August 22nd   Leave a comment

As I left Crail on my way to work this morning a falcon dashed across the road and headed upwards in a characteristic determined flight – a merlin, probably chasing a skylark. They have a particular paced look when they hunt skylarks which makes sense when some hunts can involve minutes of sustained chasing. August is a best time to see merlins around Crail and a short walk across any of the fields between Crail and Kingsbarns or Anstruther is quite likely to turn one up, although when they perch (and they do that a lot) they are hard to spot. I usually have one or two sightings of merlins passing through my garden in August so it’s worth watching out for them anywhere. There are plenty of sparrowhawks and kestrels about the town as well though.

Merlin

Merlin

On my way back from work I stopped off at the co-op at Anstruther to check the ploughed field behind it where a Mediterranean gull had been seen mid-afternoon. There was a big flock of mixed gulls roosting in the middle of the field and I checked through it carefully. Med gulls are very distinctive as adults – almost pure white with a bright red bill – but it took a bit of looking before I spotted it amongst the black-headed and herring gulls. At one point the whole flock took flight making it much easier to pick out. Most gulls have some black in their wings but Mediterranean gulls are all white apart from the usual “seagull” pale wash of grey on the upper surface. This is quite useful when they are on the ground in a flock too because they look odd, like they are missing the tips of their wings. Mediterranean gulls used to be much rarer but they have been spreading in the last 30 years north and west. Still they are rare visitors to Crail and this was my first one in a couple of years – a welcome number 141 for the Crail year list. On my way back to the co-op I saw a wheatear in the same ploughed field (and heard of another two at West Braes beach this afternoon). Surprisingly there were none over the weekend. Perhaps these are Scottish birds brought to us by a more west wind and the showers overnight.

Mediterranean gull - an adult in winter plumage having lost its black hood. No. 141 for the Crail year list.

Mediterranean gull – an adult in winter plumage having lost its black hood. No. 141 for the Crail year list.

 

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Posted August 22, 2016 by wildcrail in Sightings

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