Friday, 30 November 2007

Not strong or rough enough

Heysham Obs
The only small bird I remember seeing today was the Snow Bunting near my house! (see below). John had a few bits and bobs of useful tetrad records around the harbour but the only birds of individual note here were 11+8 Shelduck flying purposefully out, the 2nd W Med on the north wall and at least one Purple Sandpiper on the rocks below the heliport

A very mild night saw single Winter Moth and Light-brown Apple Moth in the trap

The male Snow Bunting was alongside Aitkengill Road near the junction with Slaidburn Road this am, therefore in SD66T (all previous sightings in 66S?). The hybrid female Ferruginous Duck x Pochard was on Pine Lake along with just about all the inland water diving ducks in the Carnforth/Leighton area by the look of it! Purple Sandpiper by Morecambe Stone Jetty this morning. 47 Winter Moths noted at 30mph in driving rain on the Mealbank Road near Millhouses early evening! This is a superb road for early and late season moths.

Thursday, 29 November 2007

We need some gales

Heysham Obs
The only observations of note today were the usual 2 Mediterranean Gulls on the North Harbour Wall and an adult Kittiwake briefly on Heysham 2 outfall before flying out of the Bay.


Male Snow Bunting still alongside the Ringstones to Petersbottom Lane section of the Bentham to Cross of Greet Road (SD6765). Thanks to Tony Moreton for this photo taken today at 11:30hrs.

Wednesday, 28 November 2007

Red-throat saved a dreary day

Showing the unobtrusive Czech ring on the adult NHW Med. Several schemes e.g. with Turnstone place the rings above the tarsus to avoid corrosion. This can make them less easy to see and it is worth carefully examining any Med Gulls.

Heysham Obs

North Harbour Wall

Purple Sandpiper - 2 on the rocks at the Near Naze, Med Gull - adult and 2nd winter, Red-throated Diver - single floated in then flew out of the Bay mid-morning (rather belated additional species for SD35Z and 36V. Knot - 3000 to 4000 on the heliport. Goldfinch - 1 on the Mound. Meadow Pipit - 3 on the Mound.

Ocean Edge/Red Nab/Outfalls

Nothing worthy of mention.


The Snow Bunting has been refound this last two days between Ringstones Lane and Petersbottom Road alongside the Bentham to Cross of Greet road. It was present at least this morning.

Tuesday, 27 November 2007

Snipe sensation for SD36V

Heysham Obs
north harbour wall/outer harbour 0945-1110 hrs
Twice round the NHW mound was going to be it until there was a short break in the weather which helped get things going a bit.
Wren 2 on mound + 1 near entrance to sand plant.
Robin 1 on mound + 1 by sand plant gate.
Meadow pipit 1 on mound
Pied wagtail 1 by sand plant entrance
Twite 6 over mound
Goldfinch 1 over
Starling c110 appeared to come in-off continuing south towards Obs.
Snipe 3 on inner harbour wall 36V - what a 'mega', John, completely unexpected
Shelduck 2 "out"
Magpie on wooden jetty (35Z)
Pink-footed goose 25 South
Eider 2 "in"
Med Gull adult over WJ
Knot 500 on Helipad but increasing as tide was coming in.
Gate "38": Robin & 4 Goldfinch

Purple Sandpiper Morecambe Stone jetty.

Monday, 26 November 2007

RBMs drag the Light-bellied Brent into 36V!

Heysham Obs
North Harbour Wall 1320-1335hrs
A break from computer screens to do an intermediate tide count included a diversion to the NHW to recycle some mouldy bread in the direction of Med Gulls. Four sleeping "ducks" were offshore drifting out with the tide in dull light. One revealed itself as the Light-bellied Brent Goose [the Canadian-ringed juv usually to be found just to the north at Sunny Slopes] and so we waited for it to float into 36V. This it duly achieved [but see 'Elsewhere'], continuing the phenomenal run of scarce Lancs species in this tetrad since the Atlas commenced
Med Gull: the Czech-ringed adult and the usual 2nd W patrolling the north harbour wall
Purple Sandpiper: single bird along the seawall (46A section). Yesterday's information was incorrect. The location should have been the old lighthouse by the heliport = 46A, not 35Z.

Visible (or invisible) migration by the office 0930-1100ish
Skylark - 4 SE
Siskin 4 E
Starling N/NW 31,12,5,7,3,10,13 & 8. SW 46
Mistle Thrush 1 E
As we were leaving the office at 1720hrs, therefore 'well dark' at least one Redwing was heard flying over then appearing to fly in a circle (or more than one bird)

Ocean Edge/Red Nab
Male Sparrowhawk and no small finches! 1st W Grey Plover close inshore

Great White Egret still at Leighton Moss. Light-bellied Brent (see above) returned to the Sunny Slopes area as the tide uncovered the skeer at c1350hrs.

Sunday, 25 November 2007

Disorientated Little Gull

Heysham Obs
Recorded from by the office 0930-1130
Little Gull 1st W 1000 hrs. This flew west past office and Obs. tower!
Sparrowhawk male on Reserve
Goldfinch 3 over
Starling 3 NW + 3W
Long-tailed Tit 4
Goldcrest 2
Pied Wagtail 1

South harbour wall
TWO Purple Sandpiper on rocks blow the lighthouse mid-morning.

North harbour wall
Just the usual adult and 2nd W Med Gulls with nothing on the sea other than 2 Great-crested Grebs and no small birds of note seen

Ringed Plover 5
Knot c250
Oystercatcher c300

Thanks to Malcolm, Mark and John.

Great White Egret Leighton Moss, including coming in to roost with 10(+?) Little Egret. Belgian-ringed Ad Med Gull Morecambe Broadway. Guillemot floating in on the tide past Cockersands (this is presumably a long-staying bird irregularly reported). [Ad Iceland Gull seen at Walney today, unfortunately heading north up the open sea side]

Saturday, 24 November 2007

winter fare

Heysham Obs

North Harbour Wall
A couple of snapshots, the first in the rain at high tide, the second on the dropping early afternoon tide:
Little Gull: adult offshore, 1045hrs
Shag: juvenile on wooden jetty with 41 Cormorant 1045hrs
Purple Sandpiper: single on North Harbour Wall on both visits
Med Gull: adult and possibly 2 second winters patrolling the North Harbour Wall - no time to thoroughly check

Ocean Edge foreshore
Jack Snipe 1,
Common Snipe 3
Twite: Flock of 38 may have been all this species, certainly those examined were,
Linnet/Twite: Mixed flock of 40 separate from the above

Red Nab

Middleton I E
Woodcock - 2 birds flushed from different areas
Snipe - 10, Tufted Duck - 5, Teal - 3, Goldeneye - 1, Mallard - 4, Coot - 7 & huge flock of Long-tailed Tits comprising at least 40 birds

Adult and 1st winter Little Gulls at Jenny Brown's Point. Great White Egret seen from Leighton Moss causeway.

Friday, 23 November 2007

nice sunny day - not a lot happening

Heysham Obs
A walk round the reserve during the morning saw very few Blackbirds remaining from the influx earlier this week as is typical after a clear night going into morning

North harbour wall
Twite - 5 briefly at the entrance to the sandworks
Goldfinch 1+
Meadow Pipit 1
Wren 1
Robin 2
Purple Sandpiper - 1 there at HT on the seawall c100m south of the sandworks entrance
Med Gull - Ad & 2nd W patrolling

Nothing on the sea at HT

Nothing on Red Nab/Ocean Edge & saltmarsh/outfalls during a check in late afternoon at LT

No moths/dragonflies/butterflies (but a wasp, possibly queen, yesterday flying along the north harbour wall!)

One Purple Sand on the Stone Jetty rocks. One Water Pipit by Leighton public hide (up to 2 have been seen there, mainly during management work in otherwise inaccessible areas). Ad Med Gull Claughton with the hordes of gulls and Starlings by the Brookhouse junction at c0900hrs (SD56 something!)

Thursday, 22 November 2007

Purple Sands showing very well

One of the Purps at the base of the sea wall
Med Gull at the top of the sea wall. Thanks to Keith Kellet for these photos.

Heysham Obs
North harbour wall
Purple Sandpiper: Fingers crossed for these birds, and those at the Stone Jetty, staying all winter. They were both showing very well on the sloping seawall just south of the sandworks entrance this morning.
Med Gull: Czech-ringed adult and the usual 2nd W patrolling

Unfortunately, the only passerines on the mound were the resident Robin and Wren.

Ocean Edge/Red Nab
Presumably 'the' Little Egret's head was sticking up out of a channel on the saltmarsh, the first ever degree of any suggestion of some form of residency in the Obs recording area! A visit just after high tide surprisingly failed to produce any finch flocks but the touring park end of the saltmarsh was not visited. The Red Nab Wigeon numbered 68 and three RB Merg were in the region

The first Winter Moth of the year and a late Feathered Thorn

One Purple Sandpiper Morecambe Stone Jetty. Great White Egret briefly on EM Pools before flying NE - clearly this site is not the attractive food source it was during the autumn.

Wednesday, 21 November 2007

No Great Northern Diver, but plenty of other birds!

First winter male Snow Bunting. Wing length 113mm, weight 36g. Thanks to Keith Kellet for this photo.
Heysham Obs
SD36V excelled itself today with yet another new species - a male Snow Bunting which was later fortuitously trapped and ringed as it wandered into the Twite ringing site. This bird provided yet another behavioural first. It was treated like a Wryneck i.e. a mammalian predator, or just something odd, by the local Wren and Robin - both of which 'mobbed' it from a respectable distance of about 2 metres for at least 20 minutes as it shuffled along. I have not seen birds react to a Snow Bunting in this manner before. Photos should be available soon.

Just to put this morning in perspective, a lunchtime prowl round the same North wall/Ocean Edge/Red Nab/Outfalls circuit just a few days ago produced nothing worthy of log entry - not even a Med!

North harbour wall/sea
No sign of the Great Northern Diver on a 'millpond' but:
Purple Sandpiper: Two together on the seawall which had flown in from the direction of the heliport
Med. Gull: Czech-ringed adult and 2nd W patrolling the north wall

North harbour mound area
Following two Meadow Pipit and a Reed Bunting in SD66I whilst emptying the moth trap (27 December Moth!), indicating late passage, there was an influx of 6 additional Meadow Pipit grounded on the north wall, with three further birds arriving mid-morning. Norfolk also apparently experienced a late Meadow Pipit passage this morning. With these birds was the abovementioned Snow Bunting, a flock of c34 Twite and 3 Goldfinch. All except the Snow Bunting moved on mid-morning and unfortunately none of the Twite were trapped (by us) and all 11, where the legs were clearly seen, were unringed birds (all SD36V).

Ocean Edge foreshore
Twite: The flock of 34 weas relocated here as a separate entity to the established finch flock on the saltmarsh. This appeared to consist of c40 birds, equally split between Twite and Linnet i.e. a lot more Twite than in recent days.
Little Egret: they ARE rare here and it was good to see one feeding in the saltmarsh channel and not flying off when disturbed (SD45E)

TWO Purple Sandpiper by the Stone Jetty - definitely different birds to those at Heysham - one has very uniform lesser and median coverts.

Tuesday, 20 November 2007

SD36V strikes again

Record shot in poor early morning light with a dark piece of sea giving a White-billed illusion! Thanks Reuben

Heysham Obs
The outer north harbour wall tetrad is certainly THE best in the area for picking up odds and ends. Already Black Guillemot, Guillemot, Razorbill, Black Redstart, Twite, Linnet, Little Gull, Rock Pipit, Shag, Med Gull have been 'dotted' since the start of the Atlas on 1/11. Lets hope December is similar to last year (Grey Phalarope, Leach's Petrel, Little Auk & Glaucous Gull!). Today:

Great Northern Diver: Juvenile close inshore off the north wall by the sandworks entrance gradually drifted north (into SD46A) and was present, but very difficult to keep track of when feeding, from at least 0915hrs to at least 1300hrs. An interesting behavioural observation involved a female Red-breasted Merganser. This suddenly shot up into the air and flew off, immediately followed by an Orca-like emergence of the GND from the exact spot vacated by the RBM. It lifted off the water with wings aloft and head and neck outstretched pointing forwards. Presumably some form of territorial behaviour, but I've not seen this before, despite several years of daily sightings in a former abode.
Purple Sandpiper - one was feeding along the rocks by the sandworks entrance for a short period around lunchtime before vanishing!
Med. Gull - 2nd W and adult patrolling the north wall
Rock Pipit - one kleinschmittii/petrosus type (sooty with very dusky outer tail feathers) along the north harbour wall near the end early morning, then flew over the harbour [36V, 35Z] (single Meadow Pipit still on the mound)

The most significant record is the continued presence of the Ad Yellow-legged Gull at Glasson - no details as to whether the behaviour is as per the late summer individual. Purple Sandpiper still off the end of the Stone jetty. NNEW Great White Egret

Monday, 19 November 2007

Pics from last Thursdays conservation day (not a lot seen today!)

This is conservation work at Middleton IE undertaken by the Ecological Appraisal and Biodiversity Teams from the Environment Agency as part of their 2 days per year environmental leave. Here Reed Mace is being "reined in" i.e. retaining a fringe providing nesting habitat/cover for Little Grebe etc. but not being allowed to spread over the open water area. The other "tall stuff" (top pic) is Common Reed and this will be allowed to colonise approximately 40% of this shallow pond with a very indented water/reed interface. This pond was formerly wall-to-wall reedmace (and drying out due to dead vegetation accumulation) and the reedmace was removed in 2003 using a JCB, increasing the water depth. The southern edge was planted with Common Reed from Leighton Moss in 2004 and, as you can see, it is doing very well. This pond is superb for dragonflies with for e.g. three-figure counts of 4-spotted Chaser and last year it hosted a Yellow-winged Darter

The other main task was to retain the status quo of scattered willow and hawthorn scrub in the northern section of the western marsh, THE best site for Grasshopper Warbler in this area. Every third willow bush in was coppiced and the branches further chopped to form habitat piles.
Anyone wishing to take part in any conservation work, please contact Reuben (see left of the page) - management days are regular on a Thursday and the first Sunday of the month but please ring first to make sure. Thanks to the EA team and everyone else who has helped with conservation work.
Heysham Obs
Just a few titbits in passing today - the only systematic search was in early afternoon for any NHW Purple Sandpipers and this was negative.

A Seal spp. pup was located along the NHW mid-afternoon but could not be found later on - possibly more to come on this.

Bird sightings comprised:
2nd W Med Gull patrolling the NHW late afternoon
Two Ravens on the pylons by the office mid-morning
Siskin over the office late afternoon

Ad Yellow-legged Gull still at Glasson - surely this is not the returning late summer bird breaking the habit of a lifetime? Purple Sandpiper still at Morecambe Stone Jetty - seen 1245hrs. NNEW Great White Egret

Sunday, 18 November 2007

Purple heys

At least one of the Purps (& Knot) at record shot range. Thanks Mario & Rosie

Heysham Obs
North harbour wall and area
Purple Sandpiper on the rocks between the locked gate and harbour entrance, later TWO there around midday on the large skeer by the sandworks entrance. These looked like 1st W birds (e.g. Collin's Guide criteria) BUT this has been thown into some disarray by known-age older birds looking 'similar' (broad white edgings to lesser & median coverts etc). Will research and re-post on this issue in the near future. Otherwise very disappointing with just one early morning sighting of 2nd W Med Gull and no auks or anything else of 'log interest'.

Heysham Nature Reserve
A collybita-type Chiffchaff was new for the winter Atlas (45E) and last seen around the Obs Tower pond. Blackbirds were fewer than yesterday with a count of 47 on BE properties with 23 of these on the reserve.

Ocean Edge/Red Nab
Three Twite were on the south field but not able to see the ring status. 175 Shelduck and a high count of 57 Lapwing on Red Nab. NO gulls of interest

Purple Sandpiper still on the Stone Jetty - at least 10 years since there were three birds in this area. Unringed ad Med Gull on the Lune in the vicinity of Carlisle railway bridge and the Belgian-ringed bird still by Morecambe Strathmore area. Great White Egret seen at various places around Leighton Moss but no reports from yesterdays Cumbrian site. Two Water Pipits seen at Leighton Moss on at least 16th

Saturday, 17 November 2007

Blackbird arrival.......and some vis

Heysham Obs

Vis by the office 0930-0935
Starling - 120 south in three flocks in just 5 minutes. No time for any longer!

North harbour wall
Meadow Pipit still on the mound along with Robin and Pied Wagtail (36V). One 2nd W Med seen

20 Blackbird on the grass/in nearby bushes by the NR car park at 0930hrs - definite arrival, supported by accompanying 2 Redwing. A further 15 Blackbirds were flushed from the roadside between the reserve entrance and OE.

Saker or hybrid with jesses on the pylon by the office briefly mid-morning - flew towards Power Station but no bird scaring operations taking place on there.

No sign of the LBBrent during a low tide count, therefore careful search, but it was back at high tide - "LB Brent off Sandylands near new block of flats - Old Grosvenor Hotel at about 3 pm" (thanks Rosie). Two female Common Scoter of Sunny Slopes. Great White Egret located in Cumbria in a ditch opposite the Wildlife Park along the A6 c500m north of the Lancs border and the bird flew off towards the Leighton Moss roost at about 1530hrs. No sign of the SD66S Snow Bunting in careful search.....but rather a lot of suitable habitat!

Friday, 16 November 2007

bits and bobs

Heysham Obs
North harbour wall
A brief visit saw the 1st W Med Gull along with the regular 2nd W

Vis mig from the office
Woodpigeon - 40+53 SW then the two flocks combined headed NE a few minuts later. Subsequently: 30 SW in dribs and drabs
Starling - 23S 17NW
Fieldfare - a solitary bird flew in from the NE and landed on the reserve (unusual)

Heysham south harbour wall (SD35Z)
A few bits and bobs new for the tetrad comprised: Goldfinch (2), Linnet (1), Robin (1), Wren (1)

Outfalls/Red Nab
Little Gull - the 2nd W was on Heysham 2 outfall early morning
Shelduck - 76 Red Nab

Two nets by the office produced a lot of retraps and the following new birds: 7 Greenfinch, 1 Chaffinch and (surprisingly) 1 Robin

No insects the last two days of any note, despite lengthy presence at Middleton yesterday and sunny spells today

Highlighted by a male Snow Bunting at the junction of Ringstones Lane and the Bentham to Cross of Greet road late afternoon - present for at least 45 minutes. NNEW on the Great White Egret & no Purple Sandpiper reports

Thursday, 15 November 2007

More Woodpigeon

Heysham Obs
All the observations today were from Middleton IE as the shackles of Great-crested Newt legislation were cast aside at last and some conservation work could be undertaken in extremely fortunate low water levels

Vis from Middleton 1015-1530 intermittently
Woodpigeon - c730 north high, a majority of these comprising a loose flock of c400 at c1130 hrs. All on a line to the east of Middleton (c 1mile)
Meadow Pipit - 8 south high (unexpected)
Skylark - 2 south
Starling - 66 south

Nothing unexpected on the site itself but sightings did include:
Ad Med Gull at the sewage works late afternoon. Three Reed Bunting in the morning only may have been passing through (c/f one also at the Stone Jetty bushes)

Great White Egret Leighton Moss area.

Wednesday, 14 November 2007

Woodpigeon mystery and return of the Meds

Heysham Obs
The main feature of the day only fringed Heysham and this involved a massive northerly movement of Woodpigeons. The late posting was due to waiting (in vain) for further info. on the movement over this area. Perhaps the most interesting reply on the national vis mig group was from Clive Mackay:

"Reverse" movement of Wood Pigeons is on-going here in Angus. They ALL went SW til 30 Oct, and since 1 Nov have ALL been going NE! The same pattern was observed last year, but the switch over date was much later (16th November). This return movement seems to be a feature of WP autumn movements, e.g.. also recorded by Keith Clarkson in Sheffield over many years. It's possible that depending on the geography of a particular site that movement will only be picked up in one direction. e.g. Keith mostly records S movement, whereas here I get more or less equal numbers SW and then NE. Does the geography of the Morecambe site favour picking up N movement or movement in both directions?

Answer: this is the first time any major northerly movements have been observed in this area - or can you contradict this John from any Crag Bank observations?
The only N/NE movement of woodpigeon I have had from Crag Bank was a total of 471 on 5 dates in spring 2006 ie none in autumn, (see L&DBWS Annual Report).

Vis mig by the office to about 1015hrs
Woodpigeon: Flocks of 220, 60 and 200 high and purposefully to the north. These were rather distant and over the golf course and therefore there was no coastal movement as such. It also means that some, possibly loads, could have been missed c/f c3,000 high to the north over north Morecambe and significant numbers, which would not have included these birds, over NE Torrisholme
Starling - 8 S

Ocean Edge
House Sparrow - Pair by Ocean Edge entrance - most unexpected
Linnet - c60 on the football field and surrounds

North harbour wall
Med Gull: FOUR. The 1st W with a poorly defined mask put in a reppearance, sitting on the fence with the others as though it hadnt been away. Also a returnee was one of the 2nd W birds along with the usual 2nd W and Czech-ringed adult. Combination of calm weather and loads of anglers?

Single Mottled Umber and Feathered Thorn graced the trap

The Great White Egret is back and roosted on the island at the northern end of Leighton Moss! An adult Purple Sandpiper was new in at the Morecambe stone jetty and the Belgian-ringed Med Gull (usually favouring to the north of here) was seen. 16 Whooper Swan on the Melling field but no sign of any geese

Tuesday, 13 November 2007

Little Gull new in

Czech-ringed adult Med (above tarsus right leg). Thanks Mark

Heysham Obs
The only new bird found today was a Little Gull

Outfalls and area
Little Gull - 2nd W early morning but could not be found at HT
Med Gull - large adult Ocean Edge saltmarsh at HT
Twite - at least 11 OE saltmarsh and probably comprising some of the 15 'small finches' seen distantly flying south over the outfalls hide early morning
Linnet - c20 OE saltmarsh (not with Twite)
Knot - about 15,000 on this side (including Middleton) courtesy of the same or yet another dog walker on the heliport seawall

From Knowsley Road (north side of Heysham Head)
Light-bellied Brent in the region of the Sunny Slopes groyne

North wall
Ad and 2nd W Med Gulls (see pic above)

Shock horror, NO SIGN of the Great White Egret at Leighton Moss (until dusk). Four Little Egret Middleton saltmarsh along with 2 (Scandinavian) Rock Pipit. Bean Goose reported in the Melling maize field with up to 14 Whoopers sometime in the last day or so - will check tomorrow am. View this field ONLY from the layby on the southbound side of the raised section of the A683 - anything else is very dangerous. Up to 5 Green Sandpiper in the 'last day or so' on the Lune oxbows in the region of the railway line just N of Melling but some of these (at least) may be on private land

Monday, 12 November 2007

Bits and bobs of late migration....& Purple Sand.

The two current NHW Meds - thanks Mark

Heysham Obs
A calm morning and a little bit of late vis and ringing of late migrants

Vis from by the office 0830-1030hrs
Redwing 20 E
Woodpigeon 28 SW + 12 N
Jackdaw 2 NE
Mistle Thrush 2 N
Siskin 1 SE
Starling 8 NW + 1 SE

North harbour wall etc.
The bad news was an assertion that "dog walkers could now walk along the seawall by the heliport as it is a right of way" - one did and all the waders were flushed towards Middleton. I will follow this up next Monday when the relevant person is available.

Purple Sandpiper - one flew from the north and landed briefly on the seawall before flying round towards the harbour (SD36V atlas record)
Guillemot - 2 offshore - both SD36V
Ad and 2nd W Med seen (see photos above)
Kingfisher (SD36V)

A session at Middleton targeting Reed Bunting produced: 3 Reed Bunting, one Lesser Redpoll (presumably on passage), one Linnet, one Goldfinch plus a few other bits and bobs of a more resident nature.

The ringing details on the Light Bellied Brent were rather good:

Red right leg & letter B, Blue left leg & letter S
Ringed: De la Beche Bay, SW Bathurst Island, Arctic Canada as a juvenile male on 08 August 2007
Read in field: Off N Heysham/S Morecambe coast from at least 4/11-12/11/07 SD415626

There may be interim sightings which have not been processed yet.

TWO December Moth - lucky to get one of these in a year

December Moth - thanks Reuben

Great White Egret still at Leighton Moss. Another titbit of migration in the form of a Tree Sparrow in the Stone Jetty bushes. Crossbill heard but not seen Thrushgill in briefish visit but 26 Redpoll were grilled and all were Lesser. No sign of the Great Grey Shrike at Dalton Crags in 10 minute scan.

Sunday, 11 November 2007

Guillemot 'atlased'

Heysham Obs
A few less auks at Heysham than where I was for an hour and a half on the way to work on the other side of the country (=goodness knows how many Little Auks plus a very surprising 2 x Storm Petrel (there have been several of these seen in the last few days from E coast sites - which population are they from?))

Sea early morning North harbour wall (thanks Mark)
Raven - two blogging around the area (SD36V & 35Z)
Guillemot - one offshore (SD36V & 35Z)
Med Gull - just the one 2nd W - I think the other 2 regular & further irregular 2nd Ws went a few days ago (as the same birds did about this time last year as 1st Ws?)

North of Heysham Head
Colour-ringed 1st W Pale-bellied Brent by the Sunny slopes groyne near HT, then moved north as the tide dropped

Great White Egret plus 12 Little Egret at the Leighton Moss roost. Guillemot off Crook Farm still. Three Scaup Glasson Basin. 18 Whooper Swan Wenning Foot, Lune valley. Very poor considering all the activity today (WeBS etc. etc.) and compared to last Sunday [e.g. no Crossbill or GG Shrike reports]

Saturday, 10 November 2007

Meagre WeBS fare

Please could you text or e-mail any sightings tomorrow (or put on LDBWS site, if you prefer), even routine stuff like the Meds. Three key observers will be away. See contact details to the left. Thanks.

Heysham Obs
The only known birding in the area was the WeBS. Couldn't find anything to write the figures on until a huge expanse of pallid flesh was revealed on the back page of the Daily Mirror - Wayne Rooney mouthing the 'f'' word ('focus', of course). The unique feature of the day was the first ever, in my knowledge, half hour seawatching slot from Heysham north harbour wall when nothing at all flew or swam through the optics which were pointing towards Barrow. This momentous event took place between 1010 and 1040am

Seawatching 1000-1040hrs (see above)
Kittiwake - 3 out (2 Ad & 1st W) 1006hrs (36V, then 35Z)
Razorbill - 2 out together at 1010hrs (36V, then 35Z)

North wall
Ad & one 2nd W Med Gulls. A passerine was seen extremely briefly on the mound with the smart money on Robin. Also 2 x Pied Wagtail (36V)

Biggest number of Knot yet this autumn = c22,000

Visible from Heysham head looking north
Colour-ringed 1st W Light-bellied Brent Goose by the Sunny Slopes

Ocean Edge saltmarsh/S. foreshore
Notable was a roost of 27 Ringed Plover and the Linnet flock still numbers c30

Surprising was a definitely different late Large Wainscot from the one caught two days ago

Great White Egret Leighton Moss area. 5 Barnacle Geese NW past JB Point. 1st W Kittiwake JB Point. Nothing of interest Pine Lake (2 Goosander)

Friday, 9 November 2007

north-westerly dross

Heysham Obs
Nothing doing during a brief search by two observers - I should perhaps have done a bit of vis this morning as it was calmer than forecast

Med Gull - Czech-ringed ad following the Pilot Boat into port
Twite - single unringed bird on the mound
Water Rail - at least three Middleton IE

No sign of the Black-necked Grebe. NNEW on Pale-bellied Brent. Nothing of interest on Pine Lake. Great White Egret Leighton Moss. Adult Great Grey Shrike still on Dalton Crags, viewable from the pull-in 400m along the right turn after the picnic area (leading to Keer bridge & Arkholme) late morning, looking NE with 50 x wide-angle. It was low-down just to the east of the N-S dry stone wall and only noticed when disturbed by a Mistle Thrush. Along Morecambe Prom, pair of Scaup off Scalestones Point and adult Spotted Redshank roosting on the Strathmore groyne along with Belgian-ringed adult Med Gull. 10-15 Brambling grounded on beech mast near Tower Lodge, Trough of Bowland.

Thursday, 8 November 2007

Desultory sea-watching before the wind goes North-west

Heysham Obs

Sea 0745-0915
Razorbill 1 out close inshore, 1 out more distantly
Common Scoter male landed on sea
Shelduck 10 out
Shag juvenile by the harbour "waterfall" early on, 1 flew into the Bay close inshore at c0845hrs, juv again present by the "waterfall" early afternoon but not later.

Middleton WeBS
15 Snipe, 7 Mallard, 5 Teal, 3 Tufted Duck, 1 Goldeneye, 7 Moorhen, 6 Coot, 4 Mute Swan.

1st winter Kittiwake (SD45E)

Ocean Edge saltmarsh
20-30 Linnet

Major surprise in the form of a late Large Wainscot (the 2nd of the year), also 1 Feathered Thorn.

Great White Egret, Leighton Moss, but no further information on yesterday's belatedly reported Firecrest. One or two Leach's Petrels off Jenny Brown's Point at at least 1030hrs, unfortunately more belated news. NNEW Black-necked Grebe, Pale-bellied Brent.

Wednesday, 7 November 2007

Brent Goose unpuzzled

Heysham Obs
OK it wasnt seen from the recording area today but for continuities sake.......the Brent was read at the new Grosvenor Groyne and the right leg was RED with letter B and the left leg BLUE with letter S. These rings are rather large and deemed sufficient without a metal ring (presumably assuming almost all recoveries would benefit from maximum 'read in field' facilitation and not from birds being found dead without a (metal ring) address to send to). Ringed as part of the Canada-Iceland-Ireland flyway study - we'll know the details soon.

North harbour wall
Ad & 2 x 2nd W Med Gulls. No obvious sign of Black Redstart (or resident Robin!) in windy weather.

Harbour intake area
1st W Kittiwake (SD35Z record)

A very worn and ancient Red-line Quaker and single Light-brown Apple Moth in the trap.

Breaking news at 1900hrs - Firecrest in Leighton Moss "main car park" - no time of day or indeed is this the car park over the road or between the centre and Lilians? Black-necked Grebe on borrow pit end of Lancaster Quay but elusive. Great White Egret and (for this time of year) an unprecedented 5 Spotted Redshank on the EM Pool. Adult Spotted Redshank Stone Jetty groyne.

Tuesday, 6 November 2007

Pale-bellied Brent Goose puzzle

Long-distance shots so a bit blurred but no metal ring discernable.

Heysham Obs
The Brent Goose entered the 'seen from' category again today (below "Sunny Slopes") and was found to be colour-ringed as the legs were seen at last. Unfortunately all the close-up views were through 'functional' binoculars and a Peregrine flushing everything to the receding tideline prevented any great detail once the scopes arrived.

The rings appear to be red or dark pink on the right and bright palish blue on the left with no obvious sign of a metal ring (but above tarsus??). Bearing in mind it is a bird of the year, it has presumably either been ringed at or near Svalbard/Canadian breeding grounds or the Icelandic passage sites.............or its an escapee with no metal ring. Hopefully it will cooperate tomorrow.

Heysham north harbour wall
A lull as the wind changed direction mid afternoon saw some activity in the Centrica compound when first the Robin and then the adult male Black Redstart emerged from their spider etc-filled rubber tyre 'piles' and covered pallets.......but not for long. The Robin showed for 30 seconds and the Black Redstart for 25 seconds during a half-hour vigil!

Ad & 2 x 2nd winter Med Gulls patrolling

Ocean Edge saltmarsh
16 Snipe, 1 Jack Snipe, 40 Linnet, 3 Meadow Pipit (45E)

Red Nab area
Ad Med Gull
92 Wigeon

Vis mig from by the office
Not a lot and highlighted by 6 Woodpigeon (will add figures tomorrow)

Guillemot on the Lune Estuary is a good Atlas addition. Great White Egret still Leighton Moss. "Stubble-burning" at Cockersands produced:
2 Stonechat, 2 Reed Bunting, 9 Snipe, 25 Skylark, 4 Meadow Pipit. Very late Wheatear in a recent cut maize field at Melling, Lune valley - a notable inland record and very unexpected 'winter bird' for SD57!

Monday, 5 November 2007

Harbour area-fest

Heysham Obs
North harbour wall area
Black Redstart: The adult male was seen between the sand plant and the centrica storage area mid-morning, then a Bk Red was flushed from the gravel alongside the centrica s.a. before flying under some pallets at 1310hrs. The views were brief and almost exclusively rear-end but it didnt appear to be an adult male!!
Little Gull - adult blogging offshore mid morning. This is the first for some time in the absence of a regular outfalls bird this autumn
Shag - juvenile on the wooden jetty
Twite - up to 5
Med Gull - 2 x 2nd W & adult

Red Nab/outfalls
230 Black-headed Gull, 89 Wigeon and an adult Med Gull

Mottled Umber and Light brown Apple Moth in the trap

The light-bellied Brent Goose was again off Sunny Slopes. The Black-necked Grebe still on the borrow pit at the end of Lancaster Quay. Great White Egret still Leighton Moss

Sunday, 4 November 2007

A very good day's birding in this area.............

Heysham Obs
...........with Heysham Obs playing a full part

Thanks for the early posting, John.
Black Redstart: adult male Heysham NHW found by John Wood at 1130 hrs just past gate adjacent to sand plant using mounded earth, fence and sea wall between many feeding flights. Unfortunately could not be found in the afternoon but may have flown across the harbour to other suitable habitat (SD36V Atlas record)
Black Guillemot: on and around the wooden jetty (SD35Z Atlas record)
Pale-bellied Brent Goose: A 'seen-from' juvenile just to the north of Heysham Head on the skeer off Sunny Slopes. A bit of a sense of shame with this bird as it was surely the same one recorded on the HT WeBS in mid-October by the Regent road groyne. Poor coverage! (46B)

North harbour wall
Twite: 3 at feeding station - two with blue over yellow rings, indicating old birds ringed in the 2002/3 winter. Also on mound were: 5 Goldfinch, 8 Meadow Pipit, 2 Robin and one Wren (SD36V). Adult and just one 2nd W Med around

The only observation was: Shelduck 11 'in'. Might improve later this week (Pom Skua??)

Vis from the Obs 0800 - 1000 hrs.
Woodpigeon 131 W/SW, 21 NW, 3 E, 2 S
Starling 126 N/NW, 11 S/SW
Carrion crow 3 S, 5 SW then E with 7 Jackdaw (SW then E)
Jackdaw (see above)
Siskin 4 NE
Greenfinch 15 S
Chaffinch 2 S
Mistle thrush 2 S
Skylark 2 E
Grey wagtail 1 W
Sparrowhawk 2 over Reserve at same time, one low SW, one NE at pylon height.

In addition, 5 Whooper Swan flew south past the north harbour wall at about 0745hrs

Middleton IE
4 Mute Swan, 6 Coot, 8 Moorhen, 7 teal, 5 Tufted Duck, 1 male Pochard, 29 Snipe (45E)

Migrant Hawker on Middleton IE - first November record. Two Common Darter NR dipping pond. NNEW moth trap but White Speck trapped JUST outside the recording ares at 342 Heysham Road. Definitely a potential 'seen from'!

Black-necked Grebe still on the borrow pit at the end of Lancaster Quay. Great Grey Shrike adult Dalton Crag. At least 29 Common Crossbill Thrushgill (possibly 38). Great White Egret came to roost on the island mere, Leighton Moss, at 1650 and there were 13 Little Egrets also roosting there. Polish-ringed Med Gull P96 on Lancaster City football pitch and Belgian-ringed 36W north Morecambe promenade. Via the Fylde BC website: near-adult Yellow-legged Gull Glasson (for SECOND day)

Saturday, 3 November 2007

Migration continues

Heysham Obs
Vis mig from by the office
0745 - 1045 hrs. All SW unless stated:

Starling 571 NW; 157 SW; 8 E (high up). A total of 28 flocks.
Greenfinch 18
Jackdaw 11 SE (late for this species to be on the move still)
Chaffinch 5
Woodpigeon 9
Mistle thrush 8 + 3 E
Kestrel 2 N
Mute swan 2 N
Skylark 3 SE
Great spotted woodpecker 3 SW
Siskin 4 E
Goldfinch 1 & others (<10) 'blogging' (or were they? - a tricky species to document) Raven on one of pylons (46A)

Moneyclose Lane/Ocean Edge/Red Nab area
Redwing - 5 on Moneyclose Lane (45E)
Linnet - 27 on Ocean Edge south field (45E)
Twite - 6 on Ocean Edge south field in separate flock to above (45E)
Med Gull - the large Ad sat on the sand off OE saltmarsh (45E)
Rock Pipit - one on OE saltmarsh (45E)

North harbour wall
Windswept in the morning with just one 2nd W Med seen

5 Feathered Thorn and a White-shouldered House Moth in the trap. Two active wasps near the feeder

A quality new arrival in the form of a Black-necked Grebe on the new 'borrow' pit between the Lune and Freeman's Wood at the south end of Lancaster Quay. Great White Egret from Griesdale Hide Leighton Moss. Hawfinch at Woodwell. A late afternoon visit to Thrushgill was too late but Crossbill and Redpoll spp. heard. Late news concerns a Waxwing seen well sitting on a tree, loosely associated with Fieldfare and Redwing, on the west = golf-course side of the road between Leighton reception and the causeway late afternoon on Thursday 1st Nov (per two Scottish birders).

Friday, 2 November 2007

Atlasing in SD36V!

Heysham Obs
The first visit since the dawning of the new Atlas. SD36V was given the treatment - this is a tetrad where the only high tide land is the sandworks section of the north harbour wall. It can be very birdless in mid-winter so it was important to snaffle some lingering seed eaters etc.!

North harbour wall (SD36V)
Highlighted by a Wren, a Linnet, 7 very short-staying Twite (no good for photography this autumn - very skittish in the absence of a proper feeding station which has been hijacked by feral pigeon), 8 Goldfinch with the usual also-rans including 3 (Ad & 2 x 2nd W) Med Gull and the resident Robin. Three Whooper Swan flew south-east over Heysham head.

No sign of the Black Guillemot or any Shag.

Heysham reserve and area
The open-aspect non-op land failed to register any Black Redstart although 3 Meadow Pipit were useful for the Atlas, along with a Bullfinch on the tank farm. The main feature was the virtual lack of thrushes compared to the end of October, with Blackbird particularly reduced and just a single Redwing seen

Ocean Edge
36 Linnet on the football pitch and area

Forgot to check the moth trap in the rush to beat the traffic/check Thrushgill in daylight

At least 17 Common Crossbill (a flock of 17 seen, then a flock of 11 which was assumed to involve some of the same birds), 36 Lesser (or unident in some cases) Redpoll, 11 Siskin in Thrushgill plantation with an abundance of cones this year. Good stuff for the Atlas!
Very few thrushes in upper Hindburn with just one flock of 36 Fieldfare and 4 Redwing encountered. This is a contrast with reports of abundance in the yew-filled limestone woodlands around Arnside/Silverdale. Great White Egret Leighton Moss.

Thursday, 1 November 2007

October summary

Heysham Obs
Three key observers unavailable today and the weather in northern England was what was supposed to be in southern Scotland (e.g. A1 awful between Angel o.t.n. and S. Corner early afternoon, never mind the west coast) so ringing was not an option. The only news item so far was a Light Brown Apple Moth and Angle Shades in the moth trap. Am I really going to trail up to North Uist this evening/early morning.......[Mourning Dove at Clachan]

Here is a summary for October:

Systematic observation took place at Heysham Obs on all but two days (4th, when Flamborough was a better option and 11th when the weather was rubbish). This usually involved an attempt to census grounded night migrants (+/- mist netting) and an average of two hours per day counting visible migrants. Also the usual routine checks of the coastal areas counting Mediterranean Gulls, checking for Black Guillemot etc..

The theme of this month was the rapid transit by many of the migrants as periods of clear weather on most nights allowed birds to move on, as did a fair nunmber of clear, calm sunny days. Therefore I would be extremely wary of wording such as Redwing and Fieldfares "arrived at" as opposed to "passed through" when assessing the nature of this month's migration. For example, there were several mornings late in the month with "50+ or 50-60 Blackbird" and it would be easy to dismiss them as being "in residence, having discovered the hawthorn berries". Careful observation, however, especially of those within range of the vis mig site by the office, revealed that there was a continuous 'through-put' of birds with individuals occasionally taking off and flying high inland, others moving, usually in a generally SE direction through the bushes to be replaced by a new gang of berry eaters.....and so on. This period was punctuated by much larger influxes on 21st and 28th which helped to confirm the impressions as four Blackbirds at any one time in a given hawthorn bush suddenly became eight on those two mornings!

Another theme was a few species which are not normally conspicuous on vis mig. In this respect, only the high-flying individuals were logged - some of the other sightings may also have been birds on more than a 'local circuit'. The main species were Great Spotted Woodpecker, Coal Tit, Jay and especially Bullfinch. See vis mig list below for actual total.

One species which IS conspicuous on vis and which occurred in good numbers (although nothing like nearby Walney) was Jackdaw - this species does not nest at Heysham and therefore migrants can be easily discerned The other noticeable theme concerned the number of species which were either way above par or conspicuous by their absence - very few species seemed to be occurring in "average" numbers for the 27 year dataset Species conspicuous by their absence on the ground were: Wren (usually a noticeable passage early-mid month), Blackcap (no birds accompanying the thrush passage late in the month) and Goldcrest (just no mornings producing more than 20 individuals - this was most unexpected following a good spring passage and does imply a very poor breeding season) Conspicuous by their absence on vis mig were Redwing and Fieldfare, yet there were plenty flying over more inland sites - this is the way it goes some autumns - the grand total for both species has been beaten by single migratory flock on many occasions in previous Octobers

It was quite a good month for scarce species without coming up with a major rarity: Treecreeper - one on 10th, Yellow-browed Warbler - one ringed on 7th, almost certainly another on 8th (almost certainly not ringed). Suitable conditions for one often produce another with this species - indeed the first record for Heysham involved three individuals. Garden Warbler - late bird on 7th. Black Redstart - one for a couple of hours on 15th. Lesser Whitethroat - latest ever records for here - one ringed on 14th and perhaps the same on 18th - sadly not one of the eastern forms. Common Buzzard - one on 20th . Reed Warbler - late bird on 19th. Firecrest - male with a LTT flock on 18th. Woodcock - migrant on 27th. Ring Ouzel - 1st winter male with migrant Blackbirds on 26th

Vis mig totals for the month saw record numbers of common finch species. Most of these birds were flying S or SW:
Pink-footed Goose 4593
Starling 3019
Chaffinch 2322
Greenfinch 1028
Meadow Pipit 742
Goldfinch 611
Redwing 503
Siskin 497
Jackdaw 452
alba Wagtail 405*
Woodpigeon 190
Fieldfare 164
Skylark 122
Linnet 116
Blackbird 115**
Song Thrush 102**
Mistle Thrush 96
Carrion Crow 87
Brambling 76
Rook 71
Long-tailed Tit 68***
Bullfinch 42
Swallow 36
Grey Wagtail 32
Reed Bunting 31
Collared Dove 29
Coal Tit 29***
Great Spotted Woodp. 13
Jay 12
Crossbill 11
Dunnock 10***
House Martin 7
Kestrel 4***
Whooper Swan 4
Sparrowhawk 4***
Cormorant 4***
Pintail 3
Tree Sparrow 3
House Sparrow 3
Grey Heron 1
Twite 1
Merlin 1
Rock Pipit 1
Green Woodpecker 1
Golden Plover 1

* many specifically identified as White
** many more than usual either flying over high or rising out of bushes and heading off general SE high. These were all, of course, presumed to be continental birds
***Only the most obvious "purposeful high-flying birds" included in this category. Cormorant are very rare over this site and all 4 were together and this is the first Pintail record actually over the 'vis' site.

In conclusion, Heysham is not a particularly special location for migrants but it is a good site for combining all aspects of migration (seabirds/vis/ringing/counting grounded birds) and the systematic coverage provides very useful comparative information which can be entered on national or even international visible migration sites and, at the end of the year, it provides consistent annually-comparative data which can be used in county and local bird reports

Thanks to the team for ensuring such good coverage this autumn - pity about the (lack of) Leach's Petrels and other storm-blown seabirds - no storms!