August 6th   Leave a comment

Another small pond in the Crail area is at Wormiston House. You can see much of it from the road down to Wormiston Farm. It is very well manicured and with steep sides so more of an ornamental pond than a wildlife pond but it does that job too. I saw a female tufted duck with a brood of 8 or so ducklings a couple of weeks ago on it. They were still there today, the ducklings looking almost ready to fly – my first breeding record for this species so close to Crail. The pond must be fairly deep to suit this diving species. There was also a moorhen there today. They are happier with much smaller, shallower ponds but they do actually need a pond and it is great that we have at least one, nearly in Crail.

Female tufted duck

The remains of the dunlin killed and eaten by a sparrowhawk today at Balcomie

The dunlin numbers are dwindling at Balcomie Beach. It has got much less favourable with less seaweed on the beach and now with a couple of juvenile sparrowhawks regularly hunting along the shore. I have been finding skylark and starling kills in the last few weeks and today a fresh dunlin kill, right on the top of the beach only a few meters from where the remaining flock of about 20 dunlin regularly feeds. In many case, one of the advantages for shorebirds wintering far south is that they can escape sparrowhawks, goshawks, peregrines, merlins and the like that regularly hunt along the shore in winter. In Africa there are plenty of birds of prey too but they don’t hunt birds so much, and there are many more prey birds to spread the risk. Plus when days are not short and cold, a shorebird can afford to spend time looking for predators rather than keeping its concentration on looking for food and not starving.

Posted August 6, 2017 by wildcrail in Sightings

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