May 2nd   Leave a comment

The number of female eiders has been going down steadily all week and there now only a handful along the shore with small groups of attentive males. The rest are nesting now, with most on the May Island. The May is a bit of a black box just now with no-one there at all to keep an eye on things. But I suspect it is alive with puffins and the other seabirds and carpeted with incubating female eider ducks as usual. We are not really an essential part of what goes on there.

An incubating eider in late April on the May Island (JA)

The whimbrels were back at Balcomie this morning – more than 12 resting on the rocky shore, with one flock of at least nine. It has been an excellent spring for whimbrels and they have been flying past Crail more or less continuously for the last couple of weeks. Any curlew looking bird just now is much more likely to be a whimbrel, although there are still a few curlews passing as well. Whimbrels always look a bit lighter in flight, like a wader, whereas curlews look a bit gull like: but it is subtle. The best way to get on to a whimbrel is to hear its clear, repeated whistle. It’s very much like a human whistling and it’s easy to imitate. Curlews, of course, make a “coor-lee” call. Apart from whimbrels there was just the usual good numbers of willow warblers and blackcaps. I had fun chasing a male blackcap around the Patch at Fife Ness convinced it was something more special as it produced a diverse, mimicking sub-song a bit like a marsh warbler – it was wishful thinking right from the start, but this spring I’m having to survive on hope.

A whimbrel on Balcomie Beach (JA)

Posted May 2, 2020 by wildcrail in Sightings

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