Wednesday, 30 April 2008

Unexpectedly productive

Heysham Obs
What looked like a dismal useless morning was far from it for an hour or so. Weather involved a significant slow-moving front blocking any high northward movement. Wind variable 1-2. Unfortunately unable to cover promising conditions on the early incoming tide late afternoon. Arctic Terns have moved in numbers at this time of day in previous years

North harbour wall 0800-0940
Knot - c7,500, possibly more swirling about very high in the sky before heading SE!
Arctic Skua - LM in 0805
Arctic Tern - long straggling flock of 163 in which then fragmented with 52+33 returning out
Common Scoter - flock of 8 out
Red-throated Diver - 2 in
Whimbrel - 6 north
Swallow 2NE
Sandwich tern - 4 blogging

Black Guillemot - throughout in the harbour mouth
Purple Sandpiper - 2 together on the rocks under where the inner end of the wooden jetty should be!

Black Tern - Leighton Moss from early morning - Lilian's hide, then Public Hide - treated like a 5-star rarity! Cuckoo flying over Lancaster, heading SW. NO mention of Green-winged Teal or Spoonbill at Leighton c/f yesterday's uncertainty.

Tuesday, 29 April 2008

A very low key morning

.............especially for night migrants as there were no sharp showers and it was otherwise far too clear. Help needed with early morning NHW sea/vis mig coverage on the weekdays next week and especially Monday 12th May when there is no way any of 'us' can cover. Anyone able to commit to any of next Monday to Friday? Please contact Pete or Jean - best to be on site minimum of 0700-0800 or 0730-0830 if a bit slow, or as much as possible 0700-1000 if fairly productive. Thanks - surely there is someone out there in the 80+ who access this site daily!

North harbour wall 0650-0805
Med Gull - noisy 1st summer on sea by gate (heard before seen whilst opening gate!)
Black Guillemot - on and alongside the wooden jetty - ignored the dredger this morning - seen off the end of the jetty early afternoon at least Purple Sandpiper - two under the inner section of the wooden jetty early afternoon at least. One of these & Middleton Grasshopper Warbler provided a South African world lister with two new species this late afternoon
Guillemot - 2 on water
Razorbill - one on water
Arctic Tern - flock of 16 in
Sandwich Tern - only 3 seen
Lesser Redpoll 4NE (together)
Linnet - 21 NE
Swallow - 27 NE + 21NE late afternoon
House Martin - 3 NE+2NE late afternoon

Nothing other than 20 Wheatear Ocean Edge/Red Nab. This has been the worst spring on record (so far) for mistnetting migrants; a really unfortunate combination of factors, mainly heavy rain at the wrong times on good migrant days

Middleton IE
Two singing male Grasshopper Warblers this evening. Access at your own risk - stay on concrete roads

Butterflies seen in the recording area today
The first decent numbers and variety this year: 4 Brimstone, 2 Orange Tip, 2 Speckled Wood, 5 Peacock, 1 Small White, 3 Small Tortoiseshell.

No information yet on local scarcities & uncertainty over whether Spoonbill & Green-winged Teal still at Leighton. Chough overflew Warton Crag but had not returned to roost by 2015hrs. An odd hirundine situation in Hindburndale with 5 pairs of House Martin all in and nestbuilding at Thrushgill but Swallows still by no means 'in'. HM usually later. 2 Scaup Conder Pool.

Monday, 28 April 2008

Dribs and drabs day

Heysham Obs
Nothing like yesterdays number of birds today at sea, on land or indeed overhead until late morning when there was a landfall of Wheatear.

North harbour wall 0700-0800 and 1230-1330
Sandwich Tern - 16 out early on after which just 3 seen!
Arctic Skua - 2 dark morph in together at 1300hrs, flying quite high when passing Heysham NHW.
Gannet - 5 distantly out and across 1310-1315
Whimbrel - 4 in 1250
Common Scoter - 10 out 1325

Pied Flycatcher 1st S male trapped and ringed.
Wheatear - nothing first thing but 30 had arrived at Ocean Edge by lunchtime.
Otherwise no evidence of any significant arrivals

Middleton IE
Sightings included at least 4 Grasshopper Warbler (2 singing males & 2 silent birds)

Spoonbill still at Leighton Moss, also Green-winged Teal. Osprey flew south east there late afternoon

Sunday, 27 April 2008

Plenty of migrants, lncluding ducks!

Heysham Obs
This was an excellent morning if a somewhat wet and frustrating one for the person looking after two intermittently opened mist nets. It was very difficult to estimate the numbers of landbird migrants except to say there were 'a lot' and using Wheatear as an indicator, birds were arriving all morning. Scarce (for here) ducks were the other main feature (see below). Weather: Cloudy with intermittent drizzle & heavy rain as a slow-moving front moved south and then back north. Wind negligible SW.

Sea/vis mig from the north harbour wall intermittent 0615-1300 & 1615-1730
Arctic Skua - light morph chasing Sandwich Terns, then flew out close inshore 1134-1140
Arctic Tern - 173 in, mostly after the rain cleared at 1100hrs
Sandwich Tern - absolute minimum of 55 based on unduplicated count at 1130hrs - assuming the continuous presence involved these birds
Common Scoter - absolute minimum of 110 = a raft of 85 plus 25 out at the same time. This assumes regular sightings of up to 100 during poor visibility during the previous 5 hours involved the same birds. This is doubtful and the true figure is probably in excess of 200.
Tufted Duck - 2 in - very rare on seawatches
Shoveler - one landed on the sea by the harbour entrance, then probably the same later on the 'no swimming' pond
Whimbrel - c20 north
Razorbill - one floated in at 1100-1115
Guillemot - two 1st S inshore throughout
Red-throated Diver - 10 in (including 5 together)
Gannet - unusually the only one was late afternoon
Black-tailed Godwit - 46+37 in - more than the grand total 1980-2007!!!
Black-headed Gull - 19 purposefully north
Tree Pipit - 2NE
Swallow - 37NE
Goldfinch - 7 NE
Linnet 3NE
Meadow Pipit - 1NE
Swift 1NE (first of year here)

Black Guillemot present around the wooden jetty. No time to check for Purple Sandpiper!

Grounded migrants
Pretty impossible to accurately estimate, although Willow Warbler & Wheatear well in excess of 100 in the recording area.

Wheatear - a continuous through-put of individuals all morning (at least) with, for example, 30 on the NHW mound at 1230 & still 20+ late afternoon! The maximum counts from individual coastal sites added up to 134 and that is as good a figure as any to indicate 'a lot'!
Willow Warbler - even more difficult to estimate. Impressions put the total in the "100+" bracket with, for example, 16 in one willow bush on Middleton IE early morning and still 20-25 migrants on a circuit of HNR as late as 1500hrs. Unfortunately mist nets could only operate for a very short period and this indicated that Chiffchaff, Blackcap, Sedge Warbler and Willow Warbler were the main species passing through non-open sites
Grasshopper Warbler - 4, almost certainly 5 singing males on Middleton IE and another singing male at the SW corner of the 'Tank Farm', the raised area south of the observation tower. One of the males on Middleton was displaying to a female. At least three of these males were new arrivals
Sedge Warbler - mass arrival of singing males with at least 16 on Middleton IE and 4+ around the HN reserve
Whinchat - male nature park fence by anemometer
Common Sandpiper - 3 on the rocks by the NHW most of the day

Gadwall - pair on Middleton 'no swimming' pond - very rare here
Little Egret - one distantly on Middleton tideline

Green-winged Teal, Spoonbill & Med Gull on Allen/EM Pools. Pair Garganey new in on Grisedale. Reported Great-white Egret on two occasions in the area. Summer Curlew Sandpiper Cockersands (new in) off Lighthouse Cottage. At least three 'spot' counts of Wheatear in excess of 50 in open fields/saltmarsh & several 20+ aggregations. Reliable Black Tern very briefly at Leighton Moss for 5 mins just prior to 2000hrs. A few decent moths today: very early or locally-reared Dark Sword Grass at Millhouses this morning and a short and very sweet sheet and light session at Silverdale Moss Wood produced Scarce Prominent (the first moth to the sheet! - only half a dozen records from north Lancs in last 10 years), Barred tooth-striped at a known site, Pale Pinion, Water Carpet, Early Tooth-striped, a late Mottled Grey, Lunar Marbled Brown, Oak Tree Pug & the usual orthosia rubbish

Saturday, 26 April 2008

Avocet, Chough & reasonable early morning seabirds

Heysham Obs
Late morning update. A new species for Heysham in the form of Avocet and another excellent record in the form of a Chough which was first heard from the inner harbour direction by seawatchers (Mark Prestwood and John Girdley) before flying along the south wall, through the inner wooden jetty gap, then 'u' turning (wind?) then back over their heads, heading ESE towards the inner harbour. Wind S backing SSW 2-3 - veil of high cloud.

North harbour wall 0615-1100
Chough - see above - at about 0950hrs - gap in the right wing flight feathers
Little Gull - 4 adult and 6 1st winter out
Arctic Skua - 1+2+1 dark morph in
Razorbill - 6
Guillemot - 2
Gannet - 5
Sandwich Tern - 11
Arctic Tern - 3
Red-throated Diver - 1
Black Guillemot - early morning at least
Swallow - 8 (the only obvious small bird vis)

Ocean Edge/Red Nab
Avocet - one presumably on Red Nab then flew south past OE foreshore 1040hrs
Little Gull - adult end of Stage 2 outfall
Common Gull - 178
Black-headed Gull - 44

Spoonbill Allen/EM Pools. Green-winged Teal EM Pool. Ad Long-eared Owl showing well at Leck at dusk.

Friday, 25 April 2008

A quiet day

Heysham Obs
An early morning trawl north and south of the harbour checking the sea for 30 mins & OE foreshore & stage 2 outfall. A lunchtime seawatch/paper read/Purp Sand check between 1130 and 1215. A brief attempt to intercept a Common Scoter flock mid afternoon produced a few more terns. Weather SSE 1 high cloud to c0830, veering SW 2-3 and clearing, then clouding over 1115 onwards with intermittent rain and wind dropping to SW1-2.

Sea/vis from the north harbour wall 0745-0815/1130-1215
Sandwich Tern - 11 out am/9 out lunchtime/4 out mid afternoon
Swallow - 3 in/1 in
Meadow Pipit - one in
Linnet - 6 in & 2 on the nyger seed
Black Guillemot - sat offshore between wooden jetty & sandplant entrance at least 0745-0815/on the sea next to the inner wooden jetty
Common Scoter - 3 out 1135
Skua spp. - nothing to suggest it was not Arctic, probably pale morph - one very distantly in flight heading 'in', then landed on sea & lost c1150hrs
Purple Sandpiper - at least one on the wooden jetty
Guillemot - 1 out 1200
Arctic Tern - 2 out mid-afternoon

Stage 2 Outfall 0820-0825/1220-1225
Ad summer Little Gull on the seaward end, not there later
Arctic Tern - Just ONE on the outfalls, not there later
Common Gull - min 188
Black-headed Gull - min 26

Intermittent Vis mig whilst on the move 0930-1100, some of this along Morecambe Promenade
Goldfinch - c40 NE
Siskin - 5 (flock) NE
Swallow 16 NE
Meadow Pipit - 1 NE
alba Wagtail 2 NE
Linnet - 7 NE

All these were during the clear spell of weather with F2-3 breeze and a lot was probably missed

No sign of any Wheatear but the ball-slinging dog walkers were there first

First Powdered Quaker of the year

Pale-bellied Brent Goose offshore from Morecambe Stone Jetty early morning. Legs not seen c/f Sunny Slopes bird last seen about a week ago & again no sign at the usual haunts at high tide. Chough seen Warton Crag quarry this morning (roosted last night).

Thursday, 24 April 2008

Velvet Scoter and backtracking Pinkfeet

Heysham Obs
A new dawn, a different type of front to yesterday (cold as opposed to warm occlusion) and a different birding scenario. Today was about attritional seawatching with occasional highlights keeping people going. The best period was the first post- frontal 'window' at 0810-0815 just prior to the only post-frontal heavy shower. Therefore, the heavy showers given on some forecasts for the high tide period did not materialise and the quality and quantity of seabirds, as a result, did not match the observer effort. Evidence from nearby suggests that both vis and grounded migrants were missed during the 1.5 hours of dry daylight prior to the sudden arrival of the morning weather front!

North harbour wall 0750-1600, excluding 1000-1045
Velvet Scoter - Male flew out at 0814hrs
Arctic Skua - Dark morphs in at 0811hrs and 1205hrs
Pink-footed Goose - 161 in the short weather window at 0815 could be excused heading SE but why did four other flocks of 6+7+109+38 also head SE during clear sunny weather later on?
Arctic Tern - 17+2+1+1 in, all before 1000hrs, then 112 in, then back out again from 1400hrs
Sandwich Tern - 16 out, 3 in, up to 5 'blogging', all after 1045hrs
Common Scoter - 8+1 out
Guillemot - 11+ seen, mainly over the tide, surprisingly no Razorbill
Red-throated Diver - 2 in
Gannet - 1 distantly in
Cormorant - high-flying flocks of 4+3 in
Kittiwake - Ad & 1st S blogging during the HT period
Whimbrel - 1

Meadow Pipit - 7 NE
Tree Pipit - 1 NE
Swallow - 8 NE
alba Wagtail - 1 NE
White Wagtail - 2NE
Linnet - 15 NE & 4 grounded by the nyger seed feeder

Wooden jetty area
Black Guillemot - including entering its favoured hole just to the right of where number 9 is painted
Purple Sandpiper - 2 on the wooden jetty

No Wheatear seen during a trawl of the usual areas

One Grey Seal & one Harbour Porpoise

Shoulder Stripe & Double-striped Pug

Nothing at all of any interest up to 1840hrs - JBP seawatching very poor with just three RT Diver of note - again suffered because of the lack of any squalls or even rain showers c/f further north e.g 9 Poms at Bowness on Solway

Wednesday, 23 April 2008

Migrants fall off the back of the front

Heysham Obs
A rather 'casual' report of a (presumed) Common Buzzard soaring over Middleton in the afternoon was by far the most unexpected sighting today - they are much scarcer than passage Marsh Harrier and Osprey, despite fairly regular sightings just a few km. to the east

"Night" migrants
Wheatear are the most obvious indicator of arrival and, following just TWO birds in the early morning murk, 16 arrived on Ocean Edge foreshore just as the last remnants of cloud were heading NE. These were an instructive mixture of large Iceland/Greenland-bound males (8) and smaller 'British' females and 1st summer males.

This period also saw an arrival of four additional Lesser Whitethroat and two Common Whitethroat to join the wide-ranging LW present earlier on.
Other night migrants appeared during (or before) the front and included a male Redstart by the office, one Lesser Whitethroat and several Willow Warbler, including two on the north harbour wall

Vis mig
Visible migration was very intermittent during the frontal period with a 'gap' 0910-0915 producing a fair proportion of the following, including the Tree Pipit: Tree Pipit, 7 Siskin, 33 Meadow Pipit, 25 Swallow, 1 White Wagtail

Seawatch observations - mostly after the front from 1100hrs
Flock 19 Teal 'in'
4 Arctic Tern blogging around the outfalls
c6 Sandwich Tern

Black Guillemot in residence.
TWO Purple Sandpiper on the wooden jetty with 285 Turnstone
Whimbrel Red Nab

Middleton IE
Singing male Grasshopper Warbler this evening
3 Common Sandpiper in the morning
Swallow and Sand Martin reported both morning and afternoon, but not known whether vis or off-passage
Presumably Common Buzzard soaring over the site this afternoon - rare here
Two Sedge Warbler this evening

Stoat ran into Heysham NR office porch, then out again fairly quickly!

There has been some pretty unfavourable weather i.e. no clear conditions at dusk with a westerly airflow for departing easterly-bound birds this last few weeks and this presumably accounts for a gull-calling Bittern at Leighton Moss climbing to 1000+ feet before heading east this evening. 2 pairs of Shoveler off Stone Jetty this morning (c/f yesterdays Heysham observation). Grasshopper Warbler & female Redstart Aldcliffe area. 30 Avocet at the EM complex, 28 of these on the 'flood'

Tuesday, 22 April 2008

Shag, Shoveler & Arctic tern passage

Heysham Obs
Not without interest this morning but generally fewer birds than yesterday

North harbour wall sea/vis 0645-0930
Arctic Tern - 230 in, highest flock = 47
Sandwich Tern - c16 in or blogging
Shag - adult in the channel by the sandworks until about 0700hrs, then could not be found
Black Guillemot - appeared about 0715hrs then remained throughout but very mobile with many circling flights
Guillemot - 1st S on water
Shoveler - a pair in the harbour mouth c0800 - a completely unprecedented record. Disappeared whilst the camera was being sorted out.
Shelduck - flock of 5 high to the north
Whimbrel - just one flock of 3 north
Razorbill - flock of 5 floating in about 1030hrs
Purple Sandpiper - one beneath the wooden jetty with 191+ Turnstone = highest numbers of the year at present on spring passage
Kittiwake - 4+3+1 - a little unexpected in the conditions
Black-headed Gull - 75 in in three main groups

Swallow - 185NE
Meadow Pipit - 44NE
Linnet - 37NE
Sand Martin - 18NE
White Wagtail - 7NE
Goldfinch - 11NE

Wheatear - not many with only 8 recorded along the coast
Willow Warbler - 17 ringed
Blackcap - 4 ringed
Lesser Whitethroat - one ringed
Goldcrest - one male ringed - late
Tree Pipit - one on non-op land

Red Kite flew north over Nether Kellet at 0735hrs

Monday, 21 April 2008

The floodgates open

Heysham Obs
This has been one of the better mornings I can remember at Heysham. First of all there was murky offshore weather until about 0830 and this produced a good sprinkling of grounded 'night' migrants. Then, as it cleared, the vis mig really kicked in with the main theme being 'catch-up' by Meadow Pipit & Linnet, almost three weeks after the usual peak passage, but also quite a few Swallow.

Vis Mig from NHW & Ocean Edge foreshore 0700-1130 (excluding 0815-0900)
OSPREY - one circled high then headed ENE over Red Nab/Power stations at 1040
YELLOW WAGTAIL - male NE at 1035
ARCTIC SKUA - first of the year was a dark morph in at 0925, presumably the same later blogging off JBP
Meadow Pipit - 557 NE
Linnet - 502 NE
Swallow - 217 NE
Sand Martin - 32 NE
Goldfinch - 29 NE
House Martin - 8 NE
Arctic Tern - 32 north up the bay
Sandwich Tern - 12 north up the bay
Gannet - one distantly
White Wagtail - one north - the only 'alba' seen!
Whimbrel - 8+4+3+7 north
Red-throated Diver - sp bird in

Wheatear - minimum of 43
BLACK REDSTART - female on the bollards next to Red Nab, then on the PS perimeter fence before disappearing into the storage area c0820hrs
REDSTART - male by the pond in the nature park at c1130 (thanks Jeff) Whitethroat - one singing briefly at Red Nab
Sedge Warbler - one singing briefly at Red Nab
Willow Warbler - definite influx but very difficult to be sure of numbers (no ringing today)- maybe 30+

Other morning observations
BLACK GUILLEMOT - this reappeared at about 1030hrs and remained close inshore between the wooden jetty and Heysham 2 outfall
Med Gull - 1st summer with Common Gulls
Common Gull - numbers increased to c252 outfalls/Red Nab but evidence of coming and going throughout the morning
Black-headed Gull - influx with up to 56 around outfalls
PURPLE SANDPIPER - summer plumaged bird still on the wooden jetty with Turnstone
Knot - 450 flying very high to the NW

Vis mig from north harbour wall 1300-1400 & 1530-1630
Black Guillemot & Purple Sandpiper around/on wooden jetty throughout
78+60 Swallow NE
2+24 Sand Martin NE
2 Meadow Pipit NE
This period also saw a tern approaching the outfalls and when it was checked out it from the OE side turned out to be the first Common Tern of the year

Half-moon Bay area late afternoon
3000-4000 Knot seeming to depart very high to the NW
10 Swallow NE

Harbour Porpoise off the NHW for c5 minutes 0915hrs

Bombus terrestris queen in-off with Meadow Pipit

Probably the most interesting posting was a flock of mid-afternoon Jackdaw (65) heading high and purposefully to the NE over Freehold. Presumably the DM Arctic Skua (see above) was off JBP over the midday period plus about 8 Arctic Tern & 2 Red-throated Diver. Pied Flycatcher and Redstart Hindburndale (PF since yesterday) but no Cuckoo yet.

Sunday, 20 April 2008

First Arctic Terns (but skuas missed?)

Heysham Obs
The problems with seawatching in spring are that birds can be moving at all stages of the tide in relation to observer availability and secondly the tide takes an 'age' to reach JBP, where the observers understandably do not bother staring at the empty mudflats at the equivalent of the 'early incoming tide time' for more outer Bay sites such as Walney, Rossall & Heysham. Hence an important part of the local seawatching jigsaw is to watch the early stages of the incoming tide from Heysham, before perhaps moving round to JBP for the high tide period. Observation of this time slot was not possible today. Here is the entry from Walney, observing birds entering Morecambe Bay during this critical time-period (not the open sea shoreline): "Despite the persistent easterly winds of the last few days, morning observations on the rising tide (0830-1030) conspired to provide variety if not quantity. Highlights were 4 dark phase Arctic Skua heading into Morecambe Bay along with 2 Little Tern, 2 Arctic Tern and a Black Guillemot resplendent in its summer plumage". More details on the excellent Walney site can be accessed via the links.

North Harbour Wall
0700-0830 (low tide) E3/4 cloudy
Arctic Tern 5
Sandwich Tern 22
Red-breasted Merganser 6
Gannet 1
Meadow Pipit 18

Skerton Weir - 7 House Martin, 2 Swallows
Halton Mills - 2 Common Sandpiper
JBP - Whimbrel, RT Diver, Sandwich Terns [late morning onwards]
Teal Bay - 2 Spotted Redshank
Pilling Marsh - Ross's, Bean and Barnacle (that well known firm of goose solicitors)
Sunderland Point - 3 Whimbrel
Aldcliffe - Green Sandpiper
Dallam Park - 50 Swallow, 36 Sand Martin, 2 Blackcap, 2 Willow Warbler

Saturday, 19 April 2008

Auk fest (by our standards!)

Heysham Obs

North harbour wall
3 Red-throated Diver
3 Gannet
1 Fulmar
10 Razorbill floating in on tide
2 Guillemot
sev auk sp
10 Sandwich Tern 'out' distant
Meadow Pipit 10 NE
Linnet 10
Goldfinch 5
Turnstone 120 min. Wooden Jetty plus Purple Sandpiper.

116 Common Gulls
15 Black-headed Gulls

Middleton IE
Lesser Whitethroat in song - first of the year.
4 Mute Swan (one nesting on Fence Pond), 7 Coot, 2 Morrhen, 3 Little Grebe, 4 Tufted Duck, 6 Mallard

Nature Park
Chiffchaff in song
1 Stoat

Leighton Moss, EM Pools - 30 Avocet, 1 Spotted Redshank, up to 1500 Black-tailed Godwit.
Aldcliffe - 2 White Wagtail, pr Little Ringed Plover, Common Sandpiper, Willow Warblers
Jenny Brown's Point - Whimbrel, 2 Red-throated Diver, 14 Sandwich Tern, 1 Swallow (so not yet summer).

Friday, 18 April 2008

First Manx Shearwater of the year

Heysham Obs
North harbour wall 0700-0830
Manx Shearwater - 5 out
Sandwich Tern - 47 in, 5 out, mainly distant
Eider - 152 visible from the north wall looking north
Meadow Pipit - 5 N!
alba Wagtail - 1N
Linnet - 2N
Turnstone - 120 but no Purple Sandpiper seen today

Intake reservoir
Guillemot not visible at present in the underground reservoir. They find plenty of food in there and 6 were previously ringed and released (including a nominate northern individual) when Guillemots were commoner and this habit more prevalent. They CAN find their own way out on the high spring tides.

[from the Walney site] "Early morning observations (0615-0815) were led by a group of 3 Velvet Scoter flying out of Morecambe Bay"

2 Spotted Redshank Teal Bay area. Lesser Whitethroat Aldcliffe area. 4 Scaup Glasson area plus northbound probable Marsh Harrier. Still 60 Twite Fluke Hall. 22 Avocet & 2 Med Gull Leighton area.

Thursday, 17 April 2008

Freezing cold blocking rubbish

Heysham Obs
NE4-5 mainly clear. A quick look around the coastal recording area, including half an hour on the sea 0815-0845, was quite unproductive

North harbour wall
No obvious sign of the Black Guillemot
Purple Sandpiper - one on the wooden jetty
Red-throated Diver - one in non-breeding plumage out close inshore
Sandwich Tern - 2 in distantly
Linnet - 2 north the only evidence of 'vis'

Ocean Edge foreshore/Red Nab
Common Gull - 82

Nothing of interest reported locally except the 4 Scaup still at Conder Pool. Also 2 Brambling and still 4 Reed Bunting at a feeding station in Upper Hindburn catchment and 200+ Fieldfare nearby. Avocet up to 22 on Allen/EM Pool/flood. 1000+ Sand Martin Lower Hide at dusk and the Little Egret roost is back into double figures at 11 - what is going on!

Wednesday, 16 April 2008

Presumably the male Black Guillemot returns

Heysham Obs
A clear morning with a F1 easterly produced some slow and steady migration and one or two other points of interest. This included displaying Sandwich Tern on Red Nab (for the first time?)

North harbour wall 0745-0900
Black Guillemot - present in the harbour mouth but very nervous re-ferries and flew offshore for at least 15 minutes 0815. Later defended the sea area below marker No 9 on the wooden jetty = chasing off two juv Herring Gull. Present to 1100hrs when it had moved far offshore. As last year, recommend morning is best.
Purple Sandpiper (single) roosting on the wooden jetty with 78+ Turnstone
Red-throated Diver - 2 in
Sandwich tern - 8 in 2 out
Eider - flock of 11 out
Swallow - 17 NE
Meadow Pipit - 13 NE [plus a further 8 by the office 0940-0950]
Linnet - 29 NE [plus a further 5 by the office as above]
White Wagtail - 2 NE (seen well)
Goldfinch - 3 NE [& 2 by the office as above]

North harbour wall mid afternoon
No sign of the Black Guillemot but
Purple Sandpiper - feeding on the shore next to the inner wooden jetty
Red-throated Diver - one offshore
Teal - 2 pairs on the sea
Sandwich Tern - 2 in

Ocean Edge
Ring Ouzel - male on the bank by the touring park at least 0930hrs
Meadow Pipit - 11 grounded, then NE
Sandwich Tern - 3 on Red Nab, including displaying pair

Grounded night migrants
Not so good apart from R.O.
Wheatear - just 5 along the coastal strips
Blackcap - 3 new birds ringed & one retrap
Willow Warbler - 1 ringed
Chiffchaff - 2 ringed

Whimbrel Teal Bay. 2 White Wagtail & 6 Wheatear Potts Corner, another White Wagtail Stone jetty. 2 Common Sand. Pine Lake. Pale-bellied Brent Goose still on the tideline off Sunny Slopes with 245 Eider just offshore nearby. Please note that the tits around Leighton Moss are Marsh, not Willow (c/f at least two entries in the Leighton Moss book). Still 13 Avocet on the Allen/EM Pools. Short-eared Owl caught a vole at Whitray Fell this late afternoon - the first there for 12 months or so.

Tuesday, 15 April 2008

High-flying Red-throats

Heysham Obs
North harbour wall 0930-1015
Red-throated Diver - 4+1+1+1 in - all very high (x3 the height of Black Coombe)and a sharp reminder than 'half horizon telescoping' during the spring seabird passage is likely to miss high-flyers
Purple Sandpiper TWO on the wooden jetty, one in summer plumage, the other still in winter plumage (for what it is worth with this species!)
Lots of immature large gulls around
Two Linnet one the remains of the nyger seed

No perceptible passerine vis this morning but not on site until 0930 c/f small numbers of Meadow Pipit over High Tatham in flat calm conditions 0800-0830 - F3WNW wind at Heysham at 0930.

Still c2,000 Knot

Outfalls/Red Nab
Very quick visit saw 71 Common Gull, including 13 adult

Osprey Leighton Moss late afternoon. Osprey Whitray Fell area yesterday pm. Chough on Carnforth slag tips - landed briefly near stock car track mid-morning.

Monday, 14 April 2008

Quiet again

Heysham Obs

North Harbour Wall
N3 mostly clear, excellent visibility
Red-throated Diver 1 out
Sandwich Tern 5 in
Swallow 4 NNE
Meadow Pipit 44 NNE
Pied Wagtail 1

Wooden Jetty
Ringed 3rd winter Herring Gull, metal on right leg and yellow darvic on left leg but too far away to make out the lettering.

Sunday, 13 April 2008

Sandwich Terns

Heysham Obs

To coin a phrase there was "not a lot" today. Here are the 'highlights':

North Harbour Wall
0730-1000 NE 2 mostly cloudy

Red-throated Diver 5 (3 in channel, 1 out, 1 in)
Sandwich Tern 30
Skylark 1
Meadow Pipit 5
Goldfinch 1
Greenfinch 1
Linnet 1
Goosander 1 in -unusual for here.

Also - Harbour Porpoise

280 gulls, mainly immature Herring Gulls

Vis. 1545 - 1745 from Office -
Very quiet but 4 Black-headed Gull SW possibly three times height of pylons
Swallow 1 SE; 1 S
Shelduck 1 S

On Reserve
Pair Sparrowhawk
Chiffchaff in song

Lane Ends, Pilling - Ross's Goose, Tundra Bean Goose, Barnacle Goose, Raven.
Glasson - 200 Black-tailed Godwit, 2 Raven.
Conder - 4 Scaup (3 M, 1F), 2 Spotted Redshank, 2 Little Ringed Plover
Aldcliffe - Little Egret (hardly worth a mention these days).
Leighton Moss - ad 2nd S Med Gulls on the pools, 2 Little Egret, Marsh Harriers
Botton Mill - 200 Fieldfare. It's still winter in the back of beyond, inland from Wray.

Saturday, 12 April 2008

Irritating weather

Heysham Obs
What does it do - go crystal clear, without a shower cloud to be seen in the mouth of the Bay, during the optimum early afternoon incoming tide! Not a sausage during a 45 minute seawatch for the second day running, despite a reasonable wind strength & direction.

NHwall 0800-0900
Kittiwake - flocks of 28+14, blogging, then high into the sky & lost
Red-throated Diver - 3 out
Purple Sandpiper - on rocks below wooden jetty (& 85 Turnstone)
NO passerine vis at all

Outfalls/OE foreshore
Ad Kittiwake stage 2 outfall early morning
2 Wheatear Ocean Edge foreshore

Middleton IE
1 Swallow, 2 Greylag, 2 Tufted Duck, 6 Mallard, 2 Little Grebe, 3 Mute Swan, 9 Coot, 2 Wheatear, 4 Chiffchaff

Drake Garganey on Bela at Dallam on 10th & Osprey over Over Kellett on 8th. Nothing new of interest anywhere else other than perhaps a Med Gull 'over Warton' in the afternoon. Spot. Red. Teal Bay, 13 Avocet Allen/EM Pools, at least 4 Scaup Conder area.

Friday, 11 April 2008

Meadow Pipits overtake the cloud & light rain!

Heysham Observatory
North harbour wall
Twite - single at feeder along with 2 Linnet
Common Scoter - 2 offshore but distant
Black-tailed Godwit - 1 north into Bay
Cormorant - 1 high North into Bay

Nothing at all during a 30minute seawatch following very heavy showers 1330-1400hrs, but 120+ large gulls, with many immatures, in and around the harbour

Visible migration 0745-1000
Nothing until about 0830 when pulses of Meadow Pipit started to head north-east despite no perceptible improvement in the weather. They had 'overtaken' the clearance which precipitated them to move. An even larger movement during the first 20 minutes of the clearer weather, after which the passage reduced to a trickle

Meadow Pipit - All NE: none until 0830, 30 between 0830 & 0900, 82 between 0900 & 0920, 9 between 0920 & 1000, just one casually noted after that. 122 in total.
Linnet - 4NE
Swallow - 1S, 1N
Jackdaw - 2S - unusual

Grounded migrants
Mist netting produced just four unringed Robin and two unringed Goldcrest in this category [& a few Greenfinch, Chaffinch, tits]. Just 2 Wheatear - both Red Nab.

Ross's Goose Pilling Lane Ends area before flying over seawall with PFGs. 5 Scaup Conder Pool. Pale-bellied Brent Goose Sunny Slopes groyne.

Thursday, 10 April 2008

Brief early morning low tide visit

Heysham Obs
Vis 0740-0900 office area
Meadow Pipit 41NE
Pied Wagtail 1NE
Swallow 2N
Woodpigeon 10E
Skylark - late bird high to the NW
Reed Bunting 1NE
Goldfinch 17NE
Linnet 6N

Yet again, no ringing possible, so difficult to discern but at least one Willow Warbler passed through next to the office & one Wheatear on the NHW. Ocean Edge/Red Nab not checked

North harbour wall - short visit
No white-winged gulls on the exposed sandbanks
Linnet - three on nyger seed (no Twite)
Gannet - two very distantly south across the mouth of the Bay
Eider - c40
Red-breasted Merganser - just 3
Red-throated Diver - one in non-breeding plumage
Great-c. Grebe - 5

No sign WS Bluethroat. Ross's Goose in field just NE of Pilling Lane Ends. Osprey at Leighton Moss c1700-1800hrs. Now FIVE Scaup on Conder Pool. Pale-bellied Brent Goose Sunny Slopes groyne. Two Spotted Redshank north Morecambe seafront again - on Teal Bay groyne today. Small flock of Common Scoter & the first (definite) migrant skua of the year in the form of a mid-afternoon Bonxie loitering off JBP. This eventually flew high NE overland right over the heads of people at JBP and a single RTD was also observed to apparantly head overland. 3 Common Scoter on the Lune estuary by the south end of Aldcliffe Marsh. NNEW Chough since Monday's sighting

Wednesday, 9 April 2008

Iceland Gull straddles two counties

Couldn't resist a Bluethroat pic - it only just missed Heysham on landfall! Thanks Margaret (Breaks)
Herald was new for the year in the moth trap

Heysham Obs
A (very) low tide observation from the NHW during (fairly) early morning saw a distant Iceland Gull, almost certainly a juv. Fortunately it was quite a small one in relation to nearby Herring and LBBG, otherwise ruling out small Glaucous or even a leucistic 'Hessing' might have been a problem. The structure was spot-on for Iceland.

North harbour wall 0810-0910
Iceland Gull - Probably a juv on a rather distant Lancashire sandbank, first noticed at 0830 with Herring and LBBG, then at 0840, coinciding with a burst of sunlight and heat-haze flew towards a distant Cumbrian sandbank and landed as an unidentifiable shimmering dot in the direction of Piel Castle. It was impossible to keep tabs on it amongst other similar shimmering dots and it was lost from view. I'll name the sandbanks later when can view detailed map - closest views approx SD380610.
Sandwich Tern - 2 in distant channel
Purple Sandpiper - one underneath the wooden jetty with Turnstone
Red-breasted Merganser - at least 13 offshore
Twite - 5 on the nyger seed
Linnet - 3 on the nyger seed
Meadow Pipit - 72 NNE in the hour - in a series of small groups during gaps between the showers
Alba Wagtail - 6 NNE
Linnet - 2 NNE

Negative on Wheatear or any other grounded migrants on OE foreshore, Red Nab & Heliport 0910-0920. No Willow Warbler anywhere today.

Office 0930-1000
Meadow Pipit - just 16 N
Goldfinch - 7 N
alba Wagtail - 1 N

Despite the clear starry night, the male White-spotted Bluethroat was still in the same place as yesterday. Please make sure you leave a gap for farm vehicles to access the lower (barriered) track at the Aldcliffe Lane parking area & try and car-share by parking alongside the canal before Aldcliffe village. Pale-bellied Brent Goose still Sunny Slopes groyne & Spotted Redshank on the 'bend' groyne between the Town Hall & Broadway. Northbound Osprey over Aldcliffe Marsh at 1510hrs. Three Spotted Redshank at Conder. Chough seen at Warton Crag quarry on evening of 7/4 but NNEW since. Two Med Gulls on Allen Pool (ages unknown). Ross's Goose Pilling Lane Ends area

Tuesday, 8 April 2008

Interrupted webs count - see elsewhere!

Heysham Obs
Poor coverage with no early morning observations or ringing possible on a promising morning and the already belated WeBS count rudely interrupted/ceased by a phone call from Dan prowling along the Lune cycletrack & tideline!

Moneyclose Lane
At least 5 Goldcrest & 2 Willow Warbler [mid-morning]

Outfalls & Ocean Edge
96 Common Gull - the start of the usual spring build-up
Wheatear - 6 [mid-morning]

c10 Meadow Pipit north in 20 minutes or so [mid morning, reading the paper with the window open waiting for the tide to come in a little more, so hardly scientific vis].

North Harbour Wall
6 Red-throated Diver floating in in 20 minutes
4 Great-crested Grebe similarly
No obvious grounded migrants other than 1 Wheatear on heliport. No small finches seen around the feeder.

Wooden jetty
Purple Sandpiper - one with 116 Turnstone

One of THE best passerine finds in this area (usually these are at Heysham!) - a male White-spotted Bluethroat found by Dan Haywood feeding amongst the abundant tidal debris at the northern end of the cycle track 'deep cutting' about half way between Aldcliffe Lane and Stodday sewage works just north of the pylon crossing. This followed a night of lightish winds right through to at least the middle of France and also produced one at Dungeness. Nothing else new, including the Ross's Goose again at Pilling

Unfortunately the work logistics for the regular observers means we are in a little bit of trouble this spring covering Heysham Obs, especially trying to cover mid April to mid May for visible migration/seabird passage.

The other problem is that the wildlife trust people [volunteers and paid staff] on the reserve are either not birders or dont have time to spend on casual bird recording, therefore we have a problem trying to 'fulfil' the expectations placed upon us by British Energy Estates when they entered us, as usual, for the 2008 BTO Business Challenge. This basically means we need as high a species list as possible for the Power Station land ownership during 2008. This CAN be achieved for some species by viewing from the north harbour wall as the 'ownership' includes species which enter the sea area off the end of the wooden jetty/by Heysham one outfall.

The 2007 annual report [for availability, see RHS of page] contains a map outlining the BE properties and they also include a useful finger of land around the southern perimeter of the golf course adjacent to the Middleton IE site.

There are two ways you can help:
1) PLEASE make sure records are passed on from casual visits - we rarely seem to receive any feedback from birders known to be specifically 'targeting' Purple Sandpiper, Twite etc etc. . I am sure some of you must see other species during your albeit rather short visits? For example, yesterdays Osprey was heard about purely by chance via a third party. Records can be posted through the reserve letterbox, posted on this or LDBWS website, emailed to the contacts (RHS of page) or even left in the 'Leighton Moss' sightings book which is for ALL local records from people passing through the reception area, not just those on the RSPB properties. Thanks in anticipation.

2) Would you be interested in helping with the more systematic recording e.g. early morning seawatching from the north harbour wall or just walking around the reserve? The latter option is really useful for picking up species which can be tricky e.g. passage Whinchat or a 'one morning only' singing passage Grasshopper Warbler.

It would be a great pity if this 'baseline' site suffers from poor coverage as the data provides excellent annual comparison [have a look at the Arctic Tern species account in the 2007 report or, for a broader picture, in the recently published Lancashire Avifauna].

Thanks in anticipation


Monday, 7 April 2008

Cashing in on the Osprey-fest

Heysham Obs
Plenty of northbound Ospreys struggling against the wind and therefore coming into contact with human eyes at various sites this last two days, especially the Ribble flightline via Brockholes quarry (including a Dunkeld colour-ringed bird). An Osprey flew fairly low to the NNE over/along the NHW at "about 1400hrs" today. Could the observers please make contact so I can acknowledge your record - I only have a description of what you looked like from a third person!

Otherwise coverage affected by the dreaded work: brief NHW morning visit
Red-throated Diver 1
Twite 3
Linnet 2

2nd S Med Gull Leighton Moss. Ross's Goose and Barnacle Goose transferred the Pilling Lane Ends where on the sea at HT. Amphitheatre-like atmosphere at the public hide Leighton Moss with the resident GBBGs killing an intruder during a two hour show. Sanderling Cockersands. Osprey JBP today.

Sunday, 6 April 2008

Willow Warbler Arrives

NHW 1430-1530
Eider 65 'in' rising off the sea in small flocks
Red-breasted Merganser 4
Great Crested Grebe 2
Twite 1 at Sand Plant feeder
Red-throated Diver 1 AM

Middleton IE
Willow Warbler 1
Raven 1 over
Tufted Duck 6
Teal 3
Goldeneye 1

Saturday, 5 April 2008

Slow start

Heysham Obs
North Harbour Wall
NE F3/4 cloudy bright

The only bird of note was a male Merlin which flew along the North Harbour Wall at 0810, presumably a northbound migrant wondering where its food, in the form of the Meadow Pipit passage, was!

Otherwise the usual close in male Eider, plus 54 in the low tide channel and 3 Red-breasted Mergansers. No divers at all on the turn of the tide.

Grounded: Male Wheatear and a Meadow Pipit on the mound. The latter flew off north during a clear slot at 0800.
3 Linnet at the sandplant.

Ross's Goose & Barnacle Goose still Aldcliffe Marsh
Over Kellet - 12 Fieldfare
Pine Lake - 1 Swallow (which doesn't make a summer, I'm afraid).

Friday, 4 April 2008

Dodgy Geese.

Heysham Obs
WNW F3 broken cloud
Canada and Greylag are scarce here and to get them both on the same day........

North Harbour Wall
Red-throated Diver 1 N at 0900
Greylag 3 S
Meadow Pipit 78 N
Pied Wagtail 3 N

Canada Goose 2 'out' near side of two buoys.
Goldfinch 9 North
Meadow Pipit just 3 N
Twite 5 Sand Plant Gate, one ringed with Heysham site code, rest definitely unringed.
Linnet 3 with the above

Grounded migrants
Wheatear - 1 at sandplant 0900, another (or same) at heliport at 1230hrs [none OE foreshore, but dogs]. Quick circuit of HNR noting the lack of new arrivals did include a grounded Lesser Redpoll [early for here] (& 2 Goldcrest)

Wooden jetty
Purple Sandpiper with the Turnstone

Pale-bellied Brent Goose [& 221 Redshank] Sunny Slopes groyne. One Spotted Redshank [& 112 Redshank] Broadway. Ross's Goose & Barnacle Goose still Aldcliffe.

Thursday, 3 April 2008

Late clock-in for the first Swallows

Heysham Obs
Two Swallow flew over the HNR office late afternoon preceded by a trickle of Meadow Pipit

North harbour wall
Twite - 15 together plus one with 3 Linnet
Eider - 28 offshore
Meadow Pipit - 15 north in 15 minutes 1000-1015hrs

Ocean Edge
Wheatear - 3 males

Moneyclose Lane
3 singing male Chiffchaff
Moorhen - adult roadkill

Heysham Head
2 Wheatear

Common Quaker (6), Hebrew Character (1), Early Thorn (1), Diurnea fagella (2) - rare here, Agonopterix heracliana (1)

Chough came out of the Warton Crag quarry roost & flew SW at 0640hrs. Ad & 2nd S Med Gull on Eric Morecambe hide. Ross's Goose & Barnacle Goose Aldcliffe in afternoon at least. Swallow & House Martin Pine Lake

Wednesday, 2 April 2008

Quiet morning

Heysham Obs
North Harbour Wall
16 Twite still in the vicinity and 1+ Linnet.
Nothing much on the sea apart from 2 Red-breasted Mergansers and male and female Eider.

Morecambe, Broadway - 2 Spotted Redshank
Aldcliffe Parish - Barnacle Goose, 2 Whooper Swans, Greenshank. 5 Chiffchaffs.
Conder Pool - 4 Scaup (3M, 1F), 1 Little Ringed Plover. University - Swallow over.
Lune (Caton to Halton) - 1 Sand Martin, 20 Chiffchaffs.

Tuesday, 1 April 2008

Routine fare pre-midday

Heysham Obs
In general, there were lots (100+) of large gulls around today with a high proportion of immatures and if this is sustained, looks good for a passing 'white-wing' in the next few days. Concentrations on Heysham 2 outfall and the harbour intake area. No obvious evidence of passerine movement this morning.

North harbour wall
1.5 hours of mainly useless seawatching in poor visibility - a few bits and bobs in a clear slot around 0930hrs
Red-throated Diver - 1 in s.p. out, 4 in s.p. in
Carrion Crow - 1 battling its way across the bay NNW
Little Gull - ad (see outfalls)
Twite - 14 on the nyger seed, only one of these ringed [Heysham 2008]
Linnet - 4 on nyger seed

Stage 2 outfall
Ad briefly on the outer part & more 'settled' 1st W Little Gull