December 23rd   Leave a comment

A cold grey day with a northerly wind. The waders were back on Balcomie Beach this morning. About 25 sanderling and the same number of dunlin, 15 ringed plover, a couple of purple sandpipers and a bar-tailed godwit. The strandline of the beach was pockmarked with little beak marks where they had been feeding. The sanderling seemed more frantic and clockwork than ever as they scurried after food in the surf.

Sanderling and dunlin bill marks on Balcomie Beach. If you stare at them long enough you can read “Merry Christmas”
Bar-tailed godwit (JA)

This afternoon I went on another search for ravens for the patch list. I have only had them in one year with a few sightings in 2015 around the airfield. A pair was seen this morning displaying over a likely looking nesting site at Kittocks Den on the coastal path (below the Fairmont golf course between Boarhills and St Andrews). Ravens should be all over the lowlands of Scotland and should be common around Crail. But they have been (and still are) heavily persecuted, so they have not reclaimed the intensively farmed and more heavily populated East coast areas of Scotland. It’s a great sign if we are getting a local breeding pair back. Ravens breed very early, starting in January. The pair this afternoon proved elusive and I was heading back to Boarhills before one appeared above the golf course, huge and magnificent. A carrion crow helpfully mobbing it a little later to show just how big it was. Ravens are buzzard sized and dwarf carrion crows. When you can’t judge their size their long backward swept wings and diamond shaped tails are their best feature. It was a nice walk overall, through the marshy woodland of Kittock’s Den, full of redwings, the wet golf course with a couple of common snipe, the coastal cliff path with kestrels and jackdaws overhead, and the stubbles with skylark and a female merlin heading up into the sunset.  

Raven (JA). No. 173 for the 2020 Crail patch year list – now beating the record by 5

Posted December 23, 2020 by wildcrail in Sightings

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