May 11th   Leave a comment

The wind has continued easterly making nearly a week of it. Great weather if a bit cold and that is the problem. We need some overnight rain showers to bring the migrants down. The May Island has been getting great birds since the weekend, but few have been reaching us. Today the May had a citrine wagtail, a bluethroat and a red-backed shrike, yesterday a thrush nightingale and a wryneck. I wish I had a boat. My Crail list would be growing daily. I have been trying around Crail of course, just in case. On Monday morning I got up at half five to check Kilminning after a weekend of migrants I had missed (I was away). A lovely sunny morning and full of birds but all of the migrants of Sunday (whinchat, tree pipit, spotted flycatcher and lesser whitethroat) had departed overnight. I think when we have good winds but clear weather any migrants just stop off for the afternoon. You have to be quick to connect up with them. A good spell of dull rainy weather will stop migrants for longer in the spring. In the autumn birds are not in such a hurry and some migrants may stay around for weeks.

At lunchtime today I went back out to Kilminning for another search. I heard what I thought was a garden warbler down at the south end and put on some playback to lure it out. A brown bird came out of a dense rose bush and as I got my binoculars on it I saw it was a reed or marsh warbler. I immediately noticed its shape was a bit different from the usual reed warbler, a stouter bill and a rounder head, although still the charactflattened long body shape. The underparts were also dirty yellowish contrasting with the warm brown back, and it had a clear eye ring, more pronounced than the paler line in front of the eye (the lores). These are all characters of a marsh warbler – a great Crail bird and only my second one (although the same is true for reed warbler). I switched my playback to marsh warbler, and reed warbler and then even a few rarer similar species. But it had lost interest and apart from a few further brief glimpses I didn’t see it again. You best identify marsh warblers by catching them or hearing their song. The characters I observed are all subjective so my identification is far from certain. But a reed warbler type (birders refer to them as Acros or Acrocephalus warblers – a large genus of nearly identical brown birds that are only really distinctive when they sing). And a new bird for the Crail year list. I will put it down as a marsh warbler (no. 127 for the year list) because that’s what I think it was (and even if it was a reed warbler either species is new this year). I won’t get my sighting accepted as an official Fife record however.

The wind shifted more to the north in the afternoon.This pushed the seabirds in close to Crail this evening as they passed us in the lee of the shore. An endless stream of gannets and auks past in the evening sunlight.

Some of the thousands of guillemots that have been passing back and forth close to Crail this week

Some of the thousands of guillemots that have been passing back and forth close to Crail this week

Posted May 11, 2016 by wildcrail in Sightings

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