September 3rd   3 comments

For every weekend during autumn migration that has good birds there are several that don’t. The winds have been from the west all week and today was calm and warm and sunny, a lovely day in nearly all respects. There was a lot of what we call visible migration – flocks of meadow pipits flying high overhead following the coast south (although this is westerly as they pass over Crail). There were flocks of swallows and martins doing the same but much lower, feeding over the stubble and shore as they went. Apart from the one-way direction of all the birds I saw today, there were quite a few sand martins among the house martins to show that these were not just the local birds.

I walked along the coast to Caiplie Caves this morning in search of some twite heard there a couple of days ago – a good bird for the year list. I found lots of goldfinches and a few linnets but no twite – they are rare winter and passage visitors to Crail and I haven’t seen any for the last few years. There were a few wheatears which seem to be a permanent fixture this autumn. It was the same at Fife Ness in the afternoon; quiet but some wheatears. A sea watch from the Ness resulted in just one manx shearwater in over an hour. But there were some arctic and common terns fishing well out, and a red-throated diver, a knot and at least four whimbrel passing.

Whimbrels passing the Ness on the way to Africa

Whimbrels passing the Ness on the way to Africa

Despite it being September I saw a yellowhammer and a blackbird gathering food to feed chicks. These may be well fledged but maybe not: both species will keep going as long as the weather is good and particularly if they have had a bad season with lots of nest failures beforehand.

Yellowhammer - some still feeding chicks even though it is September

Yellowhammer – some still feeding chicks even though it is September

Posted September 3, 2016 by wildcrail in Sightings

3 responses to “September 3rd

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  1. Hi Will, sorry, another random question: we keep hearing an owl at night (?tawny owl), here in central Crail (we sleep with the window open, and towards St Andrews Rd). Would you know where the owl is based? Quite a bit further away? I suppose you can hear things a long way at night, when it’s quiet.

    Have a good start to the semester,
    Christine and Kees, Bank House, Crail

    • The owl is a tawny owl and it nests behind the Kirk or in Denburn so not too far away from you. I can just hear it hooting or “kerwick” calling from my house, a bit further away than you, on a quiet night. We also get barn owls coming through Crail from the neighbouring farms during an evening but they are silent away from the nest.

      • Thanks Will. (In medieval England, owls’ hooting thought to be a warning against evil, and dead owls hung up as scarecrows in fields).

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