Saturday, 10 February 2018

Fife Coastal Path. Kirkcaldy to Buckhaven. Part Two. Caves, Bullfinches. Industry.

                                                 ALL PHOTOS CLICK FULL SCREEN.
Part two of my solo day walk along the Fife Coastal Path from Kirkcaldy to Buckhaven. This is Dysart, seen above, which is picture postcard photogenic and could easily enter a 'best kept coastal village' competition and be in with a chance of winning.
The coastal path from Kirkcaldy to the village of West Wemyss is a six km scenic joy ride, full of architectural interest, surprises around every elaborate twist and bend and a real star turn.

  Beyond West Wemyss  the path is much straighter and the scenery more industrial- less picture postcard pretty but still interesting.
You could cycle this 10 mile section between Kirkcaldy and Buckhaven quite easily but I was glad I was on foot as I'd probably not have noticed the small flock of bullfinches feeding on berries in the woods if on a bike.
It's not often I spot bullfinches this close- let alone take decent photographs of them so I was chuffed with this. An adult male.
And a female- lighter coloured lower body not that obvious here as the sun had disappeared briefly behind a cloud.
The bullfinches seemed to be feeding on these berries although I didn't actually see any being swallowed- but that might have been my presence making them slightly nervous. One of the largest UK finches and a rare sight for me- maybe spotted them around four times in 45 years yet I do look out for wildlife on any walks.
This stretch was much quieter with no-one around  so a few seals were spotted here as well.
And a strange medium sized diving duck. No idea what this is at all. I did look at a relevant info guide but wouldn't like to identify a definite candidate as nothing appeared a good enough match... unless its a late juvenile and still to get its adult colours.
Three curlews (or possibly whimbrels) in the crops looking for insects and grubs.
I soon came to the Wemyss caves which I thought would be one of the highlights of the walk. Around a dozen in total within a short distance of each other these are well known to locals and the wider community for having carved ancient pictures on them deeply scratched into the soft rock. Some show bulls, long ships, fish, Medieval symbols, and humans with tools. It is one of the best collections of Pictish cave art anywhere so it's a real pity that the caves have been left largely un-preserved/ unguarded for so long. Luckily, I could crawl into this one, moving like a snake that's just swallowed a large capybara. Not very graceful or speedy in other words. Think of a tortoise exploring a basement.
Previous visitors have left their own graffiti in the various caves, over hundreds of years, sometimes next to the important carvings so it's hard for a casual visitor without much in depth knowledge of the subject matter to work out the genuine article and if its been tampered with or bits added on.
an obvious fish shape here.
What looks like a bull.
Some caves were deliberately chosen and carved out to encourage rock doves to nest in them- the wild ancestor of the domestic pigeon. This would be an important and reliable source of protein in lean times- both birds and eggs- as a living larder you could dip into when required. The first supermarket or corner shop.... but only for the local landed gentry. Lairds and suchlike folk that owned everything valuable in the area.
I was quite happy wandering around the larger caves where you could stand upright...
but the caves where you have to do a spot of crawling... well...I did not relish them as much as I used to...must be getting old... There is another inner cave to explore through this small hole but it's very dark inside this second chamber.
and I soon packed it in.... even with a headtorch... (I keep thinking of that bloody horror film about cave exploration 'The Descent' in tight dark places like this now since I watched it)....a guided tour would be best methinks.
A full guide and info here.
Out to sea in the Firth of Forth a pair of oil platforms sat with the distinctive shape of Berwick Law in this one rising on the mainland behind.
And in the distance ahead Buckhaven with its fabrication yard, a wind turbine, and Largo Law hill summit, marked the end of this walk.
The Jimmy Shand memorial. A legend on the country dance circuit.

Buckhaven mural.
Snake birds. Itchy neck.
The joy of gardening and watching things grow.
And from sunny Buckhaven it was a no 7 bus back to Kirkcaldy then the X27 bus back to Glasgow. Then another bus home. Six in total in one day.

A lot of travelling and a 12 hour outing so this seems an appropriate video.  The no 62 bus from the city centre past Partick and Scotstoun to Clydebank was my local bus route for the last three decades. Had many funny or unusual journeys on the no 62 coming back from a night out over the years but this is a classic. Great musicianship and a fine choice of songs. Half bus---half moving concert hall :o)


Rosemary said...

What a delightful little place Dysart looks with its whitewashed walls and blue sky.
As soon as the caves became so low, I would have gone no further.
I have two pairs of Bullfinches that regularly visit the garden - they appear to be very loyal to one another.

Ian Johnston said...

There seems to be an influx (? irruption) of Bullfinches this winter Bob. Usually they are really shy birds in the UK, but we've been able to get really close to parties of them all winter, including some small groups in our garden. I suspect that these are birds from Scandinavia wintering in the comparatively mild winter of Scotland.

Whatever, they're a joy to watch and a splash of winter colour

Anabel Marsh said...

Ah yes, Dysart and East Wemyss - loved these wee villages.

blueskyscotland said...

Hi Rosemary,
It's a lovely well kept village but I like the more rustic harbour. Alex has bullfinches visiting every autumn but he has a rural garden. All I get are pigeons, sparrows, grey squirrels, a blackbird or two, three mad bird eating cats and a sparrowhawk. It's a war zone out there :o)

blueskyscotland said...

Hi Ian,
you may be right as its not a bird I've seen much at all. Seen more waxwings, tree creepers, eagles, kingfishers, jays, woodpeckers, otters, water-voles, and red squirrels than bullfinches which is surprising considering how often I'm outdoors in the right habitat.

blueskyscotland said...

Cheers Anabel,
yes, Fife is special. Loads of smashing villages and towns. More of them coming up.

Anonymous said...

Cracking walk and loads of interest. Those caves should be treasured and protected but it seems they have fallen into disrepair. I often grumble at having to pay to see sites like this but I can see that without someone taking responsibility (and covering their costs) that ruin is often the inevitable result

blueskyscotland said...

Hi Andy,
I believe joy riders burnt a stolen car in one and they do have a well used appearance... litter,graffiti etc... there is a local group that looks after them now but unless they gate and lock them all up it's very hard to stop anyone gaining access.
I'm glad I visited them though.

Carol said...

I think you put the bus ride video out before but I found it absolutely hilarious. I wish we still had that kind of person in our area now (well, in my new area, I might - much more down to earth!).

Not sure I ever saw a bullfinch - we have chaffinches but don't think we have many of the bullfinches. Lovely bird. I'm still trying to attract blackbirds to my new garden to feed - I love those but they haven't been visiting. One pair look like they might be thinking about it though. I hope so...

blueskyscotland said...

Hi Carol,
It's a different bus video this time. That last one was 'funniest bus ride Fife Burntisland- Kirkcaldy' which is a cracker as well. I thought of that right away for this Fife post but then I found this new Glasgow one instead. No guitar in the Fife one just singing.
Blackbirds like natural fruit like apple cores, brambles or cherries. Cheap option is a £4 large bag (House coal sized) of mixed loose seeds from B and M stores. Blackbirds, robins, sparrows, finches etc like that but only some selected seed preferences then pigeons and squirrels eat the rest. Fat balls are good but dominant birds tend to hog them so only a few get to eat. Nut feeders are good- assorted great, blue, long tailed tits love them as they can hang the best without getting tired. Everything seems to like black sunflower seeds the best but they are more expensive. You get plenty in the £4 mixed seed bag anyway. It's good value.

Carol said...

I'll definitely be watching the bus video when I'm back at work where it's warmer. This bloody horrid north wind is making my attic/computer room freezing!

I know blackbirds like fruit and I've put out cooking apples which have been starting to go soft for them and apple pieces. I also put some food on the floor for blackbirds. I get them that fruit-flavoured suet too. Like I say, one pair have started coming a bit but I'd like as many as at my old house - they were so friendly.