June 17th   Leave a comment

The haar finally moved out to sea late morning today, after another drear start. I went out after lunch to see some sunshine, but had to head west, as the Fife Ness area was still covered in fog. At one point Crail was neatly divided east and west by haar. The sunny side of town held the rosy starling – reported from Felkinton Avenue this morning but I didn’t relocate it after a fair bit of looking at about 2 pm. I continued on to the yellow wagtail fields at Oldbarns. I was pleased to see the pair on the sea side was feeding chicks. The female particularly was coming into the nest field with big beakfuls of black flies almost every couple of minutes. I then noticed another male wagtail harassing the female – perching near it and calling and then chasing it quite vigorously. It flew over the road into the newly prepared, bare earth brassica field on the north side and I had a good view – a yellow wagtail with a grey blue head, a white supercilium and white lining the underside of the grey blue cap close to the bill. A blue-headed wagtail! This is the continental Europe sub-species of yellow wagtail and a good bird to find – certainly the first I have seen in Crail since I have been here. I tried to make it into one of the more far eastern versions of blue-headed wagtail (its cap was quite pale grey looking at times rather than blue…) to complement the easterly airflow and the central Asian origin of the rosy starling, but I suspect it is just a late migrating bird blown over from Germany or Eastern Europe. As I followed this bird along the edge of the field I couldn’t help but notice the breeding yellow wagtails behind me – not just the pair feeding chicks but another male further in the field showing all the signs of also having an active nest (with a female sitting on eggs or brooding very young chicks). This means that we have had at least three distinct breeding pairs this year and I think 6 attempts. The breeding activity must have pulled in the migrating continental wagtail: perhaps there is a spare female for it.

The blue-headed wagtail
The male breeding nearby using subtle non-verbal communication to deter the blue-headed male
The female yellow wagtail that is currently feeding chicks, at the start of another beakful of flies
The haar starts at Crail

Posted June 17, 2020 by wildcrail in Sightings

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