May 2020 Sightings

The month kicked off with a busy first day when seawatching produced two Shelducks, 48 Eiders, three Velvet Scoters, 45 Common Scoters, 14 Long-tailed Ducks, three Red-breasted Mergansers, one Red-throated Diver, 311 Gannets, 88 Common Terns, seven Arctic Terns and ten Puffins off Kinghorn. Along at Pathhead there were 20 Velvet Scoters, 12 Common Scoters and two pairs of Long-tailed Ducks. Single Whitethroats were at Coul Den, Balmullo (where there was also a Sedge Warbler) and Ruddons Point (where there was also a Wheatear). Elie Estate hosted a Barn Owl, five singing Willow Warblers, five singing Chiffchaffs, seven singing Blackcaps, four Great Spotted Woodpeckers, and at least two Tree Sparrows. Moss Plantation held a pair of displaying Buzzards, a Great Spotted Woodpecker and a pair of Treecreepers carrying food while a Nuthatch appeared in an Anstruther garden and single Garden Warblers were at Townhill CP (1st) and Kilmany where there was a very good candidate for a Hooded Crow flying over the village. Sand Martins were reported as nesting at St Andrews where observations at West Sands included a female Surf Scoter, one Velvet Scoter, c240 Common Scoters, a Slavonian Grebe, seven Long-tailed Ducks, three Red-breasted Mergansers, five Knot, one Stonechat and three Whimbrels. A Spotted Flycatcher was seen at Balgownie Woods and sightings at Townhill CP included one Grasshopper Warbler, four Sedge Warblers, a Garden Warbler, three Blackcaps, 11 Chiffchaffs, 15 Willow Warblers, three Tree Sparrows and a pair of Bullfinches. Elie Ness hosted two pairs of Stonechats and a Sedge Warbler arrived in Anstruther. 48 Sandwich Terns were on the rocks at Seafield where the pair of Stonechats showed signs of staying to breed. A Swift was over Dunfermline and five were over Kirkcaldy (2nd) then the following day singles were over Ladybank, Bogside and Anstruther where there was also a drake Garganey. Three Ravens flew low over Balmullo. Warblers continued to feature prominently in reports, for example an excursion from Kirkcaldy’s John Smith Business Park (where there was a Grasshopper Warbler and a Water Rail) to Dunnikier Park produced 19 Willow Warblers, eight Chiffchaffs, four Sedge Warblers, a Whitethroat and 14 Blackcaps while Birnie & Gaddon Lochs LNR yielded three Chiffchaffs, two Willow Warblers, two Whitethroats, two Blackcaps and two Sedge Warblers as well as two Jays and a Great Spotted Woodpecker then two Garden Warblers were at Lindores Loch. Single Whitethroats were at Barns Farm and at Wormit where there was also a Garden Warbler. Three Dippers were on the Lothrie Burn at Glenrothes. The regular reports of White Wagtails at Kilrenny Mill continued with a single there accompanied by two Wheatears and two Whitethroats. Two pairs of Shelducks were at Ruddons Point, the drake Gadwall lingered at Raith Lake and a Cuckoo was calling at Little Ballo in the Lomond Hills (3rd). A Garden Warbler was at Auchtermuchty’s Leckiebank Farm while sightings at Anstruther included nine Whimbrels, four Wheatears and a Bonxie (4th). Reports of Swifts increased with two over Cellardyke, three over both Kingsbarns and Dunfermline with singles over Dalgety Bay and Elie where there was also a Red-breasted Merganser. Kirkcaldy’s Dunnikier Park produced a Spotted Flycatcher, Falkland Hill had a male Whinchat and the coastal path between Kilminning and Fife Ness yielded eight Whitethroats, four Reed Buntings and a pair of Stonechats. Similarly, Seafield hosted four Whitethroats, two Chiffchaffs, four Sedge Warblers and two Reed Buntings while east of Markinch there were seven Whitethroats, four Blackcaps, five Sedge Warblers, nine Willow Warblers, four Chiffchaffs and ten House Martins. An Osprey was at Loch Fitty, two Whimbrels were at Kilrenny Mill and Wood Sandpipers put in an appearance with a single at Letham Pools and two at Luthrie (5th). Warbler reports continued with a Sedge Warbler at Dunshalt, a Grasshopper Warbler near Ballo and a Garden Warbler at Kirkforthar. Swift sightings included six over Auchtermuchty and eight over Kingsbarns where there were also two singing Lesser Whitethroats and two Whimbrels. A Wheatear was at Falkland Hill, 18 House Martins arrived at Gauldry and five Grey Wagtail chicks were noted at Craigtoun Park. Dunlin sightings comprised two at Wormit Bay and two at Letham Pools (where there was also a Whimbrel over) and two at Kilrenny Mill where there was also a Hooded Crow, two White Wagtails and two Wheatears. Meanwhile at West Sands, sightings included three Scaup, five Long-tailed Ducks, three Red-breasted Mergansers, two Tufted Ducks, a Red-throated Diver and c140 feeding Herring Gulls (6th). Six Canada Geese were in a field east of St Michaels, a Common Sandpiper visited Wormit Bay whilst one of this species at The Wilderness was joined by a Green Sandpiper. Two Purple Sandpipers were seen at Kingsbarns where there were also 11 Swifts. Eight singing Skylarks, two Wheatears, three Canada Geese and two Shelducks were noted in fields south of Crossgates and two first-summer Little Gulls appeared at Letham Pools. A Kestrel is always a welcome sight these days and a single was at Barns Farm. A Grasshopper Warbler was reeling at Balgownie Woods and a Garden Warbler visited a Comrie garden (7th).

A less common warbler in the form of a Lesser Whitethroat was seen and heard at the car park at Seafield. An adult Hobby in off the sea was no doubt a very enjoyable sight at Kingsbarns where there were also two Arctic Terns and a Common Tern. The Coastal Path from Elie to St Monans produced three Dunlins, eight Ringed Plovers, nine Turnstones, 12 Sedge Warblers and probably nine Whitethroats. A Common Sandpiper lingered at The Wilderness and observations at Out Head included one Osprey, one Pink-footed Goose, a Bar-tailed Godwit, two first-summer Little Gulls, 19 Whimbrels, four Dunlins and five Red-breasted Mergansers. Four Grey Herons fledging was reported as the first record of breeding at Kilrenny Mill where a circular walk round Silverdyke Caravan Park produced eight pairs of Yellowhammers (8th).

A Garden Warbler was showing well at Balmullo where there was also a pair of Grey Partridges in a field next to the village. Single Kestrels were spied at Barns Farm and at Elie where there was also a Red-breasted Merganser. Reports of Lesser Whitethroats continued with two singing at Collessie. The begging call of a young Long-eared Owl was heard in central Fife, a Cuckoo was seen at Ballo and sightings at Out Head included seven Stonechats, five Whimbrels, 33 Dunlins, 24 Ringed Plovers and a Common Tern. A Coot was close in on the sea off Kirkcaldy’s esplanade. A patrol of the Ladybank to Monkstown area produced a good selection of warblers, including two Garden Warblers, and also a Grey Heron nest with well grown-young at Innerleith (9th). A dark phase Arctic Skua and three Arctic Terns were noted from Kinkell Braes and a Great Northern Diver provided an evening fly-past at Anstruther (10th). Elie Estate hosted six Blackcaps and two male Bullfinches then three Wheatears turned up at Plains Farm, Dunshalt. The Lesser Whitethroat loitered at the car park at Seafield and a second bird was discovered further along the Coastal Path towards Abden (11th) then another of this species was found in the Shell Bay area. A Nuthatch was at Markinch and 200+ Arctic Terns frequented Anstruther (12th). Reports of Spotted Flycatchers are always welcome and least two were at Balgownie Woods where an Osprey passed overhead. An adult Little Gull in summer plumage is always good to see and one flew off north from Letham Pools. A single Red Grouse in a field to north of the A92/bridge over the River Eden was an unusual sighting, a Peregrine flew low over Formonthills and c40 Velvet Scoters seemed content to linger at Pathhead (13th). Nine singing Blackcaps were noted between Elie and Kilconquhar Loch, a Male Whinchat and a Whimbrel were on the coastal path between Randerston and Balcomie and a Cuckoo was calling at The Binn. Regular reports from Out Head continued with 11 Sanderlings, three Dunlins, eight Ringed Plovers, two Stonechats and one Whimbrel. Another  Lesser Whitethroat was found, this time at Wormit (14th), and one was see in the Shell Bay-Cocklemill Burn area again, the following day.

A Cuckoo and a Great Spotted Woodpecker were at North Cults Farm, Saline and 33 Velvet Scoters, 12 Common Scoters and a pair of Long-tailed Ducks were still at Pathhead (15th). A young Little Grebe was a welcome breeding success on a small SUDS pond on a Dunfermline housing estate and a Cuckoo was seen and heard near East Lomond (16th). Pathhead’s Velvet Scoters numbered 30, at least two pairs of Spotted Flycatchers were now at Balgownie Woods and a report from Sauchar Point, Elie included a pair of Stonechats, a Redshank, three Shelducks and a Red-breasted Merganser (17th). At least one of the Lesser Whitethroats remained at Seafield where the pair of Stonechats had at least three young, a Cuckoo was calling at Auchtermuchty and three Ravens were at Bow of Fife’s Pitlair Park. Five Goosanders and six Ringed Plovers were at Eden Estuary LNR, a pair of Great Spotted Woodpeckers were feeding young in nest-hole at Moss Plantation and a Wood Sandpiper flew past Denhead Marsh, St Andrews where there was also a drumming Snipe (20th). A Little Egret flew over Pittencrieff Park, a Raven passed east over Ladybank and 20 Swifts were over Cellardyke. Lindores Loch hosted a Cuckoo and a Garden Warbler while the Kilrenny Mill update comprised one Little Egret, a Whimbrel and three Wheatears. A Manx Shearwater east was noted as only the second of the year at Anstruther (21st) then six were in close east the next day.

A Townhill CP list included 22 Willow Warblers, six Chiffchaffs, three Sedge Warblers, two Garden Warblers and five Bullfinches while there was an apparently reliable report of a Red Kite over the loch there. A singing Cuckoo was seen at close range near Magus Muir and Out Head sightings included 195N Arctic Terns, a very distant buzzard sp. out at sea, one Osprey, 80 Common Scoters and three Stonechats with two fledglings (24th). An excursion from Elie to Ruddons Point and Cocklemill Burn yielded 17 Sanderlings, eight Turnstones, eight Shelducks, at least nine Dunlins, more than ten Ringed Plovers, three Black-headed Gulls, a pair of Grey Partridges, two Kestrels and a Red-breasted Merganser with 11 young. A Quail was calling at Auchtermuchty’s Leckiebank Farm. At Pathhead, the scoter flocks had eventually dispersed but a lone Long-tailed Duck lingered and a Kestrel and a Peregrine were in hunting mode (25th). Young Tree Sparrows were seen in a Ladybank garden (26th). A possibly pure Hooded Crow flew over Dunfermline. Letham Pools held eight first-summer Little Gulls, Out Head hosted eight Ringed Plovers and nine Sanderlings then an Osprey was high to the south of Ladybank. Back at the coast, observations at Anstruther included 99 Manx Shearwaters, 36 Common Scoters, four Sanderlings and two Dunlins. Creich Farm Pond held 22 Mallards with eight young (27th). The regular Out Head report included four Little Gulls, four Knot, 28 Sanderlings, two Little Egrets, 42 Common Scoters and three Stonechats (28th). A calling Common Crossbill flew over Dunfermline and 50+ Canada Geese were spied heading north over Coaltown of Wemyss. 228 Manx Shearwaters, 32 Common Scoters and a male Peregrine were seen at Anstruther. Single Cuckoos were calling at Maspie Den, Comrie (29th) and Bishop Hill/West Lomond where there was also a Raven over. A female Cuckoo was also at Out Head along with one Canada Goose, two Knot, five Dunlins, nine Goosanders and seven Stonechats. A Grasshopper Warbler was seen at Braes Loan, Markinch and the male Stonechat at Seafield was accompanied by four young and there were several Eider broods of varying sizes offshore (30th). A Peregrine flew west at Aberdour and a Grasshopper Warbler and two Garden Warblers were at Townhill CP. At Kinghorn Loch there were three Tree Sparrows, with two young, and a Pochard pair whilst at Lochore Meadows CP an Osprey was fishing. Perhaps the find of the month was a female Red-backed Shrike at Kilminning (31st).

Information supplied courtesy of Malcolm Ware and Graham Sparshott