March 14th   Leave a comment

One of the sounds of the spring is the deep cawing of rooks as they start to breed. If you walk through Beech Walk Park or Denburn you will know exactly what I mean. Rooks are colonial, nesting in big twiggy nests, with several to a tree, and then across several trees. They are very social crows and if you ever see a rook on its own there is something wrong. The rookery in Denburn and Beech Walk Park has 30 or so nests, but many more than 60 birds. There seem to be several hangers on around every nest as well as the pair. I have seen rookeries of thousands of nests in Kazakhstan, where there seem to be more rooks than trees in parts of the steppe, and the colonies extend out onto electricity pylons. It’s fairly noisy in Denburn now, but nothing compared to a really big colony. But its not an intrusive noise. I think rooks have been with us for a lot of human evolution since we left Africa, and they will always have nested in close association, favouring agricultural land (faux steppe). Their cawing is perhaps now positively hard wired into us as a sign of a good landscape. Despite this they are often persecuted for their damage to crops as they root around in fields. It’s not really fair as the damage is done as they search for and eat large quantities of crop pests. They do much more good than harm. Rooks cawing in spring will always be the sound of a British village to me.

The rookery at Denburn today (WC)

A flock of whooper swans flew over Crail at about twice rooftop height at lunchtime today. I could hear them coming – soft trumpeting – and then saw 30 of them crossing over Balcomie Caravan Park heading towards Wormiston. They were losing height, looking for a field to come down in to have a rest. Whooper swans are migrating at the moment, heading north in short flights while there is land, before a solid 24 hour stint over the sea to Iceland. I followed them out of Crail but they had continued on over the horizon.

Whooper swans (JA)

There are now 45-50 corn buntings down at the stubble field behind Saucehope Caravan Park. An impressive number if we think we have 180 or so breeding pairs in total in the East Neuk. There were a few birds singing as they flew from stubble to power lines and back as I walked across the fields.

One of the 50 corn buntings at Saucehope this afternoon

Posted March 14, 2020 by wildcrail in Sightings

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