Tuesday, 5 July 2022

First Med ring read

The west winds continue. Overcast till mid afternoon then sunny spells.

Janet took this nice sequence of a Herring gull dropping a mussel to break it open on the harbour wall.

Middleton Nature Reserve (MD)
I went to check if the female Gadwall was tending her two chicks, she was.
There was also a male and female Gadwall on the Tim Butler pond. This is the eclipsed male (with just a glimpse of a Mallard at the end of the clip).

Other wildfowl as yesterday, except no juvenile Little Grebe were seen on the main pond, at least one had moved to the "no swimming" pond.
Stock Dove 2
Big increase in Gatekeeper numbers, they probably out numbered the Ringlet today.

South Shore - late evening 
A Sabine's gull leaving Leighton Moss this afternoon prompted a check of the outflows myself (MD), Shaun and Alan Physick all had a look. No sign of the Sabine's (yet), but the Meds were catching sandmason worms on the beach near the wooden jetty
Mediterranean gull 17 - 12 adult, 4 x 2nd calendar year and 1 x 3rd calendar year. This adult catches a worm, they are very thin when "stretched" from their tubes, but protein packed.

Mediterranean gull with a Sandmason worm

Shaun managed to spot a green darvic ringed adult. Just within reading range. It was ringed as a nestling in Germany in 2012 and has visited Heysham each year since 2018

Monday, 4 July 2022

Insects sparse but of some interest

A steady west wind and overcast for most of the day, a few sunny spells in the afternoon.

South Shore (MD)
Mediterranean gulls 13 - A check of the beach next to wooden jetty as the tide covered it found only 3 feeding and three resting adults plus a couple of 2nd calendar year. At least 4 more adult and a 2cy between outflows - Red Nab not checked.
Rock Pipits 4 - 2 each Red Nab and Lighthouse 
Hummingbird Hawkmoth 1 resting on pebbles close to were it was on Friday

Middleton Nature Reserve
Grey Heron 1
Mute Swan pair plus 7 cygnets 
Moorhen 3 adult
Little grebe 2 adult 3 large juvenile 
Mallard 6 male
This was odd. This solo chick swam the full length of the ""no swimming" pond.
Not a Mallard chick, and the only other birds on the pond were a Little Grebe and a couple of Moorhen, clearly the chick didn't belong to them. I suspected Gadwall, but no sign of Mum. The chick then swam all the way back to the other bank. Then Mum flew in and landed in the middle of the pond and immediately began soft quacking to attract the chick. In this clip, you can just make out the chick top right of the frame.
She eventually spotted it and flew over, seems there were two chicks (there is always an adventurous one!). The only reason I can think of for her to leave her chicks alone would be if she has some unhatched eggs and her instincts were torn between brooding eggs and tending chicks (pure speculation of course (MD)). Hopefully she will concentrate on tending her chicks now.

Stock Dove 2 minimum - these have gone from being scarce to be seen on every visit. Two seen flying together plus three occasions a single bird was flushed.
A slightly better Stock Dove picture 

Just five species of warbler seen/heard: Chiffchaff, Willow Warbler, Blackcap, Lesser and Common Whitethroat.

Once again numbers of butterflies were low, but a good variety. In order of abundance:
Meadow Brown
Large Skipper
Small Skipper
Gatekeeper 3
Fresh Gatekeeper 

Speckled Wood 3
Red Admiral 1
Comma 1
Comma - presumably first of this year's generation 
Another hairy caterpillar choosing to rest on a trackway.
This looks to be a Ruby Tiger, but I would be happy to be corrected (MD)

Dragonflies were even sparser, and mainly away from the ponds
Common Darter 3
Emperor 2
Black-Tailed Skimmer 2 (male and female)
Female Black-tailed Skimmer
Broad-bodied Chaser 1 male
Worn looking male Broad-bodied Chaser

I think this Damselfly is one of the many incarnations of a female Blue-tailed Damselfly. It appears to be eating a maggot.
Damselfly eating a "maggot"

Sunday, 3 July 2022

A thorough check, but nothing new

West to WNW wind, mainly overcast with a few sunny spells and showers

South Shore
Initial check by Pete Crooks:

34 Mediterranean Gull between Red Nab and Heysham Harbour at low tide – 25 adults, 4 2nd summer, 5 1st summer. Most were rather distant off the the far end of the HS1 and HS2 outfall channels. Two of the most distant birds were colour-ringed: adult with white darvic on left leg, 1st summer with white darvic on right leg.

Also: 4 Rock Pipit around the Lighthouse, including 1 flying into a long horizontal crevice on the harbour wall.

I had a walk along the wall late morning, accompanied by the only prolonged period of rain of the day! (MD). The only thing I would add to Pete's report is that as the tide was covering the beach near the wooden jetty there were 6 adult and a 2nd calendar year Mediterranean gulls. The significance today was that they were at least searching for Sandmason worms, although I didn't see any being caught.
This is the white darvic ringed adult Med, pictured here yesterday

Nearer high water Pete (M) had a look

38 Meds at 1315 including 8 1st summer/2cy as the tide was starting to cover Red nab. About half the number of bhg and Meds cp the other day when 63 Meds and suspect some of the Red nab roosting Meds may already have left for the lune estuary before I arrived

Saturday, 2 July 2022

Not many Meds mid morning

Very heavy overnight rain eased by 08:00, just a couple of showers after that. A fresh SW wind and mainly sunny after mid afternoon.

South Shore (MD)
I went along the wall mid morning to check the beach next to wooden jetty before he tide covered it.
Rock Pipits 1 on Red Nab. No sign of the male near lighthouse but the female was standing guard. The helping bird was still carrying food, presumably to take to the nest site, but I didn't actually see where it went.
Mediterranean gulls no more than 10! I didn't see any walking down to the wooden jetty. There was only 1 adult and 1 x 2nd calendar year on the beach. They were briefly joined by a white darvic ringed adult, but too distant/brief to read.
On my return along the wall there were 3 adult and 6 x 2nd calendar year resting on No.2 outflow rocks. 
The low number of Meds could just be a reflection of my limited range, or possibly flushed early and left for the estuary.
This shot is one of Kevin's from a couple of days ago. They really are very smart in summer plumage.
Adult, summer plumage Mediterranean gull
You can make out the tips of the Sandmason worm tubes

Kevin, had a look for the Hummingbird Hawkmoth this afternoon, but there was no sign.

Middleton Nature Reserve 
I just did a 15 minute circuit of the main pond in the evening sunshine (MD)
Mute Swan 2 adult plus 7 cygnet 
Mallard 5 males in eclipse plus a female with 2 largish chicks.
Little grebe 1 adult plus 3 large juvenile 
Female Mallard and young with juvenile Little grebe behind

The three juvenile Little grebe were feeding themselves, under the watchful eye of an adult. These are the three juveniles.
Cormorant 1 feeding
Stock Dove 2
Swift 2
Swallow 3
Singing warblers:
Sedge Warbler
Willow Warbler 

Common Sandpiper 1 - it kept flitting from one bank to the other
Common Sandpiper zipping past a sawn

It eventually landed on the tip of the peninsula, unfortunately the strong sunshine washed out much of its plumage detail.

Ringlet - the path from the top of the steps between the long brick building (gun club) and the abandoned building towards the top car park is full of them.
Meadow Brown several 
Large Skipper several
Red Admiral 1

Emperor 3
Black Tailed Skimmer several, including ovipositoring females
Common Darter several

Friday, 1 July 2022

Highest Med count for two years!

Winds mainly from SW, occasional sunny spells and the showers held off till evening.

South Shore
Report from Pete:
Heysham outfalls area: Comprehensive Med count based on Ocean edge foreshore watching incoming tide.  
Mediterranean gull 63 comprising 35 ad, 14 each of 3cy and 2cy.  32 of these flew over to Lune estuary before rocks covered at all but many still on Red nab at 1317 with no disturbance today.  One green ringed ad but most of the observations of flying birds. 
Curlew 420
Whimbrel 1 - About on time for return 

I had a look at high water 13:40 (MD)
There were still at least 10 adult on the remaining Red Nab rocks, but most sat down so no rings seen, plus one with the BHGs on saltmarsh. Pete advises that this means at least 4-5 to add to his total.

Rock Pipit 1 on Red Nab, no sign of any near the lighthouse, so all three options are possible (young still in nest, young fledged and being fed elsewhere or the young failed to fledge - I'll continue checking)

Hummingbird Hawkmoth 1 - located resting on the pebble shore of saltmarsh just where I saw one last Friday. I assumed then that it was just passing through, but I now suspect it is feeding on the impressive Thistle stand near the bank and resting on the shoreline when not feeding. It is very difficult to find when resting, so checks of the Thistles is probably the best bet for relocation. This is where it was resting today, this spot is 100m north of the saltmarsh slipway.
The circle is where the Hummingbird Hawkmoth was resting today.
You can see the Thistles on the other side of the banking

Hummingbird Hawkmoth 

These are the Thistles where I suspect it is feeding, when conditions are favourable (MD)

Middleton Nature Reserve (MD)
Just a short morning walk exercising my daughter's dog, so didn't go near the ponds (daren't take him back dirty!).
Little Grebe 2 adult plus 2 large juveniles feeding on the main pond, easily visible from the top car park.
Stock Dove 1 flew towards the water treatment plant
Stock Dove

It was coolish and overcast, but there were still a few insects around
Ringlet 10
Meadow Brown 2
Small Heath 1
Large Skipper 1

Emperor 1
Common Darter 1 

Thursday, 30 June 2022

Clouded Yellow

Very light winds from all directions till lunch, then settled from the west. A warm sunny afternoon.

South Shore (MD)
A morning check on the rising tide.
Mediterranean gull 9+ - there was just one adult on the beach near the jetty, but at least 8 adult/3rd calendar year on Red Nab with the Black-Headed gulls.
Rock Pipit 7 - Red Nab was quiet today with just one, there were three together along the foreshore. 
Both the ringed male and the female were above the lighthouse nest site, but not going down to feed them, looked like they were trying to entice the young to come out of the nest. It was ideal conditions with almost no wind. The third "helper" bird had not got the message though and was still taking food to them. Anyway it confirms that this is the second brood this year for this pair.
This clip is the female, she was distracted by a small passing fly, it wasn't passing for long!

Middleton Nature Reserve mid afternoon (MD)
Mute Swan 2 adult still with 7, now quite large cygnets 
Little grebe 3 adult
Warblers singing 
Cetti's Warbler - just the "no swimming" pond male
Willow Warbler, 
Lesser Whitethroat 2 singing today, not heard them for a while
Common Whitethroat 
Reed Warbler 
Sedge Warbler 

Stock Dove 2 flew east, later a single bird, probably one of the earlier two flew to water treatment works.

There weren't lots of butterflies, but a good variety of species.
Ringlet - by far the most common
Meadow Brown several
Gatekeeper - just one probable 
Speckled Wood just 1
Large Skipper several
Small Skipper 4
Red Admiral 1
White - probably green-veined 1
Clouded Yellow 1 female was flitting around to the west of Tim Butler pond. Unfortunately a pack of dogs passed by mid flitter and I lost sight of it. Possibly heading for the grassland to south of Tradebe.

Clouded Yellow

This shot with the sun shining through its wings shows the dark upper wing pattern
Narrow bordered Five-Spot Burnet - everywhere!
Silver Y, 3 - this one was feeding frantically 

Again a decent variety
Emperor 6

Male Emperor Dragonfly 
Black Tailed Skimmer 8
Broad Bodied Chaser 6
Four-Spotted Chaser 1 
Male Four-Spotted Chaser
Common Darter 2

All the regular Damselflies were active too including this Common Emerald Damselfly
Damselflies do not normally rest with their wings spread, but Common 
Emerald Damselflies are actually part of a subgroup called Spreadwings.
Their other name is Common Spreadwing

I think these are Cardinal Beetles, whatever they are they seemed to be enjoying the sunshine.

Wednesday, 29 June 2022

Midsummer Knot

Light South to SSW winds, mainly overcast till late afternoon, some showers.

South Shore
Pete checked the meds:
Mediterranean Gull - At least 26 outfalls/Red nab with birds departing to the Lune estuary at least as soon as I arrived at 1100 (8 3cy, 7 2cy, 11 ad) - no rings seen.

I had a walk along the shore and sea wall mid afternoon. I set off in full waterproofs in the pouring rain, and ended up sweating when the rain stopped and the sun came out (MD).
Goldfinch 7 feeding next to saltmarsh 
Linnet 4 feeding next to saltmarsh plus 2 at Red Nab and 3 near lighthouse - these are the saltmarsh birds.

Rock Pipits 7 - one on foreshore. Four on Red Nab, I'm not sure what was going on, there was a lot of bickering and chasing going on, possibly a new male in the breeding birds territory. I suspect these two are males in conflict.

These are the other two and appear to be an adult (presumably the female) and a juvenile 

There were two taking food to the lighthouse nest again. This one has another sand eel. She is probably the breeding female. We have seen these abnormal feathers on the back of a female nesting here before, Pete suspected it was the result on many hours sat in the hole with her back in contact with the damp stone.

Curlew 61 north
Redshank 2
Shag 1 2nd calendar year resting on the rocks almost out of sight at the end of the wooden jetty. But even at this range its profile identifiable 

The Mediterranean gulls weren't in a rush to return from the estuary only 3 adults were seen this afternoon.

Heysham skear - low water 19:00 (MD)
Little Egret 8
Grey Heron 2
Grey Heron

Great Crested grebe 2
Eider 1 female
Not a great shot, but I managed to get the Eider and GC Grebes in the same frame

Knot 2  together - no sign of summer plumage. Pete advises that they will likely be summering 2nd calendar year birds.
One of the two Knot

Curlew, many more than the  61 seen flying this way earlier. This clip gives a flavour of the activity.

The seed mussels are now too large for the Herring gulls to eat whole. This is a typical bed.

These are the smallest mussels around. Too large and too well anchored 
for the Herring Gulls to eat.

Finally, yesterday's "Sea Mouse" has now been correctly identified as a Sea Potato Echinocardium cordatum - thanks Angela (although I should have known, I am familiar with them! MD)

Tuesday, 28 June 2022

More Meds

A SSE wind. Overcast all day with showers starting about lunchtime 

South shore - low water 06:20 (MD)
The tide was still well out when I set of at 07:00. 
Mediterranean gulls minimum 26 possibly as many as 32 - including 6 x 2nd calendar year and 3 x 3rd calendar year 
They were resting in several locations on the shore. On the way out there were 11adult, 3 x 3cy and 3 x 2cy on Red Nab, 5 adult and 2 x 2cy near No.2 outflow and 3 adult and 2 x 2cy near wooden jetty, although there may have been some slight overlap as some of the Red Nab birds moved. 
On my return there were 10 adult and 4 x 2cy near No.2 outflow. I didn't recheck Red Nab (wish I had now!)
These are some the Red Nab birds, sorry about the pause in the middle, but I couldn't decide if one bird had black in its primaries or if it was wrack (it was one of 3cy).

This clip is just to show location of the Meds near No.2 outflow on the way out
On the way back the Meds were more scattered on the beach with the Black-Headed gulls

Rock Pipits - at least one taking food to lighthouse nest

Herring gull chicks on one of the platforms in the harbour

North shore
Janet had a quick around below Heysham Head Cliffs 
Rock Pipit 2
Rock Pipit

Sea Mouse 1?
Not sure about this, the "fur" looks right for a Sea Mouse, but shape 
suggests an urchin, but an urchin has spines, albeit fine ones on some
species. We'll go for Sea Mouse for now, it's such a good name! (MD)

The above has now been relegated from a mouse to a potato (Thanks Angela). I am happy that it is the remains of a Sea Potato (Echinocardium cordatum)

Monday, 27 June 2022

Another wader

WSW wind. Heavy overnight rain stopped about 08:30, after that it was largely sunny.

South shore on ebbing tide in afternoon 
I went down to watch the beach near the wooden jetty become exposed, but it was largely deserted (MD).
Mediterranean gull just 3 adults seen on No.1 outflow and later 1 on beach next to jetty.
Shag 1 2nd calendar year landed in the harbour mouth, unfortunately no sign of it when I reached the harbour

Common Sandpiper 1 briefly on sea wall - before taking an early bath

Curlew 140 flying north including one flock of 120
Rock Pipit 2 - one on sea wall and at least one taking food to lighthouse nest
Linnet just two seen near lighthouse 
Female Linnet 
There were no insects moving in the WSW wind, but as I sat on the terraced wall on the roundhead, this Meadow Brown "settled" beside me (settled isn't really the right word). Unfortunately I didn't see where it came from, but it flew off east towards the waterfall.

Heysham Nature Reserve 
I'd bumped into Kevin, so we decided to check out the high plateau
Dark Green Fritillary 2 - they can be difficult to spot for such large, bright and mobile butterflies. It took us several minutes to confirm that there were at least 2
Other butterflies on the plateau
Large and Small Skipper
Meadow Brown 

Narrow boarded Five Spot Burnet
Burnet Companion 
Silver Y

Sunday, 26 June 2022

21 Meds plus Gannets.

A very strong SSE to SSW wind. Overcast all day with some heavy showers 

South shore
Sightings by Shaun:
Gannet 7 milling about in the bay
Mediterranean gull 21 on outflows (14 adult/3cy plus 7 x 2cy)

I went to check the high water roosts (MD). Most of the Meds had already moved on, those that remained were hunkered down against the wind.
This is Red Nab, there are two adult a 3rd calendar year and a 2nd calendar year Med in this clip.

Wader species increased to three with the return of a solitary Redshank joining the Oystercatchers and rapidly increasing Curlew numbers.
Redshank on saltmarsh 

Hopefully more stuff tomorrow.