Tuesday, 31 July 2007

5.5 C to 20 C in 5 hours!

Heysham Obs
Outfalls/Red Nab
Med Gull: 1 x 3rd W (winter plumage head, 2nd w/s outer primaries not yet moulted), 1 x adult summerish, at least 1 x 1st S, 1 x juvenile

Wooden jetty
NNEW on the Black Guillemot

Heysham NR
As also recorded from the nearby accident repair centre on Westgate (dont ask), 60-70 Swift south in one hour over the Nat Res - this suggests they were moving on a broad front at a similar rate in the clear weather. House Martin status is always very difficult to define as they do a lot of circling until you suddenly realise they have gone, but c80 over Heysham NR was a very large count for birds which were simply 'blogging'. Just c20 Swallow with them.

Middleton IE
A ringing session spoilt by sunny windy conditions earlier than expected. Highlighted by adult male and 2nd brood juvenile Grasshopper Warbler

Worn tail on the adult male Grasshopper Warbler. It still has to make do with this all the way back to Africa before it can moult! Thanks Jean


The moth trap contained the first Least Yellow Underwing and Barred Rivulet of the year along with that eagerly-anticipated harbinger of the summer decline, Agriphila tristella

The butterfly transect on the reserve comprised: 12 Gatekeeper, 30 Small Skipper (massive reduction from the previous census), 4 Red Admiral, 3 Peacock, 3 Small Tortoiseshell, 50 Meadow Brown, 15 Green-veined White, 2 Small Copper, 7 Large White, 20 Small White, 1 Brimstone, 24 Speckled Wood

Dragonflies today were only casually recorded but included 5 Brown Hawker and two Common Hawker during the butterfly transect on Heysham nat. reserve & a single male Black-tailed Skimmer on the Middleton model boat pond.


Giant Hogweed taken from a standing position! It will be removed soon.


Ringlet near Wray (just south of Smeer Hall) and two White-letter Hairstreak during a brief visit to Stairend. The pager suggests this area is dead as regards bird sightings - no doubt this might prompt someone to come up with Leighton Moss Spoonbills!

Monday, 30 July 2007

A bits and pieces day

Heysham Obs
Nothing comprehensive; anyone anything to add, please?

Outfalls/Red Nab
A check too near to high tide saw 2 x 1st S Med Gull, 3 Whimbrel

Harbour mouth
At least one Black Guillemot late afternoon (per angler)

Insects (on reserve)
One Common Hawker - hard to find this year along with 1+ Brown Hawker & 4 x Gatekeeper (all along Princess Al;exandra way track past the blue utilities grids) - surely at least 12 on the reserve this year so far. This species is a recent arrival which has not 'taken off' like Speckled Wood and Small Skipper. Nothing new in the moth trap.

Ad Yellow-legged Gull visible from Sunderland tidal road but nothing with 280+ Dunlin other than three Whimbrel. No sign of the Lesser Yellowlegs at Leighton Moss but greatly increased numbers of (migrant?) Sedge Warbler there with 40+ trapped and ringed. Unfortunately Middleton IE has been too windy (until tomorrow). The Little Egret roost at Ashton Hall Lake comprised FIVE this evening, an earlier build up than is usual (thanks Helen).

Sunday, 29 July 2007

Meds pile in, Black guillemots stay put

Heysham Obs
Wooden jetty/harbour
Black Guillemot: pair on or below the wooden jetty
Turnstone: 17 on wooden jetty
NO sign of any Shag

North harbour wall
Med Gull: 1st summer patrolling the wall briefly perhaps indicative of last winter's returning bird.

Outfalls/Red Nab/Ocean Edge foreshore
Med Gull: Between us we managed 2 x Adult (one different from yesterday), 3 x 1st S (one possibly the NHW bird) and one x juvenile
Kittiwake: 1st summer
Common Tern: 1
Sandwich Tern: 1
Whimbrel: 3

Nature reserve
Common Sandpiper Obs Tower pond

Middleton IE
Kingfisher on 'no swimming' pond

2 x Black-tailed Skimmer, 8 male and one female Emperor & lots of Common Darter, mainly tenerals, on Middleton IE
2-3 Brown Hawker Heysham NR
A surprisingly good variety in the moth trap, despite ridiculously low numbers of common species such as Clay (1) and Common Rustic (4). New for the year were: Olive, Ruby Tiger, Cabbage Moth & the local fleabane-eating pyralid (or the larva do!) Ebulea crocealis. Olive and Cabbage Moth are quite scarce here.
Butterflies included four Gatekeeper on the reserve and a few Small Heath still flying on Middleton IE

No sign of the Lesser Yellowlegs and two of the Spoonbills appeared to disappear early morning leaving Allen/EM Pool highlights for much of the day as one Spoonbill and 5 Little Egret. JBP saw two 1st S Little Gull, Spotted Redshank. As was shown by the WTP, this does not mean the LY is not in the hidden area on Leighton Moss which will becoming more suitable with falling water levels.

Stairend Bridge, Upper Hindburn revealed a nice pocket of calmish air around the favoured elms and there were 5 White-letter Hairstreak (& at least one Purple Hairstreak) at 1630 and earlier one (of these) was nectaring on Creeping Thistle:

Thanks very much for this excellent shot, Gary

Saturday, 28 July 2007

Meds return from the drying fields?

Heysham Obs
All known birding coverage was during the morning
Wooden jetty area
Two Black Guillemot but sometimes elusive. No Shag reports

Outfalls/Red Nab
Mediterranean Gull: two adults, two 1st summer and one metal-ringed 2nd summer. There has been no sign as yet of either of the two wintering birds - the Czech-ringed adult is already two weeks 'late' c/p 2006.
Kittiwake: 1st summer
Sandwich Tern: 2
Whimbrel: 2

One of the best butterfly transects in a F3-4 wind - it was almost wall-to-wall sunshine! Small Copper (2), Common Blue (15), Small White (7), Large White (1), Green-veined White (3), Meadow Brown (20), Small Skipper (90), Red Admiral (3), Peacock (4), Small Tortoiseshell (2), Brimstone (1). Forgot Gatekeeper (4)! Also 6 Burnet spp. recorded.

The moth trap produced two new species in the form of Dot Moth and Lesser Broad-bordered Yellow Underwing (not checked for Langmaid's - escaped!!)

Six Brown Hawker and two Emperor on Heysham Nature reserve

Lesser Yellowlegs
in the large field between the level crossing and L Moss at 0800hrs but promptly flew towards the Griesdale area [square white rump patch, no white on wing, same size as Redshank, slightly trailing legs etc] . There is a huge area for feeding waders out of sight of hides/hillside scoping and a bird was glimpsed which may have been this when birds were v. briefly flushed by Marsh Harrier. The problematic yellow-legged juv Redshank was in this field during the afternoon and was initially misidentified by experienced birders in the absence of immediate flight views. A 'lady on a bike' insisted a claim during mid-morning yesterday was of the juvenile Redshank. What a classic two-bird reality this is! Three Spoonbill & at least 5 Little Egret around the Allen/EM Pools. Ad Med Gull 36W has returned to north Morecambe seafront and was undoubtedly the bird also seen yesterday at the Stone Jetty

Friday, 27 July 2007

Black Guillemot on the Jim Bowen show

Heysham Obs
The Black Guillemot had a Radio Lancashire slot today and a visit to see if they had not promptly departed revealed one bird in the water below the jetty but bad light preventing seeing whether one was 'in the hole'. Communication with Alan Davies, the Conwy warden, suggests that the behaviour of these birds is very similar to the Fishguard harbour prospective colonists - plenty of display, mainly from the male but lukewarm female reaction. As Gavin Thomas pointed out, this might be because both the Heysham and Fishguard females are first summers.
Shag - 1st summer in the harbour
Sandwich Tern - one off the harbour late afternoon

Oystercatcher roost at the heliport. Thanks Cliff
No time to check the outfalls today
About 5 Gatekeeper recorded along with a few Small Skipper.
Gatekeeper and Small Skipper - thanks Cliff
The Lesser Yellowlegs was seen on the Allen Pool in the early morning before flying north-east. No reports from Leighton Moss. Ad Osprey on the public mere mid-morning.

Thursday, 26 July 2007

Sandwich terns increasing

Heysham Obs
Wooden jetty/seawatching
30 minutes on the NHW produced 6 Manx Shearwater, one juv Common Tern and 6 Sandwich Tern out

Black Guillemot - both sat together on the wooden jetty. No obvious sign of any Shag.

Outfalls/Red Nab
No Meds! 7 Sandwich Tern roosting on the rocks (definitely additional to the seawatch birds) and four Whimbrel present

Lesser Yellowlegs available on the Leighton Moss public mere from at least 0900 to at least 1030. Seen later on Allen Pool before flying towards JBP, thence a belated report of a 1525 sighting at JBP before 'flying towards the breakwater'. EM Pools: Little Egret flock rising to 11, three Spoonbill still present and a single Avocet reported.

Wednesday, 25 July 2007

Very few Meds yet again

Heysham Obs
Wooden jetty area
Two Black Guillemot and a single Shag in the harbour

Outfalls/Red Nab
978 Black-headed Gulls contained:

Ad & juv Med Gull
4 Sandwich Tern
1st S Kittiwake

Canary Shouldered Thorn new for the year

Lesser Yellowlegs EM Pool but flushed by multiple Peregrines at 1425hrs with Little Stint reported in the morning. Further research showed that the Lesser Yellowlegs was present on the Public Mere island at at least 1530 with R/sh & G/sh before 'walking around the back', thence no further sign until at least 1730hrs. This info. was received at c2115 and communicated straight away to RBA. 3 Spoonbill and 6 Little Egret on the EM 'flood'. Ad Yellow-legged Gull Lune Estuary and 6 Whimbrel at Sunderland

Tuesday, 24 July 2007

Was anyone out there?

Heysham Obs
.......coastwise, no reports today of the Black Guillemot etc. Update later if news received - best to put on LDBWS website, please (see link to left).

5 distant Gannet this morning as viewed from Morecambe Stone jetty
at 0830

Dingy Footman was new for the year. The first for, I think, VC60 (possibly even both 'pure' Lancs and the north Merseyside-inclusive version) was from Heysham in 2005. Single figures were at Heysham in 2006 and the 2006 'Leighton Moss moth night' recorded at least one. That is the sum total of north Lancs records to date. Three Slender Pug were also new with the identification facilitated by a visit from pug researcher Brian Hancock.
Dingy Footman. Thanks Alan

If we had switched Sunday and today's out of the area work, a carbon footprint-less Chimney Swift (York) was 'available'! Locally, three Spoonbill still on the EM Pool (have there always been three, c/f 'immature' claims from LM as well as the two adults......or is the third also an adult?), an Osprey causing a lot of excitement as it came and went from the lower end of Leighton Moss a few times today & two Little Egret (three this evening) on Allen Pool along with 16 Greenshank. Spotted Redshank and Little Egret Lune Estuary. Lesser Yellowlegs reportedly on EM pool this evening

Monday, 23 July 2007

Med Gull drought

Heysham Obs
Outfalls etc
No, we are not losing the plot due to a moult-fest causing the distinctive black heads and wingtips to disappear amongst sleeping Black-headed Gulls. Perhaps the lowest Med to BHG ratio for several years on the outfalls this last couple of days. None seen by an experienced observer yesterday with 2/c1,000 scattered along the foreshore this morning and 0/886 at the usually productive neap high tide this evening.

The two were first summers together near the pipeline at low tide this morning

Kittiwake - first summer late afternoon
Sandwich tern - single adult roosting with BHG late afternoon
Whimbrel - 4 Red Nab

Harbour area
At least one Black Guillemot (on the sea) during a really brief visit
Black Guillemot chasing Feral Pigeon (sorry Rock Dove) away from the territory. Anyone old enough to remember the silly walks sketch. Thanks Andrew

Middleton IE
A well-forecasted (lets give them credit where due) window in the showers allowed a ringing session this morning which was, however, marred by a niggling NE wind during c0730-0900 - not the best direction for the mist nets. 17 new Sedge Warbler were ringed but there were several escapees. Other species included Lesser Whitethroat, Reed Bunting, Whitethroat, Willow Warbler.

Three male Grasshopper Warbler were in song and hopefully this reflects that the females are occupied with second broods. Please, therefore, do not trample around off the ringing circuit track - the males are best seen from the concrete roads where you are elevated. As a warning, a 'bottomless hole' OVER WADER HEIGHT was located right next to a track this morning

About half a dozen Swift headed south along with a single Sand Martin. All Swallow and House Martin may simply have had a large blogging circuit

A reasonably good moth catch by the standards of this year included three migrant Silver Y and the first Bordered Beauty of the year.

Three Spoonbill recorded on the EM 'flood' but no mention of whether the two Little Egret were present. Osprey briefly by the Lower pool at Leighton Moss late morning

Sunday, 22 July 2007

Another feral quintet

Heysham Obs
Red Nab/outfalls area
The prize for missing out on any Med Gull at the outfalls was a flock of FIVE Black Swan which flew past the outfalls and landed on the mud off Ocean Edge at 0900hrs [later seen at Brockholes Quarry, Ribble valley - thanks Chris and Bill]. Absolutely nothing else loggable from that side as the Black-headed Gulls returned to the wet fields! Thanks Mark. Two Whimbrel in the area later on.

Harbour area
Two Black Guillemot and an immature Shag were posted on the pager referring to early evening around the harbour entrance. Thanks to whoever that was.

Middleton IE
Dragonflies comprised: 3 Black-tailed Skimmer (2 female), 7 male & 1 female Emperor, 17 male & 11 female & 21 teneral Common Darter
Butterflies: 13 Meadow Brown, 4 Small White, 17 Small Skipper, 11 Small Heath, 3 Small Tortoiseshell

Heysham NR
Dragonflies comprised: 4 male Brown Hawker, 11 male & 4 female & 7 teneral Common Darter
Butterflies included one male and two female Gatekeeper

Thanks Colin for all the insect data

Yellow-legged Gull Glasson. 1st S Med Gull along Heysham bypass (undoubtedly one of those which was on the outfalls on at least Friday). One Spoonbill on the Leighton M public mere. Two Little Egret EM Pools. Osprey over Leighton early pm

Saturday, 21 July 2007

Poor percentage of Meds!

Heysham Obs
Ocean Edge foreshore/Red Nab/outfalls
Med Gull: A thorough check at low tide in the morning saw them very hard to find with one juv briefly, 2 x 1st summer which were, as usual, difficult to see and just the one adult summer. Not a good percentage compared to other years, given 1,600 Black-headed Gulls - even yesterdays 8/2,000 was on the low side, especially as two were mobile juvs. I wonder if they having trouble dispersing north this year!
Whimbrel: 7 on Red Nab at high tide
Sandwich Tern: one at high tide

Harbour area
Both Black Guillemot visible at 1230 but only one in late afternoon (and no reports of any Shag)

What seemed to be a primary immigrant Silver Y was in the trap - a Bedstraw Hawk-moth was trapped nearby at Heysham Road Fri/Sat night.......so are we going to get a few more migrants in these pulses of "French rain"?

Single Spoonbill photographed on EM Pools - see LDBWS site.

Friday, 20 July 2007


Heysham Obs
Stage 2 outfall/Red Nab/mudflats off Ocean Edge
Fairly careful check on two occasions during the morning/early afternoon produced:

Common Tern - 3 adults
Arctic Tern - one adult
Med Gull [legs not seen on juvs or one 1st S & one Ad c/f rings, rest unringed]:
- two juveniles (morning only - possibly those later at Knott End?) very mobile on the seaward end of Heysham 2 outfall
- 4 1st summer, one of which was only seen at low tide in the morning
- two adults, one starting to lose the forehead black
Kittiwake - one first summer
Black-headed Gull - c2,000 to plough through along with c30 Common Gull!

Harbour area
Two Black Guillemot (no further detail) but NNEW on Shag (not searched for)

Pre-rain movement
c70 Swift and 50+ Swallow moving north ahead of the late afternoon rain (as observed from NR car park)

At least one Spoonbill on EM Pools but no apparent sign of any Pec Sands. Yellow-legged Gull Glasson area

Thursday, 19 July 2007

Forgot to check letterbox

Heysham Obs
Wooden jetty/harbour
The two Black Guillemot there at lunchtime (thanks Lou) but no news on outfalls/Red nab gulls

Middleton IE
Two singing male Reed Warbler, two singing male Grasshopper Warbler, a flock of four Tree Sparrow SE , c45 Swift south, at least one Stock Dove

Ringing included two Reed Warbler, two Lesser Whitethroat, 7 Whitethroat, 6 Sedge Warbler, 3 Reed Bunting

Snout new for the year in the trap (rare here!)

Single Pectoral Sandpiper on the Eric Morecambe pool again with 2 Spoonbill and 2 Little Egret on the 'flood'. Yellow-legged Gull Glasson. Three White-letter Hairstreak on elms near Stairend Bridge, Upper Hindburndale (& Purple Hairstreak in area)

Wednesday, 18 July 2007

Med influx including the first juv

Heysham Obs
Sorry for the late posting

Wooden jetty/harbour
Two Black Guillemot on water below the 'territory' which had been invaded by a feral pigeon. No sign of immaturity on either bird at this stage of the season. Single 1st S Shags on the harbour wall and on the wooden jetty

Outfalls/Red Nab
FOUR Med Gulls on Red Nab before seeming to fly off over the old Pontins site towards the Lune [2 x adult summer, one 1st summer, one juvenile - none ringed].

Single adult Common Tern on stage 2 outfall

Another Gatekeeper casually noted on the reserve

The two Pectoral Sandpipers were at the Allen/EM Pools yesterday but only one bird, as far as I know, was seen today and still present at 1730hrs on the EM Pool. Makes you wonder what proportion of people actually bother to 'phone things out' - sorry this is not supposed to be a 'comment' site - wont happen again. Two adult summer Spoonbill and two adult Little Egret on the flood at the eastern end of the EM Pool. Ad Yellow-legged Gull seen on the Glasson side of the Lune from Sunderland and 7 Whimbrel were on Lades Marsh (Overton-Sunderland tidal road)

Tuesday, 17 July 2007

A reasonable moth night

Heysham Obs
Wooden jetty
Black Guillemots still present according to visiting birder

No Meds, one 1st S Kittiwake during high tide check

A short evening session at Middleton produced a new male Reed Warbler (perhaps the second singing bird), 4 new Sedge Warbler (& 3 retraps), 2 new Reed Bunting and a Swift

A Gatekeeper casually recorded on brambles along Moneyclose Lane late afternoon

Available time coincided with a cloudy period! At least one male Black-tailed Skimmer still on the model boat pond at Middleton

Highlighted by the following in the hut trap: Gothic (scarce at Heysham), Southern Wainscot (Southern scarce away from the wetlands) and the first Grass Emerald of the year (a local species)

Gothic, Smoky & Southern Wainscot, Grass Emerald. Thanks Reuben

No definite reports of the Pec Sands at the Allen/EM Pools since yesterday lunchtime. Single Yellow-legged Gull off Glasson. Just one adult Med Gull at Bank End today plus a ringed 1st summer at Lighthouse cottage, Cockerham. No sight/sound of the Corn Bunting there.

Monday, 16 July 2007

Grayling and Gatekeeper new for the year on Heysham NR

Heysham Obs

Wooden jetty/harbour area
Black Guillemot still on territory including both birds disappearing into the hole at one stage! If one of them is a first summer (see pic posted yesterday), it should not be indulging in breeding behaviour (per Jean Roberts per BWP)

NO sign of either Shag

Outfalls/Red Nab
Single Whimbrel and the sometimes elusive moulting 1st S Kittiwake

Two Grayling and two Gatekeeper casually recorded during management work on the nature reserve/landscape strip areas today. This is a strong colony of Grayling which really needs further numeration. Anyone interested in a 'one-off' walk-over of the BE non-operational land later in the month as the best habitat is here & outside the census routes? Gatekeeper seem to be taking off at last after many years of ones and twos. Small Skipper and Meadow Brown abundant and a single second brood Common Blue and Small Copper seen

A reasonable catch included a Herald, a species which seems to behave like a Peacock butterfly with a very lengthy hibernation

Herald. Thanks Reuben.

The Lune Estuary/north Fylde received quite a bit of coverage over the tide with: Ruff briefly near Crook Farm, TWO adult Yellow-legged Gull together off Basil Point, 4 Mediterranean Gull at the Bank End high tide roost (3 ad, 1 1st S), one ad Med Gull near Basil Point. On the Allen/EM Pools: Two Pectoral Sandpiper still present until just after midday at least but were, at the very least, elusive in the afternoon. They were not at this time on Warton flood or Hare Tarn. The 'flood' held two adult summer Spoonbill (what has happened to the imm?) and TWO Little Egrets, one of which may have been a new arrival. The Cockersands Corn Bunting was not heard but two barley fields were confirmed! The local Eagle Owls received very dismissive treatment in the latest Birding World i.e. right at the bottom of the escapes section.

Sunday, 15 July 2007

Giant Hogweed Twitch

Heysham Obs
Wooden jetty/harbour/outfalls
More water sports than birds but the key species were still in place:

Black Guillemot: Pair on the wooden jetty chasing off a feral pigeon
Shag: Two juvs in the harbour
Med Gull: 1st S briefly on Red Nab

This 23rd June picture, presumably of the female, shows a faint line of dark feather tips 'bisecting' the white wing patch indicating it might be a 1st summer. Anyone closely studied this bird recently? Thanks Gavin.

Middleton IE
Three Common Sandpiper on the model boat pond

A ringing session revealed that 'all' the local Sedge and a majority of the Grasshopper Warbler had left the site to be replaced, in the case of Sedge Warbler, by a trickle of passage birds (mainly adults). Reed Warbler was confirmed to breed with capture of a female with brood patch, two singing males early on and a fairly recently fledged juvenile.
Retrap juvenile Grasshopper Warbler. Thanks Mark

Highlights were: an unringed adult (and one retrap juvenile)Grasshopper Warbler, 11 Sedge Warbler, 5 Reed Bunting, 7 Whitethroat, one Lesser Whitethroat, 2 unringed (and one ringed male) Reed Warbler.

The Red-eared Terrapin was in the model boat pond

Dragonfly numbers on Middleton IE were predictably poor despite a fairly lengthy 'window' of sunshine and c20C over lunchtime. 7 male and 4 female Black-tailed Skimmer, just 4 male and 3 female Emperor, just one 4-spotted Chaser, one Brown Hawker and 40-50 Common Darter (about half being tenerals). No Ruddy Darter (or predictably any remaining Red-veined Darter).

Butterflies at Middleton were even worse with just TWO Meadow Brown seen in perfect conditions and practically nothing else viz 2 Small White and two newly-emerged Small Tortoiseshell

Eagle-owl huggers and other fans of well 'ard alien fauna and flora might be interested to know there is a veritable forest of Giant Hogweed next to the large 'nissan hut' on the opposite side of the road to Middleton IE

Perhaps the most important record from a LDBWS point of view was a singing male Corn Bunting between Lighthouse Cottage and Cockersands Abbey

Two adult Pectoral Sandpipers on the Allen pool until lunchtime when they headed off to the northeast. They returned to the Allen Pool just before dusk (feeding on Warton floods or Hare Tarn or even Barrow Scout??). Spoonbill & Little Egret in same area. Yellow-legged Gull still on Lune Estuary. Adult (unringed) Med Gull and Sandwich Tern by Morecambe Battery. A Spotted Crake calling at a site in the area was listened for last night in favourable conditions and is now presumed to have gone [not heard for a week: this record was not released to 'selected birders' whilst it was known to be still present and was only recorded by people monitoring the site]

Saturday, 14 July 2007

Spot Red surprise, intriguing Black Guillemots and a few seabirds

Heysham Obs

Seawatching c0900-1100
A bit since it was worth its own section!

Bonxie: A coast-hugger approached along the seawall by the outfalls, flew the length of the wooden jetty then turned and flew into the Bay at great speed at c0925hrs
Skua spp: What looked like a dark Arctic wheeled into the Bay along the shipping lane at high speed as viewed (unfortunately) from Ocean Edge foreshore at 1040hrs
Manx Shearwater: 2
Gannet: 13
Fulmar: 3
Dunlin: 5 flocks totalling c35 birds out
1st S Arctic Tern on the outfalls for a short period (thanks Gareth)

Outfalls/Red Nab
1st summer Med which flew off towards the Lune Estuary

Spotted Redshank: adult summer flushed from the seawall by a visiting birder just before I arrived - flew south
Black Guillemot: Male flew inshore about 0945hrs (definitely on its own) and sat below the wooden jetty with its mouth opening as though it was calling. I then had to leave the site but in the next ten minutes, it had been joined by the female. Later at least one was sat on the wooden jetty. Interesting.
Shag: There are TWO juvs still around and they were sat drying their wings on the seawall on the harbour side of the sandplant

Imm (or runt) male Grey Seal off the north wall

A very poor catch was 'enlivened' by this advertisers dream, the Dingy Shears:


Negative news on the Pec. Sands at the Allen Pool and little positive news on anything so far

Friday, 13 July 2007

Good moth catch at last

Heysham Obs
Wooden jetty/outfalls
The two Black Guillemot spent the high tide period on the top of the wooden jetty (thanks Tony)

A visit to the outfalls and Red Nab just after high tide led to not a single sighting worthy of registration as the gulls again presumably dispersed to wet fields and the Kittiwake was in hiding

Middleton IE
c35 House Martin, a few Swallow but no Swift at this usually favoured site

140 of 43 species in the trap including Pale Mottled Willow (scarce here), Dark Spinach (2nd or 3rd record), Eyed Hawk-moth and three Poplar Hawk-moth

TWO Pectoral Sandpiper on the Allen Pool - havent seen them or any pics yet but one has been reported as a juv which is extremely early for a very distant origin. Also one Spoonbill. Adult Yellow-legged Gull and 4+ Whimbrel on the Lune Estuary as viewed from Sunderland in the late afternoon rain.

Thursday, 12 July 2007

Bits and bobs

Heysham Obs
Two Black Guillemot still in the harbour entrance in the morning. Thanks Eric. Juv Shag on the wooden jetty

Early dropping tide saw just the 1st S Kittiwake

A trap set in the reedbed produced 6 Southern Wainscot and the pyralid Chilo phragmitella. A couple of Silver Y have featured on the last two nights, otherwise a complete contrast (so far) to last year's migrant moth bonanza

A Pectoral Sandpiper was located on the Allen Pool late afternoon and at least one Spoonbill was 'around' the LM reserve complex. Yellow-legged Gull still on the Lune off Glasson (then flew downstream) also a 1st S Med Gull. Single Spotted Redshank and Greenshank at Conder Green

Wednesday, 11 July 2007

Quality ringing session!

Heysham Obs
Wooden jetty/harbour/outfalls
The dredger was operating in the harbour mouth and there was no sign of the Black Guillemot in the murky water at low tide this afternoon (or if this was for work: 'no registration of the receptor at 1400hrs and the dredger was considered to have had a significant adverse impact on feeding capability at a local (or district?) level'. Why do we have to use jargon?)

Shag: One on the lower, later higher tier of the outer wooden jetty section

Med Gull: Just the adult again on Heysham 2 outfall

Ringing at Middleton
Two nets were erected but taken down straight away as the wind rapidly increased. The only bird caught/ringed was a Grasshopper Warbler!

Straw Underwing new for the year in the moth trap

Returning (since 1995?) Ad Yellow-legged Gull back on the Lune Estuary - easily visible from Sunderland toilet block area looking back up the Lune in the region of red No 14 buoy. Spoonbill on the EM Pool

Tuesday, 10 July 2007

Routine coverage

Heysham Obs
Black Guillemot. Not sure what is going on. Need to research courtship behaviour. Morning behaviour: Either the male is trying to draw the female's attention to the potential nesting hole on the wooden jetty with the female less than interested on the water below or the female is prospecting a nest site with the male in attendance on the water. Wasn't sure of the sexes today as never had the birds together. Hopefully have some time for a proper observation tomorrow. No sign of either bird during an hour or so of quite intensive boat/dredger activity late afternoon.
Shag - just one juvenile on the bottom of the structure next to the 'waterfall'
Med Gull - A careful search early evening produced just one adult summer on Heysham 2 outfall with none amongst the 448 Black-headed Gulls on the mudflats/Red Nab - this was fewer BHG than yesterday afternoon
Kittiwake - 1st summer Heysham 2 outfall

Its so far back that I'll break the 'rule' and post here as it is of topical relevance - a single Wall Brown was seen by Malcolm on Middleton IE on "the only decent day this summer" = 10th June. Please send in all observations of this species in the Heysham area. Thanks.

5 Avocet on the banks of the Lune near Glasson - all adults?

Monday, 9 July 2007

A summer's day!

Heysham Obs
Summer at last - bitten (or punctured) by my first cleg. The other downside was that the wind increased just as dragonfly-flight temperatures were being reached and conditions were marginal to say the least for any surviving Red-veined Darter.

Middleton IE
A half-decent ringing session in calm weather for about 4 hours, despite the fact that water levels meant only four nets could be set. Highlighted by 7 Grasshopper Warbler (2 adults), 23 Sedge Warbler, Reed Warbler, 8 Whitethroat, two Lesser Whitethroat and a young Kingfisher

Soft-focus Kingfisher, Middleton (thanks very much, John)

Perhaps more significant was a calling Water Rail, usually indicative of more than one bird being present and, at this time of year, a breeding attempt

The Black Guillemot were reported to be still present in the harbour entrance area, along with at least one Shag, but no further details (via angler chatting to visiting birder). There were AT LEAST three Mediterranean Gull around Stage 2 outfall or the mudflats off Red Nab in late afternoon (1st S, 2nd S, Ad). They coincided with a sharp increase to 665 Black-headed Gull and it became very clear that Heysham One outfall was not functioning food-wise due to the outage

The moulting first summer Kittiwake was on the inner end of Heysham 2 outfall

Vis Mig
Quite a southbound movement of Swifts through Middleton with at least 65 individuals during the course of the morning along with an absolute minimum of 5 (adult) Sand Martin

A request from the butterfly census people: It seems that there has been a catastrophic disappearance of Wall Brown with no records at all in the Obs area so far this year. Please report any sightings of the second brood which should be appearing soon (assuming we did miss one or two first brood).

The Red-eared Terrapin has been in residence for three years in the model boat pond and was seen this morning

A very brief view of what was almost certainly a White-letter Hairstreak at Stairend Bridge (Upper Hindburn) in late afternoon. It looked small and dark, but was slightly into the sun so better be just a little cautious after the extraordinary Purple Hairstreak record from the Trough a couple of weeks or so ago (last summer fast-tracking development?). Also what appeared to be a family party of Siskin

Sunday, 8 July 2007

Good birds, poor dragonflies

Heysham Obs
Harbour/outfalls/wooden jetty
Fingers crossed as the female Black Guillemot has been spending time in a hole with male in attendance. They can commence breeding as late as July week 3.

At least one juvenile Shag still around the harbour

Adult summer Med Gull on the outfalls was new in - it was unringed, therefore not the Czech-ringed 'winter' resident. First summer Med Gull also seen along with the heavily-moulting 1st summer Kittiwake

A reasonable catch below the Obs Tower included 7 juvenile Dunnock from at least two broods (now a 'high priority' species!) and a couple of juvenile Lesser Whitethroat

A full dragonfly census of Middleton in decent conditions - the first one possible since 10th June was even worse than expected. Havent the exact figures but can be certain about one count - NO Red-veined Darter were seen in ideal conditions for mature males to be flying about. Lets hope they managed to pair up and oviposit during the occasional June 'windows'. 5 male Common Darter was seen and 23 tenerals, presumably this species. Numbers of the early emerging dragonflies were predictably low with just 9 male and 2 female Emperor, 7 male and 2 female Black-tailed Skimmer and 20-25 4-spotted Chaser. A Brown Hawker was present on the nearby Nature reserve along with a single Emperor

The Heysham NR butterfly transect was dominated by Small Skipper (90). Other species included 9 Large Skipper, 2 Comma and a rather early second brood Small Copper.

This evening, at least three young Long-eared Owl were calling from the upper left plantation on Leck Fell but none from any of the others during a relatively brief visit. A Short-eared Owl was quartering higher up the fell. Nothing else reported on any local websites/local info lines

Saturday, 7 July 2007

Better news!

Heysham Obs
Late afternoon posting

Black Guillemot
The displaying pair were back and present in the harbour until just before 1200 whence they flew to the outer harbour where they were displaced by the 1210 IOM ferry and flew out towards the sandbank and were lost in the region of the piece of wreckage which sticks out of the water at low tide.

Two juvs were on the lower tier of the platform next to the 'waterfall' in the morning

Nothing at all on the outfalls/offshore

Middleton IE
Pair of Tufted Duck (male in eclipse)

Single windblown Emperor and 4-spotted Chaser on Middleton but temperature too low (15.5C) and wind too strong for Red-veined Darter possibilities

Friday, 6 July 2007

An unsatisfactory day

Heysham Obs
The continuing lack of any Black Guillemot, following the scenario of a single bird=presumed male returning for a short time three days ago, does suggest that a mishap befell the presumed female (or she just cleared off!).

Coastal areas
Just a single Storm Petrel last seen off Stage one outfall at about 1015hrs as the wind rather mysteriously swung right round to NNW for a short period. More might have been expected had the wind remained consistently westerly

Two juv Shag still in the harbour

Single Manx Shearwater and Sandwich Tern on brief seawatches

1st summer moulting to 2nd W Med Gull around Red Nab early morning.

1st summer Kittiwake in heavy wing moult again on Heysham 2 outfall

Still a real shortage of small gulls - last year there were 2,100 Black-headed Gulls and a few Meds around the outfalls on 6th July - today there were 34!

Its autumn - Lesser Yellow Underwing in moth trap!

Grey Seal off end of wooden jetty

As predicted, Spoonbill located at Leighton Moss today (and yesterday)

Thursday, 5 July 2007

A few bits and bobs

Heysham Obs
The following picture of a ladybird was taken today by Cliff Raby. He thinks it is Anisosticta 19-punctata. Anyone able to help, please?
Harbour/outfalls 2115-2140hrs
A decision was taken to see if there were any Storm Petrel around. There weren't, although a considerable slick suggested Heysham one was back on line. Two juv Shag were present in the intake areas but I could not see any Black Guillemot before a huge black cloud appeared and it went dark!
No species of interest reported locally BUT the Caspian Tern was seen for a short time at Lytham on the Ribble. Keep checking!

Wednesday, 4 July 2007

Inshore Manx and Black Guillemot puzzle

Heysham Obs
We have the regular Thursday problem tomorrow due to work-related absences - please report any sightings to the Nature reserve office/letterbox. Black Guillemot updates especially welcome. Thanks.

Wooden jetty/harbour mouth
A stiffer westerly than perhaps expected led to quite choppy sea conditions in the harbour entrance area and morning birders failed to see the Black Guillemots. At 1400hrs, a Black Guillemot flew in from the 'right' = Stone jetty direction but only picked up whilst 'straight out'. It remained in the harbour entrance but further offshore than usual. Time will tell whether this means one of the pair had fallen victim to e.g. monofilament nets or simply moved on or................. Without being absolutely certain, the behaviour of todays bird was suggestive of it being the male.

One the first lowish tide visit for some time, two juvenile Shag were present on the lower tier of the platform next to the Power Station intake

Two short spells of seawatching produced 2 Gannet, 44 Manx Shearwater (in three 'lots', including a loose flock of 38 in early afternoon), 2 Sandwich Tern.

Outfalls area
Eight Whimbrel were seen and a 1st summer Kittiwake in heavy moult appeared in early afternoon on the inner end of Heysham 2.

The small gulls were virtually absent today and the anglers were also moaning about zero fish! It was as though both outfalls were not producing the goods, yet the intake pipe had a good gull (and two Shag) attendance. Hopefully the outage has not included an all-excluding screen reducing cooked invertebrates to zero? Will investigate.

Peppered Moth was new for the year in a very small catch for early July.

The Conder Pool Little Ringed Plover are still top billing as regards receipt of the oxygen of publicity! In other words, nothing much of interest via the local info. sources (including a perusal of the 'Leighton Moss book'). There seems a possibility that there may still be a Spoonbill presence at Leighton Moss but all a little uncertain due to difficulty observing the favoured area

Tuesday, 3 July 2007

Waning enthusiasm for horizon seabirds!

Heysham Obs
If we are going to get bad weather, we may as well go the whole hog and include some 'useful' birding weather i.e. westerly gales. Therefore Friday's forecast may produce exactly the conditions where it might be worth seawatching off Heysham &, if so, there should be Storm Petrel involved, despite Heysham One being off-line (or at least the outfall not seemingly producing any food). Best WELL BEFORE the high tide, especially for Storm Petrel.

A few seabirds wheeling along (or beyond!) the horizon - these used to be meticulously logged but, unless there is a Storm Petrel influx, midsummer/late summer seabirds during fresh onshore winds are really the 'property' of the open sea sites such as the Fylde coast and Walney [2,020 Manx Shearwater in 4 hours off Walney today!]. Occasionally murky conditions or a really strong/wet blow [see intro] will push significant numbers of Gannet/Manx Shearwater/Fulmar into the Bay but this is very much the exception. In other words, we are now in the second half of the year and the seabirds 'should' be heading south (or at least not purposefully NE on migration), therefore special conditions are needed to produce seabirds in the Bay during late summer-early winter [e.g. last December]. Wait for the first records of Leach's Petrel to appear on the info. lines if we receive onshore winds in early September (unless Storm Petrel materialise in the next week or so). In contrast, the outfalls should come into their own in the next few weeks, although there is little current sign with gulls scattered all over unseasonal wet fields.

For the record, 5 Gannet, 4 Manx Shearwater and a Fulmar were seen in bits and bobs of horizon watching totaslling no more than 30 minutes

Wooden jetty/harbour
Pair of Black Guillemot and an elusive juv Shag

Heysham Nature reserve
An early record of dispersing Kingfisher commuting between the 'Obs Tower' pond and the NR marsh

Middleton IE model boat pond
Two Common Sandpiper but no dragonflies in windy conditions

The first Antler Moth of the year in the trap.

Spotted Redshank and Little Ringed Plovers (3 + 1 young) on Conder Pool, Little Egret again on the Lune (has this summered??) and Spotted Redshank on the EM Pool. Lune water level even higher c/f Sand Martin 2nd brood survival. At least four of the late-nesting Pied Flycatcher all involved dead young and/or prematurely (presumed predated) disappearing young

Monday, 2 July 2007

It turned round again and went south!

Heysham Obs
"It" being a Caspian Tern seen heading into the Bay then independently located on the beach at Knott End. It unfortunately decided to fly back south just after 1500hrs, so wait and hope (as opposed to go and see it) was the wrong move!

Wooden jetty/offshore
Quick visits by people to see the Black Guillemots were the order of the day and all seemed successful, Justin describing them as "mutually preening etc. on the wooden jetty". A (or is it now finally 'the') juvenile Shag was on the wooden jetty in the morning. Three Gannet were seen heading out from the Stone Jetty.

Still very disappointing numbers of small gulls for this time of year and this is surely related to the flooded fields which regularly causes a reduction in numbers during the winter months. I cannot imagine it is due to flying ants, the usual mid/late summer explanation for low numbers! Not helped by Heysham One being on an 'outage'.

The roost contained: 1015 Oystercatcher, 35 Curlew with two associating Common Sandpiper

10 minutes sunshine and 17.5 degrees produced 3 male Red-veined Darter and about 10 Black-tailed Skimmer on the model boat pond. The sun came out properly yet again too late in the day for dragonflies!

Two Avocets were feeding on the upper mudflats next to Glasson Marsh in the early evening [none left at Leighton, apparently]. The Lune floodwater looks pretty bad news for all the 2nd brood Sand Martins based on evidence along the Claughton-Caton section.

Displaced Sand Martins

Heysham Obs
Wooden jetty/sea
The pair of Black Guillemot were showing well early morning at least. The only other sighting reported from there was a single Gannet!

Middleton IE
A single Common Sandpiper was the first of the 'autumn'. More unusual were at least 5 Sand Martin flying around the model boatpond with other hirundines/swifts. This is very early for a species which currently breeds nowhere near (see under Elsewhere for possible reasons).

Virtual complete lack of reports on the local websites and nothing worth mentioning. The evening return journey up the Lune valley via a lot of standing water also saw the river rather too high for most Sand Martin burrows. THE crucial birder contacted was neither in, nor able to receive the answerphone message in time, and this cost 'everyone' another tick (yesterday) in the form of a not so moribund Yellow-nosed Albatross (the previous occasion was when we were doing survey work none to far from a Siberian Rubythroat in Sunderland, as described in an article by Brian Unwin). How about all birders changing their recorded message to include "If you are ringing about a rare bird, please contact RBA at xxx or whatever"?