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.