January 29th   Leave a comment

The stonechat at Balcomie feeding around the kelp on the beach because of the frosty weather

The stonechat at Balcomie feeding around the kelp on the beach because of the frosty weather

And today back to an East Neuk best; frost overnight and a cold beautiful, sunny day with little wind. The ice and frozen ground first thing has pushed everything to the coast. I passed through empty fields on my way to Balcomie but as soon as I was at the shore there were birds everywhere. The pair of stonechats resident at the end of Balcomie Golf Course were on the kelp piles in the strandline, feeding on the ground like robins. The seaweed piles were unfrozen and are full of flies and maggots for a hungry stonechat compared to the still and sterile frosty grass just above it. There were a lot of starlings and rock pipits enjoying the best feeding available as well.

Although the shore was full of birds it was very quiet. In colder weather birds don’t waste energy making a lot of noise. The only regular sounds were the angry alarm calls of the redshanks as I flushed those close to the coastal path. Redshanks really make a fuss when people flush them. The call is mostly aimed at telling the “predator” (the person) that they have been spotted and there is really no point trying to catch the redshank as the element of surprise has been lost. I think they also let the other redshanks around them know that they are leaving their territory because of a disturbance, rather than abandoning it, so dissuading a competitor from moving in, in their absence. When redshanks are attacked seriously – like yesterday’s sparrowhawk attack – they just get out of the way and don’t call until they are safely in the air, if they call at all. We notice when redshanks make a fuss but not when they don’t, so you get the false impression that they are very noisy alarm callers.



Posted January 29, 2017 by wildcrail in Sightings

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