December 8th   Leave a comment

I have spent a few hours over the last two days in the fields just to the north of Kingsbarns, between the main road and the coastal path. A rustic bunting was seen there yesterday morning: a new one for the Crail list if I had found it. It’s a variation on a reed bunting, distinctive enough if you see it well but not when flying away from you in the middle of a stubble field. I’m hopeful that it will be relocated. There are certainly a lot of buntings between Kingsbarns and Boarhills, and it will be easy for one slightly different bunting to blend in. It was interesting to see how the different species – yellowhammer, reed and corn bunting, and even a few Lapland buntings, were in some fields on one day but absent on the other suggesting that they are moving around on quite a large scale. It seems likely now that the Lapland buntings at Boghall Farm are the same as the ones at Kingsbarns, so perhaps the yellowhammers and corn buntings are also moving over the fields at the 1-2 km scale. It is also interesting to see so many corn buntings. Probably about 15 in total in the fields close to Kingsbarns in the last two days. They used to be much scarcer as a wintering bird even though they have always bred here. As the population has gone up, more and more birds seem to stay in their breeding areas: probably both are linked to better feeding conditions in winter that the local farmers are creating.

Corn bunting (JA)

It wasn’t entirely tramping around the stubble fields after buntings. I saw a merlin hunting a skylark yesterday afternoon. The skylark burst into song as the merlin got within fifty meters and the merlin stopped flapping instantly, gliding down back to the stubble. They have a good system going as long as the skylark is fit enough to be able to sing while being chased, so demonstrating its uncatchability (if this sounds far fetched to you have a look at the entry for October 24th 2012 – I also wrote a paper about this (link below) if you want to read about the details – it is a fascinating bit of natural history). And this morning there were lots of pink-footed geese around Kingsbarns, several hundred at least; probably the same lot came over Crail about half three this afternoon.

Posted December 8, 2020 by wildcrail in Sightings

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