February 7th   Leave a comment

It’s easy to overlook pigeons. Like gulls relegated to seagulls, without specific names it is easy just to imagine that they are all the same and miss the variety. We have four species of pigeon in Crail: woodpigeons, rock doves (now relegated to “feral pigeon” after long domestication and then return to the wild), collared doves and stock doves. It’s not uncommon to have all four species in a Crail garden. The first three species most people can recognise if they bother to look beyond – “oh it’s a pigeon”. Woodpigeons are large and with a big white bar on the wing and white bars on the neck. Feral pigeons/rock doves are familiar to everyone as the archetypal pigeon with two black bars on the wing, a white rump and green gloss on the neck. And collared doves are small, pale beige and have a black ring about the neck. The joker in the pack is the stock dove. An intermediate between wood and feral pigeon but characteristic enough when you get your eye in. And they are surprisingly common around Crail when you do. The key thing to look for is a very neat looking grey pigeon without any distinctive features; it’s bizarrely the lack of characters that identifies it. In flight the absence of any white easily rules out wood and feral pigeons and a stock dove’s wing does have very black flight feathers making at least one presence character to use to identify them. Stock doves nest in holes in trees and there are a couple of pairs at least in Denburn and in every stand of trees in the farmland around Crail. I hear them every time I pass Denburn at the moment – a hoarse, deep, quite fast repeat of “wher – hoo”.

Not just a pigeon - a stock dove

Not just a pigeon – a stock dove

The winds have continued from the south most of the week. There is a good swell up now and fishing will be difficult for the shags that feed close inshore in the cloudy, turbulent water.

Herring gull above the swell

Herring gull above the swell

Posted February 7, 2017 by wildcrail in Sightings

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