October 5th   Leave a comment

It wasn’t quite the mega rarity day I was hoping for but there was plenty around to see, and there was always the feeling that the next bird just might be something very special. All the indicator birds were around: as I got to upper Kilminning first thing this morning there were redwings popping out of most of the rowan trees and I could hear several chiff-chaffs. I flushed two woodcock fimmediately from the sycamore trees along the road, and then had a jack snipe fly past me. It had been flushed by another birder and so came past me at eye level, and circled round before disappearing into cover again. A really nice view. They are common in winter, but because they freeze and flush only if you are about to step on them, you hardly ever see them. Migratory jack snipe seem to be more ready to fly and I flushed one in almost exactly the same place at Kilminning last year. I then heard my first brambling of the winter from the rowans – another migration indicator species. At Balcomie farm there were more bramblings, a couple of siskin (another species that turns up in conjunction with rare migrants) and a yellow-browed warbler in with a mobile blue tit flock (the garden of the ruined cottage was the epicentre of the flock’s movements).

A woodcock – a classic October migrant for Crail, suddenly popping up everywhere for a few days as they arrive, but then all disappearing inland for the winter (JA)

In the afternoon I tried the Patch at Fife Ness but it was quiet apart from goldcrests and a flock of 50 redwings passing high overhead, just in from the sea. At sea itself it was gannets, auks and kittiwakes, with the occasional red-throated diver past. Again, even with the strong south-easterly a little disappointing sea bird wise. I finished the day, just before the rain came on, staking out the barred warbler bush at lower Kilminning. I had about 10 seconds of views in 40 minutes of watching – par for the course, but good to know it is still there. But even better, although frustrating, I heard a bird making a very short, sharp chack, repeatedly – almost a tick and like a piece of electrical equipment sparking. There were two bursts from the vegetation behind the elders where the barred warbler has been seen most. It sounded like a cross between a rare warbler and a flycatcher – there was something of a dusky warbler to it, but without the song thrush flight call element behind. It was most similar to a call that I have heard mannikins make during their displays – obviously there is not a South American rain forest species hiding out in Kilminning, but this is what it sounded like. I had a look around but nothing popped out and I didn’t hear the call again. There have been a a lot of people out birding today, and indeed staking out the area where I heard the call, so it seems unlikely that there is something unusual there. But something usual, is then making a very unusual call, and I would still like to know what it is. 

A newly arrived redwing. Like the woodcocks they are very common around Crail when they arrive, but they soon move on inland and they can be fairly scarce during the winter (JA)

Posted October 5, 2019 by wildcrail in Sightings

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