|Red Throated Diver|
I arranged to meet Jacqui at St Michaels to avoid the roadworks in Guardbridge and Leuchars at around 0810, so I headed out at just before 0740 to walk to the bus station for the 0755 bus. The bus into town actually stopped and waited at the stop, even though there was no-one waiting (thanks, driver!) so I ran to catch it, saving me the walk. A Dunnock pair on the pavement and a Herring Gull were the only birds seen until I reached the Wellgate where Feral Pigeons were added. A Carrion Crow was seen as the bus left the bus station. Starling and Woodpigeon were seen as the bus headed for St Michaels.
I met Jacqui just before 0815 and we set off for Balmullo and Dairsie to avoid the traffic queues. Collared Doves were rather numerous in Balmullo, and we added Lapwings as we headed for St Andrews as well as Magpie. A Mallard overflew as we neared St Andrews and Rooks were seen at the far end of town. A Buzzard glided alongside the car as we passed the Wormiston junction. Our first stop was Denburn Wood and this turned out to be quite productive. A few Goldcrests were in the trees by the wall at the road end and also in the same tree was a single Yellow Browed Warbler, though the views were not brilliant and the small group all moved into the taller trees at the corner where we lost sight of them.
We wandered up through the wood to the top end where we added Redwings in the trees and Skylarks passing overhead. A pair of Grey Wagtails also overflew. A Great Tit was on the wall between the two halves of the graveyard and the local Jackdaws chased around in the trees above us. A Blue Tit showed by the muddy path and the first Robin that I managed to see was added. A second attempt at the Yellow Browed Warbler proved fruitless so we headed along the road to Kilminning and hopefully a few more birds.
A Chaffinch and more Goldcrests greeted us, while overhead there was movement of Skylarks and more Redwings. A Willow Warbler was seen for a few seconds. We bumped into another Fife birder, Andy Falconer who was also hoping to find some decent migrants on the move. A Fieldfare passed over while a Magpie dropped into the trees behind us. There were more Goldcrests in the Rowans at the southeast corner of the 'top end' and we also eventually managed to add a Blackbird to the list. A Stock Dove flew over and a flock of Tree Sparrows did likewise. A Brambling flew over before turning round and flying back the way it had come.
Long Tailed Tits were working their way through the trees behind the ruined building as we headed back to check the stretch of road down towards the field. Jacqui spotted a male Pheasant on the road and we added Song Thrush to the list, though there were also plenty of Blackbirds, Tits and Yellowhammers in the Sycamores around the karting track. A pair of Linnets dropped into the crop on the field and a Wren scolded noisily at the base of a small bush. A Meadow Pipit flew past, along with lots more Skylarks. As we walked back up the road I spotted a group of six Golden Plover high overhead, their plaintive calls drawing my eyes skywards.
A trio of Mistle Thrushes flew past at the top end, and there were more Goldcrests to be found before we wandered over to Balcomie walled garden, though we didn't go in as one of the owners was gardening. A quick check nearby gave us House Sparrow and a Goldfinch, while a distant Great Black Backed Gull was another new bird for the day. A Pied Wagtail flew over as we headed back to the car to move on to the bottom end of Kilminning in the hope of more finds. There were plenty of Greenfinches among the rosehips as well as Blackbirds and Song Thrush. More Skylarks overflew before Jacqui spotted a male Blackcap feeding on Elder berries above a male Blackbird.
From the fence we were able to add a few Eiders and Black Headed Gulls to the list as well as few distant Gannets further out. An Oystercatcher was picking around among the rocks at the end of the caravan park. A Kestrel hovered nearby, while offshore I spotted a Red Breasted Merganser. With nothing else of note found around the bottom end and Jacqui's available time dwindling (she had to be home for around 1300) we headed for the Fife Bird Club hide to see if we could add some seabirds. In the hide was another Fife birder, Grant Robertson who said things were relatively quiet but he'd had one Bonxie already.
Settling down to see what we could find we soon were able to add a few species - with Cormorant and Common Gull flying past and a Curlew among the rocks. A few Shags also flew by, and a couple of Redshanks dropped in beside the Curlew. There were also a few Grey Plovers roosting out on the rocks. A pair of Long Tailed Ducks headed north, and we were joined in the hide by Andy, who we had met earlier at Kilminning. Jacqui found a few Guillemots just offshore which I eventually managed to see among the waves. Our first Red Throated Diver headed north above the horizon. A Rock Pipit flew up and away. There were a few flocks of Skylarks seen out over the water. A inged Plover and a Turnstone were seen out on the rocks.
A couple of Ringed Plovers flew past with a couple of Grey Plovers before we all got onto a Skua heading north which proved to be an Arctic Skua. A couple of distant Kittiwakes were added before Jacqui had to head for home. A few minutes later, Grant picked up a Manx Shearwater going north. Grant and Andy were on a Skua when another diver went north. I took some photos without really looking at it properly. When I got the chance to check it turned out to be a summer plumaged Great Northern Diver. I apologised to Andy and Grant for not realising, which meant they both missed it as they were concentrating on the Skua. A Great Skua (Bonxie) headed north. A second did likewise a short while later.
A few more Red Throated Divers, another Manx Shearwater, a few Guillemots, a few more Lng Tailed Ducks and another pair of Bonxies were all seen as the tide came in. A trio of Shelducks headed south. With the time at 1400 I decided to head back to re-check Kilminning. Andy decided to check the Patch and Grant was headed for Kilminning too. He offered me a lift back up but I declined, deciding instead to head along the coastal path and up from the bottom end to the top. As it turned out I saw very few birds on the walk along the path with only really Common and Black Headed Gulls, a Redshank pair and a Curlew seen.
The bottom of Kilminning was still quite busy with birds but they seemed to be the locals - Yellowhammers and Greenfinches mostly though there were a few Goldcrests seen too. Checking the times of the buses I had a choice to make, either have a quick check of the top end then head back to Crail or spend more time searching and catch the bus in two hours time. As things weren't looking too promising for finding a 'biggie' I settled on the former option. This gave me roughly twenty minutes of birding time and then the walk back to Crail for the bus. I managed to get a signal on my phone and sent a text with the day's sightings for the Fife Bird Club grapevine.
Grant was speaking to Willie Irvine at the top end but neither had seen much beyond Chiffchaffs and Blackcaps. A quick once round with Grant failed to turn anything else up, though as I was about to head back along the road I looked up just in time to see a Merlin pass overhead. A nice late bonus bird. Thirty seconds later, a larger flock of Golden Plover milled around above us. Grant offered me a run back along the road but as I still had 35 minutes until the bus was due, I decided just to walk, in case there was anything else to find. As it turned out there wasn't. While waiting for the bus to arrive, I did notice a high flying Sparrowhawk circling. I managed to catch the Dundee bus in St Andrews just as it was about to leave and added a field full of Pink Footed Geese between there and Guardbridge (which Jacqui had tipped me off about), and then a Grey Heron and a Mute Swan on the Motray taking the total number of species to seventy two.
Although we failed to get a 'biggie' among the many migrants which were passing through, we did get a nice selection of species, with some less commonly seen species in the mix (Arctic Skua, Great Skua, Brambling, Great Northern Diver, Yellow Browed Warbler, Merlin etc). Hopefully the 'biggie' is still to arrive this weekend.....
|Red Throated Diver|
|Red Throated Diver|
|Long Tailed Duck|
|Great Northern Diver|
|Great Northern Diver|
|Great Skua (Bonxie)|
|Great Skua (Bonxie)|
Species seen - Arctic Skua, Blackbird, Blackcap, Black Headed Gull, Blue Tit, Brambling, Buzzard, Carrion Crow, Chaffinch, Collared Dove, Common Gull, Cormorant, Curlew, Dunnock, Eider, Fieldfare, Gannet, Goldcrest, Golden Plover, Goldfinch, Great Black Backed Gull, Great Northern Diver, Great Skua, Great Tit, Greenfinch, Grey Heron, Grey Plover, Grey Wagtail, Guillemot, Herring Gull, House Sparrow, Jackdaw, Kestrel, Kittiwake, Lapwing, Linnet, Long Tailed Duck, Long Tailed Tit, Magpie, Mallard, Manx Shearwater, Meadow Pipit, Merlin, Mistle Thrush, Mute Swan, Oystercatcher, Pheasant, Pied Wagtail, Pink Footed Goose, Red Breasted Merganser, Redshank, Red Throated Diver, Redwing, Ringed Plover, Robin, Feral Pigeon, Rock Pipit, Rook, Shag, Shelduck, Skylark, Song Thrush, Sparrowhawk, Starling, Stock Dove, Tree Sparrow, Turnstone, Willow Warbler, Woodpigeon, Wren, Yellow Browed Warbler, Yellowhammer.