August 5th   Leave a comment

There were four shelduck juveniles down at Balcomie this morning. They were in a tight flock and not that long fledged so I should think these are locally produced birds and hopefully indicating that the pair that was around Balcomie earlier in the spring bred successfully. The adults are away just now moulting in huge flocks – perhaps locally in the inner Forth or possibly as far away as Heligoland on the opposite side of the North Sea. They undergo this “moult migration” for safety in numbers when they become flightless while regrowing their flight feathers. The juveniles have just grown their flight feathers of course so don’t need to go anywhere to moult.

Juvenile shelduck – this one on the Eden Estuary by St Andrews

At Fife Ness I saw my first skua of the autumn – a great skua flying right over the point. It is worth checking out any brown, large seabird in August. Before the juvenile gannets fledge in September any all dark seabird is very likely to be a skua. Arctic and great skuas are not that uncommon around Crail at this time of year but unless you look well out to sea with binoculars, or sit out at Fife Ness for an overflight by birds cutting the corner off as they pass along the coast, you will not see them.

Great skua passing Fife Ness

Posted August 5, 2018 by wildcrail in Sightings

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