January 15th   Leave a comment

I spent a couple of hours at lunchtime carrying out a count along the shore for the BTO (British Trust for Ornithology). The BTO have been organising citizen scientists like me since 1932 to record what is happening with Britain’s birds. Originally it was just bird ringing but nowadays they count, map, monitor and record pretty much everything about the state of British Birds. Or at least their network of volunteers do and then they collate and publish the information so that Government and conservation bodies like the RSPB know where to focus conservation. I was counting the birds using the shore between Kilminning and Balcomie. A fairly quiet bit of shore but even the less exciting bits have to be counted. I tallied up 27 redshanks, 33 oystercatchers, 10 turnstone, 2 curlew, 1 sanderling and best of all 16 purple sandpipers. There were the usual shags, comorants and eiders with a couple of red-breasted mergansers and a wigeon, and a good total of 4 grey heron. Put down in print it seems like a good lot, but I will have missed more than I saw – rocky shores have so many hiding places – and there were many sections without anything to be seen.

Grey heron - they have to be rocky shore birds around Crail

Grey heron – they have to be rocky shore birds around Crail

On my walk to the start of the count I walked through the stubble field behind Saucehope and flushed 19 grey partridge. A really good number and a great size flock for partridges to survive the winter. The more individuals in a group the less time each one needs to spend looking out for predators while still maintaining a high chance of spotting one in time to escape (“many eyes…”). This means more time for feeding and so a better chance of not starving in cold weather (as well as avoiding getting eaten themselves). The Crail partridges continue to do well I think. And my year list too – no. 97.

Grey partridges near Crail - there's always one on the lookout in a big flock -  no. 97 for the year list too.

Grey partridges near Crail – there’s always one on the lookout in a big flock – no. 97 for the year list too.

Posted January 15, 2016 by wildcrail in Sightings

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