December 28th   Leave a comment

I have been out along the coastal path and Crail most days this Christmas. Everything is settled into a mid-winter pattern with little change from day to day. Each day has a small highlight or two – yesterday a snipe in the middle of the stubble behind Pinkerton and six goldeneye diving out at Kilminning Castle, the day before the first gannet I have seen for a couple of weeks heading up the Forth past the May and today a flock of 12 teal amongst the mallards north of Balcomie beach. Each mid-winter is a little bit different. This year there are not many waders at Balcomie, and no bar-tailed godwits at all this year. Instead of tens of sanderlings and dunlins there are only a handful. But there are many more buntings than usual – corn, reed and yellowhammers – in the fields, and more stonechats along the coastal path than the last 15 years. Bird populations fluctuate each year for many reasons so I doubt there is anything too significant about the lower number of waders. Without systematic annual counts on a suitable scale – and for wintering shorebirds that is on a much larger scale than the East Neuk – you just can’t tell. But we do know for sure that the corn buntings are definitely on the up because we have been counting all of the local population for many years. I suspect the other bunting species, and probably the tree sparrows and linnets too, are also doing well because they share the extra space made for the corn buntings.


Posted December 29, 2018 by wildcrail in Sightings

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