May 30th   Leave a comment

The sun finally did come out this afternoon, with the haar retreating to the middle of the Forth. I was out checking corn buntings at Barnsmuir. I got excited when one popped up out of a grass covered dyke. I expected to find a nest but instead the reason it was skulking around the wall, I think, was because it was feeding on snail shell fragments from a thrush anvil. I still think most of the corn buntings are mate guarding at the moment – I see pairs a lot with the male only singing when it has a good view of the female below it. Otherwise, the male keeps quiet and follows the female around. If they are mate guarding then they are also laying eggs now, and so extra calcium – hence the snail shells – will be needed by the females.

I checked two of the yellow wagtail nests this weekend and they are still active with females on the nest. I work this out by looking at the male’s behaviour. They perch reasonably close to the nest site, watching the nest area and have a particular call they use, I assume to tell the female that I (perceived as a potential predator) am in the area. It gives away the fact that there is a nest on the go with a female sitting on eggs. Once the chicks hatch you get a confirmation that this is the case because the nest becomes even more obvious as the parents fly back and forth to the same bit of field with food. I am hopeful that the other two nests (of the four in total) are still on the go because when a nest fails the pair then hangs around together all day. But yellow wagtails can move sites between failed nests at the scale of a kilometer or two so if this has happened then I won’t necessarily detect this until I refind the pair starting a new nest somewhere else.

As I walked around the perimeter of another winter wheat field I heard a distinctive honking. A flock of 27 Canada geese approaching. I watched them coming in from the Forth, after a flight from somewhere further south, perhaps in England, to continue over Fife straight towards Boarhills. I lost them making an exact beeline to the mouth of the Kenly Burn, where each summer, a flock of 50 or more Canada geese spend a couple of months moulting. The first birds each year – like today – arrive too early to have bred successfully. Today’s flock might be failed breeders or sub-adults that aren’t old enough to start breeding (Canada geese usually only start breeding in their 3rd year). Each year more and more Canada geese seem to come to Kenly, and they also seem to be getting earlier in their arrival.

Part of the flock of 27 Canada geese – my first for the year – heading towards Kenly this afternoon. This takes the Crail patch year list up to 146, over two months ahead of last year.

Posted May 30, 2021 by wildcrail in Sightings

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