to call more loudly or more often to compensate: they have shown that nightingales in the noisier parts of Berlin sing more loudly (and they are pretty loud to start with) so I bet this applies to tawny owls too.

Male tufted duck

Male tufted duck

This Saturday afternoon I went up to the reservoir at Carnbee (by Kellie Law). It was fairly still which made the cold up there tolerable. The reservoir was full of wildfowl, 50 or so tufted ducks, half as many coots, goldeneye, mallard, wigeon and teal, a flock of greylag geese, a pair of mute swans and a single little grebe. A lake full of birds is a joy to behold. By the time you have checked everything then you can start again, and there are always birds leaving and arriving to keep it interesting. It took 20 minutes or so before I saw a little grebe; they spend so much time under the water that you have to be looking at just the right spot when they surface. The coots were very noisy, with a pair fighting with such intensity that I thought one bird was going to be drowned. The loser did finally escape, although it was a close run thing. Behind the reservoir was a flock of several hundred starling with about 40 fieldfares feeding in a newly sprouted winter wheat field. A stonechat along a fence line was a final good bird. It can’t have been too cold over the last couple of weeks if there is still a stonechat up at Kellie Law. If you too can put up with the cold wind up there then it is well worth a trip up to Carnbee: it’s not a massive spectacle, but it’s the only freshwater wildfowl show we have on our immediate doorstep.

A coot in aggressive mode launching itself at a rival.

A coot in aggressive mode launching itself at a rival.

Posted February 8, 2015 by wildcrail in Sightings

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: