February 27th   Leave a comment

It was relief to get back outside this Saturday after a week stuck working indoors, and the days getting longer and warmer. It was time to get on my bike and get round the patch. Today was a balmy twelve degrees and very sunny: the frogs croaking all day, song thrushes and skylarks singing their heads off and great spotted woodpeckers drumming. Spring is definitely on the way.

I headed up to Carnbee via the secret bunker road. There is a big patch of wild bird seed mix planting just north of Tolldrie that has been full of small birds all winter but I have only driven past and thought about stopping. I should have done so earlier. There were hundreds of linnets, with smaller but good numbers of goldfinches, greenfinches, chaffinches and yellowhammers. Among them were nine bramblings; a couple of males now nearly in full summer plumage.

Male brambling

I continued up the road past the woods of the secret bunker, listening for anything special. A woodcock flew past me, but my usual jack snipe site in a boggy field corner by the road was empty of any other kind of snipe. It was the beginning of a theme for the rest of the day of missing winter visitors: no fieldfares or redwings to be found anywhere, no Lapland buntings. Carnbee reservoir was busy with ducks: about forty tufted ducks and twenty goldeneye, still lots of wigeon, but very few teal. I tried in vain again to call up a water rail. They are hit and miss on the Crail patch but you can never tell if they are there and being silent, or not there at all.

After Carnbee I went to Boarhills via Dunino. Everywhere I went today I heard and saw tree sparrows, many more than house sparrows. There are many parts of the UK where tree sparrows have disappeared completely: we are lucky to still have so many. At Boarhills I walked down the Kenly Burn. There were two dippers where I expect them to be, on the stretch between the village and the metal bridge. There are plenty of rapids and small overhanging cliffs on this stretch making it a good nesting area. It was high tide when I got to the Kenly mouth at lunch time. I sat watching the gull and wader roost. The usual greenshank was in amongst the redshank. At Hillhead the buntings are more or less gone. I had a flock of about 12 corn buntings in the stubble, but relatively few reed buntings and yellowhammers (still in their tens though, just nothing special compared to the cold weather of a couple of weeks ago). The twite are still in good numbers in the sheep field directly behind the beach, where the track comes down from Boghall Farm. There were at least 60 in a couple of flocks, often clustering on the fence around the field when they were disturbed. As I watched them a redpoll went over calling – pushing the Crail year list to 109. There were more twite in a flock of over 1000 linnet in the stubble field opposite the Newton of Wormiston, closer to Crail. Again I have been driving past this field and wondering about it all winter. Linnets are common and everyday, but a flock of 1000 is a noisy, dancing murmuration well worth seeing. And as I watched a common crossbill flew over from Wormiston, calling clearly but invisibly above me. I got back to Crail again seven hours, 30 km and 73 species later, with the sun still shining. Definitely much the best day this week.

The twite at Boghall today – still lots of twite about even if the other winter migrants are becoming scarcer

Posted February 27, 2021 by wildcrail in Sightings

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