November 11th   Leave a comment

There was a water pipit reported from the beach just west of Pittenweem yesterday afternoon. This would be a new bird for the Crail list so I went out this morning to look for it. I didn’t find it but it was good trip out because I hardly ever look at rock pipits properly and I had to check every single one between Pittenweem and St Monans to make sure I wasn’t overlooking the bird. Rock pipits used to be considered just a subspecies of water pipit so you can imagine they look very similar – and this is particularly so in the winter. I have seen a few winter water pipits and they usually stand out as greyer and whiter with cleaner, brighter patterning and neater streaking. But it can be tricky. Some of the rock pipits this morning looked promising in the bright early morning sunlight but none really survived a closer look through the telescope. One did have bright white outer tail feathers as it flew up but the joker in the pack was the occasional meadow pipit also on the beach – they also have white outer tail feathers. I suspect I missed it, but I’m better prepared to find my own water pipit out at Balcomie after this rock pipit master class.

Rock pipit

Meadow Pipit

As I stumped around the beach I heard a corn bunting singing from the field edge at the top of the cliff just before the garden centre towards St Monans. This is a summer territory and not far from where lots of corn buntings now winter. Although I am hearing corn buntings sing in the winter more often now as they increase in density, it is still an unusual sound at this time of year.

I headed back to Crail for the remembrance service. As I stood outside the Kirk by the war memorial for the two minutes silence I listened to the skylarks and meadow pipits calling as they flew over, the grumpy mistle thrushes arguing over the holly berries and a robin singing sweetly. Only a human silence. I was reminded – and it is one of the most poignant images of the First World War for me – of soldiers describing hearing nightingales, blackbirds and robins singing from no man’s land, and watching the swallows, whinchats and wheatears passing over in the spring. And what that contrast must have meant to those stuck in the trenches.

Posted November 11, 2018 by wildcrail in Sightings

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