2018 opened with up to nine Lapland Buntings and c30 Twite in the stubble fields at Wormiston with 20 of the latter species also on the beach at Balcomie. The redhead Smew at Lochore Meadows CP put in its first appearance of the year and two White-tailed Eagles were seen from Out Head before Kilrenny Common welcomed 800 Pink-footed Geese, a Snipe, three pairs of Bullfinches, two Sparrowhawks, three Buzzards, five Tree Sparrows and a Great Spotted Woodpecker (1st). A Little Gull, ten Long-tailed Ducks and 130 Shags were seen at Kinghorn, where five Herring Gulls were identified as being of the argentatus race, then 66 Goldeneyes were counted at Kirkcaldy harbour (2nd). Observers were out in force the next day with report highlights including a small flock of Twite again at Wormiston, one adult and one second winter Mediterranean Gull at Balcomie beach with other adult winter individuals at Buckhaven, Anstruther and between Pittenweem and St Monans whilst the Smew was still at Lochore Meadows CP. Two Scaup, three Pochards and a drake Shoveler were at Kilconquhar Loch then the drake Surf Scoter was seen off Lower Largo’s Carrick Villa along with two Slavonian Grebes and a Red-throated Diver (3rd). Kinghorn proved to be a favourite location for viewing Humpbacked Whales and other cetaceans throughout the month but the avian sightings commenced with five Purple Sandpipers, 12 Turnstones, 23 Red-throated Divers, 52 Long-tailed Ducks, 40 Common Scoters, 180 Pink-footed Geese, two Guillemots and three immature Gannets (4th). A Snow Bunting was in the dunes north of the car park at Tentsmuir where there were four Slavonian Grebes offshore and a Raven and White-tailed Eagle over (6th). Craigmead hosted nine Crossbills and three Red Grouse, the Smew was still at a frozen Lochore Meadows CP whilst at Kinghorn an adult Mediterranean Gull was noted as well as one adult Gannet, 45 Common Scoters and 20+ Long-tailed Ducks (7th).
There were only two Twite on the beach at Wormiston but they were joined by two Stonechats (8th). Out Head held six Snow Buntings then observations at Kinghorn continued with a Black-throated Diver, a Bonxie heading east, at least six Kittiwakes, 18 Fulmars, 49 Long-tailed Ducks, 45 Common Scoters and three Purple Sandpipers (9th). The Snow Buntings at Out Head numbered only two but there were four Stonechats (10th) then the Surf Scoter was off Ruddons Point the next day (11th). A Great White Egret appeared in front of Gamekeepers Cottage at Rossie Bog (12th).The next day was a busy one starting with a Black Guillemot and two Brent Geese off the car park at Seafield, three Purple Sandpipers at Kinghorn, a Whimbrel at Ruddons Point, a first winter Iceland Gull at West Wemyss then the Surf Scoter, c400 Velvet Scoters, three Red-throated Divers, three Slavonian Grebes and two Purple Sandpipers at Largo Bay and two Waxwings at Lade Braes in St Andrews (13th). A Peregrine, 40 Common Scoters, c25 Long-tailed Ducks, one Red-throated Diver and a Purple Sandpiper were at Kinghorn, a Little Egret was at Tayport and the Smew was still at Lochore Meadows CP then there was a late report of a possible Black-necked Grebe in Elie harbour (14th).
The Great White Egret was seen again at Rossie Bog, an adult Mediterranean Gull was at Buckhaven, a Black-throated Diver was showing well off the car park at Seafield and the Smew lingered at Lochore Meadows CP accompanied by five Whooper Swans whilst Anstruther hosted 25 Purple Sandpipers then a report from Edenside included c50 Shelducks, c150 Lapwings and at least ten Tree Sparrows (15th). Kingsbarns held 43 Corn Buntings and six Twite and 14 of the latter species were at Balcomie beach. Three Whooper Swans and a single Greenland White-fronted Goose were at Lochore Meadows CP and a Short-eared Owl appeared at Norman’s Law (17th). A report from Newton Sandpit included five Dabchicks, 14 Teal, eight Wigeon and 19 Goldeneyes then sea-watching at Kinghorn produced one Great Northern Diver, c40 Common Scoters and c30 Long-tailed Ducks as well as two Purple Sandpipers (20th). A single Greenshank was at Culross, two Merlins, 15 Twite and two Goosanders were observed at Balcomie beach, a first winter Scaup, 67 Goldeneyes and 77 Mallards were in Kirkcaldy harbour and a Little Gull was at Kinghorn (21st).
An Iceland Gull flew over Anstruther (23rd) then an adult Mediterranean Gull was seen at Levenmouth (24th).Three Twite loitered at Balcomie beach then Out Head hosted a Snow Bunting and a Stonechat with c40 Scaup and c850 Common Scoters offshore whilst on a different part of the coast three Purple Sandpipers, 18+ Long-tailed Ducks, 33 Common Scoters, one Great Crested Grebe and eight Razorbills were seen from Kinghorn (25th) where further observations the next day produced three Purple Sandpipers, 26 Long-tailed Ducks and an adult Mediterranean Gull. Other coastal sightings included the drake Surf Scoter, 140 Velvet Scoters, 37 Red-throated Divers and 14 Slavonian Grebes at Lower Largo, a ringed adult Mediterranean Gull off Kirkcaldy promenade, 91 Goldeneyes in Kirkcaldy harbour, five Purple Sandpipers at Seafield and an adult Little Gull at Burntisland whilst a Barn Owl was seen near Auchtermuchty (27th). Buckhaven hosted a customary adult Mediterranean Gull then Pathhead yielded a Black-throated Diver and a first winter Little Gull (28th).
Kinghorn also had a Little Gull, an adult, as well as five immature Kittiwakes, ten Common Scoters, and six Long-tailed Ducks whilst eight Kittiwakes and an adult Mediterranean Gull were noted at Burntisland (30th). Fittingly, the month ended with another report of the Great White Egret at Rossie Bog (31st).
Information courtesy of Malcolm Ware and Graham Sparshott