December 6th   Leave a comment

It cleared up last night and this morning was bright, sunny and cold enough that you needed to keep moving to be comfortable. I walked down to Kenly Burn from the Anstruther road, following the track down to the coastal path along the northern edge of Boghall Farm. The fields there are still stubble with a lot of groundsel weeds in them, and there are two extensive strips of wild bird food plants. It was full of farmland birds – quite like the old days that I remember from the late 1970s when I started birding There is a hawthorn hedgerow along the track and at various times the flocks of buntings and finches in the stubble would all congregate there. I counted several hundred birds: 60 tree sparrows, 80 yellowhammer, 70 reed bunting, 60 linnet and six corn bunting. In the stubble only was about 35 skylarks (or many more as they stayed hidden until flushed) and between 5-7 Lapland bunting. The Lapland buntings were very active, flying around and calling, chasing each other, and sometimes very close. One even landed in the hedge with the other buntings – but was soon off again chasing. I don’t know if these are different Laplands from those of last week closer to Kingsbarns. As the bunting flies, today’s birds were 1.3 kilometers away (5 fields). I will try and do a count of both sets of fields next weekend to confirm how many are about. My money is on two different groups. The corn buntings were very active too. Five were in a line on a dyke with three birds singing and one displaying. There was a bit of chasing too. Further down the field towards the shore was a flock of 40 chaffinches and then along the coastal path, directly to the north of Boghall Farm a big flock of well over 50 twite. One of the main things we are losing at the moment is abundance – species are not going extinct but they are becoming much less common. But today felt just fine. The weedy winter stubbles and the set aside strips really make a difference. I hope one positive of us setting our own UK farming policies next year is that farmers get properly rewarded for leaving spaces and habitats for birds. I had a cup of coffee down on the beach at Kenly to finish my walk and watched a greenshank, shining almost white in the sun.

Some of the tree sparrows at Boghall Farm this morning
Greenshank with a redshank to the right – winter greenshank glow almost white compared to redshanks. The legs are a giveaway as well of course.

One of the occupational hazards of being the birdy person in Crail is I get my neighbours calling me if there is a bird to be rescued. Most of the time I can’t help, and there is really nothing to be done. A woodpigeon chick that has fallen out of a destroyed nest, or a gannet with a broken wing. Today I had an exhausted guillemot brought to my door. The stormy weather of the last few days will have made fishing difficult for it, and it was found listless on the tide’s edge. It was starving, with a keel lacking any fat and muscle. I shouldn’t think it could fly, but a guillemot doesn’t need to during the winter and it was still fairly perky. So I took the guillemot down to Roome Bay and launched it into the water, hoping for the best. It shook itself and swam out towards the sea. I don’t know whether it will be alright, but I think it has a reasonable chance.

The exhausted guillemot heading off into the sunset in Roome Bay

Posted December 6, 2020 by wildcrail in Sightings

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