May 25th   Leave a comment

More corn bunting survey today during a cycle in to St Andrews to work and back. There were new corn buntings singing to mark on the map all the way up to Boarhills, which spectacularly had three singing around the disused kirk. But then a corn bunting conundrum. There were at least 15 corn buntings on the wires across a large pasture field at Cambo Farm, with three males singing at the three of the edges. How many breeding corn buntings is that? Are there still roving flocks of birds that haven’t settled into territories to breed yet? Confusing but good – there really are a lot of corn buntings around this year.

The wheat and barley is starting to grow tall now hiding many things in the fields. Skylarks are invisible under the surface until they pop up for a song flight. Even the hares are being swallowed up. I don’t know whether a hare feels safer in the open when it can see things coming, or in a high crop where nothing can see it.

Brown hare

There were a lot of migrants well established along my route today: common whitethroats and sedge warblers singing from scrubby and weedy patches, and blackcaps from the woody ones. There seem to be a lot of swallows which is always wonderful. Not so many house martins though. They are much less common in Crail than they used to be. A good place to see the is around the reception buildings at Saucehope Caravan Park. The buildings have extended eaves perfect for tucking a house martin’s mud pot nest underneath. The recent rain will have made it a lot easier to build them. House martins are strange in that they breed several times during the summer – sometimes getting three broods out. In Africa they seem to have an easy life too, feeding high above rocky outcrops in the savannah with resident African swallows and swifts in large flocks. There must be a lot of food for them all and the weather is invariably warm and dry there during our winter. I have never seen anything try to catch a house martin either, in Scotland or Africa. Hobbys may take them, and an unwary house martin collecting mud on the ground for a nest will be easy prey for a sparrowhawk, but it can’t happen very often. Yet they are declining. Bad weather on migration is suggested as a reason and perhaps also shortage of suitable nesting sites.

House martins collecting mud pellets for their nests

Posted May 25, 2017 by wildcrail in Sightings

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