May 27th   Leave a comment

Balcomie is the place to be. At high tide mid-afternoon the waders were very close in: 70 turnstones at least in a continuous count of roosting birds, still 60+ sanderling, 20+ dunlin and 5 knot. These were ghostly pale and barely showing any traces of summer plumage, perhaps just the faint hint of a reddish tinge to their underparts. I can’t believe they will get their breeding plumage in time to start breeding, even if they start mid-June. Some individual waders have a summer off from breeding so these birds might not be trying to catch up. Most of the ringed plovers of last night had moved on and there were a couple of northern wheatears to show that it is all very dynamic out there, with birds coming and going all the time. There was the first moulting goosander of the summer at Balcomie today, probably a failed breeder or even a “skipper” like the knots.

A knot at Balcomie roughy in the plumage I saw them today – this was taken in March not the end of May, indicating how late the birds are I saw today if they intend to breed this year

I counted 62 eider chicks between Balcomie and Saucehope. There were also some in Roome Bay a couple of days ago. The very calm weather must have helped them swim successfully over from the May Island. Although I watched a couple of female eiders easily shepherding their chicks around Fife Ness in the moderate waves whipped up by the south-easterly today. They looked very competent in a sea that I wouldn’t want to go kayaking in, so perhaps a few waves are not such a problem. Eider chicks seem completely waterproof and apparently unsinkable. Still I hope they are having a good breeding season and the fine weather continues for them just in case.

An Eider taking her chicks around Fife Ness to calmer waters around Balcomie

Posted May 27, 2017 by wildcrail in Sightings

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