January 2020 Sightings

The year commenced with a Little Egret at Tayport, three Crossbills at Morton Lochs NNR and an adult Mediterranean Gull at Kinghorn Loch. A favourite from last year, a drake Smew, continued its tenure at Cameron Reservoir whilst, new for the season, was a first winter Glaucous Gull at Angle Park GP (1st) which was noted again the following day along with a first winter Iceland Gull. As well as Cameron Reservoir’s Smew another long stayer was the Black Redstart at Crail’s Roome Bay (2nd) which was seen again the next day when other sightings were an immature Marsh Harrier, and a Peregrine at Newburgh and an adult Mediterranean Gull at West Wemyss (3rd). Another lingering bird from 2019 was the Ring-necked Parakeet at Kirkcaldy’s  Beveridge Park. The Smew at Cameron Reservoir had two Crossbills for land based company then adult Mediterranean Gulls were reported at Kilconquhar Loch (4th) and Pathhead where there were also 14 Whooper Swans east. The Crail Black Redstart lingered and eight Snow Buntings wereat West Sands, St Andrews, this being the first of regular reports throughout the month. Sightings at Edenside included one Slavonian Grebe, three Little Egrets, 11 Scaup and c60 Black-tailed Godwits (5th). Buckhaven hosted an adult Mediterranean Gull and the redhead Smew at Lochore Meadows CP made its first appearance of the year (6th). A Slavonian Grebe, 12 Scaup and seven Brent Geese were observed from the Eden Estuary Centre (7th).

The eight Snow Buntings at Out Head were joined by two Stonechats and 13 Ringed Plovers then 12 Crossbills were noted at Morton Lochs NNR and an adult Mediterranean Gull turned up in Anstruther (8th). Eden Estuary Centre sightings included one White-tailed Eagle, a Sparrowhawk, 13 Brent Geese, ten Grey Plovers, 40 Knot and a Treecreeper. The drake Smew was still present at Cameron Reservoir, at least 14 Purple Sandpipers were spied from the Museum car park at St. Andrews and the eight Snow Buntings were seen again at both Out Head (9th) and then at West Sands the following day when there were 12 Scaup off the Museum car park at St Andrews. At least eight Pale-bellied Brent Geese were at Eden Estuary LNR and 65 Pink-footed Geese were over Strathkinness where a female Merlin flew past twice. A Little Egret was at Edenside, a Great Northern Diver was on the sea close in at Fife Ness and four Stonechats were at Kilmany. The Cameron Reservoir Smew was still present as was the Black Redstart at Roome Bay (10th). The eight Snow Buntings were reported at West Sands and Out Head where there were also 22 Ringed Plovers, Letham Pools held up to six Whooper Swans, the Cameron Reservoir drake Smew population returned to two, Loch Glow hosted a Merlin, two Stonechats, 60+ Pink-footed Geese and several small groups of Crossbills then a juvenile male Goshawk was reported circling over St Monans. 17 Scaup and five Long-tailed Ducks were spied off St Andrews where there were 150+ Fulmars on the cliffs. Cocklemill Marsh hosted a Little Egret and Ruddons Point held one Whimbrel. Single adult Mediterranean Gulls were seen off Seafield Tower (12th) and at the customary Buckhaven haunt. A flock of 50+ Goldfinches in a Dunfermline town centre garden was a noteworthy total and 14 Mute Swans, ten Whooper Swans and 25 Greylag Geese were at Letham Pools. Out Head’s eight Snow Buntings lingered (13th) and were seen again a couple of days later.

A Red-throated Diver was off Fife Ness (15th), a male Blackcap appeared in a Glenrothes garden and c1000 Pink-footed Geese, a Greenland White-fronted Goose and one Barnacle Goose were reported at Letham Pools. Buckhaven’s adult Mediterranean Gull was joined by a second winter bird (16th). A Little Egret was at Lochore Meadows CP, 700 to 800 Pink-footed Geese were at Bowhouse Farm whilst nearby there were 18 Corn Buntings at Coal Farm and a Tawny Owl sitting on a wall north of Elie. The Black-bellied Dipper joined the local Dippers at Hallow Hill, St Andrews, 12 Snipe, one Woodcock (uncommon here) and a Greenshank were at Valleyfield Lagoons and the Out Head Snow Buntings were still present (17th) and were seen again on the following two days. Two Greenland White-fronted Geese were at Letham Pools and a drake Pintail was at Wilderness (18th). The FBC outing confirmed two drake Smew at Cameron Reservoir and one adult and one second winter Mediterranean Gull at Buckhaven whilst this species was also noted at East Wemyss where there were three adults and four first winter birds. Two Crossbills were at Kilmany Station and up on West Lomond there were 13 Snow Buntings and two Red Grouse with an unusually high count of at least 35 Snipe at Millers Loch. A report from Kinghorn included a Red-throated Diver, one Manx Shearwater and 541 Black-headed Gulls offshore with seven Purple Sandpipers on the rocks (19th). Eight Red-legged Partridges were at Gauldry (20th). Buckhaven held one adult and one second winter Mediterranean Gulls while c25 Waxwings at Ladybank Bowling Club were almost bowled over by a Sparrowhawk (21st). 

About 60 Redwings were at the Bowling Club the next day but only four Waxwings were left. Nine of this species flew west over Wilderness where there were also three Pintails, c400 Teal, a Shelduck, one Greenland White-fronted Goose, one Barnacle Goose and 71 Whooper Swans with c100 Greylag Geese and c650 Pink-footed Geese in fields just east of Ramornie Mains. At Out Head the Snow Bunting count was still eight whilst offshore there were about ten Great Crested Grebes and one Red-throated Diver with a Common Scoter flock. Mediterranean Gull sightings continued with one second winter at Buckhaven and one adult and one first winter at Dysart. Kirkcaldy’s Ring-necked Parakeet was flying about over the town (22nd). A Little Egret was at Cocklemill Marsh and an immature female Goshawk was reported at Cameron Reservoir where there also two Ravens (23rd). Torry Bay hosted about seven Greenshanks and four Black-tailed Godwits then a Barn Owl was seen hunting along a roadside verge on the road between Freuchie and Dunshalt (24th). An adult Mediterranean Gull flew west past Seafield, a Jack Snipe was at Camilla Loch and an adult Tystie in near summer plumage was spied off Kingsbarns where a Black-throated Diver flew north. A Barnacle Goose was still present with hundreds of Pink-footed Geese, c50 Whooper Swans and c40 Greylag Geese at Wilderness (25th) with the Whooper Swan tally increasing to 73 the next day. A second winter Mediterranean Gull was at Buckhaven again and seven Pale-bellied Brent Geese flew into Balgove Bay with 26 of this species being seen in an adjacent cereal field later on. Dunshalt’s Plains Farm hosted five Whooper Swans, c500 Pink-footed Geese and 32 Yellowhammers (26th). Mixed finch flocks comprised 50 to 60 Linnets, two Corn Buntings and ten Chaffinches at Pittenweem’s Coal Farm and Goldfinches, Greenfinches, Linnets, Yellowhammers, four Skylarks and three Corn Buntings at Bowhouse Farm where there was also one Grey Partridge. The redhead Smew continued its  residence at Lochore Meadows CP (27th). There were only four Snow Buntings at Out Head, a Kingfisher was at Tayfield and 20+ Brent Geese and one Little Egret were seen from the Eden Estuary Centre (28th). Two Waxwings were noted in Glenrothes (30th) and the month closed with a female Merlin seen from the Eden Estuary Centre (31st)

Information supplied courtesy of Malcom Ware and Graham Sparshott