September 22nd   Leave a comment

Little grebes

I don’t go up to Carnbee Reservoir – beside Kellie Law – often enough, especially considering it is the only lake on my Crail patch. I was hoping for some ducks today, like pintail or gadwall, but it was just teal (about 50) and mallards (about 15). There were a lot of little grebes. They can be elusive in the winter but today there were about 20. They have obviously had a good breeding season. The water level is very low after the hot summer but that means exposed mud for waders along the edge. This is hard to see from the road so I walked all the way round the reservoir. I was rewarded with a ruff flying up. There have been a few passing through Fife in the last week and John had one at Fife Ness briefly a couple of days ago. Ruff are fond of all habitats from ploughed fields, to lakes, to beaches and estuaries, and rocky shores – and in Africa they like rice paddies.


I sea watched from Fife Ness this afternoon hopeful that the strong winds might have brought some grey phalaropes our way. It was more interesting than the last couple of weeks. Great visibility so I could see large flocks of hundreds of kittiwakes out at about 4 kilometers through my telescope. Each flock – and there were about seven I could see – seemed to have one or two, and occasionally three arctic skuas with them. Whole flocks would fly up from the sea and then I could usually see a skua chasing one of the kittiwakes and this would then be joined by another for a frenzied tail chase for a few seconds before the skua(s) descended back to the sea and disappeared from sight, followed by the kittiwakes over the next minute. This was happening more or less constantly for the 90 minutes I was watching and there may well have been up to 20 arctic skuas out there. It was quite exciting, although all very distant. I was sitting next to John who doesn’t use a telescope – the better to be ready with his camera – and he barely saw any skuas. Even further out were lines and lines of pink-footed geese coming relentlessly into the Forth and continuing on to the Lothians. At least there were a couple of knot that joined us on the rocks briefly, at closer quarters.

Arctic skua chasing a kittiwake (they steal food from other seabirds, although the larger skuas sometime kill other seabirds like birds of prey)

Posted September 22, 2018 by wildcrail in Sightings

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