October 26th   Leave a comment

It’s about this time of year when you start thinking that maybe the autumn has passed by and there won’t be anything new turning up now. It certainly felt wintery today – five degrees with a chill wind, although bright and sunny. And it certainly felt quiet in the Patch – a few goldcrests, and at Kilminning – again a few goldcrests and the three or so chiff-chaffs that seem to be staying put. There were several new bullfinches at the top and there were more reported from other bits of Fife today so these are probably winter migrants. A very restless flock of siskins was another flock of more obvious winter migrants. There was no sign of the black redstart at Balcomie, and also not yesterday, so it must have been a one day bird. It is probably already back at its wintering site in southern Europe.

One of the chiff-chaffs at Kilminning – there are still at least three (maybe 5) that have been there for at least three weeks now (JA)

This afternoon I thought I would try something different so I walked from Boarhills down to the mouth of the Kenly Burn. There are still a lot of stubble fields there and I stumped across them in the hope of rarer bunting. Fourth field in and up popped a Lapland bunting – number 164 for the year list – and scarce this autumn. This is, I think, only the second or third reported for Fife so far. It did its usual of only flushing at about ten meters, completely invisible until it flew up each time, and calling a few times as it circled above me before diving down to another part of the stubble field. There were a few skylarks, reed buntings and yellowhammers in the fields as well. Down on the shore it was high tide and there was a good size roost of oystercatchers, curlews, mallards, redshanks and three greenshanks. It is a good site there for wintering greenshanks. Most will be south of the Sahara by now, at the edge of lakes and pools throughout Africa, and in mangroves around the edge. But a few hardy individuals brave out a Scottish winter at coastal sites like Boarhills, trading off a harder life for the next few months with the safety of avoiding a migration and being able to reach their breeding grounds quicker in the spring. But a harsh Scottish wintering site is all relative. A flock of 20 whooper swans flew over the stubble fields as I headed back to Crail – the swans regard Scotland as their holiday in the sun as they escape the Arctic for the winter.

The three greenshanks roosting at the mouth of the Kenly Burn this afternoon (WC)
Whooper swans here for the winter (JA)

Posted October 26, 2019 by wildcrail in Sightings

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