September 12th   Leave a comment

It has been an interesting day – gales at times, with a big sea and waves crashing into Fife Ness, with occasional rain showers. The wind remains easterly so everything is still in place for some migrants to turn up tomorrow. There was no real sign of them by this afternoon though: just a pied flycatcher still at the Patch, a couple of willow warblers at Kilminning, and two northern wheatears on Balcomie Beach. The passage at sea was much more exciting. Hundreds of birds passing every few minutes: gannets, kittiwakes, fulmars and all three auks. Surprisingly quite a few juvenile puffins, probably hundreds if I had bothered to count all day – I hardly ever see juveniles after they all fledge in late summer and even then not many. Every so often a red-throated diver, sandwich, common and arctic terns, sooty and manx shearwaters and arctic skuas would go by to liven it up. But it was sheer spectacle day rather than a day of unusual birds. I sat in the hide at Fife Ness this afternoon as it creaked in the gusty wind looking over the huge waves – so large that every so often my whole view of the sea would disappear as one broke over the rocks directly in front of the hide. At times it felt like I was going to be washed away. The seabirds were passing so close that my binoculars were more than sufficient.

Juvenile puffin - unusually lots past Crail today heading north

Juvenile puffin – unusually lots past Crail today heading north

Kingfisher - on my Crail list at last. No. 221

Kingfisher – on my Crail list at last. No. 221

Balcomie Beach was also alive. 50 dunlin with redshank, sanderling, ringed plover, bar-tailed godwit, turnstone, a golden plover and a couple of whimbrel feeding along the strandline with the pied wagtails and rock pipits. There was a small roost of sandwich and common terns on the beach. In the surging surf eiders and a hundred gulls of four species were picking up the seaweed fly maggots as they got washed out of the piles of seaweed on the strandline. And as the background, the stream of seabirds and the wild waves. And then suddenly a bolt of electric blue flying along the sea: my first ever Crail kingfisher (no. 221 for the Crail list). I have seen many kingfishers around St Andrews and the Eden and I have looked for them after they have been seen on the Dreel Burn at Anstruther, but one for the Crail list has been elusive. Kingfishers are always special, but against a grey sea and as a Crail bird at last, this was very special.

Posted September 12, 2015 by wildcrail in Sightings

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