September 8th   Leave a comment

There was a hint of an easterly today, with a few things turning up including a rarity on the May Island (a collared flycatcher from Eastern Europe or Sweden), and there is some rain over night. There were two white wagtails on Balcomie Beach amongst the pied wagtails – a very pale winter plumage bird and an obvious male still in summer plumage. White wagtails will be leaving Scandinavia and northern Europe at the moment in very large numbers so a few always end up on the east coast, the trick is remembering to check the pied wagtails. I was on the beach at high tide, so no sign of the curlew sandpiper, but it wasn’t reported later on in the day so it may have moved on.

One of the bar-tailed godwits still on Balcomie Beach that I am now beginning to hope might be staying for the winter (JA)

I hit 150 on my Crail year list with a black-throated diver flying past Fife Ness as I sat there in the sun this morning. This time in September seems to be the best time to see a black-throat passing. They tend to fly over Fife Ness quite high, cutting the corner off – a good reason not to sit in the hide when the weather is good. Today’s black-throat was obligingly with a red-throated diver following it, so its larger size and more bulky neck and feet were more obvious, although not as ridiculously large and hefty as as a great northern. When I added the diver to my year list I had a think about what I was missing this year and noticed that I had forgotten to add shelduck in March – so 151. 11 short of the record and with several likely species still to come (brambling, redpoll, yellow-browed warbler). With a bit of luck… 

It is good to think in lists because you focus on what you have missed. Sooty shearwaters are the most conspicuous by their absence this year. There have been less than 10 recorded at Fife Ness so far, when by this time there may have been hundreds. I hopefully put in another half an hour late afternoon seawatching from my house in Crail as the wind got up a bit. Hundreds of gannets and lots of fulmars past, a few common scoters, kittiwakes, arctic and sandwich terns, and a single great skua and a manx shearwater. But still no sooty. Today must have been a good fledging day for the gannets on the Bass Rock with about 1 in 40 of the gannets being juveniles. Most surprising were a few puffins heading east – they should be far out to sea now for the winter.

A juvenile gannet (straight out of the box as John would say) (JA)

Posted September 8, 2019 by wildcrail in Sightings

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