May 31st   Leave a comment

I started off first thing this morning looking for the yellow wagtails and corn buntings to the west of Crail. As usual the yellow wagtails are becoming complicated. There is a pair still where they started nesting a few weeks ago, at Old Barns. I watched a female go down onto a likely nest site and then not reappear for ten minutes, and all the while a male making its “I’ve got an active nest and you are in the vicinity” call from the roadside. It’s not very adaptive, but a lot of birds have this “I’ve got a nest” call. It makes checking for breeders a lot easier. I was watching, as always, from the roadside, and the nest is thirty or so meters into an adjacent field. I obviously won’t go into the field to actually find the nest, and the level of disturbance along the road from cars and farm workers is continuous regardless of whether I am there or not. That there is only one pair there and they are not feeding chicks yet suggests that both early nests might have failed, and one pair has renested close by. The second pair may have relocated: I found another active nest up at Thirdpart, close to where they nested last year. Again a yellow wagtail was helpfully was making its “I’ve got a nest” call. The nest is in a field of cauliflowers currently being harvested. This is a gradual process as the cauliflowers develop at different rates so hopefully the field will stay intact enough, long enough for the chicks to fledge. So we have at least two pairs, and probably four nests so far.

The yellow wagtail male at Old Barns in its favoured natural habitat
And a second yellow wagtail at Third Part nesting in a cauliflower field

I added a few more singing corn buntings to the map. Despite the lockdown, I hope at least the map around Crail will be complete so we can see how they are faring compared to previous years. As I headed to Sypsies I saw a small toad crossing the road. It had frozen which might be a great strategy to let a potential predator know immediately that you are a toad and not edible, but not really effective against traffic. I gave it a lift to the verge.

Why did the toad cross the road?

Balcomie is now almost empty of shorebirds apart from the few summering oystercatcher and curlew. Yesterday I saw no waders, and today it was only 4 ringed plover, two dunlin and a knot. The southerly winds will have blown them all up to the Arctic.

Knot at Balcomie (JA)

Posted May 31, 2020 by wildcrail in Sightings

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