April 8th   Leave a comment

After my confident prediction of yesterday, I couldn’t find the black redstart again today at Fife Ness. It was a really nice day so it may have moved along the coast a bit to some wrack where there will have been lots of seaweed flies out enjoying the sunshine and the relatively warm 12 degrees. There was a northern wheatear and a couple of male white wagtails on the beach at the end of Balcomie golf course. White wagtails are the continental subspecies of pied wagtails and we get a few of the (likely) Scandinavian migrants through Fife Ness each year in April. There have been flocks of pink-footed geese going over Crail this weekend as they head north as well.

White wagtail

I noticed 4 lesser black-backed gulls on the rooftops of the High Street this morning. They are like herring gulls but have dark grey (looking black) upper wings where herring gulls have pale grey, and yellow legs instead of pink. They are much rarer than herring gulls and we have most of the breeding population in the UK so they are a species of particular conservation concern globally. They have also shifted from nesting on the ground in colonies to nesting on rooftops and although their populations are declining in the UK, numbers in urban areas seem to be increasing. We don’t have many lesser-black backs nesting in Crail: 10% of gull nests in St Andrews are lesser black-backs. I wonder if the 4 I saw this morning reflect an increase for us in Crail. So before consigning every noisy nesting gull to the generic seagull bin this summer, check to see whether you have a lesser black-backed gull rather than a herring gull. Your rooftop might then be doing a Loch Garten, hosting a bird that spent the winter in Morocco and contributing to our international obligation for us to look after the species (and there are very few of these apart from our seabirds) because they mostly only occur here.

Lesser black-backed gull

Posted April 8, 2018 by wildcrail in Sightings

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