May 2nd   Leave a comment

The arctic terns came back today. There was a steady stream past Crail and Fife Ness this morning. Small groups mostly but one large flock of over 50. As I scanned through this flock as it passed the Ness I picked up two smaller birds flying just above the waves, keeping pace with the terns in a characteristic belting flight– all black but with a square white rump and a faint bit of white on the wings occasionally glimpsed – a couple of storm petrels. Great birds to see anytime or anywhere but quite unexpected today. I would have missed them if I hadn’t been zooming in on the terns through my telescope. Storm petrels are regular in mid-summer but never seen because they are nocturnal (unless you mist-net them at night). But we have had two periods since I have been living in Crail when there have been many storm petrels feeding around Crail during the day in early summer. And they are seen passing the Ness every year although usually in stormy autumn weather. So perhaps not so unexpected. I have been putting in the hours at Fife Ness this year as well.

There are still a lot of whimbrels down at Balcomie and Fife Ness. Four today with a bar-tailed godwit nearly in its full brick red and silver grey breeding plumage. I also saw my first common whitethroat of the year, singing in a half-hearted fashion in a usual spot by the old cottage below The Patch. That with the arctic terns, the storm petrels and my first manx shearwater of the year passing the Ness well out to sea increased the Crail year list spectacularly by 4 today – I’m now up to 124 and have moved over a month ahead of my record year in 2012.

Arctic terns

Arctic terns – the first of the summer came past Crail today

Posted May 2, 2016 by wildcrail in Sightings

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