May 7th   Leave a comment

I was on the old railway line between Crail and Kingsbarns this morning when I heard a reeling call – like a machine or an insect – a grasshopper warbler. Although grasshopper warblers breed all over Scotland, they are never very common, and they are surprisingly rare around Crail. I have had them in only 5 out the last 19 years. Always a singing bird because they are very skulky and hard to see when not singing (but then they might use a reasonably obvious perch). And pretty much always in May, when random birds on passage sing for a day or two before moving on. I have had one singing in Denburn and at Kilminning, but the rest are from all around Crail. The song is quite far carrying and grasshopper warblers seem to be happy in any dense vegetation on passage, so it is all a matter of just covering the ground. I have covered over 100km this week looking for corn buntings within 10km of Crail, and the scrappy bramble patches, or the hedges and dense bushes between the fields are all suitable for a refuelling grasshopper warbler. So I conclude that grasshopper warblers are rare or they rarely sing: I didn’t see this morning’s bird and the moment it stopped singing it disappeared completely.

Grasshopper warbler (JA)

Posted May 7, 2021 by wildcrail in Sightings

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