July 4th   Leave a comment

I was on the May Island this afternoon. As I left Crail a great skua came in off the sea and flew over the High Street. Cutting off the corner of Fife Ness as it headed north. That turned out to be the most unusual bird of the day. The crossing was fairly rough but there were the usual close flybys of gannets and some more distant manx shearwaters. On the island there seemed to be arctic terns everywhere, and lots of chicks. This meant the parents were even more aggressive, particularly as their chicks wandered onto the paths. But a few knocks on the head by a tern is worthwhile when you know they seem to be having a good breeding season this year. Last year none fledged at all – the gulls got them all. This year, fingers crossed, they are doing well. Part of this was the strategic removal of just two gulls that were tern specialists early in the season. The puffins were bringing in mostly single big fish indicating they had big chicks to feed. They are fledging at the moment: the young come out of their burrows at night to avoid the gulls and head out to sea on their own. One of these “pufflings” that had taken a wrong turning last night and ended up trapped in the toilets (oh dear what can the matter be…) was released from the May Princess as we set off back to Anstruther and had got a safe distance away from the island. The other species all had chicks. Many of the guillemots were sheltering big chicks under their wings as they sat on the cliffs and there were well grown kittiwake and shag chicks in most nests. There was a flock of 15 turnstone down on the rocks and some redshanks to show the turning of the season as well. Soon all the chicks will be fledging and it will be autumn passage again.

Puffin ready to feed a large chick (WC)
The puffling we released offshore on the way back (WC)
Arctic tern chick (WC)
Guillemot chick (WC)
Kittiwake chick (WC)

Posted July 4, 2019 by wildcrail in Sightings

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