October 2019 Sightings

The month got off to an unusual start with a report of a male Lady Amherst’s Pheasant in the grounds of one of the buildings at St Andrews University (to tick or not to tick?). More familiar fare was two adult Pomarine Skuas, five Arctic Skuas, 270 Kittiwakes, one Little Gull, 40 Barnacle Geese and one Merlin in an early morning report from Ferry Hills with a further update of five Pomarine Skuas, (three adults and two juveniles together), 400 Kittiwakes (in two flocks), 85 Barnacle Geese, 200 Pink-footed Geese and a Peregrine. Sightings at

Fife Ness included two Pale-bellied Brent Geese and a Peregrine while the Barred Warbler reported at Kilminning last month was still present (1st) and was seen again the next day when c50 Pink-footed Geese, one Sooty Shearwater, and seven Barnacle Geese were spied passing Fife Ness. A juvenile Hen Harrier was seen from Ferry Hills, two Whooper Swans were at Elie Ness and a report from Edenside included c150 Lapwings, one Curlew Sandpiper, c400 Redshanks, a Spotted Redshank and five Black-tailed Godwits (2nd). Two Dippers were at Burnside, Cupar and a Merlin was seen just north of Markinch. Regular reports from Kilminning were a feature of the month and these continued with ten Redwings, a Yellow-browed Warbler and the lingering Barred Warbler (3rd) which was still present the following day along with the Yellow-browed Warbler. Dalgety Bay held a Red-necked Grebe while five Crossbills were at Morton Lochs NNR (4th). Probably the same Red-necked Grebe was seen at Braefoot Point and the tally from Fife Ness was seven Manx Shearwaters, 32 Common Scoters, four Bonxies, three Arctic Skuas, seven Teal, one Goldeneye, 16 Red-throated Divers, four Sandwich Terns and  two Red-breasted Mergansers with a Short-eared Owl and a Fieldfare in off the sea. Balcomie’s ‘ruined cottage’ hosted a Yellow-browed Warbler, two Bramblings and a Short-eared Owl with the Walled Garden also yielding a Yellow-browed Warbler and this species was also noted at Boarhills, both in the village and at the pond where there were also nine Bramblings. The beach at Tayport had two Knot and one Little Gull then highlights from Kilminning were, two Woodcocks, a Jack Snipe, a Brambling, one Yellow-browed Warbler, one Lesser Whitethroat and the loitering Barred Warbler (5th).The last three species lingered at Kilminning the next day and there was a Yellow-browed Warbler at Balcomie. A Short-eared Owl patrolled Out Head and there was another Yellow-browed Warbler at Kingsbarns. The Red-necked Grebe was still present at Dalgety Bay and the regular vismig report from Ferry Hills included eight Ring Ouzels, 80 Redwings and one Stonechat (6th).Dalgety Bay’s Red-necked Grebe was joined by a Pale-bellied Brent Goose, a Long-tailed Duck, one Little Gull and two Sandwich Terns. Highlights from a busy day at Kilminning included three Yellow-browed Warblers, one Lesser Whitethroat, two Bramblings, two Chiffchaffs,  20+ Song Thrushes, 20+ Blackbirds, two Ring Ouzels, the Barred Warbler still and reports of 300+ then 100+ Redwings. At Bathmoor Plantation there were four Redwings overhead and a single Brambling. Seawatching at Fife Ness produced six Little Gulls, one Sandwich Tern, five Red-throated Divers, five Common Scoters as well as 15 Redwings in off the sea and a Peregrine hunting successfully over the water. Meanwhile at Fife Ness Muira probable Reed Warbler was accompanied by two Lesser Whitethroats and two Ring Ouzels. In the St Andrewsarea there were two Ring Ouzels, one Whinchat, 11 Stonechats and a Yellow-browed Warbler. Balcomie yielded a Merlin and three Bramblings while c200 Redwings and nine Swallows were noted at Ferry Hills (7th).

A Hawfinch and a Ring Ouzel passed through the same site the next day. A Pale-bellied Brent Goose flew past Kirkcaldy’s Tiel Burn, there was a Little Gull at Dalgety Bay then Fife Ness Muir held one Ring Ouzel, at least three Chiffchaffs and 80 Tree Sparrows (8th). Sightings at Edenside included four Little Egrets, 16 Goosanders, a Kingfisher, 88 Lapwings, 11 Black-tailed Godwits and eight Greenshanks. A report from Dunfermline included two Chiffchaffs, ten Redwings, two Bullfinches, 18 Lesser Black-backed Gulls and 48 Black-headed Gulls. At  Pathhead there were at least three Chiffchaffs and 23 Siskins flew in. At Kilminning perhaps the find of the month was a Pallas’s Warbler which was also seen on the following two days. The increase in Red Kite reports continued with an adult heading west past Dumbarnie. The Green Sandpiper lingered near the entrance to Shell Bay. A Black-necked Grebe was noted at Kilconquhar Loch along with three Goldeneyes and sightings at Ferry Hills included one Great Northern Diver inland, with 17 Red-throated Divers and a summer plumaged adult Black-throated Diver which u-turned (9th) then a Hawfinch, three Ring Ouzels and two Bramblings were noted there the next day. At Pathhead, two Woodcocks were flushed, Kilminning produced five Yellow-browed Warblers, 30 Chiffchaffs, three Ring Ouzels and a Lesser Redpoll while 39 Redwings turned up in Dunfermline and one Little Gull and an Arctic Tern graced Dalgety Bay (10th). Morton Lochs NNR, hosted 80 Teal and Buckhaven held one Whimbrel. A Red-necked Grebe was sighted again at Dalgety Bay then 84 Pink-footed Geese flew over Dunfermline. Single Ring Ouzels were present at Ferry Hills and Kilminning where there were also three Yellow-browed Warblers (11th) with the same number also seen the next day as well as at least six Chiffchaffs and a Ring Ouzel, with groups of Redpolls going over.  A Lesser Whitethroat at Balcomie, a Shore Lark at Fife Ness and the lingering Green Sandpiper at Shell Bay were further reports from a busy day which included the following species at Ferry Hills: nine Ring Ouzels, 500 Pink-footed Geese, 30 Red-throated Divers, two Black-throated Divers, six Whooper Swans, 84 Swallows, 222 Skylarks, 114 Siskins, 110 Mistle Thrushes, two Crossbills, three Bramblings and a Jay. Then two Peregrines, two Curlew Sandpipers, a Spotted Redshank, eight Black-tailed Godwits, eight Greenshanks, 50+ Knot and at least ten Swallows were seen from the Eden Estuary Centre. A Tree or Olive-backed Pipit was heard over St Andrews where there were also five Ring Ouzels five Bramblings, two House Martins and a Redwing over. At East Wemyss there were340 Black-headed Gulls, Pathhead had two Chiffchaffs, a Woodcock and a Ring Ouzel over (12th) then a further report from this site the next day included three Chiffchaffs, 17 Swallows and a Short-eared Owl with singles of the latter species also noted at Balcomie and Randerston. At Balcomie a Twite flew over and at Fife Ness there were two Red-throated Divers, a Kingfisher, one Great Northern Diver, two Velvet Scoters and a juvenile Puffin. At Burntisland a Red Kite drifted west over the Binn where there was also a Yellow-browed Warbler but only one of the latter species was seen at Kilminning. Pitmedden Forest hosted c35 Crossbills, New Gilston held three Bramblings then three Barnacle Geese flew over Kirkcaldy. A Jack Snipe was at Camilla Loch where two Ravens and seven Swallows flew over. Inland sightings of Long-tailed Ducks are not that common so two females at Carnbee Reservoir was a good find. A Whimbrel was at Ruddons Point wherec80 Swallows and a House Martin flew over. At East Wemyss there werenine Velvet Scoters and two Red-throated Divers offshore. A report from Tayport comprised seven Whooper Swans, 80 Lapwings, 600 Pink-footed Geese and two Red-throated Divers before 1250 Eiders were counted off Tentsmuir Point NNR. Further highlights from Ferry Hills included two Yellow-browed Warblers, one Ring Ouzel, one Merlin, one Great Northern Diver and two Little Gulls (13th) then one Yellow-browed Warbler, one Ring Ouzel still and a Merlin the next day. A Yellow-browed Warbler wasalso at Kilminning, a  Woodcock was seen in an Anstruther garden and a Short-eared Owl was noted at Elie Ness. A Marsh Harrier and 12 Bearded Tits were seen at Mugdrum Island, Lesser Whitethroats were found at Boarhills Pond (a single) and Fife Ness Muir (two) where 28 Barnacles Geese flew over with two of this species also seen accompanying 140 Pink-footed Geese over Guardbridgewhere a Firecrest was a welcome addition to the species list for the month. The Red-necked Grebe remained at Dalgety Bay and sightings at Out Head included 100+ Pink-footed Geese, two Red-throated Divers, 23 Knot, 19 Red-breasted Mergansers, two Stonechats, and 30+ Skylarks. Bankhead Moss doesn’t often feature in reports but noted there were one Common Redpoll, 14 Lesser Redpolls, two Crossbills, at least five Ravens, a Water Rail, two Stonechats, 48 Redwings, 17 Blackbirds, a Peregrine, a Kestrel and c85 Skylarks. A Whimbrel and ten Corn Buntings were reported in the Sauchope area of Crail (14th).

13 Velvet Scoters were seen off East Wemyss. Kilminning highlights included two Bramblings, 60 Redwings, one Fieldfare, a Snipe, a Stonechat and two Merlins, with two of this raptor also reported at the Bishop Hill (presumably still within Fife). A Jay and four Bramblings were at Boarhills, a Woodcock was found in Denburn Wood and observations from the Fife Ness hide included one Black-throated Diver, 12 Red-throated Divers, 23 Wigeon, five Long-tailed Ducks, 33 Common Scoters, two Brent Geese and a Sandwich Tern. Tentsmuir Point NNR hosted c5000 Eiders, 160 Ringed Plovers and a Peregrine then at nearby Kinshaldy 19 Slavonian Grebes, c350 Common Scoters, 45 Red-breasted Mergansers, eight Long-tailed Ducks, 14 Velvet Scoters and eight Red-throated Divers were recorded before Loch Gelly contributed five Whooper Swans, a Scaup and eight Goldeneyes (15th). Two White-tailed Eagles were noted at Edenside in addition to c150 Lapwings and a Kingfisher. 800+ Pink-footed Geese, three Barnacle Geese and two Ravens were seen at Blairhall. A Hawfinch overFerry Hills (16th) was followed by a first winter Spoonbill and two Taiga Bean Geese over the same site the next day. A Black Guillemot and a Great Northern Diver were on the sea just north of the beach at Kingsbarns while nine Little Gulls flew eastpast Kilminning then a Black-necked Grebe was seen again at Elie Harbour. On a different part of the coast one Slavonian Grebe, one Great Crested Grebe and three Pintails were spied off the sailing club at Dalgety Bay. The Green Sandpiper remained at  Shell Bay, with a Merlin nearby and Kirkcaldy’s Beveridge Park hosted a Ring-necked Parakeet (17th). Another Hawfinch flew over Ferry Hills as did 450 Redwings, Dalgety Bay had one Slavonian Grebe and near Anstruther were 19 Corn Buntings. Sightings from Fife Ness included34 Little Gulls, four Red-throated Divers, two Common Scoters, six Purple Sandpipers and a Kingfisher on the rocks (18th). Seawatching at Kinghorn yielded a juvenile Sabine’s Gull early on then groups of two, then three juvenile Long-tailed Skuas as well as one Pomarine Skua, three Red-throated Divers, one Little Gull and c400 Kittiwakes. Nearby, at Pettycur the tally was seven Red-throated Divers, one Black-throated Diver, 15 Little Gulls, four Arctic Skuas, 12 Wigeon and 16 Long-tailed Ducks. Five Common Cranes flew high over Dalgety Bay where there were also 1000 Kittiwakes, one Sandwich Tern, five Red-throated Divers, 80 Gannets, 200 Guillemots and three Goldeneyes. Ferry Hills weighed in with950 Kittiwakes, four Little Gulls, two Arctic Skuas inland, four Bonxies and eight Twite over while Crail had one Sooty Shearwater and two Bonxies. Fife Ness totals wereone Sooty Shearwater, 116 Little Gulls, three Bonxies, one Arctic Skua, one Great Northern Diver, a Black-throated Diver, 23 Red-throated Divers, 85 Common Scoters, 62 Wigeon, 16 Long-tailed Ducks, 16 Purple Sandpipers, one Common Tern, three Scaup, one Puffin and 16 Whooper Swans. A report from Out Head comprised four Slavonian Grebes, five Great Crested Grebes, 15 Pintails, four Long-tailed Ducks, 165 Scaup, a Red-throated Diver and seven Little Egrets.

Five Snow Buntings passed Anstruther and a juvenile Marsh Harrier was at Newburgh. To round off a busy day, a further report from Kinghorn included68 Pink-footed Geese, 15 Wigeon, 198 Eiders, eight Red-throated Divers, three Bonxies and 178 Guillemots (19th). Further sightings from this site the next day were seven Little Gulls, 15 Red-throated Divers, two Black-throated Divers, 12 Long-tailed Ducks, four Velvet Scoters and eight Common Scoters. An obviously larger and paler male Bullfinch (presumed Northern) was found at Dunfermline (are there more of the Northern variety around or are we just more aware of them as a possibility?). The Fife Ness day count was two Little Auks, 302 Little Gulls, three Black-throated Divers, 36 Red-throated Divers, one Great Crested Grebe, 230 Eiders, 33 Common Scoters, 11 Long-tailed Ducks, 46 Wigeon, two Velvet Scoters, two Dark-bellied Brent Geese, ten Goosanders, two Common Terns, one Arctic Tern, one Kingfisher, 1730 Guillemots, 540 Razorbills and four Puffins (20th). Observations there continued the following day resulting in counts of three Great Northern Divers, two Black-throated Divers, 12 Red-throated Divers, 24 Common Scoters and eight Purple Sandpipers. At Out Head there were two White-tailed Eagles, 33 Scaup and 13 Slavonian Grebes whilst sightings at Kinshaldy included16 Red-throated Divers, five Long-tailed Ducks and six Slavonian Grebes (21st).

Single Hen Harriers turned up at Pittenweem and the Cleish Hills and a Yellow-browed Warbler visited Inverkeithing (22nd). A House Martin was still hanging around at St. Andrews, a Short-eared Owl patrolled Out Head and five Twite flew over Kenly Water (23rd). 23 Fieldfares flew south at Dunfermline, a juvenile Whinchat appeared at Out Head and a male Black Redstart was found at Balcomie. 20 Grey Partridges at  Lochhead Farm was a welcome report (24th).

Angle Park held at least ten Gadwalls and 60+ Coots while Letham Pools hosted 21 Whooper Swans, eight Shovelers and c26 Gadwalls. Sightings from Ferry Hills included one Ruff and two Whooper Swans (25th) then four Northern Bullfinches the next day, part of an influx of 20+ Bullfinches in the general area. At least eight Bullfinches were also at Kilminning as well as 20+ Siskins and three Chiffchaffs. On the Dysart to West Wemyss stretch of coast there were 31 Ringed Plovers with 47 Fieldfares over. A Lapland Bunting at Boarhills Pond was a good find, with one Jack Snipe just north of the pond. 124 Whooper Swans frequented Wilderness (26th). Eight Northern type Bullfinches were in the gully at Ferry Hills where overhead were six Dark-bellied Brent Geese. A interesting Dipper (more of which later) was reported at Kinness Burn, two Scaup, a Jack Snipe and six Snipe were at Carnbee Reservoir and 40+ Crossbills, two Peregrines and up to four Bramblings were noted at Balgownie Woods. Another Lapland Bunting was discovered, this time at Guardbridge where there was also a Greenshank (27th). Single Waxwings were reported in different parts of Kirkcaldy, c75 Scaup were at Edenside with c100 of this species also at Out Head, where there were two Twite, then two Pale-bellied Brent Geese flew over Kinghorn Loch. Back at Kinness Burn, the Dipper was trapped and ringed (orange over blue on the left leg with yellow over metal on the right leg) and although noted as a juvenile female and dark bellied the exact ID was left as ‘inconclusive’. A juvenile Marsh Harrier was seen again at Newburgh (28th).

Two Pale-bellied Brent Geese were on the shore at Buckhaven, two Snow Buntings graced Out Head where there were also three Stonechats and a Whinchat. 20 Twite were at Ruddons Point with a single nearby at Cocklemill Burn where there were also 95 Fieldfares (29th). A Pink-footed Geese flock at Rathillet was estimated at c350 and a mobile flock of ten Snow Buntings was at Out Head (30th). A hectic month ended with 14 Velvet Scoters and a Swallow at Buckhaven and one Snow Bunting, two White-tailed Eagles, 11 Long-tailed Ducks, three Stonechats and 100+ Scaup at Out Head (31st).

(FBC Members were provided with a separate summary of Mediterranean Gull sightings)

Information supplied courtesy of Malcolm Ware and Graham Sparshott