Tuesday, 6 October 2015

Redwing arrive

The first Redwing of the season arrived today in the Heysham area.

Vis over Heysham NR
Bullfinch 4
Kestrel 1

Vis over Middleton NR 0700-1100
Gentle breeze S3, 7/8 cloud clearing after early morning rain, very mild 16C
Mistle Thrush - 15 in one flock SE
Redwing - 7 (2 with the Mistle Thrushes, then 5 late morning)
Song Thrush - 1 E
Lesser Redpoll - 7 SE
Grey Wagtail - 2 (1 trapped and ringed), plus 1 hanging about the sewage farm
alba wagtail -5
Chaffinch - 6 SE
Jackdaw - 2 S
Jay - 3 E
Skylark - 2 SE
Goldfinch - 19 +45

Other species of note: Water Rail - 2 (one in each reedbed), Reed Bunting 2, Goldcrest 1.

Monday, 5 October 2015

Record October wheatear count?

Heysham obs
Malcolm located 7 in a coastal trawl just after the rain finished with 5 together red nab and two Heysham head. Prompted a bit of canopy gazing, especially Heysham head but slim pickings

Heysham head pm
Chiffchaff - 1
Goldcrest - 5
Coal tit - at least 3
Tree creeper - at least one
Wheatear - 2

Red nab
Wheatear - 2 increasing to five red nab
Rock pipit - 1
Med gull - 3x 2cy, one adult

Sunday, 4 October 2015

Yet another Yellow-browed Warbler in good fall conditions

Heysham Obs
Anyone own up to Goldcrest CXK886- a veritable pitfall of a potential misread!  It was treble-checked by two observers plus a magnifying glass 

Another Yellow-browed Warbler found by Jean Roberts this am and seen by Pete Marsh, but unfortunately flew over the top of the nets into the tank farm.  Quite a bit of early morning stuff (mostly Goldcrest) but then died off quickly, perhaps surprising for cloudy conditions and a species which usually lingers a bit but the wind of change was making itself felt by lunchtime

The other feature of the morning was a 'mutt meet' for bulldogs and large brown things - no prior knowledge of this and initially we wondered what on earth was going on!

Vis mig office area
Meadow Pipits in the cloud - grossly underestimated but not absolute hordes
Meadow Pipit - 42
alba Wagtail - 13
Lesser Redpoll - 3
Grey Wagtail - 1 plus a 'blogger'
Chaffinch - 15
Coal Tit - 3
Pink-footed Goose - 54+23+36

Rock Pipit - north harbour wall
Wheatear - female Heysham Head
Goldcrest - 50ish on reserve
Chiffchaff - 5-8 reserve
Robin - small arrival
Treecreeper - 1
Blackcap - only one seen
Song Thrush - at least 3 migrants

Ringing on Heysham & Middleton NR (net not set in front of feeders to concentrate on migrants)
Goldcrest (44, including one ringed elsewhere), Chiffchaff (8, including bird ringed Leighton Moss), Blackcap (2), Robin (5), Chaffinch (1), Lesser Redpoll (18), Reed Bunting (1), Meadow Pipit (3)

Midddleton NR Vis
Meadow Pipit - 123
Pink-footed Goose - 48+60+32
Corvid sp. - 21 North

Saturday, 3 October 2015

Another Yellow-browed Warbler morning

Heysham obs
A single call from the top path Heysham NR at 0725 remained unconfirmed with no 'spare' observers (from mist net duties) to follow it up.  A definite was caught and ringed Middleton NR at 0850 (see below) which then promptly disappeared.  However, a calling bird, seemingly in rapid transit, was heard by the two ringers at 1130hrs.  Different? - who knows, as it could not be seen


Grounded migrants Heysham/Middleton
Spotted Flycatcher - one showing well by Red Nab bushes
Yellow-browed Warbler - see above, only one confirmed individual
Goldcrest - c15
Chiffchaff - 8-10
Blackcap - at least 8 Middleton, only 3 seen HNR and area
Blackbird - one behaving like a continental migrant headed off high to SW
Song Thrush - one arrived from height and landed in some scrub HNR
As has been the case most of this week, despite plenty of Robin activity just after dawn no evidence of newly arrived migrants

Vis mig
Very hit and miss in the patchy fog
Jay - 1 S
Meadow Pipit - 89 SE
alba Wagtail - 10 SE
Grey Wagtail - 1 SEChaffinch - 6 S
Skylark - 1 SE
Siskin - heard x 3
Mistle Thrush - 4 high flyers - eventually SE
Jackdaw - 1 SW
Pink-footed Goose - large flock heard + 23 S
Long-tailed Tit - fairly excitable flock of 15 S mid-pm

Ringing Middleton/Heysham
Most of Chiffchaff Heysham, most of Blackcaps Middleton!
Blackcap (9), Chiffchaff (5), Yellow-browed Warbler (1), Goldcrest (8), Blue Tit (1), Meadow Pipit (3), Lesser Redpoll (1), Blackbird (2)

The bad news today was the perhaps inevitable, given the number of sightings and animals obviously using the mist net access paths, first 'trashing' of a superfine net by what must have been a Roe Deer

memo: male Black Darter photographed in the Nature Park two days ago - need to document (thanks Janice)

At least 15 Red Admiral and two Painted Lady flying south today


Friday, 2 October 2015

Foggy thrash

Heysham Obs
Probably the best coverage this year was hampered by early morning fog.  Best birds were female Stonechat by the Moneyclose Lane anemometer and a Spotted Flycatcher on Heysham Head along the 'bramble track'.  Wanted:  birder to cover Heysham Head/Barrows daily during promising migration conditions

Heysham head
Spotted Flycatcher - 1
Blackcap - 3
Goldcrest - 5
Coal Tit - 14 arrived from north
Jay - two ditto

Vis mig Heysham Head (under canopy a lot of the time) 1000-1100:
Chaffinch - 7
Skylark - 5
Siskin - 2
Meadow Pipit - 15
alba Wagtail - 9

Red Nab bushes/coastal section of Middleton (thanks to Tom Wilmer)
Chiffchaff - 7
Blackcap - 2
Stonechat - female by anemometer

South harbour area/outfalls seawall
Rock Pipit - 3 (2 together)
Chiffchaff - one in firecrest brambles
Robin - 2
Kingfisher - one Heysham 2 outfall inner end for 5 minutes

North harbour wall mound area
Wren - 5
Robin - 5
Chiffchaff - 4 together in sea buckthorn
Meadow Pipit - 30
alba Wagtail - 16
Linnet - 19
Goldcrest - 1

Vis mig from coastal sites 0800-0920 intermittently
Meadow Pipit - 120  (including concentrated flightline along the wooden jetty
alba Wagtail - 35
Siskin - 2
Chaffinch - 2
Grey Wagtail - 3
Greylag - at least two SE

Vis mig Middleton
Meadow Pipit - 35
Redpoll - 3
Grey Wagtail - 3
Chaffinch - 6
alba Wagtail - 7
Jay - 1

Grounded Middleton
Goldcrest - 8 along edge of golf course
Coal Tit - 1+
Blackcap - at least 8

Combined ringing totals (new birds) -very slow in the fog
Blackcap (8), Lesser Redpoll (1), Coal Tit (1), Blue Tit (5), Wren (1), Blackbird (1), Meadow Pipit (3), Great Tit (1), Chiffchaff (3), Long-tailed Tit (3)

SEPTEMBER ringing totals = pretty good considering all the earlier season gloom and doom

1 Kingfisher
4 Sand Martin
114 Swallow
1 Tree Pipit
30 Meadow Pipit
78 Grey Wagtail
31 Wren
31 Dunnock
40 Robin
1 Song Thrush
4 Blackbird
2 Grasshopper Warbler
3 Sedge Warbler
13 Reed Warbler
8 Lesser Whitethroat
23 Whitethroat
1 Garden Warbler
79 Blackcap
1 Yellow-browed Warbler
85 Chiffchaff
20 Willow Warbler
85 Goldcrest
1 Firecrest
14 Long-tailed Tit
25 Coal Tit
45 Blue Tit
23 Great Tit
1 Treecreeper
6 Chaffinch
22 Greenfinch
100 Goldfinch
7 Lesser Redpoll
3 Bullfinch
19 Reed Bunting

Thursday, 1 October 2015

Another Yellow-browed Warbler but Wwbt very elusive

Heysham Obs
A bit surprised today by people hoping to rapidly home in on YBW in bushes and trees without knowing the call.  The easiest one to connect with locally today was the Sunderland 'toilet block bird' and that was "easy" as it spent most of the time in one sycamore.  No problem!  Now find it (thanks Alan for the pic):

Field-craft comes in many forms and one of them is not to leave a Yellow-browed Warbler MP3 next to a sunny part of the mist net which is slightly catching the breeze.  Today's YBW was first seen hovering against a highly visible mist net then sitting on the tip of a bramble before flying into nearby willows.   It then appeared to fly towards the cream store/dipping pond area but 20 minutes later a call was heard from the bushes surrounding the pond up above the office and a couple of short views obtained.  Presumably the same bird which  was now having nothing to do with the tape.  It was heard calling further back in the edge of the tank farm at 1130, after which most of the birds went into quiet mode in the blazing sunshine

The other major highlight of the day was a Vapourer moth in its usual meandering flight near the top of some trees near the entrance gate - the first record for here

Nice to talk to a couple of dog walkers who had ditched the beasties for the morning and spent the time photographing the butterfly fest on the reserve.  As the available blossom dwindles, the Red Admirals in particular are targeting over-ripening blackberries, competing with wasps and all sorts of flies.  A circuit of the reserve saw far more butterflies than on any single day in June!

Distant late afternoon reports of the  White-winged Black tern with no sign during at least 5 hours worth of observation on the incoming tide.  Seemingly feeding offshore in the calm weather

Office area pre-dawn to 1100hrs
Meadow Pipit - 85
alba Wagtail - 24
Chaffinch - 25
Redpoll - 2
Grey Wagtail - 4 - all after 0930
Mistle Thrush - 3
Skylark - 4
Coal Tit - more difficult to be certain of duplication this morning but certainly 40-50 passed through south

Yellow-browed Warbler - 1
Chiffchaff - 2
Song Thrush - 2

Reserve circuit pm
Absolutely dead with no warbler species recorded, suggesting, as does the lack of retraps, that there are no accumulations of birds in this weather and birds are landing, easily feeding up and moving on.  Might get some fairly rapid ringing recoveries although the weather down south is rather less mist-net friendly

To be added

Combined ringing totals, Middleton and Heysham NR office
Coal Tit (10), Chiffchaff (4), Blue Tit (1), Dunnock (2), Robin (1), Reed Bunting (5), Blackcap (1), Lesser Redpoll (5), Wren (1), Goldcrest (3 Middleton - none seen or heard Heysham NR), Great Tit (1), Meadow Pipit (1)

Yellow-browed Warblers found at Brows Farm, Sunderland and in the garden by the toilet block at Sunderland early on this morning

Butterflies on reserve circuit
Speckled Wood - 25, Red Admiral - 35, Comma - 1, Small White - 1, Small Tortoiseshell - 14, Peacock - 1, Painted Lady - 1, Silver Y - c30

Dragonflies at Middleton
Thanks for the pics Janet
Brown Hawker - getting a bit late for this species - possibly no previous October records - will check.  Thanks to Mark Nightingale for the pic of a very late Common Hawker in the Nature Park

Wednesday, 30 September 2015

Awkward Firecrest and wandering tern

Heysham Obs
Some seriously good pics from Janet - thanks:

Today saw a little more vis mig during the morning session but fewer grounded night migrants.  Coal Tits were in evidence and the vis mig highlights also included a flock of 8 Tree Sparrow, a flock of 7 Jay and a Collared Dove!  
Office area vis mig (S/SE unless stated)
Goldfinch - 24
Coal Tit - 25
Meadow Pipit - 196
Song Thrush - 1 flew west calling
Carrion Crow - flock of 4 S
Chaffinch - 21
Grey wagtail - 1
Jay - flock of 7 S, 1 S, 2 S 
Raven - flock of 3 NE
Dunnock - two singleton highflyers S
Collared Dove - 1 S - scarce of late on passage
Siskin - c5 S
Tree Sparrow - flock of 8 east, landing briefly
Bullfinch - 2 S - the first high-flying birds noted this autumn
Jackdaw - 15 N
Swallow - 4
Ringing Middleton and Heysham combined (new birds)
Wren (3), Chiffchaff (5), Goldfinch (1), Coal Tit (10), Great Tit (1), Greenfinch (2), Goldcrest (5), Meadow Pipit (2), Blackbird (2), Lesser Redpoll (2), Dunnock (1), Reed Bunting (2), Robin (1)
Heysham Head late afternoon 
Following up a strong claim of a Yellow-browed Warbler call from someone very familiar with the species, widening the search produced a series of 'insistent' calls in the canopy directly overhead on the Barrows.  This was followed over the next 25 minutes by two glimpses, one seeming to show some 'rust' on the shoulders but on neither of these views was the head visible.  Then another series of firm insistent calls, about 20 minutes after the first ones.  Then finally a brief glimpse which included the head and white supercilium.   To my horror, then realised my phone was dead - too many 'thank yous' to birthday wishes!  So sorry the news was a bit late being put out
Cormorant - 151 wooden jetty
White-winged Black Tern - very mobile today including roosting amongst the juxtaposed sleepers on the wooden jetty amongst Turnstone/Redshank/large gulls
Amazing today with Red Admiral between 70 and 100, Small Tortoiseshell also all over the place including along the seawall by the wooden jetty and a few Painted Lady & Peacock, Comma with slightly worse for wear Speckled Wood all over the place.  A few whites and two worn Common Blue also seen.  Silver Y were also all over the place with eg 25-30 on the yellow buddleia by the office and many along the seawall

So after all the xxxx of the summer/early autumn with awful local breeding success, dreadful ringing totals and complete lack of seabirds, what a month (with apologies to Leach's Petrel)!  A decent rarity, Firecrest and Yellow-browed Warbler already in the autumnal bag and really good numbers of migrants, especially Chiffchaff, Goldcrest and Blackcap, but also including well-above average numbers of out of habitat Reed Warbler and a decent sample of colour-ringed Grey Wagtail, despite incessantly sunny mornings shining on part of the catching net.  Latterly a minor Coal Tit irruption, with more ringed in the last week than the last two years put together