December 22nd   Leave a comment

Seaweed flies washed up at Balcomie

One of my recurrent themes is how the sea weed washed up onto the beaches makes much of the local bird world go round. It was really evident today with a strand line of made of seaweed fly maggots at Balcomie today. The high tide had washed out millions from the big rotting wrack deposits lower down the shore and each wave was washing thousands every few meters along the sand of the upper beach. Apart from the gulls and eiders picking them off the surface of the water behind the surf, this feast was being left alone. I can only think that the waders had already eaten their fill and gone to roost.

The high tide bonanza is not without its down side. There are two neat sprays of redshank feathers just at the edge of the marram grass behind Balcomie beach. Both are recent sparrowhawk kills and I saw a (probably the) female sparrowhawk trying its luck again further along the shore later. The redshanks are tempted to feed right at the top of the shore by the seaweed maggots. There have been over 50 on most of my recent visits to Balcomie at high tide. But getting fewer as the winter goes on. A female sparrowhawk can take one redshank every other day and they like to specialise. On a walk between Kingsbarns and Crail following the coastal path I counted 5 redshank and one dunlin kill, all that were probably taken in the last few weeks.

Close up of the sea weed flies – the white maggots and the black pupae

Balcomie Beach with maggoty strandline – the sand is back by the way. Maybe 50% of what was there at its peak, but certainly a lot more than the last 10 months

Posted December 24, 2018 by wildcrail in Sightings

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