September 17th   Leave a comment

I walked from Kingsbarns Beach along the coast path back to Crail this morning. There were a couple of bar-tailed godwits in the sandy bays south of Kingsbarns. I should think these are the residents back for the winter that then use Balcomie Beach later in the season. The arctic and common terns have moved on completely with only sandwich terns still fishing out from the rocks. At sea at Fife Ness there were a few arctic terns passing but nothing like the big numbers of last week. Instead there were huge numbers of kittiwakes passing, coming out of the Forth and heading north into the wind. There were probably a thousand birds visible at any one time scanning from north to south with a telescope. With lots of gannets and fulmars passing too the seascape was full of birds. There was a steady passage of red-throated divers and common scoters heading north as well.

As I got back to Crail I heard a familiar call from the sycamore at the south end of the sheep field behind Roome Bay: a yellow-browed warbler. The first of the autumn calling loudly and clearly. I saw it well for a few seconds glowing green and yellow and with its brow and double wing bars.

Yellow-browed warbler

The sea looked so full of potential that I had to return to Fife Ness mid-afternoon for another sea-watching session. I’m glad I did. The best hour’s birding I have had for a while. Again, a seascape full of birds and perhaps even more kittiwakes than the morning. And in an hour I saw 10 sooty shearwaters (finally the first of the autumn), 31 manx shearwaters, 15 arctic skuas and 8 great skuas. Many passing quite close in, the sooty shearwaters shooting past looking all powerful even as they flew into the wind. Many of the skuas harrying the kittiwakes as they passed. For one spectacular chase I watched a great skua chasing an arctic skua chasing a kittiwake. As the great skua caught up the kittiwake just dropped its fish and both skuas tumbled down after it, the great skua crowding out the more nimble arctic in the end to get the prize. They were still coming past as I left and there was a great skua close in to Roome Bay as I returned to Crail.

Arctic skua chasing a kittiwake

Posted September 17, 2017 by wildcrail in Sightings

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