January 14th   Leave a comment

Some proper winter weather at last. Temperatures below freezing at night and ice and snow. Crail as usual has only got the lightest of covering. Today there was a classic winter high pressure bit of weather, little wind and very bright low sun. And coupled with the swell from the gales at the end of the week and the very high tide making the surf hitting Balcomie Beach huge and right up to the dune grass – there really was no beach left – it really was a nice day to be out. North Sea storm surges are a wonderful thing if you can watch them rolling into a beach on a sunny afternoon rather than coming into your front garden. The shorebirds were all forced off the beach at high tide onto the few remaining rocks at Fife Ness. I counted at least 25 purple sandpipers, 60 redshanks with good numbers of curlew, oystercatchers, sanderling, turnstone and dunlin as well roosting there. The black-headed and common gulls were in their hundreds in the surf however, feeding on the sandhoppers and seaweed flies washed out of the submerged strand line.

Roosting purple sandpipers

Roosting purple sandpipers

The cold weather has brought in a lot of skylarks from inland to the relatively milder and snow free fields around Crail. There is a particularly large flock – maybe as many as 200 – in the first stubble field that has been partially seeded with wheat on the footpath from Balcomie Caravan Park to Wormiston. Yesterday I thought I heard a lapland bunting among them and today with a bit of closer inspection and flushing the flock a bit I had good views of at least one flying around me and heard a couple of calls. But it was a classic lapland bunting, only flushing at close distance but atypically barely calling which is the main thing I rely on to find them. It is not particularly unusual to have a lapland bunting around Crail mid-winter, one is picked up pretty much every year, but I suspect, like jack snipe, there are many more than are ever found. Still a good bird for the year list (no. 93, after also picking up a redwing flying over Denburn and a flock of lapwing over Pinkerton today).

There are large numbers of skyalrks in the fields around Crail just now because of the cold weather

There are large numbers of skyalrks in the fields around Crail just now because of the cold weather

Posted January 14, 2017 by wildcrail in Sightings

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