December 2022 Sightings

A slow start to the last month of the year with only six Snow Buntings seen at Out Head on the 1st. The female Ring-necked Duck was seen again at Birnie Loch on the 2nd, as was the Smew at Cameron Reservoir and three Waxwings briefly in Kirkcaldy. A fantastic record of a Cetti’s Warbler at St Margaret’s Marsh Rosyth on the 3rd will constitute the 2nd record for Fife if accepted, a species we should all be looking out for now. The warbler was present the following day, but elusive and at Birnie Loch the Ring-necked Duck was still favouring the north-west corner on the 5th with three Waxwings at St Andrews that day. The Cetti’s Warbler showed briefly twice during the day on the 6th with the Smew at Cameron Reservoir a bit more obliging as was the female Ring-necked Duck at Birnie Loch the next day.

16 Little Auks and a Little Egret were noted at Fife Ness on the 8th and next day there were two drake Smew at Cameron Reservoir. Also on the 9th the drake Ring-necked Duck was relocated at Kinghorn Loch and two Waxwings were in Dunfermline. The Cetti’s Warbler was again heard briefly at St Margaret’s Marsh on the 10th and a Red-necked Grebe was seen at Pathhead. 33 Little Auks flew north past Fife Ness on the 11th and the female Ring-necked Duck was still at a semi-frozen Birnie Loch. Great Northern Divers were noted at West Wemyss and St Andrews where 14 Snow Buntings were watched coming in off the sea. Nearby there were two drake Smew at Cameron Reservoir, two Waxwings in Dunfermline and the Cetti’s Warbler was heard at St Margaret’s Marsh and seen briefly the following day. The drake Ring-necked Duck was again seen at Kinghorn Loch on the 12th and the following three days with a drake Smew seen at Guardbridge on the 13th, probably relating to the Cameron Reservoir bird relocating due to the reservoir being frozen.

An interesting Aythya at Kinghorn Loch, first spotted on the 13th, caused a bit of discussion before being confirmed as a 1st winter Lesser Scaup and was still present on the 15th. If accepted it would be the second county record.The first was present for two days in May 2007 at Loch Gellybut unfortunately was only seen by the finders. Both the Lesser Scaup and Ring-necked Duck were still showing on the 16th in pretty poor conditions and two Marsh Harriers and a Waxwing were at Newburgh. Six Little Auks went south at Fife Ness on the 17th when c80 Twite were at Coble Shore. The North American double act of drake Ring-necked Duck and 1st winter Lesser Scaup remained at Kinghorn Loch, allowing birders the chance to get it the latter on their Fife lists up until the 20th with the former seen on the 21st. On the 18th a drake Smew was seen at Cameron Reservoir with two drakes there from the 19th to the 26th. Also on the 19th there were 11 Waxwings seen in Dunfermline, a Hen Harrier at Bow of Fife and amazingly three Marsh Harriers at Newburgh. Another Hen Harrier or possibly the bird seen the previous day was watched at Bankhead Moss on the 20th. A Ring-necked Parakeet was seen at Markinch that day and possibly a different individual than the Kirkcaldy birds regularly seen.

129 Scaup were counted off the aquarium in St Andrews on the 22nd with a single Waxwing seen briefly in Cupar. A Hen Harrier was at Cameron Reservoir on Xmas eve, two Marsh Harriers were again seen at Newburgh and a 1st winter Glaucous Gull passed Fife Ness. An excellent record came from Carnbee Reservoir on the 24th of a female Velvet Scoter there, an unusual inland record, it was reported again on the 28th and 29th. The Lesser Scaup reappeared at Kinghorn Loch but due to watersport disturbance relocated to the small boating pond at Beveridge Park, Kirkcaldy. Remarkable to think that in the last two years there has been two North American rarities seen on this unlikely site whose last claim to fame was a Smew that wintered there in the late seventies. The Lesser Scaup was reported from its usual haunt of Kinghorn Loch on Xmas day. On the 26th one birder got a belated Xmas present when a 1st winter Iceland Gull flew past his window in Coaltown of Balgonie and landed on his next door neighbour’s roof. The Lesser Scaup was again off the Ecology Centre at Kinghorn Loch on the 27th and a solitary Little Auk went past Fife Ness. On the 28th the Lesser Scaup was seen briefly at Kinghorn Loch before being disturbed and resettling at Beveridge Park, Kirkcaldy.

On the 29th one drake Smew and a Hen Harrier were seen at Cameron Reservoir. The last day of 2022 started with 21 Purple Sandpipers at Seafield, then two redhead Smew were found on a roadside flood near Kingskettle before being flushed by shooters. They were relocated at The Wilderness later and the two drakes were apparently still at Cameron Reservoir but not reported to FBN.

Another exceptional year for the county and thanks to everyone who contributed. Hopefully 2023 will continue the trend.

Information supplied courtesy of Malcolm Ware