August 1st   Leave a comment

August is here and with it summer starts sliding into autumn, at least bird wise. The last couple of weeks there has been a complete change in the number of birds singing, only the corn buntings are still having a go. The noisy, conspicuous sedge warblers have become almost silent and invisible, and the whitethroats are skulking in family parties in long grass, or wheat and oat fields. I only see them as they dash back into denser cover at the edge of the fields. Both species will start leaving us for West Africa over the next couple of weeks. In Denburn, only the woodpigeons are still singing – they can breed through until Christmas – and the other main bird sound is the grumpy ticking of robins.

It was a complete change at sea this morning. The wind was westerly and an hour at Fife Ness didn’t turn up a single shearwater. There were some velvet and common scoters passing, three teal, and a group of 9 knot on the rocks. One had a set of colour rings on so I emailed the person who the combination is registered to so I can find out its details: but according to the overview of the scheme, it was ringed in Norway as long ago as 2003… I can believe this. One of the rings had three letters on it that were barely legible, and it took me several minutes of close observation through my telescope to get an idea what the letters were. I love knowing that some animals have long lives, coming back and forth through Crail at least as long as I have been here, so I hope this one does turn out to be a survivor.

The likely very old knot at Fife Ness this lunchtime – the yellow leg flag had three almost illegible, faded letters on it NHP. I hope to find out its exact age from the ringer when he gets back to me, but I think it is at least 16 years old.

I came back to Crail via Balcomie, reversing my normal route to go along the shore at high tide. It paid off. 47 juvenile dunlins at only a few meters, barely reacting as I went along the coastal path above them – the ratio of adults to juveniles had reversed completely from 3 weeks ago. Now it is almost entirely juveniles. I saw just two adults today, and both were roosting further out on the rocks rather than feeding close in. There was also a single sanderling and five whimbrels, and a couple of northern wheatears. I am seeing wheatears every day at Balcomie but almost always different birds (different ages, sexes or moult stages), so individuals are only staying for a day or two. There were 13 goosander roosting at the furthest end of the golf course.

Northern wheatear at Balcomie two days ago (JA)

Posted August 1, 2020 by wildcrail in Sightings

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