Week ending February 28th   Leave a comment

It does finally look like we have shaken off the rainy season – hopefully now fairly dry and sunny at least until May. With El Nino still in effect we may even extend the dry season until July if we are lucky. Regardless, a lot of this week has been beautiful and sunny with little wind. Frosty starts for sure but with real warmth in the sun by mid-morning. The birds are appreciating it. After the ice has melted from my garden pond each day there has been a steady parade of house sparrows, blackbirds and the occasional dunnock having a bath in the sunshine. If there is time to bath then things must be easy. The wrens and even the goldcrests have been singing this week as well also showing that things are good.

I finally got my 100th species for the Crail year list – a common snipe – feeding in a reedy dip in a field up by the secret bunker. I have been tramping across boggy field corners for the last 2 months hoping to flush a snipe and on Sunday I got lucky. Snipe literally explode up beneath your feet and accelerate away furiously making a distinctive squelching call. Their short tail, rounded body and of course their ridiculously long bill make them very distinctive as they zoom away. Snipe then often make a high circle around you waiting for you to move on so you can appreciate these features. When you have gone they make a very steep, fast dive back down to the ground, often straight back to where you flushed them from.

Common snipe

Common snipe

On Saturday at Fife Ness there were noticeably many more gannets. Their numbers are building up fast now. When you scan the horizon there are tens of gannets to be seen now. In another 2-3 weeks it will be hundreds. There was also a small passage of red-throated divers flying past.

On Sunday I cycled up to Carnbee Reservoir enjoying the view (at least on the Forth side) all the way. Skylarks and yellowhammers were singing and the usual wildfowl festival awaited me at the reservoir at the top of the hill. 6 whooper swans now – another adult pair joining the family of 4 that have been there off and on since the New Year and more than 100 wigeon and tufted duck, in about equal numbers, with teal, mallard and goldeneye scattered among them. As I cycled back to Crail via the low road I lamented that the reservoir is just about the only permanent local bit of water to attract waders. The field pools are now almost all gone – a week of dry weather is all we need for that. The pool at Troustie House has now also been drained – leaving behind a fairly useless and unused bit of damp pasture – I expect there was a grant involved. Almost all of the “environmental improvements” that are impoverishing us all in wildlife terms on farmland are fueled by perverse subsidies. I have to stomach both the reduction in my quality of life each year as Fife heads towards a completely industrial famed landscape and the fact that I help pay for it. Oh well, keep looking out to the Forth.

Whooper swan - 6 up at Carnbee this week

Whooper swan – 6 up at Carnbee this week

On a more cheerful note. I put up some bird boxes this week. A tit box (small hole – the “typical” nestbox) and a robin box which has an open front. My resident robin at the top of the garden was converted into a pathetic pile of feathers by the local sparrowhawk a couple of weeks ago, but there is another still around the bottom. I will keep my fingers crossed for both. Holes in trees are in short supply in Crail so I have high hopes for the tit box at least. More Crail blue and coal tits nest in holes in walls than holes in trees I should think.

Posted February 28, 2016 by wildcrail in Sightings

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