I've been in Fife again, a combination of family, work and birding.
Naturally birding comes first. Sorry, I mean family comes first, followed by work, with birding a distant third. Despite this I have managed to get out and about in the county and seen a few things, though nowhere near what I thought I might - basically a lack of time to go sea-watching at Fife Ness has rather caught me out, and instead I have stayed pretty local.
My first birding this time was actually in the garden here, and in under two hours I added five new birds. This included a Garden Warbler, a decent bird in Fife, as well a flyover Grey Heron and Cormorant, neither of which I'd seen here before. I think this is just an indication that I have in reality spent little time birding from the garden, and thus any prolonged spell is likely to add at least something. The Garden Warbler was excellent, in a patch of undeveloped land that I can see from the over the wall. I'd seen at least four Whitethroats in there, and when this popped up briefly I was wary of the potential pitfall, but I held the area in the bins and managed to see it again to eliminate any doubt. A Tree Pipit buzzed over too, something that I'd earmarked as high potential, so for it to actually happen was a punch the air moment.
Predictably I spent most time at Letham Pools - four visits in five days. It continues to be a wonderful site, and whilst the turnover of birds was not high, I saw all sorts of species I'd not encountered there before, including such gems as Grey Partridge, Jay, and Meadow Pipit! I am still at that happy stage where there are so many possibilities - my final visit this morning was only my 22nd; by way of comparison I have 1,147 lists from Wanstead. I will miss it when I go back home.
In addition to visiting Letham I also went to Lindores, a nearby loch that is stunningly pretty. There is a house on the far side that I think I would die to live in. In fact I keep seeing houses I would like to move to. I mean Chateau L is of course lovely, but a house looking down the Firth of Forth with two mature monkey puzzle trees in the garden and Skuas flying overhead in autumn? I think I could cope with that.
As ever eBird was my constant companion. It keeps track of my various site lists, shows me what others have seen and where, and generally spurs me on to really focus hard on Blue Tits and Dunnocks. This is no bad thing. At Lindores I doubled my site list just by going birding properly, by exploring the margins rather than just pointing my scope at the water. And by going birding in August whilst the summer visitors are still here. It is these small things that keep me happy, at least up here, and I am not yet at the stage where I need a biggie in order to achieve satisfaction. Long may that continue.
The most remarkable thing of all is that one of my kids came birding with me. Three times no less! Once to the beach at St Andrews on a family walk, once along the Braes Loan trail close to the house, and, most amazingly of all, to Letham at six in the morning! My children have not really been birding with me properly for years, it was wonderful. We had the scope and I was able to line up various things for her and then describe what she were seeing as she looked. We found nesting Swallows and House Martins and were able to have extended views as they came and went - I don't think she'll ever get those wrong now. Yellowhammer, Reed Bunting, Ruff, Black-tailed Godwit, Rook and others were also all studied closely, and some of them may sink in too. It is a slow process, as I know only too well, but you have to start somewhere.