Leave a comment

There was another day of easterly winds yesterday with heavy rain showers overnight. As a consequence I set out in hope for Fife Ness this morning. Kilminning had some new garden warblers to show that some more migrants had come in. There was then a common sandpiper on the tidal pool at Fife Ness: common sandpipers are hardly ever spring passage birds around Crail although in July there may several on the rocky shore around the harbour on their way south to Africa. It was strangely inactive, feeding sedately on the water’s edge as if tired. Common sandpipers are usually characterised by their nervous jerky behaviour coupled with a constant bobbing up and down of their tail. This bird was in slow motion and ignoring walkers and golfers alike.

The Patch was much more lively and I hit the migration jackpot, finally seeing a reed warbler for the Crail list. Reed warblers are not that common in Scotland and they are rare passage birds for Crail. Usually they turn up during ringing at Fife Ness because they are skulking and so more likely to be picked up when they fly into a mist net. I heard a snatch of song that I thought sounded like a reed warbler. I was a bit cautious because we expect the sedge warblers in any day now and they have a similar song. But I was fairly sure of my identification and sure enough I soon was watching a reed warbler moving through the bushes a few meters in front of me. Reed warblers are part of a group of uniformly brown birds that are really most distinctive by their song. Nevertheless there are a few features to check when you see one, like its warm brown colour, especially on the back and tail, to eliminate the very similar marsh warbler – that coincidentally turned up last May in exactly the same place in the patch. All was in order and safely added bird number 217 to my Crail list. It’s always a great day out when you add a new species. Reed warblers are easy to find in England, and probably turn up annually in Crail, but it has taken me 13 years to see one here: today’s bird was very special to me.

Reed warbler - bird species number 217 on the Crail list

Reed warbler – bird species number 217 on the Crail list

The big flock of garden warblers in the Patch last week had reduced to a couple but with the addition of a lesser whitethroat. Another good migrant to find. They are great indicator birds that something good is likely to be around. Having already found a reed warbler this sign was perhaps a bit redundant.

It brightened up in the afternoon and by the evening it was even fairly warm. Swallows seemed to be everywhere over the cow fields at the airfield and whimbrels were passing steadily over, whistling shrilly. I found a couple of new spotted flycatchers at Kilminning and a tree pipit at Balcomie to round off a nice spring migration day.

Posted May 10, 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