August 14th   Leave a comment

I feel that I have been working hard the last two days – perhaps 5 hours in total at Kilminning looking for potential migrants that might have come in on the easterlies of the last few days. Even so if there was a greenish warbler and it wasn’t calling I could easily have missed it. There are lots of willow warblers at Kilminning now, you can hear them calling everywhere, but I have hardly seen any of them without deliberately trying to track down a calling individual. And never mind barred warblers that are real skulkers and hardly ever call. Still you have to buy a lottery ticket to win, and sooner or later I will get lucky. The conditions are continuing fairly good over the next few days so I will keep trying. It hasn’t been entirely fruitless. There were three tree pipits in quick succession first thing this morning at upper Kilminning. And then I saw a ruff flying over. Ruffs turn up inland a lot, often in quite dry cow or horse fields, so it is not that unusual to see one around Crail away from the shore (although fairly unusual full stop with only one or two every year). It seemed like a good sign, but both of these species turn up in August even if we don’t have particularly good migrant conditions. Later in the afternoon a spotted flycatcher turned up at lower Kilminning. This is a better sign, and it wasn’t there in the morning. Spotted flycatchers, at least, are fairly conspicuous, and a few minutes at a site is enough to find one, if one is about. Hopefully more scarce migrants will turn up, and particularly with the rain showers forecast for Sunday and Monday.

Ruff (JA)

As I have been searching, I have been seeing lots of juvenile sparrowhawks. The nest at the top of Kilminning has fledged several chicks and they are now hunting in the area. It must be a major change for the local small birds as the density of sparrowhawks suddenly doubles or even triples. The juveniles might be less effective hunters but how is a young blue tit to know that? It still has to stop feeding to get into cover and out of the way, and then stay vigilant until the sparrowhawk leaves the area. It seemed like there was no time over the last two days when there wasn’t a sparrowhawk close by. At least it is warm, the days are still long and there are lots of insects about so feeding even in dense cover will be possible. Undoubtedly the sparrowhawks will have made any migrants harder to spot as well.

Newly fledged sparrowhawk – this one in John’s garden. At least two nests in Crail have fledged chicks this year so there are lots about in Crail gardens just now as well (JA)

Kittiwakes have been very common over the last week. Hundreds have been passing Crail every hour. At Sauchope today the gull roost was almost entirely kittiwakes. A mixture of adults, juveniles that are a few weeks out of the nest, and birds that fledged last year. Most of the kittiwakes have been heading east out of the Forth, but this afternoon they were passing Fife Ness to the west. We have huge flocks of kittiwakes a few kilometers off Fife Ness in August so perhaps these birds are just inshore at the moment rather than this being any kind of movement – the same thing as the gannets, moving locally back and forth.

Kittiwake – this one is one year old (JA)

Posted August 14, 2020 by wildcrail in Sightings

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