September 4th   Leave a comment

We had light north easterlies on Sunday followed by a day of south-easterlies and a lot of rain yesterday. Not quite the weather conditions for a lot of migrants, but much better than the last week. With September being here too, things should be on the move. And Shetland had a lot of barred warblers last week. Well that was my frame of mind for checking Kilminning at lunchtime today. The top was absolutely dead apart from a few robins deciding whether to stop skulking or not now August is past. I continued down to the bottom and stopped at the usual barred warbler site. There was something calling like a cross between a greenfinch and a willow warbler from the roses next door. A bird then popped up – a juvenile common rosefinch – watching me warily from the top of the rose hips. Rosefinches are not common, at least not here, and this was only my second in Crail. When one is found, they don’t hang about. We haven’t had one here for longer than a few hours – I have missed at least two since my first in 2013, even though I was looking for them in exactly the right place just a few hours later. So, I was incredibly lucky to find one right in front of me. And luckily too, I remembered that rosefinches are fairly shy, so instead of approaching it, I walked away from it. The rosefinch stayed put and I so I had the best view I have had since I was in Kazakhstan many years ago (where they really are common). That said they are not a lot to look at: dull uniform brownish, a plain, unmarked brown head, slightly shaggy, with a beady black eye, and fine streaking underneath. They do have a couple of neat whitish wing bars as a positive identification feature to check. It kept calling which made me happy because I didn’t know its call until today, and it is similar enough to a few other birds (like greenfinch as I mentioned) that I could have easily have ignored it in the past. Despite my canny retreat it wasn’t totally convinced and after a minute it flew off, circling around before heading off strongly towards the top of Kilminning. I put the news out to the Fife birding grapevine immediately but knowing I would probably be the only one to see it. Still – it’s a serious start to the season and it will tempt a few more birders out this weekend I hope. I bet there really is a barred warbler or two about.

Juvenile common rosefinch – this one taken by John in Mongolia exactly two years ago

Posted September 4, 2018 by wildcrail in Sightings

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