Tom Gray’s Nature Notes: Making the best of East Neuk

Tom Gray
Tom Gray

The unpredicted sunshine of last Saturday saw us optimistically set out to join up with a group of SWT naturalists exploring the rock pools of Kingsbarns shore.

On arrival we did not recognise any of the cars in the car park and so we headed northwards on foot past the public toilets along the coastal path in unsuccessful search of a party of explorers. It was only on checking our diary on our return home did we discover that we had shown up a day too early for the event!

However we were entertained by the several adult Swallows as they flitted in and out of the nearby open shelter which housed their demanding second (?) broods in nests amongst the rafters inside.

We identified a few Rock Pipits by the dunes, before being distracted by the single Red Admiral butterfly which we disturbed as we walked across some short grass where it was making the best of extracting nectar from a lone daisy, before allowing us to better confirm its identity as it resettled conveniently on our car bonnet to bask in the sunshine, while no doubt enjoying the residual warmth of the engine!

With time on our hands we went on to complete our picnic at Fife Ness where white patches of plumage on black silhouettes flying offshore let us confirm that at least some of these birds as Greater rather than Lesser Cormorants.

Further out to sea, a white straggle of Gannets headed in line North-east to fishing grounds off historic Bell Rock on the Angus coast. The Gannet traffic seemed all one way, but perhaps the return flight to feed fledglings on the Bass was being obscured by the giant, thundering, storm cloud which, to our relief, drifted ever further out to sea.

After a further brief stop in the village of Crail for a coffee we returned home to Glenrothes early enough in the day to find three more Red Admirals, perhaps enjoying their last fling of the year on the provender of our September garden flowers, before their entry into hibernation at the thought of October frosts, and as early skeins of the first geese of autumn grace Fife skies