Trip reports

Fife Coast - Leven, Largo Bay & Ruddon's Point

male stonechat perched on bramble
Stonechat - RSPB Images

Wednesday, 29 March 2017

It was foggy as we left Edinburgh and still the same when 12 of us met up at the Promenade car park in Leven. Visibility proved quite challenging and continued so for the trip, so sea watching was not easy and the driving rain in the afternoon at Ruddon's Point made it worse! Despite all this, however, we were all rewarded with an excellent day's birding and some very good birds!

A very active group of goldeneyes were close under the promenade, together with eiders, whilst several turnstones foraged on the shingle amid the resting gulls. A number of other waders including dunlin, knot, ringed plover and bar-tailed godwit were also seen, and perhaps 40 sanderling scurrying along by the water's edge. A dipper was found by the bridge, along with goldfinches, pied wagtail and a song thrush. The tide was still some way out, but a distant red-throated diver was found, together with a number of red-breasted mergansers.

We eventually decided to move on to Lower Largo, wending our way down past the tiny harbour and the statue of Alexander Selkirk. We had a very good sea-watching session here, despite the misty conditions, with some good, but sometimes distant, views of five Slavonian grebes, three red-necked grebes, two red-throated divers, and small groups of long-tailed ducks, velvet and common scoters. Along the shore, a solitary grey heron was feeding by the water's edge.

We then had a complete change with a short but extremely productive walk inland first to the old railway line, which provided good views of linnets, singing yellowhammers, and skylarks then to a lovely dell, just packed with birds. These included treecreeper, two stock doves, a pair of bullfinches, long-tailed tits, greenfinches, and more yellowhammers and linnets. One can only imagine what this dell will be like when all the migrants return!

We then moved on to the car park at the entrance to the Elie Holiday Park at Shell Bay, where we had our lunch stop. There was not much to see here, as the rain was beginning and several excavators and lorries were working very close by! But we still managed to watch and listen to a yellowhammer singing its heart out!

After our lunch we wrapped up in all our waterproof layers, as the wind had picked up and the rain was beginning to drive down. We didn't have high expectations but when we got to the beach, a male stonechat provided good views, as it perched on top of a bush. On the rocks we had a couple of rock pipits showing well. Further along, two Sandwich terns were sitting on a rock in the bay - the first of the year for all of us. At the Point, we scanned the bay but there was no sign of a surf scoter, just common and velvet scoters, with eider, red-breasted mergansers and goldeneye, but two gannets did cruise past. By now we were all starting to get rather bedraggled and we strode briskly back to the cars!

All in all, a very good day's birding, despite the challenging weather conditions, and a grand total of 66 birds!

Lawrence Mitchell

Red-throated diver
Red-necked grebe
Slavonian grebe
gannet
cormorant
shag
grey heron
mute swan
greylag goose
mallard
eider
long-tailed duck
velvet scoter
common scoter
goldeneye
red-breasted merganser
buzzard
pheasant
oystercatcher
ringed plover
dunlin
knot
sanderling
barwit
curlew
redshank
turnstone
black-headed gull
common gull
lesser black-backed gull
herring gull
greater black-backed gull
sandwich tern
stock dove
feral pigeon
woodpigeon
collared dove
skylark
meadow pipit
rock pipit
pied wagtail
dipper
wren
dunnock
robin
stonechat
blackbird
song thrush
chiffchaff
ong-tailed tit
blue tit
great tit
coal tit
treecreeper
magpie
jackdaw
rook
carrion crow
starling
house sparrow
chaffinch
greenfinch
goldfinch
linnet
bullfinch
yellowhammer

total 66