Wednesday, 31 January 2007

Another Pink-foot day

Heysham Obs
c15 minutes mid-morning saw 450 Pink-footed Geese heading NW, in three skeins

An afternoon run round the usual circuit produced:

Stage 2 outfall
Ad Med Gull
Ad & 1st W Little Gull

11 Shag scattered around, possibly more
13 Kittiwake (2 adult)

Middleton IE
13 Tufted Duck & female Goldeneye

Ad Med Gull at Stodday, 6 Barnacle Geese with increased numbers of Pinkfeet at Lane Ends, plenty of Pinkfeet flying over the area heading NW during the morning 8 Whooper Swan on the Lune floodplain between Claughton and Burton Wood

Tuesday, 30 January 2007

Connection with the low tide Med

Heysham Obs
Power Station Outfalls
For the last two winters, a large adult Med Gull appears to have been the (same) infrequent visitor, invariably at low tide and on the seaward end of one of the outfalls. It was on the seaward end of Heysham 2 outfall this afternoon

Little Gull reduced to the ?usual adult and 1st W

Harbour/north wall
13 Shag (all juvs) by the waterfall in late afternoon, the highest count for a few days. Ad and 1st W Med Gulls along the NHW. About 8 remaining Kittiwake, all 1st W. 4 Twite on the mound

The three Scaup (one male) still at Glasson, 4 Bewick's Swan still at Glasson, Spotted Redshank at Conder, good numbers of birds along Fluke Hall lane including a flock of c30 Twite and 5 Ruff. 3 Barnacle Geese on Pilling Marsh with Pinkfeet. Med Gull reported at Sandylands paddling pool. Nothing of any interest on Pine Lake. No known check for the Stone Jetty Purple Sandpiper. No reports of any booming Bitterns at Leighton Moss to date. No sign Little Stint at Aldcliffe.

Monday, 29 January 2007

Very routine........

Heysham Obs
North harbour wall
1st W Med Gull patrolling
4 Twite
10 Shag in the harbour

2 Greenfinch, 1 Blue Tit & 1 Blackbird ringed; from in a single net set by the feeder next to the office for an hour or so

Little Stint still at Aldcliffe and Spotted Redshank at Conder . Purple Sandpiper roosting on the Stone Jetty groyne early morning. 550 Black-tailed Godwit on the Eric Morecambe complex and the rapidly disappearing wetland between Warton and the A6

Sunday, 28 January 2007

Pinkfeet on the move

Heysham Obs

A skein of 750 Pink-footed Geese was flying above the bypass, visible from the NR office, early morning, before landing in adjoining fields. Another 300 were in a field to the north of Heysham Moss. In addition, at least 240 in 4 skeins later flew over the Obs recording area, seemingly heading NW.

A small influx of adult Little Gull with 5 adults on the seaward end of Heysham Stage One outfall (by the end of the wooden jetty) at low tide with at least one 1st W on the inner end of Heysham 2 outfall. Ad Med Gull seen at long range on the seaward end of Heysham one outfall - possibly the north wall bird. Two Kittiwake on Heysham 2 outfall

9 Shag by the waterfall and at least one other in the inner harbour. 14 Kittiwake in the harbour, many having found suitable roosting sites. Only one adult seen.

Middleton Industrial Est Wetlands 08:30 – 10:00
2 Mute, 8 Coot, 2 Moorhen, 7 Tufted, 70(ish) Teal, 17 Mallard, 7 Snipe, 1 Jack snipe, 1 Pheasant (f), 1 Peregrine. (No Goldeneye or Little grebe seen).
The Teal were very flighty and were favouring water amongst reeds rather than open water. 70 was the most seen in flight at any one time.
Also, slightly unusually, 1 male Bullfinch (calling) and a single Goldcrest.

Freight ferry
9 adult Kittiwake (& lots of Common Gull) following it in as far as No 8 buoy before flying out again

North harbour wall
1st W Med Gull patrolling

Polish-ringed Med Gull P96 [see below for updated details] was on the Lancaster City football pitch again. Another ad Med Gull was on the river Lune by the Golden Ball. The Little Stint was again present at Aldcliffe this afternoon but the Razorbill reported recently on one of the ponds was found dead. A single Hawfinch was reported from Woodwell. The 8 Lune valley Whooper Swans were seen again (details as yesterday)

Ringed Mediterranean Gull details
Poland FM11199 (Darvic red P96 (formerly P70)
Ringed Skoki Duze, Wroclawek, Poland AdF 19/5/01
Seen Battery car park, Morecambe 31/1/03
Retrapped and reringed: Skoki Duze 19/5/03 (nesting: paired with 5HR*)
Seen Morecambe Stone jetty (with 5HR) 8/3-18/3/04 (but no sign Skoki Duze 2004 breeding season)
Seen urban Lancaster, mainly Marsh estate area winter 2004/5
Seen urban Lancaster, mainly Marsh estate area autumn 2005-11/3/06
Seen urban Lancaster, mainly Marsh Estate area about 25/7/06-into 2007
Seen Morecambe Broadway area of promenade 7/1/07
Seen Lancaster City football pitch 17/1/07
Seen Lancaster City football pitch 28/1/07

*Wintered by the Stone Jetty from 1995/6 until its presumed death or or around 5/11/05

Saturday, 27 January 2007

Heysham Obs
A visit at low tide in the morning saw just 8 Shag around the waterfall area and about 8 Kittiwakes in the harbour. The 1st W Med Gull was along the north harbour wall.

Two 1st W Little Gull on the outfalls

5 Twite on the mound (thanks for info, Rosie)

A trail behind a distant freight ferry as seen from Ocean Edge appeared to include some Kittiwakes, but the Eric Cantona level of speciation was more appropriate at this range.

The morning also produced two Song Thrush and a Dunnock in full song as heard from the NR office door

The most startling record today was a Little Stint on a flooded field at Aldcliffe, a species which is a regular winterer at Frodsham in Cheshire, regularish along the Merseyside coast but extremely unusual at this season anywhere to the north.

560 Black-tailed Godwits still on the flooded fields between Warton and the A6 (after flighting there during the morning from the Eric Morecambe complex)

The 8 Whooper Swan frequenting the Lune Valley were visible (with two Mutes) from the high point layby on the A683 just south of Melling. 11 Bewick's Swan were seen on Jeremy Lane, nr Glasson

1st W male and 1st W female Scaup on Glasson marina, 4 Barnacle Geese Pilling Marsh and a Short-eared Owl at Cockersands

Some 10km square survey work in late afternoon saw the upland fields at the top of Roeburndale pretty dead with a lot fewer Fieldfare and Redwing in the upland areas (at least) this winter

Friday, 26 January 2007

Whats missed is mystery or can someone help?

Heysham Obs
A conversation with a local angler transpired that he had been shown, in the region of the outfalls/harbour mouth, a Little Gull and what he seemed to remember was called an 'Arctic Gull' or something similar and described as a 'rare bird' a birder with a scope etc.. All he could remember was some 'light brown across the back' and when I prompted with 'Iceland Gull' as the name - it rang a bell! This was three days ago.

Bearing in mind the closure of the rubbish tip, records such as this will become pretty priceless, even in this 'winter of plenty' nationally. There is just nothing to attract passing large gulls in this area, apart from perhaps the PS outfalls, the harbour intake area and the odd fishing boat at Morecambe. Anyone able to clarify? - it would be just nice to get details to allow this to become a publishable record - you will not be named and shamed for not broadcasting at the time! Thanks

12 Shags by the waterfall, 14 Kittiwake in the same area. Ad & 1st W Med Gulls in the harbourmouth

Intended to check the outfalls very quickly just before dusk, but realised that Ocean Edge caravan park property, including the foreshore, is now shut at 1600hrs with security personnel thereafter very politely requesting you not to enter, even with a barrier swipe card. Not sure how long this lasts - Feb 1/2 term?

The 2006 Heysham Obs report with a full colour double-page will be available next week at Heysham Nature Reserve office and Leighton Moss RSPB reserve shop. There may be a short admin. delay at Leighton before the report can be put on the shelves

NNEW on the Purple Sandpiper at the optimum times (low tide feeding, high tide roost). 520 Black-tailed Godwits feeding in the flooded fields between Warton and Millhead/M601 junction.

Thursday, 25 January 2007

Red Admiral stirred into action

Heysham Obs
The highlight of the day was a Red Admiral butterfly soaking up the sun on the south side of the office at 1300hrs before rather geriatrically flying towards the Power Stations. The temperature was about 6C. As I had the door open for ringing activities, there remains a possibility that this butterfly had been hibernating in the relative warmth of the office block. The office was certainly warm enough to attract a Wren inside, which was most reluctant to depart

Ringing: Two hours with a single net at the feeding station, hoping to see what the composition of the 60+ Greenfinches was in terms of retraps etc.. As is often the case with feeding stations e.g. a project to catch all the wintering 'birdtable' Blackcaps in the area sounds ideal in theory.......large numbers of Blue and Great Tits were trapped and indeed almost certainly reduced the numbers of the 'target species'. The first ringing of the year comprised: 9 Greenfinch, 6 Blue Tit, 1 Robin, I Great-spotted Woodpecker, 1 Great Tit.... with about 15 retraps, mainly tits but including another Great-spotted Woodpecker which had been ringed a a juvenile in early autumn 2006 and just one Greenfinch. Oh yes, an unringed Blue Tit escaped!

North harbour wall
Ad & 1st W Med Gulls seen

At least 12 Shags and at least 7 Kittiwake

The outfalls were not checked

Purple Sandpiper still at the high tide roost on the Bubbles groyne by Morecambe Stone jetty.

NB: c/f the Leighton Brent, the two Black Brants are still present in the collection by my house
along with some superb Mandarin & Wood Duck as well as free-flying Shelduck.

Wednesday, 24 January 2007

Shags on the wooden jetty

Heysham Obs
Late afternoon visit 1600-1625

The radical change was the mass transference of the Shags to the wooden jetty on the incoming tide. Presumably it passed their risk assessment in the much calmer weather.
13 could be seen but there were some blind spots as viewed from the north harbour wall

3 adult-type (one prob 2nd W) and 2 1st W Little Gulls on Heysham 2 outfall as checked at long range from Ocean Edge

14 Kittiwake in the harbour

Ad and 1st W Med Gulls feeding on anglers scraps in the harbour mouth

Purple Sandpiper still at the end of the jetty at low tide and on the Bubbles groyne rocks
on the incoming tide

Tuesday, 23 January 2007

Empty afternoon skies

Knot on the Near Naze next to the heliport. Thanks Rosie

Heysham Obs
Just time for about 20 mins birding in latish afternoon. This was the first truly calm weather for a bit and my exit from the office was accompanied by an eerie silence and empty skies. No trail of large noisy gulls heading for the coast/across to Walney. This is, of course, the knock-on from the closure of Lancaster Tip.

Heysham PS Stage 2 outfall
2 Adult and one 1st W Little Gull - good to see them hanging in in the calm weather.

Heysham Harbour
10 Shag in the waterfall area, 5 on the seawall by the sandplant. About 7 Kittiwake & 1st W Med Gull over by the NHW. Guillemot in the harbour mouth

Highlighted by a 1st W Purple Sandpiper which was on the rocks at the end of the SJ at low tide but not, as far as could be seen, on the HT roost on 'Bubbles groyne' at lunchtime. Also surely a different Guillemot to Heysham offshore at lunchtime. The male Hen Harrier was seen again at Leighton Moss Lower Hide area. Pine Lake provided minor interest in the form of a Red-breasted Merganser and 13 or so Goosander. 4 Bewick's Swan on Jeremy Lane and a further 3 on Glasson saltmarsh

Monday, 22 January 2007

The first heat haze of the year!

The lunchtime IOM passenger ferry as seen today from Harris End fell. Thanks Simon

Heysham Obs
A New Year's resolution was to be more disciplined as regards the length of the self-employed lunch- 'break for birding'. The rigid adherence to 30 minutes included trying to watch the IOM ferry in but it crossed with a freight ferry and the entourage turned round....too far away to identify...because of the heat haze. This irony has happened before on cold sunny winter's days.

Heysham Stage 2 outfall
2 x adult Little Gull, 1 x 1st W Little Gull, 2 x Kittiwake

16 Shag by the waterfall, adult Med Gull in the harbour mouth and 8 Kittiwake

Ringing recovery received today
FC51375 & col rings Adult Dawlish Warren, Devon 17/11/00
Read in field: Heysham heliport 21/1/07

Thanks to Richard du Feu for tracing this

A Brent Goose of unknown origin and form was very briefly with the (feral) Greylags at Leighton but only observed very distantly from the Lower Hide. An obvious 'neck collar' allied to not being sure whether it was light or dark may not have ruled out escaped Black Brant - the commonest form in captivity as shown by the sight which greets me every morning on the pond at the bottom of the field! I didnt check today - assume one of them has not flown off. No doubt this will resolve itself very soon. Ring-billed Gull adult just out of the area at St Michael's on Wyre - presumably the usual extremely elusive Fylde 'field roamer'. Keep an eye open for this bird whilst checking the 'muck-spreading' this spring

Sunday, 21 January 2007

WeBS day

Heysham Obs
Coverage was reasonably good today although the fare was a little disappointing as the sea was rough but the wind direction just a tiny fraction north of west......and not really strong enough. The tide was high enough, with the surge, to cover Red Nab and Ocean Edge saltmarsh. Thanks to Mark Prestwood and Ian Hartley for most of the records.

Little Gull
Just 5 seen (2 1st W and 3 adults), mainly around the outfalls
24 in the harbour and another 10 on the outfalls (no ferries watched in today)
At least 15 in the harbour and one on the wooden jetty
Med Gull
Both the Czech adult and the 1st W were in the melee feeding on the "remains" after the angling fest on the north harbour wall
Jack Snipe (& 12 Snipe)
.......TWO forced off Ocean Edge saltmarsh by the tide (please ask at reception to traverse this property)
One in the harbour mouth in the morning [& one also seen on the Kent Estuary]
"4 or 5" on the mound

Ringing recovery (details received this morning)
Black-headed Gull
EL54566 & Darvic 2C66
Ringed as Nestling 12/6/05 Cokes Pit, Somerfield Keynes, Glos
Read 15/7/05-2/8/05 Ashton Keynes, Glos (5 reported sightings)
Read 7/5/06 Cerney Wick, Glos 5 km ENE
Read 2/8/06 & 4/8/06 Heysham PS Stage 2 outfall, Lancs 271km NNW 418 days

Research suggests this is an unprecedented recovery with respect to Lancashire. It may have had something to do with the again unprecedented midsummer influx of up to 300 1st S birds (usually barely double figures at this time) and it is unfortunate, if this was the case, the ring was not noticed earlier. As it is, the finding dates could have indicated a more recent arrival accompanying post-breeding season dispersal (which also includes some non-breeding immatures). Lancashire ringing recoveries usually involve two main origins - colonies within 50km or so (notably Bardon Reservoir, nr Skipton) or from countries bordering the Baltic Sea

The Morecambe section of the WeBS saw a 2nd W Little Gull dip-feeding by the Battery groyne, Ad Med Gull (probably 36W but legs not seen) on the sea by the Broadway, Spotted Redshank on the "bend and boats groyne" just south of Broadway and 13 Scaup offshore by the golf course. A singler male Eider was on the Stone Jetty groyne and 18 Goldeneye by the lifeboat station was a little unexpected in these sewage-outfall-free times!

The Lune WeBS saw 9 Little Egrets Aldcliffe to Conder, a Razorbill on one of the wildfowlers pools at Aldcliffe, 2 Greenshank and a Spotted Redshank at Conder. If you are puzzled why Greenshank are being flagged, this is the first time for years and years there has been more than one wintering bird in the area and a majority of the last 15 years have been blanks.

A flock of 10 Twite seen at Hest Bank along with corpses of Razorbill, Gannet and Guillemot

Saturday, 20 January 2007

More 'blogging' than passage?

Heysham Obs
There were several short visits by a number of observers during the day, some of whom were not spoken to and may have extra sightings. The overwhelming impression of the day was that birds were mainly feeding in situ, plus or minus a bit of boat-following and adjusting with the tide. This particularly applied to Kittiwakes and Little Gulls. This is the last but one day of "seawatching conditions" for the foreseeable future - it remains to be seen whether Heysham Obs is a bit of a one-trick-pony with respect to reliance on strong onshore winds for winter interest. I certainly did not expect such a run of "publishable records" as have materialised since this site was set up during the December gales, albeit mainly the same three-four species!

Little Gull: At least 14 Ad and 3 1st W between the wooden jetty and Ocean Edge saltmarsh mid-morning. At least 5 Ad and one 1st W around the north wall/harbour area. No evidence of passage in the various short seawatches. NB Birdnet have reported Little Gulls from here as Little Egrets the last two days!
Kittiwake: As above: 20 or so behind each of two ferries plus another c20 around the harbour/outfalls
Shag: The highest total was 17 all together by the waterfall as the tide dropped
Med Gull: Just the 1st W seen along the north wall

Fulmar - one out middayish (usual 'double-light' form)
Red-throated Diver - at last! - one out distantly at c1000
Auk spp.: Razorbill or Guillemot out middayish, possibly the Razorbill seen earlier off north Morecambe

Twite: 2 on mound (one ringed in winter 2002/3)
Jack Snipe: one Ocean Edge saltmarsh (& 4 Snipe) - forced off by tide. Please ask at reception before you traverse the caravan site to watch the tide in. Thanks.
Wigeon: 73 Red Nab (always worth checking through) - should increase in the calmer weather coming u

Middleton Industrial Estate Wetlands: 8 - 10am
4 mute, 11 coot, 1 moorhen, 1 little grebe (central scrape), 3 goldeneye (0 males),11 tufted, 25 teal, 15 mallard, 9 snipe, 3 pochard (2 male). Pochard not common here now, these plus general increase in wild fowl suggests "sheltering from the storm".

A ragbag of sightings worthy of note, but nothing to set the pulses racing, included: 13 Scaup off north Morecambe, 4 Bewick's Swan Jeremy Lane, male Hen Harrier Leighton Moss, Razorbill seen flying out of the Bay from north Morecambe prom, Razorbill on Leighton Moss public mere (according to sightings book), Spotted Redshank Stone Jetty groyne.

Friday, 19 January 2007

No additional waifs and strays

Heysham Obs
Unfortunately not able to check the sea until just after high tide but there didnt seem to be anything new around following yesterdays storm

Little Gull: 19 adult and a 1st W feeding in the breaking waves between the wooden jetty and just south of Ocean Edge. None seen from the north side of the harbour

Shag: 2 by the waterfall and 13 sat on the harbour wall by the sandplant. Two Cormorants feeding in the waterfall area just after high tide were catching a small fish every 8 seconds or so.

Kittiwake: 21 sat on the edge of the south quay and a further c9 around the outfalls

Med Gull: Just the 1st W

Twite: 4 on the mound.

Good collection on the Lune/Conder estuary but nothing new: 8 Little Egret, 2 Greenshank, 3 Spotted Redshank, Whooper Swan....... plus 6 Bewicks Swans on Jeremy Lane. The Lune valley Whooper Swan flock (8 birds) was with a handful of Mute Swans about two fields to the south-west of Gressingham road bridge (at least 1000hrs)

Thursday, 18 January 2007

Good job the high tide was not early afternoon!

Heysham Obs

Redshank and Turnstone on the heliport this morning before the storm. Thanks Cliff

Although the wind did not quite reach the strength of the few seconds in the 1300hrs squall yesterday, during the afternoon it was consistently the strongest wind I've experienced, possibly, on reflection, bar the 'west end pier' storm in 1977.

The only time it was possible to do any proper birding was during the mid-morning just before high tide. Even three hours after the tide, the increasing wind meant that end of the north wall was not safe, not the least the danger of the car being blown into the harbour. Therefore attempts to "pull back" Blue Fulmar, seen earlier off Cleveleys, were very short-lived!

.............I was searching for the right words to describe birding attempts in early-mid-afternoon but the usually cheery and optimistic Martin Cade summed it up in a terse entry on the Portland Bird Observatory website:

"A morning (early afternoon in Heysham's case) of raging wind and near-opaque mixture of seaspray and horizontal rain/drizzle produced no worthwhile sightings at all"

Little Gull: c55 between Red Nab and Half-moon Bay, possibly more sat on the rougher sections of sea. About 5 were attempting to fly out of the Bay - the rest were either sat on the sea, riding the seawall updraught (especially by the outfalls) or in the inner harbour.

Shag: 14 together by the waterfall and two on the harbour wall by the sandplant

Razorbill: 1st W in harbour mouth. Corpse (not fresh) Red Nab.

Kittiwake: c30 around harbour/outfalls & 14 out

Med: 1st W along the north wall

A few scattered Little Gulls; Spotted Redshank on the Stone jetty groyne, at least one female Scaup seen whilst travelling at 30mph on the sea off Bare golf course.

Wednesday, 17 January 2007

More wind, more Little Gulls

Heysham Obs

Windswept Knot and Oystercatcher on the heliport. Thanks Cliff

A seawatching session for 30 minutes 1000-1030 in fresh/strong winds saw: 16 Little Gull (all ads) & 21 Kittiwake heading out of the Bay, a Shag count of 15 in the harbour, about 25 Kittiwake inshore plus another 30 or so behind a freight ferry and 8 Little Gull on Heysham 2 outfall.

Around 1245hrs, the office, usually sheltered from W winds, seemed to be receiving an unusually strong blast of wind & hailstones. This prompted a bit of 'lunchtime' seawatching and the wind on the north harbour wall, in conjunction with a squall, at 1300hrs was the strongest I can remember in 30 years of seawatching. Most of the birds were in 'sit it out' mode and the Little Gull total comprised 27 sitting on the sea, 5 trying to fly 'out', 16 in the harbour (several trying to fly out of it) plus the same (?) 8 on Heysham 2 outfall. The only 1st W birds were 5 on Heysham 2 outfall. The Kittiwake total inshore had increased to 50, some presumably a result of the earlier IOM passenger ferry. Whilst checking the harbour two small passerines were picked up hugging the water flying towards the south wall - these transpired to be Twite! They had been disturbed off the mound by a brave lunchtime walker who must have been immune to sand in the eyes. The 1st W Med Gull was enjoying the updraught along the north harbour wall.

A late afternoon check saw reduced numbers of Little Gull and Kittiwake with many of both species in the harbour.

Ad Little Gull Conder Pool plus female Scaup. 5 Bewick's and two Whooper Swan on Jeremy Lane. Ad Med Gull (perhaps P96) on Lancaster City Football pitch. Just one adult Little Gull off the SJ during a brief lunchtime seawatch

Tuesday, 16 January 2007

Low tide check in the short calm interlude

Heysham Obs
Calm seas saw the restoration of the low-tide feeding area at the end of Stage One outfall - this has been rapidly dispersed by rough seas most of this winter.

Shag: More than I thought was still around as shown by a late afternoon check which revealed 15 in the waterfall area, 11 of which were resting on the supports of the platform nearest the waterfall (as such hard to see from the NHW side). With them was a single Cormorant.

Massive reduction with just 8 seen on the outfalls/in harbour

Little Gull
Just three (2 1st W) seen in flight on the outfalls but there were many gulls resting out of sight between the two outfalls

Med Gull: a large adult was on the seaward end of Heysham 2 outfall - this is presumably the intermittent 'low tide' bird of previous winters, which has not been seen for some time, if at all, this winter. Czech-ringed Ad and 1st W along the North Harbour wall.

SD66 - SE section
Covered the upland areas of the January 10km square survey for a couple of hours this morning (SD66). There was an incredible lack of birds using the pasture/improved grassland fields other than a few corvids (no Fieldfare, no gull species - all on the Lune valley flood plain, just two Starling, just 8 Redwing). Usual culprits on the moorland including a distant ringtail (prob 1st W male) Hen Harrier, Peregrine perched on a lookout mound and a couple of Raven & Stonechat

Other areas
24 Scaup off Morecambe Stone Jetty at lunchtime, 3 Bewick's & 2 Whooper Swans Jeremy Lane, 2 Bewick's Swan Glasson Marsh, Spotted Redshank Conder Green, pair of Scaup on Glasson marina, male Hen Harrier briefly at Leighton Moss, Stonechat alongside road NW corner of Leighton Moss.

Monday, 15 January 2007

Eccentric Mistle Thrush

Late evening update (see added ringing recoveries)

Heysham Obs
Same again apart from a Mistle Thrush which seemed to be enjoying sitting on the edge of a windswept harbour wall, in the middle of a group of Kittiwake, observing the feeding activities at the 'Shag' waterfall

Shag: apparently a definite reduction as a reasonably careful search saw no more than 12 birds, unless they have found a new obscure roost in the harbour.

Kittiwake: about 30; 18 in the harbour and c12 on the outfalls

Little Gull: 10 close inshore on the inner end of Heysham 2 outfall and an ad flying out along the north harbour wall late pm

Twite 4 on the mound including at least one & presumably four ringed birds (blue over yellow from winter 2002/3)

Two interesting ringing recoveries received today:

Lesser Redpoll
T805244 6M 28.04.06 Heysham Obs
Caught by another ringer 21.10.06 Castlemorton Common (Hereford & Worcester) 224 km.

DK05936 Pullus 15.05.00 Heysham PS non-operational land
Read in field 1.10.06 Sunderland Point 6kmS

Didnt notice any Meds but didnt stop along the favoured section of NHW

Lune Valley
Almost dark but could just make out the 8 Whoopers plus another more distant swan spp and 3 even more distant swan/farmyard geese. All in the floodplain fields between Hornby and Melling

Pine Lake etc.
The whole Dockacres complex was given a quick visit and there were fewer birds than at any time since late August with Pochard down to single figures and only two Goosander remotely resembling anything of note. Best was a calling Meadow Pipit by Borwick Waters!

Cockersands area
1st W Little Gull over fields (briefly), 7 Bewick's Swans Jeremy Lane, Spotted Redshank & Greenshank Conder area

Sunday, 14 January 2007

quieter weather, fewer birds

Late evening update

Heysham Obs
Reports from today include: (a maximum of) 10 Little Gulls on outfalls (5 1st W), 25-30 Kittiwakes around the general area, 15-16 Shag in the harbour and Ad & 1st W Med Gull on the NH wall. NO sign of the Guillemot in the inner harbour [see yesterdays posting for picture (added today) showing what you missed!]

Thanks very much to Sean Gray for these pictures taken yesterday (usual north harbour wall 1st W Med Gull)

In addition, there were four Twite on the mound, all colour-marked, comprising birds ringed at this location as follows: a winter 2002/3 individual which has lost its site ring, another winter 2002/3 individual, a winter 2004/5 individual and one ringed in autumn 2005. Thanks for the info, Gavin.

Middleton Industrial Est wetlands - 8-10am
3 mute, 9 coot, (only) 1 moorhen, 2 little grebe (fence & Tim Butler ponds), 3 goldeneye (pair + lone male), 8 tufted, 14 teal, 4 mallard, 6 snipe.

The Lune valley Whooper Swan flock just north of Loyne Bridge, Gressingham (often viewable from high point layby on A683 nearer Melling) appeared to have reached 9 but birds obscured behind hedge.

There were 7 Bewick's Swan with 90+ Mutes along Jeremy Lane (S of Glasson)

Med Gull P96 on Lancaster City Football ground! See 7th January for ringing details.

Leighton Moss could be described as 'pretty dead' (see LDBWS website); the escaped Ferruginous Duck was still present, there was one Bittern sighting and the Pochard numbers were very low (are they back at Pine Lake?)

Saturday, 13 January 2007

More of the same

Heysham Obs
Not much time to do any seawatching today; just a quick round of the usual sites

Little Gull: 13 around the outfalls (5 1st W) and 3 other adults flying out of the Bay during 10-15 mins of seawatching. Probably a small passage all day.

Interesting pose by a 1st W Little Gull as it tries to scratch its head in flight. Thanks Simon.

Kittiwake: c18 in the harbour pre-IOM passenger ferry. c25 behind the ferry. c16 on the outfalls. A high proportion of the off-passage birds are 1st W. Please check for rings on any perched on quay edges - it should be possible to read them (Brit rings = two letters followed by 5 numbers)

Shag: very difficult but 17 counted at one point

Guillemot: right in the corner of the harbour by the Shag waterfall

Thanks very much to Sean Gray for this picture

Twite: 4 on the mound feeding station

Med Gull: just the 1st W seen patrolling the N H wall

The Ferruginous Duck on the public hide is still bearing the same lime-green ring albeit faded, making it look translucent and yellowish on occasion. Therefore just the one escape!

Ad Med Gull seen with the Lune valley 'swarms' of BHG/CG - this time near Crook of Lune

European White-fronted Goose still with the feral Greylag flock at Aldcliffe, but mobile. Adult Little Gull on the Lune estuary near the pylons.

Dead Little Auk found on the tideline by Holgates caravan site (yesterday?) - not sure which county! Also at least two dead Razorbill in the inner Bay this last few days.

Friday, 12 January 2007

Blast from the past - Guillemot IN the harbour!

Heysham Obs
The wind was a little too far to the south for Heysham seawatching so the coverage was a routine check of the usual nooks and crannies.

Guillemot in the PS intake area near the "Shag waterfall" - this used to be a regular occurrence with up to 6-7 birds. Indeed, some were trapped, ringed and released as they ended up in the underground reservoir supplying the coolant water for the PS........and included one of the northern nominate form.

In the same area were 16+ Shag, 12 Kittiwake

Ad & 1st W Little Gull on Heysham 2 outfall with another Ad making its way out of the Bay during a short seawatch. c12 Kittiwake on the outfall.

1st W Razorbill in the harbour mouth, just off the end of the wooden jetty

Ad and 1st W Med Gulls along the north harbour wall

2 Bewick's Swan Jeremy Lane, 2 Jack Snipe reported from nearby Conder Green, drake Ferruginous Duck still at Leighton but no further info on the shade of yellow/'fading' green. 2 Stonechat Silverdale Moss

Thursday, 11 January 2007

Routine winter seawatching in a westerly gale

The afternoon tide produced the goods in the gale-force westerlies, especially displaced Little Gulls

North harbour wall
Morning seawatch 0950-1020
Kittiwake 35 out (including flock of 27)
Little Gull 3 ads out

Afternoon seawatch 1350-1500hrs
SIXTY ONE Little Gull (just 4 x 1st W) either out or milling around in Half Moon Bay
65-70 Kittiwake
1 Fulmar
2 1st W Razorbill on sea just off wall
Ad & 1st W Med Gulls patrolling the seawall

A check just before dusk produced another Razorbill off the NH wall

Harbour area
c25 Kittiwake behind a freight ferry
18+ Shag in the PS intake area of the harbour
7 Kittiwake in the PS intake area of the harbour with the Shag
3 Twite on the mound feeding site

Checked morning only and the 'usual' Ad & 1st W Little Gulls plus c8 Kittiwake were present

Penrod Way (road between Heysham Head and Harbour)
3 Linnet

Stone Jetty
5 adult Little Gull during a brief visit at lunchtime

Leighton Moss
The mystery deepens over the drake Ferruginous Duck where the lime-green-ringed male has been replaced by a yellow-ringed male (after a gap of 3 weeks); both were on the right leg. It would be useful to know whether this is a 'watery' yellow which could indicate the green having faded or an obviously different colour.

Wednesday, 10 January 2007

Heysham Obs
c19 Shag in the harbour

Ad Little Gull. Product of a cold vigil alongside the picturesque Heysham 2 outfall today. Thanks Simon

Ad & !st W Little Gull Heysham 2 outfall - checked at long range from Ocean Edge
16 or so Kittiwake behind the IOM ferry, 5 1st W Kittiwake in the SW corner of the harbour
1st W Med along the north harbour wall

(Presumed) escape drake Ferruginous Duck on the Public Mere at Leighton Moss and a puzzle over the ring as this was described as yellow, whereas surely the same bird last autumn (up until about Christmas) sported a green ring

The sudden disappearance of the Pochard from Pine Lake is assuming a degree of permanence with just 17 on there this morning (and only c100 at Leighton Moss, therefore a departure out of the area of 150+ birds). Nothing of interest on Pine Lake.

Ad Med Gull on the floodplain between Melling and Hornby along with 8 unexpected Shelduck but no sign of the Whooper Swans in flooded conditions

Tuesday, 9 January 2007

Routine "lunch hour(ish)" coverage

Heysham Obs

Thanks to Cliff Raby for these pictures of the heliport roost taken this afternoon

Ad & 1st W Little Gulls Stage 2 outfall

1st W Med Gull NH wall

19 Shag in the harbour or scattered around nearby. NB This lot do not seem to like roosting on the wooden jetty apart from one individual - otherwise all the birds thereon have tended to be Cormorants

Kittiwake 5 1st W in the harbour SW corner but only 10 or so behind the IOm ferry

Eider: 2 male and female on the sea in the harbour entrance

Seawatch 1125-1155: zilch. Even just 5 years ago, Red-throated Diver & Guillemot would have been a good bet for a half hour slot on the incoming tide - all of us still "need" both of these for the year.

Elsewhere: nothing new, but 4 Scaup still off north Morecambe and the 2 Bewick's Swans on Jeremy Lane.

The annual Observatory report for 2006 is well on its way and should be out by the last week of January. It will be available from Leighton Moss shop or (at cost price) from Heysham Nature reserve office.

Monday, 8 January 2007

8th January - Same again plus one more Little Gull

Heysham Obs

TWO adult and one first winter Little Gull Heysham 2 outfalls late morning.
Thanks for the pics, Simon.

Ad & 1st W Med Gulls north wall

At least 17 Shag in the harbour & one roosting on the wooden jetty

Bit late for the IOM ferry but at least 10 Kittiwakes behind as it was turning in the harbour & 2-3 in the SW corner.

Local area:
nothing new of interest on pagers etc.

Sunday, 7 January 2007

7th January - Sabbatical

Nothing much happened today in this area - everyone appears to be 'birded out' with the most prolific local lister resorting to shopping in Ambleside!

Heysham Obs
Ad & 1st W Little Gull Heysham 2 outfall

Ad & 1st W Med Gull north harbour wall

Brief scan of harbour produced 19 Shag

The elusive Med Gull P96 may have disassociated itself from its usual haunt, Lancaster City Football ground (peruse the league table), as it was on the rocks by the Broadway Hotel in late afternoon. This bird has an interesting ringing history:

Poland FM11199 (Darvic red P96 (formerly P70)
Ringed Skoki Duze, Wroclawek, Poland AdF 19/5/01
Seen Battery car park, Morecambe 31/1/03
Retrapped and reringed: Skoki Duze 19/5/03
Seen Morecambe Stone jetty (with 5HR) 8/3-18/3/04
Seen urban Lancaster, mainly Marsh estate area winter 2004/5
Seen urban Lancaster, mainly Marsh estate area autumn 2005-11/3/06
Seen urban Lancaster, mainly Marsh Estate area about 25/7/06-mid Nov
Seen Morecambe Broadway area of promenade 7/1/07

This bird was paired up with the famous Morecambe winter resident 5HR (now presumed dead) and nested at Skoki-Duze in 2003. As it was similarly paired up with 5HR whilst at Morecambe in spring 2004, it was expected to nest at Skoki-Duze again. However this did not happen and presumably they nested together at an unknown site. There was no evidence of these two operating as a pair in the 2005 breeding season and 5HR was not seen after bonfire night 2005!

Lune valley
8 Whooper Swan still in the floodplain fields between Hornby and Melling - view distantly from high point layby on A683.

A cursory glance for the Mandarin at Hatlex proved a negative experience.

Saturday, 6 January 2007

6th January - Acanthisised

Heysham Obs

Twite Heysham north harbour wall mound taken today by Gavin Thomas. Thanks Gavin.

A flock of 9 Linnet on Middleton Industrial Estate around the de-activated Tim Butler rubble-recycling mounds (because they double up as Great-crested Newt hibernacula!). Three Twite were showing very well to visiting birders on the north harbour wall mound and they represented birds ringed at this site in 2002/3 winter, 2004/5 winter and autumn 2005

The Shag flock in the harbour reached 20 mid-afternoon with one bird preferring to feed along the north harbour wall = 21 altogether.

Ad & 1st W Med Gulls north wall

Ad & 1st W Little Gulls Heysham Stage 2 outfall

Up to 12 Kittiwakes around the outfalls/harbour. Thanks for the picture, Rosie.

Local area:

Most of the interest was a result of a thorough grilling of the Lune Estuary: adult Scandinavian Herring Gull opposite the Golden Ball early morning, the European White-fronted Goose was located on Aldcliffe, the single Whooper Swan was still present on Aldcliffe, Spotted Redshank & Greenshank at Conder Pool, 2 Bewick's Swans off Glasson and 1st W male & female Scaup on the Glasson basin. A ringed Little Owl was found dead near Lancaster Quay. Details (thanks to Bob Danson for these):

Little Owl EL54366 was ringed as a pulli 2/2 in nest box 299 at Muffys Platt near Pilling Lane Preesall SD369489 on the 16/06/2006.

5th January - first auk of the year!

Heysham Obs
An adult winter Razorbill flew out of the Bay just before the IOM ferry reached port.

15 Shag were in the harbour and one additional bird was close inshore along the north harbour wall. All juvs.

46 Kittiwake were behind the IOM ferry with 3-4 already in the harbour

1st W Med Gull patrolling the north wall

3 Twite on the mound (at last, personally!)

One Reed Bunting Ocean Edge saltmarsh

No Little Gulls on outfalls but only checked at high tide.

2nd W Med Gull with the large field-feeding group commuting between Heaton Marsh and the bypass fields. This is a "new" bird (per Mark Prestwood). Nothing of interest amongst the dwindling numbers of large gulls in the area late morning (c/f rubbish tip closure)

Ad Razorbill far up the Kent Estuary at Halforth about 1400hrs, then seen floating out of the estuary past Sandside. Surely not the same bird as flying in the opposite direction two hours earlier at Heysham.

Kent Estuary "Twite" resolved as (60ish) Linnet

8 Whooper still on the Gressingham Bridge-Melling Lune floodplain

Thursday, 4 January 2007

4th January - Bonxie

Shag flying into the harbour today. Thanks Simon

Heysham Obs
Fieldworker in situ all day at the heliport. Time spent at a coastal site inevitably produces something and, perhaps predictably, it manifested as what was presumably one of the two BONXIES seen on and off this winter period. This flew out, close inshore, at 1350hrs. Another species which rewards those who sit patiently is Kingfisher and the first record for the Heysham area this year was briefly on the Near Naze rocks.

A nice Knot roost on the heliport comprised about 14,000 birds (flushed by the Bonxie)

14 Shag & 3 Kittiwake in the harbour and 1-2 additional Shag on the wooden jetty.

2 x 1stW and Ad Little Gull & Kittiwake Heysham Stage Two outfall

The lunchtime IOM ferry was trailed by 56 Kittiwake & a rather small long-winged dark brown 'wheeling thing' which peeled off and flew out and across about 1.5-2 miles out. The dark Arctic S seen 2 hours later off Formby would be a reasonable explanation but it remains firmly unidentified [it wasn't the Bonxie].

1st W Med Gull patrolling the north harbour wall

Watching the tide in at Ocean Edge saltmarsh produced a rather unsatisfactory Jack Snipe sighting plus two Reed Bunting. No sign of the Linnet flock seen before New Year - most if not all of us still "need" Linnet for the year in the local area. Please ask at reception before you wander across the caravan site to reach the saltmarsh. Thanks.

Local area
Med Gull 36W was seen further south than usual around the Stone Jetty. See 23rd December for full details of the ringing history of this bird.

The Whooper Swan flock between Hornby and Melling on the Lune floodplain has increased to 8 birds. There is a layby on the raised section of the A683 for distant views.

Wednesday, 3 January 2007

3rd January- first moth of the year.

Heysham Obs
1st W Little Gull Heysham 2 outfall

14 Shag seen in the harbour but the wooden jetty not checked at the same time

Ad & 1st W Med Gulls along the north wall

Just 3 Kittiwake seen in SW corner of the harbour (incoming IOM ferry not watched)

Moth trap
One Mottled Umber - the first moth of the year at Heysham

One sub-adult Scandinavian Herring Gull amongst the dwindling numbers of gulls on the saltmarshes near the rubbish tip - early departure due to lack of food led again to an invasion, mainly by 1st W Herring, of the Shag waterfall during the early afternoon. Maybe this lot will attract a white-winged? A Water Rail ran across the road near Mellishaw Park!

Mass exit of wildfowl from Pine Lake as can be expected from a watersports site - windsurfers are the usual cause of a complete exit (other than Coot) as their (!) best runs are right through the usual feeding/loafing areas. Water skiers are not usually a problem. As usual Leighton Moss benefited, especially by housing the Ruddy Duck, but certainly did not receive all the Pochard - hopefully they have not dispersed out of the area .

Tuesday, 2 January 2007

2nd January - Seawatching strategies

Heysham Obs

Adult Kittiwake and a well-marked 2nd winter Little Gull Heysham outfalls. Thanks Simon.

Seawatching strategies
Today was the sort of day which benefits the car wash operators [or possibly encourages you to do it yourself] as a sloppy sea crashed against the north harbour wall indicating that all was not well with the wind direction - it was too far round to the north-west to push anything into the Bay. For Heysham, the best winds are between WSW and WNW. JB Point and the Stone Jetty are better in gale-force SW winds as birds tend to be too far offshore at Heysham with respect to the sea conditions. HOWEVER, the power station outfalls are an important lure and you run the risk of missing something thereon [most notably during Storm Petrel conditions in mid-summer]. Therefore the smart money option during SW gales, assuming you do have all this spare time, is to seawatch/outfall check at Heysham until about two hours before high tide, then go round to JBP or go on the Stone Jetty. Heysham is a non-starter if the wind is to the S of SW but JBP can be productive, especially in spring.
Important Notice
For those of you 'in the know', the access we cannot publicise, colloquially (but formerly accurately) known as "Gate 38", was closed today complete with new padlock and chain.
Todays birds
At least 14 Shag in the harbour in the morning but much fewer in the afternoon as an influx of large gulls made the waterfall feeding area very congested (this is what happens when you close a perfectly good rubbish tip)
5 adult, one second winter and a 1st winter Little Gulls were feeding in the breaking waves off Red Nab at high tide but all appeared to have dispersed by mid-afternoon
Kittiwake: 12 on Heysham outfalls, c5 in the SW corner of the harbour and 41 behind the IOM ferry.
Med Gull - once again just the 1st W cruising the north wall & no sign of the adult at the heliport high tide roost = the usual 'plan b'.
Ocean Edge saltmarsh saw a higher than expected tide and one Jack Snipe was forced out. Please ask at Ocean Edge reception if you can traverse the caravan site to visit this area. Thanks.
Late news: 4-5 Twite on the mound by the north wall but very mobile and elusive
Other than the Scaup flock off Bare increasing to 11, the only 'new' sighting of interest which reached the information services was disappointingly retrospective - a 'small flock' of Waxwing seen by an experienced observer at High Bentham........yesterday morning. The Salt Ayre rubbish tip looked as though it was closed as regards the "action" area and it was sad to see amber-listed Herring Gulls soaring above the edifice in vain - this is a gull-friendly blog if you hadn't already noticed.

Monday, 1 January 2007

1st January - NYD listing

Heysham Obs
Very disappointing in a New Year list context with no extra seabirds seen after the overnight storm. The lack of any auks or Red-throated Diver would have been unthinkable 10 years ago:

Shag: 17 juvs in the harbour
Little Gull: adult around, and 1st W reported on pager
Kittiwake: 3 in harbour and 30ish behind the IOM ferry
Med Gull: just the 1st W reported along the north wall
Twite: 3 seen around the mound after "someone" appeared to produce some food (not the usual Twite feeder)!

New birds included a 1stW male Scaup on Glasson marina, two Great Skua at Jenny Browns Point, including one sitting on the saltmarsh for at least one hour (but probably those first seen in November?)

New Years Day listing limited to the LDBWS recording area (see map on Lancaster and District Birdwatching Society website) produced a known combined total of about 112 species, including 102 seen or heard by one team. Ironically, there was no known sighting of Lesser Redpoll, yet a relaxed start to the day at home two of the previous four mornings had connected with Redpoll within about 5 minutes whilst sitting on the step emptying the moth(less) trap.
Heysham Obs
Highest Shag count was 17 in the early morning - all in the harbour. Ad Little Gull in the harbour but hardly anything on the outfalls in increasingly windy conditions. Two 1st W Kittiwake in the harbour. Ad & 1st W Med Gulls along the north harbour wall.

Anyone timing a visit on New Years Day - the IOM ferry should be sailing and arriving about midday (per port authorities this evening) - could have quite an entourage in the absence of other boats to drag birds back offshore. Possibly a better option than the short period of incoming tide and daylight from dawn, especially if any Fulmar are around.

Local area
A disappointing selection on the LDBWS website - unfortunately the two most active observers today have not got internet facilities and I did not get round to phoning them (may be worth checking Leighton Moss book early on) - 'new' stuff comprised
2 x adult Med Gulls in a large field-feeding flock by the Gressingham Lune bridge. The two Greenshank on the eastern end of the EM Pool=flood were visible from the Crag viewpoint. 'The' Hawfinch was showing in the walled garden at Sizergh but again early morning visit seems necessary.