May 29th   Leave a comment

True to form. The sun came out on Friday, the temperature shot up – well, went to a normal summer value – and the haar came in. At some point in the future, when climate change has shifted the Mediterranean up to us, this will be a blessing. But at the moment, the haar is just a shame. Another day of wet feet and wooly hats. The silver lining is that the haar often comes in on an easterly wind, and it can bring migrants in that should be heading for Scandinavia. With that in mind, Kilminning was the obvious choice to start the day. It was quiet however, with the haar dancing in and out, promising a shaft of sunshine, but then bringing the cloud back just as it began to feel warm. Quiet migrant wise, but noisy with starlings angrily shrieking as their chicks are about to fledge – probably a few early nests already have chicks out. You don’t see the chicks as they hide deep in bushes for a few days after fledging but you hear the anxious parents reacting to every single crow (and there are a lot of crows about).

I tried Balcomie Beach where the haar had cleared a bit. The sun was causing the beach to steam creating a second mini-haar. Interesting in an Icelandic sort of way but not great for appreciating the waders: 40 or so sanderling, 20-30 ringed plover and a few dunlin. The high Arctic bound crowd refueling on the seaweed strewn beach. Sanderling, so white and clean in the winter, get an interesting orangey, lichen covered boulder look to them in the summer. They are brilliantly camouflaged for the Arctic tundra.

Sanderling on Balcomie Beach this week (JA)

The visibility wasn’t very good at Fife Ness. Some Arctic terns. They will be much more frequent now they have eggs on the May Island, and the off duty bird will be off fishing. A flock of six velvet scoters, all males except for one female. Turnstones on the rocks – more of the high Arctic bound crowd.

Later, in the afternoon, I was mapping fields and corn buntings at the end of Balcomie golf course when I saw a shape lolloping over the rise of the cattle field there. A badger scurrying out of a sett in the middle of the field. Another badger followed it, and then another. Just as suddenly they came back, dashing back into their hole, one, two three. And then back out again, and then back into the hole again. Three youngsters daring themselves to run out into the field, in daylight, and then getting scared, running straight back to safety. The wind was behind them so they didn’t notice me only a few meters away. My dog, with the same low to the ground eyesight, couldn’t see them but could smell them being upwind: interested but thankfully just a cautious interest. I hardly ever see badgers, and then it is usually only at night, crossing the road when the sighting is often spoilt by thoughts of squashed badgers, so this made one of my best ever sightings. There are badgers literally everywhere around Crail. Hundreds of them. But they usually keep themselves to the dark.     

Local badger cubs (JA)

My phone pinged. A possible rustic bunting along the coastal path at West Braes. A major scramble saw four of the Crail birders at the site within about twenty minutes. But our run of luck with rustic buntings continued – no sign of it, as with the couple of sightings of a wintering bird last year. It felt a bit like a needle in a haystack, but too close to home not to try for. The spring migrant season is coming to a close, but there is still another week for big rarities to turn up.

Posted May 29, 2021 by wildcrail in Sightings

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