September 11th   Leave a comment

The winds have been south-easterly for three days now and when you look at a global wind map (have a look at http://earth.nullschool.net/#current/wind/surface/level/orthographic=-359.52,46.88,289) the wind is blowing straight from central Asia to Crail. Birds started to appear on the May Island yesterday and this morning there was a red-backed shrike reported from Boarhills. I stopped off there on my way back from work and although I couldn’t find the shrike, I did see two whinchats. A great indication of migrant birds being around – we only ever get whinchats when there are other good species about. Whinchats are surprisingly rare on passage in the East Neuk and I have only see a handful here. I usually see them in Africa now. Whinchats have declined massively all over Western Europe and have disappeared as breeders from many areas – Fife included. My last whinchats were in Nigeria last November when I was recatching birds with geolocator tags on them. It’s great to see these African birds perched again on a Fife stone wall rather than an acacia bush and it made up for missing the shrike. I wasn’t too surprised to miss the shrike though. It was pretty windy today and young shrikes tend to stay inconspicuously within bushes and feed like big warblers in these conditions.

A whinchat in Nigeria on a maize stem - a long way from the wheat field I saw them in at Boarhills today, but pretty much the same thing if you are a whinchat I think

A whinchat in Nigeria on a maize stem (actually a geolocator bird from my research – you can just see the tag sticking up from this bird’s back) – a long way from the wheat field I saw them in at Boarhills today, but pretty much the same thing if you are a whinchat I think

I biked down to Fife Ness to see if there were any other migrants around. The wind made it difficult but I tracked down a pied and a spotted flycatcher (again good indicator birds of other rare birds being about) and best of all a yellow wagtail. My first for the Crail list, taking my total up to 220 species now. It has been good for migrant yellow wagtails through Crail this year with 3 days so far when they have been seen in the area. I finally had my turn. I remembered to check through the pied wagtails on the golf course at Balcomie and sure enough there was a juvenile yellow wagtail on a fairway. Just as with the whinchats, I see yellow wagtails now mostly in Africa and it was lovely to see one Scotland where they are always a special bird.

A yellow wagtail - one of my photos of a bird in Nigeria - they are birds of acacia studded African farmland to me, not Scottish golf courses

A yellow wagtail – again one of my photos of a bird in Nigeria – they are birds of acacia studded African farmland to me, not Scottish golf courses

Posted September 11, 2015 by wildcrail in Sightings

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