Wednesday 27 December 2023

Nacreous Clouds in Fife

I was in Fife for Christmas with the family. Birding opportunities were thin on the ground and the festive season seemed to coincide with a real drought in birds. I neatly missed the Waxwing incursion, missed the sea-watching season, replete with big Shears and Brown Booby, missed the Snow Goose and the Shore Lark. This is the trouble with trying to keep a list in a county that I don't live in, all the good stuff happens when I'm not there which is of course most of the time. I had a couple of sea watches off Fife Ness, picking the exact two days when Little Auk wasn't seen.... The sole crumb of consolation was a long-staying female Black Redstart on the beach at Crail which showed very nicely and was my 197th bird for Fife. Five trips this year, about 17 days, added seven birds which is not a great return. I was working for many of them, but still. 200 remains annoyingly distant and elusive but surely 2024 will be the year?

Clouds on the other hand are much easier to see than birds, and I was pleased to be able to get in on the Nacreous action during my visit. I thought I might have missed these too, as most reports had been just before I arrived, but luckily on Christmas Eve just before dusk I nipped outside to have a look at the sky and found one from the terrace. Looking the other way there were at least three of four more. I put the message out on a Fife WhatsApp group which may have prompted a few more people to nip out as soon there were reports from Crail, Newburgh, Anstruther and Ladybank. Clouds being big things we were probably all looking at the same ones. Still, it was nice not to dip and whilst my photos don't remotely do the scene any justice I very much enjoyed this natural phenomenon which somehow I have not seen in the close to 50 years I have been rotating around the sun. 

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