October 14th   Leave a comment

Merlin kill of a young blackbird in the Patch at Fife Ness

Another full week of westerly winds and unseasonably high temperatures. Two swallows and two northern wheatears at Fife Ness this morning were enjoying it for sure but I am becoming more and more pessimistic about the very quiet autumn. Bring on some sustained easterly gales. The sea remains quiet with very few gannets today; they may have left already for the Bay of Biscay. The Patch at Fife Ness is now hosting the local flock of long-tailed tits that was at Kilminning last week. There were also a few goldcrests there. I found a grizzly carcase stuck on top of the bench in the middle of The Patch. A merlin kill of a blackbird. I think it was a merlin because they leave both wings attached to the body after they eat and only pluck the inner wing feathers. Plus it was on an elevated perch under trees. Sparrowhawks are complete pluckers and almost always on the ground in denser cover. Peregrines leave merlin like remains but tend to pluck high up or out in the open on the ground.

The highlight of my usual Wormiston ā€“ Balcomie – Fife Ness ā€“ Kilminning circuit today was a small flock of twite feeding above the beach about 100 meters north of Balcomie Beach on the coastal path. I was alerted to them as they flew up in front of me by their squeaky bed spring call. It has been several years since I have had a twite on the Crail list so I was very pleased. A few make it to Crail every year I am sure but they are hard to connect with, being rare and lost among the much larger linnet flocks. They are not much to look at except when you give them a close look. Another linnet or redpoll type finch, but with neat lines, a buff throat and a yellow bill. Perhaps what makes them most interesting is their association with the west of Scotland and also the extreme east in Asia. They are the finch of the Machair and farmland along the wild west coast and then disappear across Europe until you get to the Caucasus and steppes of Kazakhstan. They are a small bird of bleak, empty but beautiful places. I am reminded of choughs and shell beaches or saker falcons and huge skies when I hear a twite.


Posted October 14, 2017 by wildcrail in Sightings

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