March 3rd   Leave a comment

Last Sunday it was the fog making birding impossible and this morning it was a gale. Everything was taking cover and there was little to see. The dunlins were feeding in the small muddy areas amongst the rocks north of Balcomie Beach. They are small enough that they probably then could completely escape the buffeting and the chilling of the wind. But at a price. A sheltered spot is also one without a view in at least one direction, and in a gale the noise of the wind makes it hard to hear alarm calls from birds that can see. So the dunlin would have been very vulnerable to the sparrowhawk if it had been out hunting the shore this morning.

Dunlin

The wind also makes flying more difficult. On the way back into Crail, a flock of starlings kept pace with my car, maintaining their usual flight speed of about 50 km/h, even into the wind. But they achieved this by flying about 20cm above the ground over the adjacent sheep field, contour hugging and keeping as low as possible: wind speed is much lower close to the ground. Again this will be a trade-off, progress versus safety. They looked like they were a crack synchronous display team showing off at an airshow, with tiny margins of error.

There are lots of gannets back now. Yesterday there was a steady stream passing Fife Ness heading north. Still nothing like the thousands there will be in a few weeks but an encouraging start for the spring.

Gannet

Posted March 3, 2019 by wildcrail in Sightings

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