October 28th   Leave a comment

I was out at Kilminning this morning and it was almost deserted relative to last week with just a few blackbirds on the now equally scarce berries. There was at least a small flock of black-headed gulls down at the water treatment works outflow. One of them looked much smaller and with short arctic tern length legs. An adult little gull on closer view. I haven’t noticed how short their legs are before and this is a great feature if one is perched in a line of black-headed gulls. Little gulls are much more aquatic than black-headed gulls that also like to stump around a ploughed field or bit of turf looking for food. You would never see a little gull doing anything other than perching on a piece of dry land. They are much more like terns, aerial feeders picking food up from the surface of the water. They just need their legs for perching not walking. This little gull had nearly lost all of its black hood but still had a dark crown and a dark spot behind the eye, like a black-headed gull. When it took flight the lovely pure light grey upper wing contrasting with the sooty black lower wing made it even more distinctive. An adult little gull might be my favourite gull, although I haven’t seen a Ross’s gull yet so I may change my mind.

Adult little gull

Despite the strong winds today there was little passing Crail. Again my autumn sea watching lists this year are more about absence than presence: no shearwaters, skuas or kittiwakes. A few juvenile gannets, razorbills and guillemots, a common scoter and the usual shags and gulls were the only things passing Fife Ness this afternoon. The numbers of purple sandpiper are building up in front of the hide for the winter at least. On my back to Crail along the road I counted 26 grey partridges in three groups at Balcomie (they looked like they were having a rumble before my approach scattered them) and then another group of 10 at the airfield. Great numbers for another one of our East Neuk specialties.

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Posted October 28, 2017 by aboutcrail in Sightings

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