April 25th   Leave a comment

Every year about 25 people forward their corn bunting sightings to me so we can monitor the local population, that has been declining and now coming back over the last 30 years. This year I can’t organise or encourage any kind of survey and I can only hope that people on their normal exercise walk will let me know the locations of any singing corn buntings they see or hear. If I then have an idea of the route of the walk as well I can build up a map for this year and adjust the results for the area that has been surveyed – in previous years we aimed to survey the whole area completely so I normally don’t need to bother with this. This means I will be able to compare the same areas this year with that of last year and see how that sample of the population has changed even if we can’t measure the change in the whole population. My morning exercise cycle is now the only way I will be personally able to keep track of corn buntings this summer around Crail, so I took an extended loop to Balcomie this morning to take in Barnsmuir, Troustie, Sypsies and Wormiston. Lots of corn buntings singing and encouragingly often two birds singing in an area that only had one last year. But it will take a lot of once daily walks to fill in the gaps – but it seems there will be plenty of time for these…

Corn bunting (JA)

The bonus of the route was the first yellow wagtail of the year, exactly where you might expect it. The regular arrival field has cabbages in it that are being irrigated so there are some puddles along the muddy track which will make the area still attractive to the returning breeders from last year and any new birds passing that they seem to attract in early May. As I went along the track a male flew up calling, heading over to West Braes. My wife heard one there along the coastal path three days ago so they have been back at least from the 22nd. Last year there were at least 5 nests, and if they breed again this year it will be the 5th year back in the East Neuk. With less than 50 pairs breeding in Scotland now, our little growing Crail population is quite significant. Yellow wagtails shouldn’t be disturbed when breeding, like any bird species, but they are easy to see without any prospect of disturbing them along the coastal path at West Braes and along the Crail to Anstruther Road at Barnsmuir. If you don’t know their flight call – a clear “tseep” – then look out for the bounding wagtail flight and of course the bright yellow. There are also grey wagtails (which are also very yellow) out along the coastal path but few venture out across the open fields.

One of last year’s Crail yellow wagtails (JA)

Posted April 25, 2020 by wildcrail in Sightings

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