December 9th   Leave a comment

I have been checking stubble fields this weekend, hoping to find a Lapland or a snow bunting. Saturday it was the fields around the airfield and Kilminning, and today the fields east and north of Kingsbarns. I didn’t find anything unusual but it was encouraging walking across the fields and putting up lots of reed buntings, corn buntings and yellowhammers. Probably several hundred in total across both sites, with about 50 being corn buntings. Other birds of the stubble were hundreds of linnets, woodpigeons and tens of starlings, but surprisingly few skylarks and meadow pipits. The big numbers last month have moved inland. In a small patch of flooded field by Kilminning, holding a few small pools after the rain of last week, I flushed 8 common snipe. A really good number for Crail. At Kingsbarns there was also a big flock of herring, common and black-headed gulls, rooks and jackdaws all feeding on the spilt grain among the stubble. There was a flock of tree sparrows closer to the woods by the beach car park road, dashing out to feed in the fields as well before retreating back to the safety of the trees as a dog walker or car went by. Stubble fields really are a great habitat for birds in winter.

Female reed bunting

The sea from Kingsbarns was fairly quiet. Some gulls far out, dipping down like terns to feed from the waters surface, but not kittiwakes as in the autumn. Instead they were all black-headed gulls. There were hardly any other “serious” seabirds – no auks, gannets or fulmars and only a couple of red-throated divers. I scanned the surf breaking on the rocky shore below the car park and found a few purple sandpipers among the redshanks and turnstones. It’s a reliable site for purple sandpipers but as always they were hard to see. Perfectly camouflaged as they ducked between the rocks and the waves.

Purple sandpiper

Posted December 9, 2018 by wildcrail in Sightings

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