October 18th   2 comments

A still and grey day, with the wind dying down through the morning leaving an absolute flat calm from Crail to the May Island. I resumed my normal loop today rather than fixating on Kilminning. There were more skylarks coming in at Wormiston: there are hundreds in every stubble field now. On Balcomie beach there were 25 turnstones, 6 dunlin and the usual suspects – oystercatchers and redwings. I sat at Fife Ness for 30 minutes and enjoyed the peace. One kittiwake, a few common scoter and three far out auks were only thing going past apart from the gannets and shags. I did have two flocks of twite. One of five and the other of 15. The latter as if they had just come in from the sea. We probably have British and Scandinavian breeding twite spending the winter with us. There have been flocks reported from Boarhills to Fife Ness in the last week so we may be in for a good twite winter.

Twite (JA)

Upper Kilminning seemed a bit busier than yesterday. I spent a while trying to get good views of a flock of 6 redpoll feeding in the sycamore tops. They were clean and whiteish looking so may well have been Scandinavian birds. I had a distant glimpse of a chiffchaff while looking for the redpolls. It looked cold in tone too so may have been the Siberian chiffchaff again. A flock of 8 mistle thrush was around, feeding on the rowans but mostly flying around nervously like newly in migrants. They are very handsome thrushes – their spots underneath are much more even and widely distributed so they look much more spotted than song thrushes (see photo for Oct 12th below).

Migrant mistle thrush at Kilminning this morning

One of the real joys of living in Crail is that birds really are on my doorstep. I was cooking the Sunday dinner – very well organised and everything in the oven for an hour before tweaking required – when I got a message on the Fife Bird News WhatsApp group that there was a Mediterranean gull and a little gull in Roome Bay. Perfect timing and I jumped on my bike and was down with the gulls in three minutes. It was high tide, late afternoon with little beach left and there was a line of gulls – mostly black-headed – all along the surf. The path at Roome Bay is a few meters higher than the beach so it is a great place to see birds closely at high tide. If you stay on the path and don’t go down on to the beach, the birds are happy to ignore you even though you are only ten to twenty meters away. The Mediterranean gull was easy to spot – an adult, with pure white wings. After a minute it appeared to teleport down the beach: there was also a second adult. At various time times after a disturbance they paired up, but mostly they fed apart, picking up the seaweed maggots being washed out of the strand line wrack. Mediterranean gulls are a little bigger than black-headed gulls and the black-headed gulls gave way. I spent a happy twenty minutes trying to get a decent photo despite the fact that it was really too dark. Still it was a white bird against dark water so it could have been worse. The little gull had moved on but there was a juvenile kittiwake, a ton of herring gulls and all of the Crail resident redshanks and turnstones also taking part in the high tide feast. And then back to cooking without even a single burnt roast potato. Perhaps might have been a different story if they had been Sabine’s gulls.

Mediterranean gulls in Roome Bay this afternoon. Look for the white, not black wing tips, and the black shaded eye mask, rather than a black ear spot, to pick them out from black-headed gulls

Posted October 18, 2020 by wildcrail in Sightings

2 responses to “October 18th

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  1. I am so grateful for your blog. You communicate your joy and enthusiasm, and you also share your professional experience and knowledge without ever condescending, in a way that helps me develop my understanding and skills (I hope). Thank you.

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