July 16th   Leave a comment

John Anderson didn’t find the little ringed plover later yesterday afternoon so I went down to Balcomie Beach first thing to help him refind it. No need, I found John crouched immobile 15 meters away from the bird. The tide was in but there are a few muddy pools on the strandline and the little ringed plover was feeding there alone, with John in the background having gradually crept closer over the last hour or so. I approached from the other side and got much better views than yesterday. It seemed much more settled. I was able to see the pale fringes of the back feathers that juvenile birds have and also its characteristic yellow eye ring (which is much more obvious in adults). Eventually it got fed up of our close proximity and moved up the beach, joining the dunlin and sanderling flock, which also had a slightly pinkish adult knot among them.

The little ringed plover on Balcomie beach today at 09:00

Just after it moved a sparrowhawk appeared being chased by a herring and black-headed gull and an oystercatcher. It was carrying prey and at the time I thought it was one of the dunlin from the flock further up the beach because I could see a bit sticking straight out from its claws like a long bill. John took some photos as it passed and later I could see that it was carrying a song bird, probably a rock pipit and it had eaten a lot of it already. I suspect it was disturbed from feeding by a gull trying to steal its prey. The sparrowhawk made a successful getaway disappearing over the golf course. There was a kestrel hunting along the beach as well while I watched the plover – you can’t blame the birds of prey. Like me they are drawn to the action and Balcomie Beach is full of small birds – the waders of course but also pied wagtails, rock pipits and lots of perfect dinner sized starlings.

The sparrowhawk drama unfolding down at Balcomie this morning

On the way back via Fife Ness there was a flock of four common sandpipers on the main roost rock and a juvenile wheatear on the golf course. There have been wheatears along the shore most days this week and another whinchat two days ago – it really is worthwhile birding along this bit of shore at the moment.

Posted July 16, 2017 by wildcrail in Sightings

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