Ferry Birds – May to September 2017

Posted on October 1st, 2017

The commoner breeding birds in our area seem to have been present in good numbers this year, willow warbler, chiffchaffs, blackcaps and whitethroats could be heard singing in various places round the village and from the coastal path.

Sand martins were again present in the quarry and could be seen flying low over Ferryhills feeding off whatever insects were flying around.

Eider duck with ducklings appeared in West Bay as usual in early June and hopefully many of them managed to survive.

I saw a moorhen with 2 well-grown young on the Jamestown pond on the 18th of August.

The common terns again failed to nest on the Guvy pier and the site in Inverkeithing Inner Bay was active for a short time but was then deserted.

As compensation Long Craig was alive with common terns throughout the summer and it appeared that they bred successfully again. We had a little more interest with the common terns. It seems that Long Craig was full up and 1 or 2 pairs decided to nest on the dolphin (pier?) in West Bay.

They were very easy to see from near the Boat Club office and there was also an oystercatcher nesting close to them. Terns are renowned for their aggressive behaviour to other birds and human beings and they lived up to this reputation. The oystercatcher took the brunt of the aggression. Away from the terns I saw an oystercatcher with a small but mobile young amongst the seaweed near the play area at Pierhead buildings on the 22nd of July.

Sightings of more unusual birds over the summer have included a whimbrel flying over West Bay on the 19th of July. This was very definitely a ‘hearing’ because the haar was enveloping the whole village.

A small flock of black-tailed godwits flew past Carlingnose Point on the 15th of July.

These birds are intermediate in size between a redshank and curlew with a long straight bill.

I was very lucky to see them as I had just sat on the seat as they flew past doubly lucky because seeing the wing pattern is a very good way of identifying them.

I also spotted a sparrowhawk near the station on the 6th of September and I have heard or seen buzzards soaring over the village on several occasions.

Other sightings I have had includes a few goosander in West Bay on the 12th of July, four turnstones near the Pierhead play area on the 4th of October and herons regularly perched on the Guvy Pier.

An annual autumn happening involves groups of gannets – mainly immature birds – which circle round in Inverkeithing Bay. As of the 8th of October I have not yet seen any this autumn, but there’s plenty of time left.

Chiffchaffs sing by saying their name, but tend to stop calling when they have paired up. Later in the year they seem to start again but not as persistent as they are in the spring and early summer. I like to think of them just doing a bit of practice for next year. One was doing this near the station on the 14th of September.

The field gentians on Carlingnose Point reserve flowered again this summer. Over 200 plants were found in the ground around the rocky knoll and also on the high part of the reserve above the quarry.

Dropwort appeared again in the watertank field and was also found on the reserve on the steep bank above Carlingnose View. There was one flowering stem near the rocky knoll as well. The annual cutting of the grass on the reserve has already been done and there is a possibility more maintenance will be carried out later in the year.
Finally why not take a walk round the lower village and keep your eyes and ears ready for some nature spotting. Time your walk to coincide with the tide starting to come into West Bay and count the redshanks feeding on the mud. I counted at least 45 recently.

They were accompanied by 3 or 4 curlews and several oystercatchers; and a few turnstones which feed on the rocky surrounds of the bay and the piers rather than the mud.

Listen out for the pink-footed geese flying over after their journey from Iceland.

Other winter visitors such as redwings and fieldfares should soon be here so check the rowans and cotoneaster shrubs while on the coastal path.

Check the ivy for insects on a sunny day as well.

John Done