September 16th   Leave a comment

This weekend we have had continuing westerly winds – quite strong today. There was much more seabird activity past Fife Ness but still a long way out. Quite a lot of kittiwakes flying north, but in an hour on Saturday afternoon only a couple of great skuas, a distant arctic or pomarine skua, and three manx shearwaters. The stream of red-throated divers into the Forth has become a trickle, but there were many flocks of pink-footed geese coming in to make up, some with greylag geese amongst them. Red-breasted mergansers are becoming more common and will soon outnumber goosanders as goosanders finish moulting and head into inland waters for the winter. I was really pleased to see lots of juvenile gannets passing Fife Ness at last so they have started fledging in earnest. Again, they were quite far out so perhaps I have been missing earlier fledglings that have flown straight out of the Forth without passing close to Crail. Very noticeable this weekend was the lack of terns: none on Saturday apart from two common terns going north and a few sandwich terns today.

Juvenile gannet – lots fledging over the weekend

I had my first spotted flycatcher of the year at Kilminning on Saturday, followed quickly by a sighting of a jay flying over. The spotted flycatcher was probably a migrant from the west of Scotland on its way south and the jay probably a dispersing young bird from further west in Fife. Move just a few kilometres further inland and they are everywhere. In any year I feel lucky to see a jay on the Crail patch; they are rarer around Crail than spotted flycatchers, although we do get a few migrant individuals coming in from the continent on strong easterlies, but usually in October. They don’t hang around for the same reason that we don’t have many resident jays. Jays like woodland and we don’t have a lot of that. My best local site is up near the secret bunker but there don’t seem to be any there this year. The other obvious migrants around this weekend were lots of northern wheatears – the best feeding like a roadrunner on the driving range at Balcomie, literally dodging the golf balls – a few chiff-chaffs and willow warblers, just a single whitethroat (most seem to have gone in the last week), and some sand martins among the still very common barn swallows and house martins.

Jay – a Crail rarity. I have seen more red-backed shrikes here than jays

Posted September 16, 2018 by wildcrail in Sightings

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