Week ending February 14th   Leave a comment



This week ended with more cold weather – ice on my pond most mornings, a raw south-easterly gale on Saturday and even snow showers on Sunday. There was much more of a focussed air to the birds as they concentrated on feeding. Food put out on bird tables or in feeders is particularly important now. There is quite a contrast between somewhere like Denburn where the small birds have access to food put for them, whether actually in the wood or in the gardens around it compared to the woodlots around Crail. The great tits in Denburn, for example, were singing most of the day this week – outside of Crail the search for food kept most of them silent except first thing in the morning. Feeding in gardens definitely makes a difference: birds nest earlier in gardens than in the countryside around urban areas. I have just put up a new feeder on the front of my house, stuck to the kitchen window and overlooking the High Street. Not a very favourable location but things started to visit after about three weeks. We now have robin, house sparrow and dunnock as regular visitors (and woodpigeons too if you count their foraging underneath). Dunnocks hardly ever get a mention in Wild Crail. The phrase “dull as a dunnock” springs to mind, but I like their shy unassuming ways. And as an urban success story they do well in even the tiniest gardens, flitting about unnoticed even where there is a huge amount of disturbance. Dunnocks look a bit like sparrows but are much greyer and warmer brown. They lack a strong face pattern so look very modest and appealing. There will be a dunnock in every garden in Crail but most will be overlooked as sparrows.

The lapwing flock that is around Crail this winter was resting all day in the newly ploughed field behind Hammer Inn on Tuesday. Their glossy emerald backs were catching the sunshine making the brown earth look like it was full of jewels. Probably a good thing no-one was driving the other way as it so distracted me on the way to work.

The fulmars enjoyed the gale of Saturday. They are becoming much more regular attendees on their nest sites around Crail. Castle Walk has its spring and summer slight whiff of rank fish oil again. Beautiful as fulmars are in many ways, it doesn’t apply to their smell.

Fulmars - a thing of beauty as long as you don't inhale

Fulmars – a thing of beauty as long as you don’t inhale

Shag - a survivor of the recent storms

Shag – a survivor of the recent storms

Despite the run of storms this winter there don’t seem to be too many fatalities. There is a dead partly eaten shag on the field below the doocote. It’s missing its head and feet so I can’t tell if it’s a local young bird ringed on the May this summer, but I suspect so. But apart from this obvious one, I have barely seen any corpses. It’s tricky to say for sure because sometimes many seabirds die but the currents and wind don’t bring the bodies to shore. Each year they count the shags on the May to get a better idea but some of the shags spread all over the North Sea coast during the winter so changes in their summer numbers don’t perfectly match the death due to local winter conditions. It has been pretty stormy everywhere though this winter. But the days are getting noticeably longer and it might even be raining less – roll on the spring.

Posted February 14, 2016 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

%d bloggers like this: