Ferry Birds – January to May 2016

Posted on June 1st, 2016

The changing of the seasons was, as usual, indicated by the disappearance of the redshank from West Bay.   The usual 35 or so wintered here but by the end of April most had gone. 

This winter they had been joined in the Bay by a few turnstones as well as oystercatchers and about 5 curlews.


A few shelducks< also seem to have chosen to winter in West Bay and at least 2 are still there.  Maybe they will breed there this year.

Two pairs of eider ducks have been in West Bay recently.  It seems a little strange because the female should be brooding eggs by now.  Perhaps they have been put off by the cool weather and they are waiting for better weather to arrive.

A pair of mallards has also been in the bay. 

Other signs of the breeding season have been a few pairs of fulmars on the cliffs above Deep Sea World. They are probably overflow from the pairs on Inchgarvie.  The fulmars came back on the 12th of January and did their usual trick of disappearing, coming back a few days later and repeating the trick several times more before settling down to breed.

As usual the first of the birds which have flown from Africa to breed was a chiffchaff. One was at Carlingnose on the 30th of March.  This was a week or so later than normal which was probably due to the weather.  By the third week of April the chiffchaffs, along with willow warblers and blackcaps were in several places round the village.

There has been a particularly melodious blackcap on The Brae.

Other warblers I have heard or seen have included a whitethroat perching on a bush between Ferryhills road and the quarry on the 9th of May and a lesser whitethroat calling on the reserve on the 5th and 10th of May. These birds are uncommon in Scotland, but have bred at Carlingnose occasionally.

As at the beginning of May I have not yet seen a swallow or sand martin in the village but did see an early group of sand martins at Musselburgh lagoons on the 4th of April and have seen swallows and both sand martins and house martins at Kinghorn Loch on most of my visits there in April and May.

There have been sandwich terns calling raucously along our coastline since their first appearance on the 25th of April. I have not seen any common terns yet.  They are the ones the SWT are trying to get to breed on the Guvy pier.  Last year was totally unsuccessful on the pier but to compensate they bred on Long Craig and more than 150 young were counted there in July.

My sightings of more unusual birds have included a brief view of a peregrine causing a commotion in West Bay on the 5th of April and one flying around in the quarry on the 9th of May.

A sparrowhawk soared above Carlingnose on the 4th of April and a pair of red-breasted merganser was near the Guvy pier on the 4th of May.

The common resident birds seem to be doing reasonably well.  Blackbirds are foraging on the grassy areas on The Brae and a song thrush has been singing loudly near there as well.

Wrens are also calling loudly and both robins and dunnocks are in full flow.

House sparrows are also increasing again with noisy bushes full of them near Town pier, near the school and other places around the village.


Starlings have decreased in the village but there was a small group at the top of Brock Street and one feeding young at the top of the school building on the 9th of May.
As usual a plea to leave some of your garden unmanaged so that the insects and other invertebrates on which many of our birds depend can thrive.

John Done