February 25th   Leave a comment

There has been a strong south-easterly wind for the last couple of days bringing in colder weather to Crail. Big waves and more gannets, and also a lot of seaweed getting washed up onto the beaches. There are large piles in the corner of Roome Bay below the cliffs completely covering the rocks. The washed in wrack will be rotting down even in this cold weather and will be full of seaweed fly maggots. This attracts the pipits and wagtails, the oystercatchers, turnstones and the redshanks, and so the kestrels, sparrowhawks and buzzards. A short but exciting food chain that can be viewed in its entirety in any hour down on the beach. I had a buzzard and a kestrel trying their luck in just ten minutes there this morning. I was also keeping an eye out for black redstarts – the winds might be just a bit too early for these early migrants but in a week or two we will be in peak time for their passage through Crail. Never more than one or two a year, but they do turn up on the rooftops right in the middle of town or on the rocks of the shore right by the coastal path.

Pied wagtail

Great spotted woodpecker

I have been neglecting Denburn Wood for Kilminning over the last year. Denburn was full of birds this morning. A huge, extended mixed tit flock including the Crail long-tailed tit flock, chaffinches, goldcrests, robins, tree-creepers and a great-spotted woodpecker. We only have the one woodpecker species in Crail – great-spotted woodpeckers are starling size, black and white with a splash or two of bright red. They often visit feeders and if you have a woodpecker in your garden in Crail it will be a great-spotted. I have had one green woodpecker in Crail: a juvenile in August about 10 years ago. Green woodpeckers are more common further in Fife but hardly ever get out as far as the relatively treeless East Neuk. The other British woodpecker species is the lesser spotted woodpecker that is also black and white but only the size of a sparrow so easy to distinguish from a great spotted. They have declined massively in the UK over the last 40 years and hardly occurred in Scotland anyway, so are very unlikely to turn up in Crail. Lesser-spotted woodpeckers like the really old, rotten trees that are nowadays never tolerated in human landscapes (as you will have noticed in Beechwood Park last week even perfectly good trees and branches now get chopped down to keep things tidy…). Luckily great spotted woodpeckers are great urban survivors, travelling long distances to isolated tree stands and feeding quite happily in live as well as dead trees. They are reliable even in Crail.

Posted February 25, 2018 by wildcrail in Sightings

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