April 26th   Leave a comment

Last night was perfectly clear and cold with light winds so a lot of the willow warblers and blackcaps from yesterday left. There were still a couple left in Denburn this morning. I watched one willow warbler feeding in the rape field between Crail and Wormiston. The field is flowering and full of insects. It is a great crop for birds. Often migrants turn up at the edge of them to take advantage of the insect bonanza and later on in May it is always worth checking the edges of any rape field for red-backed shrikes. The willow warbler looked a little out of place foraging in the field and soon returned to the top of a hawthorn in an adjacent copse. It gave a little burst of song as it resumed perhaps more safe foraging in the canopy – one of the nicest sounds of spring.

I finally tracked down a moorhen for my Crail year list. The pond up at Wormiston is a perfect place and I finally saw one skulking along the edge of it. Moorhens in parks and towns can be very brave and completely ignore people but I find our local moorhens much shyer. They will freeze and hide behind vegetation until you leave making them very hard to see.

The last remaining stubble fields are getting ploughed up but one still remains at the first bend on the St Andrews road out of Crail. This field has been full of birds all winter and remains a useful resource. Today it had a flock of about 60 meadow pipits in it: more migrants and usually hard to spot as such because they are also residents and winter visitors here. This exceptionally large flock could only be on their way north. They were sharing the field with a flock of thirty linnets. The linnets are probably breeding around Crail and do so semi-colonially so they can still form flocks even in the summer.

Meadow pipit

Meadow pipit

The swallows have now arrived in sufficient numbers that every field has one skimming low over it. I watched one tracking a hare as it ran away from me through a wheat field. I have watched swallows following cows and sheep to catch the flies they kick up or that buzz around any large animal and have even been lucky enough to watch them doing the same with elephants and zebra in East Africa. It seemed to be the same principle with the hare. It must have been pushing up small flies and the swallow kept pace with the hare, passing just above it in a rapid to and fro zig-zag as if it was sewing a giant buttonhole through the field.

Why is a brown hare like a zebra?

Why is a brown hare like a zebra?

Posted April 26, 2015 by wildcrail in Sightings

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