Observers were out in force on the first day of the year, perhaps engaged in traditional New Year’s Day excursions. They discovered some birds from last month extending their residence in to 2019 e.g. the Black-necked Grebe at Elie, the two Surf Scoters at St Andrews and the Water Pipit at Cocklemill Burn. A Red-necked Grebe was present at Ruddons Point and 122 Corn Buntings were counted between Waterless Bridge and Ardross Farm. A Chiffchaff was near the coastal path at Dysart, a Greenshank was at Kenly Burn, Boarhills and a Pomarine Skua was harassing large gulls well out from Kingsbarns beach. Lochore Meadows CP hosted a redhead Smew, a Great Crested Grebe and 16 Whooper Swans on the main loch with five Pintails and three Gadwall at the nature reserve end and a Kingfisher was at Kilconquhar Loch (1st). A redhead Smew was also at Cameron Reservoir along with eight Crossbills and three Whooper Swans. The Water Pipit, the Black-necked Grebe and the two Surf Scoters were at their usual locations and were also noted on the following two days. A Raven was seen over the caravan park at Shell Bay (2nd). Many of the freshwater bodies were iced over to a variable extent with reports of 13 Mute Swans, 14 Mallards and five Goldeneyes at Letham Pools, seven Mute Swans, six Whooper Swans, 23 Mallards, eight Gadwall, c50 Tufted Ducks and 11 Goldeneyes at Mountcastle GP, eight Mute Swans, eight Goldeneyes, c65 Coots and a Jay at Angle Park GP, and ten Wigeon, 12 Tufted Ducks, five Goldeneyes, 27 Black-headed Gulls and five Common Gulls at Birnie & Gaddon Lochs LNR. 16 Waxwings were in central Kirkcaldy (3rd) and 15 of this species were reported at Ballantager Farm the following day. A Great Northern Diver and a Slavonian Grebe joined the Black-necked Grebe at Elie and an adult Mediterranean Gull, two Manx Shearwaters and a Red-necked Grebe were all noted off Kinghorn. The Kingdom kicked off its 2019 share of the Brambling influx with c40 south of Craigrothie whilst c30 Twite were in a field near St Monans. Cameron Reservoir held two redhead Smew (4th) then the redhead at Lochore Meadows CP was accompanied by 22 Whooper Swans on the main Loch with five Pintails on the nature reserve. A male Peregrine was seen at St Andrews, 15 Tree Sparrows were noted at Edenside and the Black-necked Grebe at Elie had a Red-throated Diver and six Long-tailed Ducks for company (5th) and was seen again the next day. Morton Lochs NNR hosted four Crossbills and five Bramblings before an adult Mediterranean Gull was picked out at in a high tide roost at Burntisland (7th).
The Water Pipit was with five Rock Pipits at Cocklemill Burn, a single Whimbrel was present at Ruddons Point, two Wigeon, eight Teal, 16 Mallards and 14+ Moorhens frequented Tayport Pond with ten Wigeon offshore there. The Smew count at Cameron Reservoir rose to three, two Slavonian Grebes were offshore at Out Head, and 12 Crossbills and eight Bramblings were seen at Morton Lochs NNR. 40 Twite were in a field near Pittenweem whilst a Peregrine and Sparrowhawk didn’t seem to deter the c100 Bramblings at Craigrothie. Two Shovelers were in Dalgety Bay and the two Surf Scoters loitered at St Andrews (8th) and were spied again the next day as well as 80+ Scaup and a Slavonian Grebe, with a Greenshank on the rocks. Three Brent Geese and two Slavonian Grebes were seen in Balgove Bay, the Brambling flock at Craigrothie numbered c40 and were joined by unspecified numbers of Yellowhammers and Corn Buntings. Cocklemill Burn’s Water Pipit lingered as did Elie’s Black-necked Grebe, with a Great Northern Diver and two Red-throated Divers there also (9th). Lochore Meadows CP still had the redhead Smew, six Pintails and 25 Whooper Swans, the Cocklemill Burn Water Pipit was joined by a Jack Snipe, a Whimbrel and a Water Rail (10th) and the pipit was noted again the next day when a Kingfisher was at Kilconquhar Loch and two redhead Smews were still present at Cameron Reservoir where seven Crossbills included a singing immature male. Two coveys of nine and ten Grey Partridges were welcome sightings at Cellardyke where 95 Curlews were on a fresh winter crop before two Chiffchaffs and two Crossbills were observed at Kilrenny (11th). 2000 Pink-feet and a finch flock of ‘hundreds’, including Goldfinches, Linnets, Tree Sparrows and buntings, were noted between Ardross and Balbuthie and three Waxwings were just north of Leuchars Railway station. Morton Lochs NNR hosted ten Crossbills, a Little Egret, 20 Redpolls, 20+ Siskins and three Bramblings while ten Crossbills were also seen at Kinshaldy Car Park. The two drake Surf Scoters remained at St Andrews (12th) and a Nuthatch was seen with a Treecreeper in Kirkcaldy’s Ravenscraig Park. The Morton Lochs NNR Crossbills increased to c12 and there were now two Little Egrets there. Four Waxwings were present between Guardbridge and Leuchars rail station (13th) with three seen at Leuchars Rail Signal Box North the next day when c70 Bramblings were between Craigrothie and Union Farm. Meanwhile Tentsmuir Point NNR held one Little Egret, a Greenshank, a Green Woodpecker and a Merlin, then a report from Out Head / Balgove comprised 54 Pintails, 11 Slavonian Grebes and 14 Brent Geese. An adult Mediterranean Gull was on the beach at Burntisland and there was a further report of a Nuthatch at Ravenscraig Park (14th) and also the following day.
Lindores Loch hosted 22 (and six immature) Mute Swans, 18 Wigeon and ten Goosanders. Four Waxwings were seen again between Guardbridge and Leuchars rail station and the long-staying Water Pipit and the two drake Surf Scoters were in their usual haunts (15th). Newton Farm & Sandpit Ponds held seven Dabchicks ten Mute Swans (including six immatures), ten Canada Geese, c75 Wigeon, 41 Mallards, 18 Tufted Ducks, two Gadwall, 23 Goldeneyes, 14 Moorhens, six Coots and a Kestrel. Around c500 Woodpigeons were note at Linkswood while a single Waxwing was seen near Leuchars rail station (17th). A report from an icy Morton Lochs NNR included six Wigeon, c45 Teal, four Grey Partridges, a Kestrel, two Great Spotted Woodpeckers drumming, a Jay, 33 Fieldfares, six Great Tits, four Long-tailed Tits, six Goldfinches, two Bullfinches and a Yellowhammer. A Kestrel and c25 Fieldfares were noted at Gauldry. Elie’s Black-necked Grebe was accompanied by three Red-throated Divers and was also seen the following day, the Surf Scoters were spied at St Andrews again and the Ravenscraig Park Nuthatch (18th) was joined by another the next day. A Short-eared Owl ranged widely over the golf course at Kingsbarns and five Twite and a Red-throated Diver were seen in Balgove Bay. Larid reports included an argentatus Herring Gull at Seafield, single adult Mediterranean Gulls at Buckhaven and Loch Gelly and a first winter bird at Ruddons Point with two of this species also noted off Kinghorn, as well as 35 Long-tailed Ducks, and nine Purple Sandpipers were on the rocks there (19th). The adult Mediterranean Gull was present again at Buckhaven, Elie’s Black-necked Grebe remained and the two ‘Surfies’ at St Andrews had six Velvet Scoters and around ten Scaup for company. At higher altitude, a Snow Bunting was on the east side of East Lomond and also a Merlin. Seven Crossbills frequented Morton Lochs NNR while only one Nuthatch was reported at Ravenscraig Park (20th) and also the following day. Cocklemill Burn’s Water Pipit was still in place, with a Stonechat and a Green Sandpiper also in the area (21st).
Seven Crossbills were in conifers in Glenrothes, a Dipper was at Burnside, Cupar and the Black-necked Grebe was still present at Elie (22nd). Kirkcaldy’s parks yielded not only the Nuthatch at Ravenscraig again but also a Ring-necked Parakeet in Beveridge Park, bringing back memories of the bird which patrolled the town a few years ago. A Kestrel, c15 Fieldfares and three Red-legged Partridges were noted at Gauldry and Crossbill numbers at Cameron Reservoir were estimated to be ten, with c90 Rooks seen at Hillcairnie (23rd). A Kestrel was at Peacehill Farm and larger raptors, in the form of a White-tailed Eagle and an immature Marsh Harrier, were seen at Newburgh as well as two Ravens. An hour of observation at Fife Ness produced a Great Northern Diver, eight Red-throated Divers, a Fulmar, a Kittiwake, three Long-tailed Ducks and a Razorbill with a small flock of Golden Plovers noted in a field east of Crail.The ‘long-stayers’ were still around: the Smew at Lochore Meadows CP, the Black-necked Grebe at Elie, the two Surf Scoters off St Andrews (with a Greenshank on the rocks) and the Nuthatches (back up to two) at Ravenscraig Park (24th). 60+ Scaup joined the scoters at St Andrew’s, a redhead Smew and a Green Sandpiper were at Kilconquhar Loch then Edenside had 108 Shelducks, two Buzzards, c200 Lapwings, c300 Dunlins and 18 Black-tailed Godwits (25th). A notable record came from Seafield where a Sooty Shearwater was seen from Seafield Tower and was then seen from Kinghorn with a feeding gull flock. It was picked out again later in the day, still off Kinghorn and resting on the sea while six Purple Sandpipers, two Red-throated Divers, a Manx Shearwater and 200+ Kittiwakes were also recorded there. A Chiffchaff was in an Anstruther garden, the Smew loitered at Kilconquhar Loch, as did the Black-necked Grebe at Elie (26th) and one of the Nuthatches at Ravenscraig Park. A report from Mountcastle GP included three pairs of Mute Swans, 22 Wigeon, 25 Mallards, c80 Tufted Ducks and 17 Goldeneyes then c100 Twite were spotted heading east towards the sea at Boarhills. Seawatching at Kinghorn produced 5,000+ Guillemots/Razorbills, one Manx Shearwater, a Little Gull, ten Long-tailed Ducks and six Purple Sandpipers (27th). A probable Estonian colour-ringed Common Gull was on the beach at Burntisland as was an adult Mediterranean Gull with a Belgian or Dutch ring (white), different to the one noted on 7th (28th), then an un-ringed adult was there the next day.
At Boarhills c100 Twite were still present (29th). The Short-eared Owl was still floating over the golf course at Kingsbarns, five Waxwings were seen at Dalgety Bay and Edenside hosted a Little Egret, ten Brent Geese, 100+ Shelducks, four Dabchicks, c30 Mallards, 22 Teal, four Long-tailed Ducks, 88 Lapwings, 20 Grey Plovers, 28 Black-tailed Godwits and c20 Tree Sparrows (30th). Tentsmuir Point NNR produced a Greenshank, one Green Woodpecker calling, a single Raven calling and three Snow Buntings with four Crossbills at Kinshaldy car park. Further south at Kinghorn 6000-7000 gulls were seen spread out from Burntisland towards Kirkcaldy in a huge line of which at least 2000 were Black-headed Gulls. A Red-necked Grebe was off Seafield and Kirkcaldy’s Ring-necked Parakeet flew over, not Beveridge Park, but a different part of the Lang Toun (31st).
Information supplied courtesy of Malcolm Ware and Graham Sparshott