October 8th   Leave a comment

I only went out this morning to clear my head before work and take the dog out on a beautiful morning. The wind is westerly, although very light today and with lovely autumn sunshine. We went to Balcomie Beach which I have neglected over the last week. Twenty dunlin and a few redshank, so a fairly typical winter’s day, but nice to look at some birds that weren’t doing their best to hide from me. I thought I would just take a look into the Patch on my back home. There is that nagging feeling that despite none of the exciting birds in the Patch being seen again yesterday, it was quite windy. And we have obviously been missing things even when there have been several very hard-working birders in the Patch. I also wanted to get a view of the crossbills that have been shuttling between the pines at Kilminning and the Patch for the last week. I have been calling them in as overflying birds each time, but it has been the same circumstances each time, and now people have seen a small flock feeding in both locations, but never at the same time. I got lucky immediately with the flock (four birds I think) feeding on the pines right beside the entrance path. Crossbills are always a bit shy but tend to get distracted when feeding so a gentle approach can sometimes work. I ended up beside the pine with a crossbill glaring at me as it fed: never mind the crossed mandibles, they also look cross close up.

A cross looking crossbill at the Patch this morning

I then walked around the patch. On my way out I heard the Arctic warbler making its dipper call from the same area where we last saw it the day before yesterday. It called in short bouts for a minute and I localised it to the same big sycamore next to the redundant telephone pole where we last saw and heard it on Tuesday afternoon. I was trying to get eyes on it before putting the news out when I saw a warbler down in the cotoneaster bush beside the sycamore. The Blyth’s reed warbler that had eluded me on Monday and Tuesday. It was showing well and I was able to see many of the key features (summarised in the picture below), although it greatly helped to know that it had been identified as a Blyth’s already. They are tricky, but there are a suite of characters that help. I saw the short primary projection immediately, the supercilium in front of the eye and eyering, and the greyish olive rather than rufous tones dominant on the back. And then it gave a nice blackcap like “tchack” call. All very obliging and I was able to follow it round very closely for the next hour. It hardly ever came out clearly from the vegetation but gave good views at less than ten meters, completely unconcerned about me. Most of the time it was in dense brambles and because it didn’t flush I can see how we had all been walking past it for the last three or more days. Even though it was a bit tricky to accumulate the characters for a very definite id, it was so, so much easier than getting a view of the Siberian thrush. Everything is relative. Number 235 for my Crail patch list and the third new addition in a week! Anyway, back to work now.

The photofit of the Blyth’s reed warbler that has been in the Patch at Fife Ness at least from Monday

Posted October 8, 2020 by wildcrail in Sightings

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