December 5th   Leave a comment

The tail end of the storm was still lingering this morning as I walked round Balcomie, Fife Ness and Kilminning. Big storm clouds and occasional wintery showers, with the distant Perthshire hills covered in snow. A woodcock popped up from the side of the horse field at Balcomie. Woodcocks are nocturnal and hide out in the woods during the day, but it had been so dark and wet I don’t blame it for staying out. If you go out into the fields after dark with a spotlight you can see woodcock eyes shining back at you, sometimes in surprising numbers. There may be up to two million woodcocks wintering in the UK, enjoying our damp and usually mild winters. They migrate from eastern Europe and Russia where the ground freezes and so prevents woodcocks from probing for the soil invertebrates they feed on.

Woodcock – note the huge eyes for its nocturnal foraging. There was some snow overnight in Crail but nothing stuck. This woodcock was in 2010, when we last had some decent snow (JA)

Balcomie Beach was still empty of everything except redshanks and oystercatchers. Half an hour at Fife Ness produced only a few red-throated divers, kittiwakes and a steady passage of guillemots and razorbills in small numbers. And then a Slavonian grebe flying past from the Forth, landing in front of the Ness. The waves were large this morning so I could only see it in brief glimpses. All grebes are rare around Crail and although I saw a Slavonian grebe this year on August 29th, today’s is only my 5th bird in ten years. They are easier to find in the inner Forth or in St Andrews Bay. I didn’t see any gannets until I was round the coast at Kilminning, when a flock of 14 went past: yesterday there was a steady passage past Crail because of the strong winds.

Slavonian Grebe (JA)

Posted December 5, 2020 by wildcrail in Sightings

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