September 28th   2 comments

The north-easterlies today made for a bright and fresh day. It was clear overnight and so it wasn’t too suprising to find the red-breasted flycatcher had moved on from Craighead. In fact there were few migrants about except at Kilminning. I did my usual Saturday morning circuit through Wormiston, past the yellow house and then along the coast path to Balcomie Beach and didn’t see a single summer migrant except for an arctic tern. I did see the juvenile male peregrine that has been hunting around Balcomie for the last week, flushing skylark up from the fields around the yellow house, and one of the many snipe around Crail just now that are enjoying the damp ground. The three bar-tailed godwits are still on Balcomie Beach but apart from a handful of ringed plovers, all the other small waders seem to have moved on too. I headed up to the top of Kilminning to find to find some shelter from the wind. There was much more happening around the sunny side of the sycamores there. One or two yellow-browed warblers, and four or more chiffchaffs, with several swallows overhead.

The juvenile male peregrine that has been around Balcomie and Wormiston this week (JA)

This afternoon I checked out lower Kilminning. I missed some whinchat reported from the usual place they frequent near the golf course, so I sat down by the “barred warbler elder bushes” for my usual stake out to see if I could see, well, a barred warbler. This hasn’t been too successful recently, and the last time I got lucky was September 2017. It has been more of a sure thing since last weekend and the favourable winds, and I have been much more hopeful. Even so I have watched the bush on five days this week for well over an hour in total without luck. This time, however, thirty seconds into my watch out popped a barred warbler, right in the middle of the middle elder bush. Almost exactly the same place as the last one two years ago. I had the usual twenty seconds of reasonable view before it disappeared into the centre of the bush, only reappearing very briefy to chase a robin out, that had also been feeding on the elder berries. Birding luck evens out – and all the time I have put in unsuccessfully, finally paid off. I suspect it has been here since last Sunday: barred warblers are notorious skulkers and even when you know they are there, it takes several visits, or several hours, before you get a good view. Even so, there were lots of birders around this week, particularly on Tuesday after the little bunting was seen just 40 meters away, so perhaps it is more likely that it came in with the easterlies and rain on Tuesday night. Barred warblers are long stayers so this bird may be here for the next month. There are lots of elderberries – this may explain why it hasn’t been seen, because there are still lots in dense cover. As these get eaten, then it will have to come out to the more exposed branches. This was the case two years’ ago. If you go looking for it tomorrow, bring a chair, a gin and tonic and patience; next weekend it might be easier to see, but then it might have moved on… The bushes to look at are the elder bushes with roses in the front, about 40 meters south of the ruined small building, in the next “bay” of vegetation.

Barred warbler – this is the 2017 bird, in the same bush as today’s bird, but with many fewer berries, forcing it to come out into the open to find some (JA)

Posted September 28, 2019 by wildcrail in Sightings

2 responses to “September 28th

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  1. So I’ll have do find a different elderberry bush to pick for my jelly then?

    • Or pick all the berries except a those in front of the bush. It will be a glorious two hours of good views before the barred warbler heads off to Kenya. Seriously though, it is a good crop this year. Probably enough for everyone.

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