August 24th   Leave a comment

The haar was in and out of Crail today, and with light south-easterly winds there was a vague chance of a migrant. As I cycled along by the airfield I flushed a whinchat from the fence – my first of the autumn. It flew off into the cow field to a patch of nettles. Perfect whinchat habitat – about a meter of perch, surrounded by rough grass to sally down into. Whinchats will always be one of my favourite birds – I spent some of today analysing data from the geolocator tags I took off whinchats in Nigeria and Liberia. This has been on hold during lockdown but I now have some time to look at each bird’s adventures again. This whinchat today may well be heading down to Liberia. We didn’t get any of our tagged birds coming to Scotland, but then only a tiny proportion of Europe’s vast whinchat population will be at any particular site in Africa. Nevertheless, every whinchat I see in Crail, I can imagine heading down to somewhere I know in West Africa, where I have studied them. As I watched the whinchat and thought my usual thought, about how similar the brown grass cow field and nettles was to African farmland, I heard a tree pipit popping up from the field, and then saw a second perched in a dead tree beside it. Again, just the same as African farmland, minus the bee-eaters.

Whinchat in Liberia, January 2020. This one went to breed well above the Arctic circle in Norway.

Posted August 24, 2021 by wildcrail in Sightings

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