December 17th   Leave a comment

It felt like spring in the Arctic today. Rain overnight had collected in pools on the still frozen ground, making Balcomie golf course a series of small lakes. And some Arctic waders – a flock of 24 purple sandpipers on the rocks north of Balcomie Beach and the same number of sanderlings on the beach.

A purple sandpiper flock at Balcomie

A flock of 9 twite flew past me as I walked along the coastal path up towards Wormiston. I think there is there one flock wintering in the area, moving from the shore at Balcomie to the stubble fields up at Wormiston, but disappearing in the latter among the hundreds of linnets. I continued into the stubble fields just east of the yellow house and immediately flushed a Lapland bunting. A bit more trekking across the field put up a flock of five. They were reluctant to fly far and I should think these have been here since the autumn and will spend the winter here. We had a wintering flock last year, and although this is not always the case, I think Wormiston Farm might be one of the most reliable places in Scotland to find a Lapland bunting in winter – and I have found over 60 at a time in the same field as the few today during good autumns for the species.

Juvenile female peregrine on the hunt

As I finished my walk back at the club house a juvenile (i.e. brown) female (i.e. huge) peregrine came rocketing past me at head height, hugging the ground until it scattered a flock of woodpigeons in the pines below me. Two close attempts to grab an escaping pigeon and a short unsuccessful chase later it continued on at high speed past Balcomie House. I lost sight of it but the flocks of pigeons and starling heading skywards marked its passage toward Crail.

Posted December 17, 2017 by wildcrail in Sightings

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