May 15th   Leave a comment

At last it is warming up a bit, so today was more like spring. The exceptionally dry weather is continuing so it was another beautiful morning out at Balcomie. There are only a few female eiders left on the shore now, and I watched one female being relentlessly harassed by up to 11 males. She really didn’t look very happy. Many duck species have a dubious life history strategy, with males forcing themselves on unpaired females, and much of the advantage of a female of pairing with a fit male is to prevent this happening. A lone female is in trouble, although the eider this morning had I think a male with it, but it couldn’t do anything about ten rivals. Because female ducks look after the eggs and chicks entirely themselves then this type of male behaviour can succeed evolutionarily.

Nine against one here: the female eider being harassed by males

There were four northern wheatears on the beach again at Balcomie, including one that was relatively tame. Wheatears are usually hard to get very close to, flitting off to land a few tens of meters ahead of you as you approach, regardless of how well you have been playing grandmother’s footsteps. I have many favourite birds, but a close encounter with any wheatear species always pushes them into the top ten. They have everything – smart plumage, an engaging manner and most importantly that globe trotting cool.

Northern wheatear on Balcomie Beach this morning

The spotted flycatchers had moved on from Kilminning this morning. It was fairly quiet in all senses, with little bird song considering it was warmer today. You can appreciate more at the moment it with the lack of motor sports at the airfield and kart track. That said I watched several boy racers doing a wildlife takeover on one of the runways at the bottom of Kilminning. There were 8 hares chasing each other, boxing and running races on the raceway. It seems to be a great spring for hares. I am seeing them everywhere around Crail and they seem to be doing a lot of their mad March stuff in May this year.

The boy racer wildlife takeover at Crail airfield

Posted May 15, 2020 by wildcrail in Sightings

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