December 2020 Sightings

December started in much the same way as November had, quietly, but Fife’s fantastic autumn for rarities and scarce birds was to continue…. A Short-eared Owl was watched over Cocklemill Marsh (1st), c800 Pink-feet were around the Kilrenny area, there was a good count of 220 Sanderling at Elie and an immature Iceland Gull was a well watched at Kingsbarns. There was a ringed Bar-tailed Godwit on the lower lagoon at Valleyfield (NZU on yellow ring, right leg, red ring on left leg.) The bird was ringed in Norway in September this year. Another scarce bird in Fife, a Red Kite, was seen drifting NE over Morton Lochs NNR, two Stonechats, eight Wigeon and five Rock Pipits were noted at Fife Ness (2nd), with a Bonxie and two Red-throated Divers there (3rd). A Red-throated Diver, four Slavonian Grebes, one Great Crested Grebe, c7 Long-tailed Ducks, 13 Brent Geese, 124 Scaup and 16 Ringed Plovers were seen at Out Head, five roosting Grey Herons were noted at Aberdour, the Hudsonian Godwit, one Spotted Redshank, c60 Scaup and two Little Egrets were at the Eden Estuary LNR, 15 Whooper Swans flew W over Anstruther, an adult and a 2nd winter Mediterranean Gull were at Burntisland, where a male Blackcap was also seen on a garden feeder (4th). Two Common Scoters S, two Velvet Scoters S, two Red-throated Divers S, one Grey Heron, two Fulmars S, 19 Kittiwake S, one Kestrel, 11 Purple Sandpipers and 70 Starlings were noted at Fife Ness, a Black-throated Diver and a Kingfisher were seen at Dalgety Bay, an adult Mediterranean Gull was at Buckhaven, while another adult Mediterranean Gull, one Great Northern Diver, c75 Gannets, two Little Gulls and a Manx Shearwater, were all noted flying east close inshore at East Wemyss in 30 minutes. At Anstruther 400 Gannets, nine Long-tailed Ducks and nine Purple Sandpipers were noted. A Bonxie, 80 Kittiwakes, nine Long-tailed Ducks and 19 Common Scoters were watched passing Kinghorn, the Hudsonian Godwit was still present on the Eden Estuary (5th) and across at Cameron Reservoir a female Ring-necked Duck was a terrific find, a Woodcock was at Balcomie, with a Slavonian Grebe watched passing Fife Ness and along at Anstruther, two Black-throated Divers, one Great Northern Diver and eight Long-tailed Ducks were seen. Alongside the Ring-necked Duck at Cameron Reservoir (6th) was an immature drake Smew and three female Scaup, at the coastal strip from the mouth of the Kenly Burn to Boghall Farm, c7 Lapland Buntings, c60 Twite, 60 Tree Sparrows, six Corn Buntings, 80 Yellowhammers, 70 Reed Buntings, 60 Linnets, 40 Chaffinches, 35 Skylarks and a Greenshank were counted and across at Kinghorn Loch another Ring-necked Duck, a drake this time, was found along with two adult Mediterranean Gulls and a Pochard. A Jack Snipe, an immature male Peregrine and c1000 Woodpigeons were noted at Kilmany, a Marsh Harrier, one Buzzard, 22 Curlews and a Grey Heron were seen at Rossie Bog and c90 Curlews and c20 Oystercatchers were in fields next to Braefoot Storage Plant. A Tawny Owl was heard calling in Ladybank and yet another potential first for Fife, a Rustic Bunting, was expertly found near Kingsbarns (7th), but proved very elusive. The count of Mediterranean Gulls rose to three adults and two 1st winter birds at Kinghorn Loch, with the drake Ring-necked Duck seen briefly before flying off with Tufted Ducks. c40 Snow Buntings were at Tentsmuir Point NNR and an excellent count of 24 Magpies was made at Dalgety Bay.

Five to six Lapland Buntings were seen in fields north of Kingsbarns (8th), the Ring-necked Duck was still at Kinghorn Loch, as were a Water Rail, two Bullfinches and two Little Grebes and the female Ring-necked Duck was still showing well at Cameron Reservoir, along with four female-type Scaup. Six Red-breasted Mergansers and two Little Grebes were noted at Stenhouse Reservoir and an immature Marsh Harrier was watched at Newburgh and a Short-eared Owl was seen quartering fields near Kingsbarns. Four Whooper Swans were in stubble fields at Kilmany (9th), an adult Mediterranean Gull was at the river mouth at Leven and a drake Ring-necked Duck was on Beveridge Park Pond, with also a drake Goosander present. 10 Lapland Buntings were in a field west of Kenly Water, with c150 Twite nearby at Boghall, Kingsbarns, further west at Newmills Bay two Greenshanks, one Kingfisher and one Pintail were noted. Three Woodcocks in Knockhill Quarries were a good find, as was an adult Mediterranean Gull with 400 Common Gulls at Dunshalt. The drake Ring-necked Duck and two Mediterranean Gulls were present again at Kinghorn Loch (10th), with the female Ring-necked Duck, immature drake Smew, two redhead Goosanders, four Scaup, seven Pintail, 86 Wigeon and one Whooper Swan at Cameron Reservoir also. The 1st winter Hudsonian Godwit, 54 Black-tailed Godwits, one Bar-tailed Godwit, one Little Egret and 24 Knot were all noted at Guardbridge, two Green Sandpipers, a scarce species this year, were at Letham Pools and over at Kilmany, c500 Pink-footed Geese joined the four Whooper Swans there, with a large mixed flock of c450 Rooks/Jackdaws and c850 Woodpigeons also noted. An unusual count of 13 Yellowhammers in a Ladybank garden was made (11th). The drake Ring-neckedDuck was at the west end of Kinghorn Loch with Tufted Ducks and the Hudsonian Godwit was with 30 Black-tailed Godwits at the Eden Estuary, also a Slavonian Grebe and four Little Egrets were noted. At the Fairmont cliff top, near St Andrews a Pomarine Skua went W then SW, also one Great Northern Diver NW, one Red-throated Diver on the sea and a Raven W over the shore. Not far away at Boarhills (12th), 16 Lapland Buntings, were often seen flying around the stubble fields at Hillhead Farm, the female Ring-necked Duck, immature drake Smew, three female Scaup and six Pintail were all still at Cameron Reservoir and the count of Pink-footed Geese at Kilmany had risen to c1240, alongside the four Whooper Swans. Seen off Ruddons Point were a Great Northern Diver, two Black-throated Divers, nine Red-throated Divers and a Slavonian Grebe, with one Red-necked Grebe and four Red-throated Divers seen from Kincraig Point. The flock of c35 Snow Buntings were seen not far from the Kinshaldy Car Park at Tentsmuir and alongside the ever-growing Pink-footed Geese flock (c1400) at Kilmany (13th) there were four Whooper Swans, with c250 Fieldfares also seen. The Snow Bunting flock at Tentsmuir also grew with 40 seen, the Hudsonian Godwit was still with the Black-tailed Godwit flock at the Eden Estuary, also one Bar-tailed Godwit and a Greenshank were noted. At Dalgety Bay, two Slavonian Grebes, three Great Created Grebes, 31 Shelduck and 32 Wigeon were counted, an unusual sighting of a Spotted Redshank was made at St Andrews Harbour Pier and near the Dunfermline Rubbish Tip, 54 Whooper Swans, 140Pink-footed Geese and 900 Herring Gulls were seen. The Hudsonian Godwit was reported once more from the Eden Estuary (14th), two Lapland Buntings, six Yellowhammers and a flock of 40 Tree Sparrows were reported from fields near Kingsbarns, the drake Ring-necked Duck was seen again at Beveridge Park, Kirkcaldy.

A fine male Black Redstart was found at Elie (15th), the first winter Hudsonian Godwit, c50 Black-tailed Godwits, one Greenshank, one Kingfisher and a Sparrowhawk were all at Guardbridge, the drake Ring-necked Duck was still at Beveridge Park, with a Ring-necked Parakeet also seen. A Peregrine was seen on a pylon at Parkneuk and not far away at Craigluscar an immature female Scaup, a 1st record for this site, was present, also present were three drake Goosanders. Down at the coast at Dalgety Bay, two Slavonian Grebes were noted, a Merlin was seen at the roadside, near Airdrie and at Torry Bay, seven Great Crested Grebes, and two Pintails were counted. At Out Head, two Black-throated Divers and 12 Twite were seen, at Kinghorn Loch the drake Ring-necked Duck was still amongst Tufted Ducks, with also a Water Rail and many Bullfinches seen. The drake Ring-necked Duck was still present at Kinghorn Loch (16th), with the Hudsonian Godwit also still present at the Eden Estuary, a Slavonian Grebe and one Red-throated Diver were seen off Dalgety Bay and a Peregrine was seen on a post in a field east of East Wemyss, the Hudsonian Godwit, one Kingfisher, one Spotted Redshank, one Greenshank, three Little Egrets, nine Brent Geese, one Red-throated Diver, one Shoveler and c10 Greenshanks were all noted at the Eden Estuary (17th), the Lapland Bunting flock at Hillhead Farm, Boarhills had risen to 14 and at Boghall Farm, Kingsbarns 110 Twite were in a Turnip field by the coastal path. A single Waxwing was seen briefly with a flock of Goldfinches near Kinghorn Loch, the flock of c40 Snow Buntings were seen south of car park at Kinshaldy, but were very mobile and amongst a large raft of Common Scoters close inshore there, was an immature drake Surf Scoter, also c10 Slavonian Grebes. two Chiffchaffs were seen from the coastal path at east end of Sealstrand, Dalgety Bay and the Black Redstart continued to show very well at Elie Harbour Pier. At Kingsbarns (18th) a scarce juvenile Glaucous Gull and a 2nd winter Mediterranean Gull were seen well, the female Ring-necked Duck and immature drake Smew were still present at Cameron Reservoir (19th), with a very vocal tristis-type Chiffchaff in Sallows at the west end, also four Scaup were noted. An adult Mediterranean Gull was on the riverside opposite the Swimming Pool at Leven. Noted at St Andrews were c200 Fulmars, c150 Scaup, one Black-throated Diver, with the female Ring-necked Duck, a drake Smew, four Scaup and two Goosanders still present not far away at Cameron Reservoir (20th), 69 Black-tailed Godwits, five Bar-tailed Godwits and a Little Egret were counted on the Eden Estuary LNR, two Hawfinches flew S over a field at the eastern edge of Spinkie Den, near St Andrews, the Black Redstart, one Stonechat and three Rock Pipits were at Elie and the drake Ring-necked Duck along with four Mediterranean Gulls, three adults and a 1st winter, were noted at Kinghorn Loch. The Snow Bunting count was at 48 at Tentsmuir and there was still no sign of the Hudsonian Godwit amongst the 35 Black-tailed Godwits at the Eden Estuary LNR, where one Little Egret was still present. 94 Scaup were counted off St Andrews from the Aquarium Car Park.

On the beach next to the Harbour at Elie, the Black Redstart continued to show extremely well (22nd), two Slavonian Grebes were at Dalgety Bay, one Little Gull was off Tentsmuir Point NNR, one Black-throated Diver S and two Great Northern Divers SE were noted from Fife Ness (23rd), a Great Black-backed Gull flew N at Kilmany, a very scarce bird in those parts. The drake Ring-necked Duck was still at Kinghorn Loch, two adult White-tailed Eagles were seen along the Eden Estuary and three Snow Buntings were also at Out Head, an immature Marsh Harrier was noted at Newburgh and 41 Snow Buntings were still at Tentsmuir. One Spotted Redshank, 62 Black-tailed Godwits and one Bar-tailed Godwit were seen from the Eden Estuary Centre, a Ring-Necked Parakeet was seen again in Beveridge Park, Kirkcaldy and flew towards Raith Estate, three Lapland Buntings and a Merlin were seen in stubble fields north of Boarhills and at Kinghorn a 1st winter Iceland Gull flew W, two Great Northern Divers, one Black-throated Diver, four Red-throated Divers, two adult and one 2nd year Mediterranean Gull and a Velvet Scoter W were all noted. Up the Lomond Hills, between West and East Lomond, 12 Bullfinches, two Stonechats, two Ravens and two Snipe were seen (24th), between Kingsbarns and Boarhills c11 Lapland Buntings were seen in fields, the female Ring-neckedDuck, a drake Smew, four Scaup, three Whooper Swans and 11 Goosanders were at Cameron Reservoir, a female Smew flew fairly close in heading N at Tentsmuir and at Hillend Farm, Boarhills 13 Lapland and two Snow Buntings were a nice Christmas present for one lucky observer (25th). c80 Twite were at Boghall, Kingsbarns and at Kingskettle, 20 Whooper Swans were in a field to the N of village and at Kettlehill, 19 Fieldfares and three Bullfinches were seen. Two female Ring-necked Ducks, a drake Smew and a Scaup were seen at Cameron Reservoir (27th), 12 Lapland Buntings and 120 Twite were noted at Boghall, Kingsbarns, eight Siskins and 75 Fieldfares were seen at Pitmilly and across at Kirkcaldy, the drake Ring-necked Duck was once again on Beveridge Park pond. At Kincraig one Great Northern Diver passed W, one Whimbrel was amongst the Curlew flock on the grass and four Crossbills were watched drinking from the stream at the car park, an adult Mediterranean Gull was at Levenmouth, the Snow Bunting flock were still very mobile at Tentsmuir, with the count at 40 and a littoralis Rock Pipit was noted at Cellardyke, with this bird being part of a ringing project in Norway. This bird has orange coloured rings. A drake Scaup was on Kilconquhar Loch, three Little Egrets were on the Eden Estuary LNR, with another, single bird, not far away at Tayport, two Crossbills flew over Binnend, Burntisland NE (28th) and the two female Ring-necked Ducks were still on show at Cameron Reservoir, alongside two drake Smew, a Scaup and a Woodcock. c100 Scaup were counted off St Andrews, from the Sea Life Centre Car Park, 33 Snow Buntings, c20 Slavonian Grebes, one Little Egret and a Greenshank were at Tentsmuir, a Dark-bellied Brent Goose, four Pintail and two Little Egrets were at Tayport and another drake Smew popped up at Ballo Reservoir, an immature female Marsh Harrier and a Peregrine were noted at Newburgh and at Crail a 1st winter Glaucous Gull was seen in the gull flock in the field E of Sauchope (29th), with a 2nd year Iceland Gull seen taking off and flying over the houses. Also noted amongst the gulls were an adult Mediterranean Gull, and a Scandinavian Herring Gull, also one Merlin was in the vicinity, with one Lapland Bunting also in the first field to the left as you come out of Crail. A ringtail Hen Harrier was seen over fields at west end of Cameron Reservoir, where one female Ring-necked Duck and a drake Smew were present. An adult Little Gull and an adult Mediterranean Gull were seen off Kinghorn and a bit further west a Carrion Crow/Hooded Crow hybrid was among the corvids at Torry Bay. 19 Ringed Plovers and two Purple Sandpipers were at Elie, the drake Ring-necked Duck was still on Beveridge Park pond, Kirkcaldy, an immature female Marsh Harrier was at Rossie Bog and in stubble fields just north of the caravan park at Crail were two Lapland Buntings and 16 Corn Buntings. 17 Pale-bellied Brent Geese were counted in Balgove Bay and off Fife Ness, one Black Guillemot N, one Great Northern Diver N and five Red-throated Divers were counted. The Snow Buntings were counted at 38 at Tentsmuir and way over west at Craigluscar, a female Scaup, a female Goosander and 36 Whooper Swans were noted. There was negative news from the Eden Estuary area with still no sign of the Hudsonian Godwit. At Cameron Reservoir, two female Ring-necked Ducks, two drake Smew and a Scaup were seen and in fields N of thecaravan site at Sauchope, Crail, c6 Lapland Buntings were noted. c16 Lapland Buntings were seen in stubble fields at Boghall, Kingsbarns and across at Anstruther, 15 Crossbills, eight Bullfinches, 60 Fieldfares, 10 Mistle Thrushes and c18 Redwings were seen in pines on Windmill Road. At Luthrie, c100 Fieldfares were noted, a Jack Snipe, an adult Mediterranean Gull, two Little Egrets and three Pintail were at Tayport and nearby at a frozen Morton Lochs NNR a Water Rail and a Little Egret were seen. Three Little Egrets flew over the A985 at Kincardine and a minimum count of 17 Long-tailed Tits was made in a Ladybank garden. The two female Ring-necked Ducks, two drake Smew (adult and immature) and a Scaup were still showing well at Cameron Reservoir and in a Barley field W of the golf course on the St Andrews/Guardbridge road, 33 Pale-bellied Brent Geese were seen feeding (31st), there was a good count of 40 Corn Buntings at Sauchope, Crail and from the first car park at St Andrews a Great Northern Diver (close in) and c95 Scaup were counted. Finally this year there were 20 Wigeon, four Redshanks and a Little Grebe off St Bridget’s Kirk, Dalgety Bay.

Information supplied courtesy of Malcolm Ware