September 24th   Leave a comment

The rain overnight didn’t materialise and so with not only Dundee RSPB group and the Fife Bird Club in the area, but also a contingent from Glasgow and the Lothians, there were many more birders than birds today. The barred warbler had an audience of up to 30 at a time although some had to wait several hours to get even a modest view. It is much harder in a crowd to see something like a barred warbler because you can’t go and sit quietly in the middle of one of the bushes and wait, looking up against the sky to see it more easily as it moves through. That wouldn’t work if thirty people did it and the peer pressure if you did it unilaterally would too much to bear. I looked for birds elsewhere today; Kilminning was pretty well covered even of no-one could look inside the bushes.

The wind remained south-easterly and reasonably strong, but there was surprising little sea-watching from Fife Ness. Very few kittiwakes, and no shearwaters or skuas at all. There was a female merlin hunting around the Yellow House at Wormiston Farm. I watched it string together a series of unsuccessful attacks on a linnet flock, some meadow pipits and then a skylark, with clouds of small birds rising up in front of it so I could keep track of it even as it disappeared behind dykes and into ditches. Another highlight was a big flock of roosting golden plovers, ringed plovers and dunlins in the harvested potato field next door to the driving range at Balcomie Golf Course. There were a lot of linnets among them and possibly also some twite but I couldn’t get close enough to hear them. There are several hundred golden plovers in total around Balcomie at the moment, with sub-flocks roosting in several ploughed fields and Balcomie Beach, as well as the potato field. They are spending a lot of time nervously flying around between roosts and I think this is because there is a peregrine around. I have seen roosting birds spook several times to low flying woodpigeons which makes me think they are a bit sensitive and I saw a peregrine the day before yesterday coming from Balcomie. As with the merlin, any peregrine in the area will concentrate where there are lots of prey, and the fields around Balcomie really are full of birds.

Golden Plover flock

On one occasion as I watched another flock of golden plover circling Balcomie I spotted a different wader with the flock. A ruff: the first of the year and not always guaranteed for the year list. Having seen this one, I then saw another a few hours later flying over Kilminning. It could be the same bird of course: Ruff are very happy feeding in ploughed or pasture fields, with almost any other species of wader or alone. One or two could easily disappear into the fields around Crail. I have been checking Balcomie Beach all summer for them but perhaps I should have been paying more attention inland.


Posted September 24, 2017 by wildcrail in Sightings

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