Saturday, 31 May 2008

More Arctic Skuas, good Gannet count & unseasonal Siskin

Heysham Obs
Outside the office
Siskin SW at 1030hrs - unseasonal!

North harbour wall 0600-1100ish
Arctic Skua - light & dark morphs out together at 0730, light morph in at 1018
Gannet - 40, mostly early on
Common Scoter - c40
just one Black Guillemot - sat on wooden jetty - this does suggest the other bird has moved on. One paper recently read suggested that they do not breed until the fourth year but this has been apparently been contradicted by close observation of isolated 'harbour hole' pairs!
Guillemot - 4-5
Sandwich Tern - c10

Red Nab
2 Mute Swan & single Common Tern

Middleton IE
Grasshopper Warbler singing early am

Small Heath (2) & what sounds like a female Emperor Middleton

FOUR Spoonbill at the EM Pools, one of which is ringed [details obtained]. 27 Common Crossbill [5+ Siskin, including display flight] Thrushgill plantation - the ones seen comprised 6 males, 7 females and 7 streaky juvs with very pointed tail feathers. These were present for c50 minutes late afternoon, then 19 of them flew further into the plantation, the rest remained whilst I left. Plenty of 'coned spruce' along the access track near the log piles. Note, this area is operational on weekdays, therefore strictly no access. Tree Pipit display-flight west bank of the the Hindburn opposite Lowgill School, the first one I have found in Hindburndale & I did check this area previously, so status uncertain. Chough seen at Warton Crag quarry (time?). Probably just one juvenile Long-eared Owl calling from the western end of Thrushgill plantation just before 2300hrs [ad & juv Tawny Owls by entrance gate at same time].

Friday, 30 May 2008

Meagre passerine rations, good lunchtime seawatch - late start

Heysham Obs
Pollen-induced lethargy was the order of the day this morning with the alarm clock being the 'Red-spotted Bluethroat at Fleetwood' call.

The belated thrash of the Heysham recording area produced a new species of mammal for recent years in the form of 4 cattle agg. (not aged or sexed) - this does not say much for our observation as they are visible on Heysham Head from the NHW. Cattle used to graze the fields along Moneyclose Lane pre-power station. Combining the historical theme with the topical, Heysham Obs gained a belated new species when the Red-spotted Bluethroat believed to be at Sunderland in 1958 was indeed at Heysham near the 'old lake'(error identified during research for county avifauna)

Heysham Head
Female Yellow Wagtail in enclosed field next to the cattle field. Couldn't turn it into anything other than flavissima (& call). Flew north over Heysham head, calling, after 5 or so minutes of scrutiny, instigated by a 'what are you doing here' from a denizen of the private road.
Spotted Flycatcher - one in the garden next to the church

North harbour wall 0910-0920
NO sign of ANY Black Guillemot in a careful 10 minute search.
Guillemot - one offshore
Red-throated Diver - 2 together offshore, floating in (one sp, one winter/1st S)
Sandwich Tern - 3

North harbour wall 1115-1215ish
Arctic Skua - dark morph, then light morph in separately
Gannet - probably the same one blogging
Common Scoter - flocks of 35 + 110, the largest numbers so far this year
Fulmar - 2
Sandwich Tern - c10
just the one Black Guillemot seen, as was also the case c1515hrs

Outfalls/Red Nab late afternoon
1st summer Black-tailed Godwit
same two Grey Plover as two days ago
Arctic Tern on Stage 2 seaward end

Tufted Duck
An inexcusable omission was the presence for the first time of a pair of Tufted Duck on the pond by the Obs Tower from 'about a week ago to yesterday'. No sign this morning. A useful, by no means predictable, addition to the BTO challenge list

See above for not very precise bovine observations - would have checked them carefully if hadnt been asked to leave/watching the Yellow Wag. Grey Seal off NHW.

Moth trap
5 Heart and Dart, White Ermine, Shuttle-shaped Dart, Clouded Bordered Brindle

Wood Warbler Stone jetty bushes early morning. [Red-spotted Bluethroat Rossall to 1530 at least]

Thursday, 29 May 2008

More razorbills

Crambus lathienellus - think its spelt right! The earliest of the common "grass moths" made its first appearance today. Thanks Cliff.

Heysham Obs
By the very modest standards of the 'inner' Bay (as opposed to Rossall/Walney), it has been quite a good spring for Razorbill, especially the 'days recorded' bit.

North harbour wall 0600-0730
Razorbill - 4 out
Gannet - 6 in, 2 out
Common Scoter - 16 out
Sandwich Tern - c6 blogging
Arctic Tern - 3 in
Just one Black Guillemot midday off the NHW by the gate
(Above received by text. Thanks Ray)

Treble Bar and the first Shaded Pug of the year in the moth trap. 24 4-spotted Chaser on Middleton IE, mostly central marsh pond & the various pools/dykes on the western marsh. No Emperor but N.S. pond not carefully checked

Dead Hedgehog Moneyclose Lane (for the 4th day!)

35 Arctic Tern off JBP in the early evening a bit unexpected along with a late RT Diver. [Red-spotted Bluethroat Walney yesterday evening]. Keep looking, or perhaps more appropriately listening, at coastal locations [Rosefinch, Marsh & Icterine Warbler possibilities]

Wednesday, 28 May 2008

Black Guillemots in tandem again

Heysham Obs
The second, possibly 1st summer, Black Guillemot presumably reappeared today after extensive coverage in recent days saw only one (the usual male) bird.

North harbour wall 0500-0800 then 0830-0930
Black Guillemot - two
Swallow - 44 NE in one group & stragglers about 0850hrs - this sort of thing is more normal in autumn than spring i.e. roost departure. Just one other seen! = 45.
Gannet - 4 in early morning & 3 fishing c0815
Sandwich Tern - 8+6 in
Guillemot - one on water
Shag - one was probably on one of the structures off off Heysham One outfall early morning only, but distant in poor light
Arctic Tern - 1

Lunchtime seawatching
Gannet - 5 in
Arctic Tern - 5 in
Guillemot - one harbour mouth
Black Guillemot - pair still present

Ocean Edge foreshore am
15 Linnet on football pitch
Bedraggled female Whinchat Red Nab

Red Nab - near high tide late afternoon
Grey Plover -1st S & adult aummer
Sandwich Tern - 27
Manx Shearwater - one on the edge of the mist
Black-headed Gull - influx of 1st S birds - c24

CHOUGH seen again at Warton Crag Quarry - a highly significant record, although observer(s) currently unknown. This bird was assumed to have gone a few weeks ago. Two Beautiful Snout trapped at Lord's Lot Wood prior to midnight last night! Adult summer Little Stint Sunderland with single Sanderling, 570 mixed Dunlin/Ringed Plover, 5 Turnstone, my first ever Sandwich Tern at this site (4 earlier) and an odd winter-plumaged Dunlin with a uniformly 'grey' breastband like a Temminck's on steroids! The Little Stint & Sanderling arrived with 200 other waders which were previously 'hiding' along the shoreline between the old boat and the main creek

Tuesday, 27 May 2008

Greenshank tops the bill

Heysham Obs
A Greenshank qualified for the BTO challenge this afternoon courtesy of being in the main channel on Red Nab. This last week or so during the NE winds has been quite good for late Arctic Skua

North harbour wall observations/paper read 0850-1045
Arctic Skua - 2 dark morph in, then landed on sea 1035hrs, at least one still around 1050hrs
Sandwich tern - 4 blogging
Gannet - one out
Black Guillemot - just one offshore NHW
House Martin 1NE
Swallow 2NE
Whimbrel - one heard

Later seabirds
JBP recorded c50 + 15 Common Scoter nearer Heysham than JBP over the afternoon tide [but nothing else in c2hrs]!

Ocean Edge/Red Nab afternoon tide
Greenshank - adult summer feeding in the channel/stream on Red Nab - barely annual within the British Energy boundary line
Whimbrel - 3
Sandwich Tern - 1

Middleton IE
Mute Swan with 4 cygnets

What was possibly a Black Kite flew up the Dunsop valley via Staple Oak fell late afternoon but always distant moving away from (experienced) observer. Search Roeburn/Hindburndale?

Monday, 26 May 2008

Poor seawatching

Heysham Obs
North harbour wall 0600-1100
Black Guillemot - just one seen
Sandwich Tern - c10
Gannet - 3
Red-throated Diver - two late s.p. birds
Guillemot - 3 on water
Common Scoter - flock of c40 (same as seen twice at JBP in last few days?)
Swift - 3 NE

Red Kite
Hawthorthwaite Fell at 1055hrs is the only public domain sighting today in LDBWS area not involving breeding or territorial birds. Nothing at all reported from the Leighton Moss area - Spoonbills? No sign of Temminck's Stint in brief search at Aldcliffe BUT the winds were still against them moving on - anyone actually see them today?

Sunday, 25 May 2008

Just the one Black Guillemot

Anyone who has not picked up a copy of the 2007 Heysham Obs report, they will hopefully (!) be on sale at Leighton for £2-50 in the next day or two and also available again at the nature reserve office for £2-00. Sorry for the temporary unavailability between the print-runs.

Heysham Obs
After the consensus that yesterdays bird was a passing 2CY and not the belated return of last year's female, it was perhaps not a surprise to see it had moved on this morning (or at least not present during the low tide period to 1000hrs)

North harbour wall area 0615-1000hrs
Black Guillemot - just the usual male
Arctic Skua - dm out towards Fleetwood at 0955hrs
Goosander - male in, close inshore - a rare bird here!
Kittiwake - 3
Gannet - 12
Arctic Tern - 3
Sandwich Tern - 10+
Common Scoter - 3
Guillemot - 2
Greylag - 1 in
Swallow - 15NE
Swift - 8NE
House Martin - 1NE

Afternoon seabirds
Not sure whether Heysham was covered at all, but JBP produced:
Arctic Skua - 4 distant birds - nothing to suggest they might not be this species but morph not possible to determine
Common Scoter - 40

The first Small Copper being buffeted around in the NE gale - also Holly Blue in NE corner. Common Swift was new in the moth trap

Negative so far on EM Pool Pec Sand but the Aldcliffe Temminck's Stints were belatedly located on the Wildfowlers Pools at c1400hrs

Saturday, 24 May 2008

Gilly finds a mate!

Presumably the newly arrived Black Guillemot at Heysham today (see text). Thanks to Simon Hawtin.

Heysham Obs
Quite right to be cautious with the headline, Jean, as the spots on the wing do suggest a different bird to last year, again a 1st summer - an age at which they do not appear to breed

North harbour/wooden jetty area 0625ish to 1130ish
2 Black Guillemots at or below the wooden jetty.
1 Fulmar
5 Gannet
8 Common Scoter
3, or more likely 5 Arctic Skua (2 light and 1 dark morph seen flying out at 0630-ish then 1 dark and 1 light morph in distantly at 1025)
1st S Mediterranean Gull
10 Kittiwake
(only) 5 Sandwich Tern
17 Arctic Tern
3 Guillemot
c50 Swift NE
c50 Swallow NE
12 Sand Martin NE - late for a multiple of this species

Other seabirds in the bay
2 dark morph Arctic Skua in at JBP in the afternoon. See 'Elsewhere'

A welcome come-back by Wall Brown butterfly with 5 on Middleton IE this morning. See also below.

Two Temminck's Stint relocating to the Aldcliffe wildflowlers pool - please do not enter the field but view either from the metal gate along the cycle track or the sea defence embankment. See Aldcliffe blog (via Links). Unaged Pectoral Sandpiper distantly from EM Pool, often in heat haze. 3 Spoonbill EM Pool. Ad Med Gull EM/Allen Pool. Pristine Bordered Straw moth trapped overnight at Millhouses, Wray! Light morph Arctic Skua over Silverdale Moss late afternoon trying to fly NE overland but struggling.

Friday, 23 May 2008

Wish we had a wader scrape!

Heysham Obs
.........this would help the BTO Business Challenge no end, as well as providing chances of some decent species otherwise flying over here unseen. I suppose we need to be thankful for the "last of the outfalls" now the sewage versions have melted away.

North harbour wall 0750-0820
Mute Swan - 3 immatures, which landed on water
Common Tern - one in
Sandwich Tern - 4 in
Black Guillemot - around the harbour mouth [but not apparently later!]
Swift - 11NE together

Outfalls area 0930-1030
Med gull 1st S
Arctic Tern 7
Common Tern 4
Whimbrel 2 on shore between Stage 1 & 2
Swallow 17 NE (underrecorded)
House Martin 1+1+8+2+7 = 19 NE
Swift 4

North wall 1100-1145
Gannet 2 in
White Wagtail - a very late bird 'in-off' - landed on seawall
(nothing reported by another observer who remained from 1145hrs-?)

NH wall 12:00-13:00
Mute Swan 3 on sea, then flew off south
Arctic Skua 1 dark phase close in, then south (one of SJ birds?)
Arctic Tern 4 in
House Martin 14 east

More seabirds from the SJ at lunchtime
Arctic Skua - two dark morph off the SJ which spiralled high into the air between SJ & Heysham
Arctic Tern - 5 in
Common Tern - 1 in
Swallows & House Martins moving

JBP seawatching afternoon
Common Scoter - two flocks which joined together totalling c40 (nothing else of note)

A very late migrant male Willow Warbler was ringed. No other definite migrants recorded there. Late Willow Warblers (as opposed to Chiffchaff) are quite unusual here, especially males.

May Highflyer was notable for here. The first Heart and Dart wasn't!

Grey Squirrel along Moneyclose Lane - rare in spring, usually most notable during autumnal dispersal!!

Two Temminck's Stint on the Freeman's Pool complex nearest the river (NOT the big pool) but lost in a maze of invisible channel edges. However, may have been flushed (and the calls drowned out) by JCB activity which unsettled the other birds around 0930hrs. No sign of the Black Kite; 5+ hours put in searching for this by three very experienced observers. Good montage on LDBWS site. Red Kite by M6 junction 36 this early morning (also same place yesterday, same time). 3 Spoonbill Leighton Moss area.

Thursday, 22 May 2008

Passerines hard work in the wind but a few seabirds again

Heysham Obs
Early morning landbirds
An influx of Whitethroat and single large male Wheatear and female Whinchat (latter by the office)

North harbour wall 1000-1200
Red-throated Diver - 1 out
Pomarine Skua - light morph across the mouth of the Bay then lost behind wooden jetty 1135 - did not go 'in' and nothing seen from JBP skua-wise today
Black Guillemot - harbour entrance
Arctic Tern - 22 into Bay plus presumably a further 11 much later off JBP during their afternoon stint.
Sandwich Tern - single figures
Gannet - 17 - largest count this spring of the top of my head
Manx Shearwater - 4
Fulmar - 1
Kittiwake - 1 out
Swift 18NE
Swallow - 65NE
House Martin - 21NE

Common Sandpiper on the mound!

Black Kite circling over Marshaw/Abbeystead 1645-1715 at least (see photos on LDBWS site). The lack of ragged secondaries indicate that this bird was not the one seen nearby a week or two ago. 3 Spoonbill Leighton Moss.

Wednesday, 21 May 2008

House Martin passage & Spotted Flycatchers

Heysham Obs
A seawatch between 0930 & 1030 from the NHW was not very productive other than the largest numbers of passage House Martin of the year. At least 2 Spotted Flycatcher around the reserve.

North harbour wall 0930-1030
Arctic Tern - flock of 6 in
Sandwich Tern - 17 out
Swallow - 44NE
House Martin 83NE, including a cluster of 35

Black Guillemot as per Jean's posting of last Saturday!

Further seabirds
Light morph adult Arctic Skua and more distant dark skua spp off Stone Jetty heading in 1310hrs. Plus 5 Arctic tern. Later a dark morph Arctic Skua and pale morph Pomarine Skua were seen heading up the Kent estuary from JBP [the light Arctic had presumably headed unseen from JBP via the Keer flightline, as suggested by being closer inshore (100m) at SJ].

Red Nab/Ocean Edge 1200-1215
One Whimbrel!
Swallow 6NE
Swift 4NE
House Martin 2NE

Nature reserve
Single Spotted Flycatchers by the dipping pond and on the fence just east of the car park

3 Spoonbill Leighton Moss [Red-spotted Bluethroat Hilbre this morning - keep looking in this area - Scandinavian migrants are not landing on the east coast in any numbers due to clear conditions but a fair number have been seen on the Irish Sea islands/coastal points, presumably including a proportion of the Spot Flys, this last few days - the weather synopsis gets even better Thursday-Saturday (at least)]. Hobby on the pager for 'over Lancaster at 1145hrs'.

Tuesday, 20 May 2008

Seabirds still on the move

Heysham Obs
A 'later than should have been' seawatch missed the early stages of the incoming tide.

Heysham North harbour wall/Ocean Edge foreshore 1030-1140
Arctic Skua - light morph in then on sea about 1035ish. Two, one a dark morph and one 'paler' bird, seen heading into the bay at long range (as seen from Ocean Edge)about 1135ish and these were picked up at JBP before heading overland at about 1200ish and described as a 'light morph with what appeared to be a dark head and a dark morph'. Presumably these were the two distant unmorphable birds chasing Sandwich tern of Knott End just prior to 1130hrs.

Arctic Tern - 9 in (flock)1040ish from NHW, then no others until JBP [having "taken over" the coverage in the form of Tom Wheeler] started receiving three flocks of 13+65+45 at c1420ish, all of which gathered together & sat on the sea off JBP (to 1435 at least)

Med. Gull - 1st S on the sea off Ocean Edge

Black Guillemot - on the sea below & sat on the wooden jetty

Sandwich Tern - 6 Red Nab

Swallow - 16 NE

Definitely THREE and probably four Harbour Porpoise off the NHW 1035 onwards

Rustic Shoulder-Knot in the hut trap. A sample of damselflies comprised: 12 Large Red, 5 Azure, 2 Common Blue and a Blue-tailed. Common Blue butterfly in low double-figures.

3 Spoonbill and Osprey at Leighton Moss - latter headed north.

Monday, 19 May 2008

Seabird passage covered by Tom Wheeler at JBP

Heysham Obs
No coverage, but Tom recorded the seabird passage over the HT period at JBP. Trouble is, the best time is the early stages of the incoming tide at Heysham , when JBP is still overlooking extensive mudflats

JBP recorded, single Pom. Skua (LM ad), three Arctic Skua (2 dark and one light), 70 Arctic Tern and 10 Kittiwake

Spoonbill & Osprey Leighton Moss area. Please note that this site does not publicise the whereabouts of breeding or potential breeding birds if there is a potential problem with disturbance [i.e. shouldnt be a problem with the Leck LEOs, for e.g., despite criticism from one quarter.]

Sunday, 18 May 2008

No skuas today

North Harbour Wall
Black Guillemot, zero skuas, 50 Arctic Tern, 5 sandwich Tern, 1 Common Tern, 2 red-throated Diver, 5 Kittiwake, 3 Guillemot

Heysham Business Park/Middleton industrial estate
4 Tufted Duck, two more lots of Coot chicks (5 and 1)

Heysham Business Park/Middleton IE
6 Wall Brown, 2 Common Blue, 15 Four-spot Chasers.

Leighton Moss:
Garganey (Griesdale), Spoonbill (2-3), Osprey (dead tree), Little Ringed Plover.
Lune, Bull Beck to Farleton Beck
Greenshank, Whimbrel

Saturday, 17 May 2008

Better than expected

North Harbour Wall
5 Arctic Skuas (2 pale phase, 3 dark phase), 95 Arctic Terns, 9 Sandwich Terns, 1 Red-throated Diver, 9 Gannets, 1st summer Mediterranean Gull.

Wooden Jetty
Black Guillemot still living at The Hole, 3rd Post West of no. 9 Numbered Strut, Old Wooden Jetty, Heysham. If out, look on The Water, Just Below the Wooden Jetty, Heysham, Lancs.

Leighton Moss: Osprey, 2 Spoonbills, Little Ringed Plover, and the mega - Egyptian Goose.

Friday, 16 May 2008

Unexpected RTD heading inland?

Heysham Obs
A look at the sea from 0730 to 0815, mainly from Ocean Edge foreshore produced quite a bit of variety

Manx Shearwater - 2 across the mouth of the bay
Kittiwake - 4 in (1 1st S)
Arctic Tern - 4 in and 2 blogging around outfalls
Common Tern - one around outfalls
Sandwich Tern - 19 around outfalls/fishing offshore - including the non-breeding plumaged bird
Red-throated Diver - one heading straight for me from the mouth of the bay climbed up & circled before heading high inland overhead/over Ocean Edge. It may, of course, have subsequently returned to the inner Bay but it certainly seemed to be intent on heading north-east. I've never seen this before at Heysham, although it has been observed (exclusively breeding plumaged birds?) at JBP.
Swallow - 17 NE
Purple Sandpiper - one with 48 Turnstone on wooden jetty - getting late for this species in this area.
Black Guillemot - seen briefly by the wooden jetty

In contrast to yesterday (& a much calmer sea to record them), NO auk species offshore but observations were at a lower stage of the tide.

Hoopoe reportedly near Lower Hide, Leighton 0825 but nothing doing since - no idea whether observer familiar with brief rear views of Jay or indeed whether the sighting was 'brief'. 3 Spoonbill EM area. The main news today within the "local birding area" is the sad death of the Ross's Gull at Lytham - a bird which retrospectively hung on and on because something was clearly wrong - some of the photos seemed to indicate a bird with low fat and muscle.

Thursday, 15 May 2008

Surprisingly good seawatch

Heysham Obs
North-east winds can sometimes produce the goods on spring seawatches and this morning suggested an earlier start should have been made!

North harbour wall 0815-0900
Auk spp - 27 in
Razorbill - 4 in
Guillemot - 2 in
Arctic tern - flock of 19 in
Red-throated Diver - flock of 6 1st summer in
Black-headed Gull - flock of 18 1st summer in
Black Guillemot - harbour entrance

Didnt have time to check wooden jetty properly but Turnstone seemed much reduced (c15?)

Ocean Edge foreshore
Sandwich Tern - 13 Red Nab (including ringed bird & one in non-breeding plumage), 2 feeding offshore
Curlew - 8 Red Nab
Oystercatcher - 550 Red Nab

8 4-spotted Chaser Middleton IE in quick check - spread throughout

Drake Garganey EM Pool but not late afternoon? TWO Wood Sandpiper during the afternoon on EM Pool. The rear end of two white birds flew high to the north over Heysham head as I was at the Moneyclose Lane traffic lights at 1205ish. No time to use optics before they disappeared, so I'm not claiming them as the two Spoonbill which arrived at Leighton Moss ten minutes later (they could have been white Mallard etc etc!). At least one of these remained on the EM Pool/flood until at least 1800hrs. On the same sort of theme, but so far without a 'happy ending', a 'possible Black Kite' was claimed by an 80mph motorway driver near Carnforth. Osprey at Leighton from lunchtime and two seen together at 1600, one of which departed towards Haweswater. Two Yellow Wagtail (pair?) near the YOI at east Lancaster.

14th May rubbish!

Heysham Obs
A few bits and bobs from minimal coverage:

Sandwich tern - 2 off north wall
Arctic Tern - 2 seaward end H2 outfall
Black Guillemot - harbour entrance
Whimbrel - one OE foreshore
Reed Warbler - one in NR reedbed

Osprey Leighton Moss until midday. Red Kite Brennand valley. Short-eared Owl Whitray Fell.

Tuesday, 13 May 2008

Rubbish for mid-May, although Purple Sandpiper still hanging in

Heysham Obs
This morning's fare was pretty rock bottom as regards migrants for mid-May. Did discover, by trying all sorts of scope angles to find something mentionable, that on a clear day you would be able to see anything large & obvious off Pilling Lane Ends/Fluke Hall - should have tried for the 'wee wire hopper. as a 'seen-from' earlier this spring [Ross's Goose]! White-throated Sparrow mentioned on Radio Lancs this evening, but the anchorman may have given the impression its still here - no it isnt unless its is really skulking. Unfortunately no chance in the interview to mention this website for further info/pictures.

North harbour/Ocean Edge foreshore 0740-0840
Swallow - 6NE
Whimbrel - 4 on the shore off OE
Black Guillemot harbour entrance
Purple Sandpiper roosting on wooden jetty (& 55 Turnstone)
Black-headed Gull - 16 1st S north
Sandwich Tern - one far offshore
Arctic Tern - as yesterday, one 'in'

Negatives: no terns on outfalls, just TWO Common Gull seen, no distant windfarmish range seabirds during regular checks along the horizon

Osprey at Leighton Moss lower hide from lunchtime & Wood Warbler Winder Wood south, Roeburndale.

Monday, 12 May 2008

Birdless outfalls

Heysham Obs
Everything seems to have deserted the outfalls on the evidence of a very brief visit on the albeit less-favourable dropping tide

North wall for 10 minutes circa 0950-1000
Arctic Tern - single 'in' was the sum total of sea passage
Sandwich Tern - 2 blogging
Purple Sandpiper - summer plumaged bird as per recent pic still below the NHW
Black Guillemot - still present
Swallow - 2 NE


PS non-operational land
A huge male Wheatear

The most intriguing report was of a radio transmitter on a female Marsh Harrier. Origin? That sets the theme for today: a Red Kite, almost certainly with wing tags, was phoned in to me as it flew SE over Leck JUST AFTER we had also seen a wing-tagged and radio-transmitting Red Kite near Slaggyford just west of Alston en route to work! The singing male Wood Warbler can still be heard if you listen carefully from the region of the top gate on the 5-gate road. It is in the extreme southerly section of Winder Wood over the river. Loads more Lapwing chicks in Roeburn/Hindburn catchments this year with a proliferation of stewardship schemes [34 ringed so far compared to about 4 last year!]

Sunday, 11 May 2008

Bits and bobs

Heysham Obs
Very poor visibility this morning and a birdrace team achieved the nigh impossible and dipped out on Arctic and Common Tern this morning.
Nevertheless, Black Guillemot, Sandwich Tern and Purple Sandpiper were available

Heysham north wall early-mid am
Purple Sandpiper
Black Guillemot
14 Common Scoter in transit
14 or so Sandwich Tern blogging
NO Arctic or Common Tern!
The original 1st W-type Med Gull (not yesterdays 'fly-through')

Outfalls etc pm
Arctic tern 6 on end of Stage 2
Turnstone min. 100 Wooden Jetty
Peregrine over Power Station

Cuckoo Upper Hindburndale. Crossbill heard distantly Thrushgill plantation [Bonapartes Gull still Stocks Res]. Yesterday, single Fieldfare near Botton head Farm and Hobby flew due north high over Lowgill as viewed from Botton Head road at c1730hrs (definitely not the local Merlin!). No sign Temminck's Stint. Ad & 3+ juv Long-eared Owl Leck Fell - latter 'squeaky gating' near dusk

Saturday, 10 May 2008

Reed Warbler new in

Purple Sandpiper along the north wall today. Thanks Gavin. After going into print saying the 'wintering population has long gone', two birds wintered in 2007/8 with a third on at least one occasion. The problem is what to say about the recent sightings as previous years have shown that passage birds accompany the Turnstone. Possibly the above is the continuously present wintering bird and a return to two individuals for a short time during the spring passage indicates at least one passage bird. Most views have been distant under/on the wooden jetty, so not able to use subtle plumage differences, bill length etc.

Heysham Obs
A fairly low key morning, as the easterly element in the wind was lost, which included a CBC type survey of the British Energy land. This included two singing male Garden Warbler which do not usually breed here and may just be passing through and a singing Reed Warbler which will probably stay.

North harbour wall/outfalls
Poor visibility and a dropping tide are not a good combination, therefore the single Arctic Skua was a bit of a bonus!

Arctic Skua - dm in at 0955hrs
Arctic Tern - just 45 on outfalls, 19 'in' 1500-1600.
Sandwich Tern - max of 21 blogging
Med Gull - new 1st summer 'in'
Kittiwake - 2 1st summer - possibly following ferry
Black Guillemot around
Purple Sandpiper - one below north harbour wall
No Black Terns amongst reduced numbers of Arctic Tern.
Common Tern - one outfalls, later a high count (for here) of 12
"Trickle" of Swallows - no more than 10 per hour!

Middleton IE
Two Grasshopper Warbler

Puss Moth and Red Sword Grass were unusual records for here as the late spring moths emerged en masse last night. Light Emerald, Dark-barred Twin-spot Carpet (4), V Pug and Bright-line Brown Eye were also recorded

1st S BONAPARTES GULL just outside the LDBWS area at Stock's Reservoir this evening. Temminck's Stint causing problems at the EM Pools late afternoon where the hide juxtoposition in relation to the sun & height c/f heathaze is probably why this species is so scarce thereon.
Little Gull 1st S on Pine Lake but Black Terns seem to have all gone. Osprey Hornby Wood on Wenning. One Black Tern still left on EM Pool. Spoonbill still present Leighton area

Friday, 9 May 2008

Useless frontal edge in the morning, better later.....

Heysham Obs
A quietish day so we'll make up for this by another sparrow pic from Emma taken during the processing:

........It didnt 'drop' anything first thing!

North Harbour Wall
Black Tern - two lingering Heysham outfalls morning at least
Arctic Tern - some early morning movement with 106 'in', otherwise up to 50 on the outfalls
Whimbrel 7 in,
Greylag 4 in
Common Scoter 10 in
Swallow - just 73 in 3 hours & no other passerines/hirundines/swift on the move during the early morning.
Common Tern - at least three blogging
Sandwich Tern - at least 18 blogging

The high tide period
There was no known seawatching over the high tide but JBP was manned during this period:
Arctic Skua - 2 dark morph overland via Jack Scout late afternoon
Otherwise just 50 or so Arctic Tern, 5 Black Tern and a single Kittiwake
of note.

Other inshore/off-passage
Black Guillemot - usual routine, perhaps spending slightly more time than expected off the nhw, as opposed to in the harbour mouth
Purple Sandpiper - single with c130 Turnstone on the wooden jetty
3 Bar-tailed Godwit
3 Knot
Common Sandpiper
Middleton IE
Female Whinchat

Black Kite - one of unknown origin seen at 0900 and 1015 in the Quernmore valley/Littledale area, presumably the bird over Lancaster late evening of 7th
Wood Warbler - singing male audible this evening, over the other side of the river on the dangerously steep slopes of Winder Wood south, from the Haylot gate at the start of the 5-gate road, upper Roeburndale
Black Tern - maxima at various sites: Heysham (2), Pine Lake (4), JBP (5), Leighton Moss (10) [Pine Lake and 4/5 JBP birds probably the same].
Curlew Sandpiper - one with RP & Dunlin, Halforth, upper Kent.
Short-eared Owl - one Jubilee Tower early afternoon
Cuckoo - Heard/seen at: Jubilee Tower, upper Tarnbrook (there since Monday), Birkbank, upper Roeburndale. Obviously a belated arrival
Spoonbill - still EM Pool

Thursday, 8 May 2008

Reasonably good seawatching & Heysham One outfall producing the goods at last!

Heysham Obs
Five observers covered the north harbour wall seabirds 0715-1230hrs and were rewarded with (or missed!) some reasonable fare:

North harbour wall/outfalls observations 0715-1230 (Dan Haywood, someone who should have been at work, Pete Marsh (who also should have been at work), Brendan & Paula Smith)
Avocet - flock of 6 into the Bay - the third ever record & the third this spring!
Pomarine Skua - full-tailed ad light morph in at 1010ish - a bit distant, flying low into the bay
Arctic Skua - single dark and darkish morphs in 0735 & 0743
Marsh Harrier - one across the mouth of the bay heading for the north Fylde at c1135
Arctic Tern - not easy to document. c470 birds involved, mainly after the tide started to come in and invariably after gathering on the outfalls. Many of these headed straight up into the air and either NE over the harbour or high into the Bay. 91 of the total were birds remaining on the outfalls on the incoming tide when the observations ceased. c90 still on the outfalls (same birds??) at 1600hrs, then 50 headed off high into the sky NE (which suggests that they were not the same throughout)
Black Tern - at one stage there were two on Heysham 2 outfall but hard to see through the remnants of the wooden jetty. The accompanying Arctic Terns went off high into the sky and were presumed to have taken the Blacks with them. However, a single Black Tern appeared with more Arctics & remained until observations ceased. Probably 3 birds. One still on the outfalls at 1600hrs and two others flying SE past Red Nab
Common Tern - up to 4 blogging
Sandwich Tern - impossible - somewhere between 35 and 50 birds during the morning
Whimbrel - 5 in
Swallow - 506 in 0715-1130 - probably double this as birds sneaked behind observers! Still moving at about 4/minute late afternoon
Swift - 16 in
House Martin - 19 in
Sand Martin - 1 in
Tree Pipit - one NE
Lesser Redpoll - just 2 NE
Jackdaw - 2 in-off, then NE as yesterday (some moving at Walney this month as well)
Linnet - 2 NE
Meadow Pipit - 2 very late birds NE
Black-headed Gull - notable passage with 100+ flying in and 35 still on outfalls at 1200
Mute Swan - flock of 4 in-off from Walney direction and a flock of 7 across from Ulverston direction - most unusual!
Knot - flock of 40 out

Inshore/off passage (see above for tern species)
Bar-tailed Godwit - 2 - scarce here
Common Sandpiper - 2
Turnstone - 166 (no Purple Sands noted)
Black Guillemot
Guillemot - 2 floating in quite close (1st summers)
Common Gull - 287

Insects from north harbour wall
Large White - 13 in-off/NE
Small White - 6 in-off/NE
unspec white spp 22 in-off/NE
[no Red Admiral or other butterflies seen]

Ad male Red-footed Falcon 'in-off' at JB Point - seen by two experienced observers. Just outside LDBWS area: 5 Dotterel on Little Ingleborough. Black Kite over Lancaster YESTERDAY evening.

Wednesday, 7 May 2008

Back to 'normal'....then afternoon Marsh harrier

Heysham Obs
The only year tick today was two queen wasps in-off during the seawatching. A scattering of interest from the north harbour wall, but very few seabirds. The only incentive was to hope for a Red-rumped Swallow! Then after the above was written, a Heysham year-tick flew NE over the edge of the golf course in the form of a female or imm male Marsh Harrier, on size, probably female at 1337hrs

North harbour wall 0730-1200
Flava wagtail - one NE at 1100ish - normal flavissima-type calls i.e. mellow, not harsher like Grey-headed, but bird not seen
Jackdaw - two together in-off and purposefully NE - unusual [not resident in this area]
Sanderling - 4 in
Arctic Tern - 14+8 in
Swallow - 441 NE (MANY missed going 'behind')
Swift - 9 NE
Sand Martin - 1 NE
House Martin - 10 NE
Redpoll - all appeared to be Lesser - 33 NE
Linnet - 1 NE
White Wagtail - 3 NE
Gannet - ad behind IOM ferry
Kittiwake - 5 adults (flock) in with the second AT flock
Common Scoter - 2 out
Whimbrel - 8 in
Wheatear - one in-off

Purple Sandpiper - one with c85 Turnstone
Black Guillemot - around wooden jetty & off NHW
Common Sandpiper - one briefly on rocks
Med Gull - 1st W (same as the other day)heading towards outfalls
Sedge Warbler - one briefly on mound

Nothing much as too windy for most net sites (3 Lesser Redpoll trapped). No sign of White-throated Sparrow but no (visiting) birders at all looking!

From the office
The autumnal vis mig seat outside the office produced a Marsh Harrier NE at 1337hrs. Surprisingly not noticed by the local gulls - perhaps the flightline was far enough to the east.

2 queen wasp spp. and 3 queen bumble bee spp. in-off

Spoonbill still Griesdale mere. Osprey along Lune valley by Aughton Woods 1500hrs. No sign of the Chough at Warton Crag since Friday despite consistent observer presence. 7 Common Scoter of JBP but nothing else to 1300hrs at least. The two skuas off Knott End (one dm Pom) did not reach Heysham.

Tuesday, 6 May 2008

One of those days

Photos by Emma Garston

Heysham Obs

Heysham Nature reserve ringing
2CY White-throated Sparrow of the tan colour-morph trapped and ringed at 0910hrs by Alan Draper & Andrew Cadman. The high fat and muscle scores (3 & 2 respectively) indicate that it has been around for a day or two and indeed it was trapped in an "inland" net site by the dipping pond. Texted Walney with "1-1 after 43 years!". Very little else caught! The only other grounded bird of interest was a Garden Warbler, only the second of the year for a species which does not breed here

North harbour wall 0630-0911 then 1200-1300
Pomarine Skua - adult light morph in close inshore at 0836hrs (hugging the water). Attempts at Coolpixing it produced fresh air and sea. The timing suggests it may have been the bird seen 'heading for the outer reaches of Morecambe Bay', as seen from Walney during the previous 45 minuts or so
Arctic Skua - dark morph in at 0710hrs
Black Tern - one in at 0720hrs, another blogging around the end of the outfalls with 8 Arctic Tern at 0845 but they did not pass the NHW & had gone by 0900hrs
Arctic Tern - NONE past the NHW into the Bay! (see above) until 15 in 1200-1300hrs
Common Tern - one blogging
Swallow - 276 NE 0630-0911, many probably missed, 70 from 1300-1400.
Lesser Redpoll - 9 NE (& three ringed)
Linnet - 4 NE
House Martin - 2NE
Whimbrel - 4+11 in
Sandwich Tern - 11 in, 5 blogging
Manx Shearwater - 30 in, 2 out all 1200-1300hrs
A flock of 15 possible/probable Little Gulls distantly in the haze at 1330ish

Black Guillemot & single Purple Sandpiper

Grey Seal off NHW at low tide. [No observations later in the tide cycle at 'Harbour Porpoise time' but one seen off the SJ over the tide]
A well-publicised Whinchat at Aldcliffe. 10 Greenland-type Wheatear on Ward's Stone plateau and 2-3 lower down, but only one Golden Plover on territory on the plateau. Several people wishing they had taken an extra day off! No news on anything from Leighton Moss e.g. current Spoonbill status but it appears there have been no Chough sightings since at least the 2nd May.

Monday, 5 May 2008

Skuas and sunbathing!

Heysham Obs

North harbour wall 0650-1100
A half-decent morning in 'deckchair' weather. Light variable wind turning SE and the early stages of the incoming tide at the optimum time of the morning. Puzzling lack of observers with only three enjoying the Pomarine Skuas.

Pomarine Skua - Three light morphs in distantly at 0915, only one of which had a full tail (this caused initial confusion). Two light morphs giving excellent views as they flew in at 0950hrs - they were well above the sea and unfortunately could not be found in the camera viewfinder!
Arctic Skua - 2 dark morph together + light and dark morph together + single light morph [& 3 additional Arctic Skua after midday as seen from JBP - one inland via the Kent, two via the Keer]
Arctic Tern - 45 in
Pink-footed Goose - 80+150+120+40+13 NNW in that order
Med. Gull - 1st winter in (very large-billed individual with no hint of summer plumage on head - not the bird seen the other day)
Little Gull - 1st S in
Red-throated Diver - 1 in, another on the water
Guillemot - one in on the water
Sandwich Tern - 9 purposefully in & c9 blogging
Mute Swan - 5 imms in (having been on the sea off Red Nab)

Black Guillemot around wooden jetty but flew offshore at 1050hrs. No conscientious check for Purple Sandpiper. Just a single Knot remaining on the heliport roost!

Common Tern - 1

Very little but did include a Spotted Flycatcher at Red Nab. Just one Wheatear seen.

Red Admiral 'in-off' as leaving the north wall at 1105

Harbour Porpoise - 2 still around

Hardly anything in this area! Two Spotted Flycatcher Upper Hindburn and Short-eared Owl along Silly Lane, Hindburndale.

Sunday, 4 May 2008

Multiple Black Tern passage

Heysham Obs
Another morning & subtely different fare - today included multiple Black Tern, a fly-by Avocet (first north harbour wall record, following on the first site record in April) and confirmation of two Harbour Porpoise which was suspected the other day

North harbour wall 0600-1100
Black Tern - 7+2 in with Arctic plus another off Red Nab, then towards the Lune with 44 Arctic Tern [10 in total] [plus one - see below]
Arctic Tern - 89 in plus 44 as described above [see below]
Avocet - one out close inshore at 0914hrs - see above
Gannet - 1
Red-throated Diver - 1
Razorbill - 1
Swallow - good passage: 70 per hour, increasing to 120 per hour (from?) mid-morning
House Martin - 6
Sand Martin - 1
Swift - 3
Greylag - 3 out
Goldfinch - 2
Lesser Redpoll - 1

Black Guillemot by wooden jetty, but no obvious sign of any Purple Sandpiper amongst an increase to 235 Turnstone, but plenty of hidden sections of wooden jetty

Red Nab/outfalls
See above re-Arctic/Black Tern
Common Tern - 1 on outfalls
Common Gull - 161
Black-headed Gull - 24
Black-tailed Godwit - 1 within BTO challenge area
Whinchat - 1
Wheatear - 2

Late afternoon low tide trawl
Single Black Tern, 35 Arctic Tern and a 1st S Little Gull off the seaward end of Heysham 2 outfall or along the channel to the south just before a large shower

2 Harbour Porpoise

Spoonbill still EM Pools. Single Black Tern new in (NOT 'still'!) at Leighton Moss public mere (the three flew off high to NE, as they usually do if clear, last night. 3 more this evening plus another on Borwick Waters.

Saturday, 3 May 2008

Trickle of migrants

Heysham Obs
A 'nearly' morning with a wind which did not have quite enough east in it, clouds which did not produce the requisite short sharp shower or two and visibility which was a little too clear. Nevertheless a steady trickle of migrants. This is the sort of morning where Stage One outfall is missed - there is no warm water coming out at the moment & therefore no cooked invertebrates to produce a large gathering of gulls/passage terns at the seaward end. These can usually provide 'entertainment' if the sea passage is slow

An arrival of Common Whitethroat as judged by singing males with at least 15 scattered around the recording area, following just 2-3 (more on Middleton) on previous days. The mist nets were operated for CES which meant no Willow warbler or Redpoll tapes and the result was a sprinkling of migrants including the first Garden Warbler of the year. Wheatears were fairly prominent with at least 18 counted, including at least one by the office. A Willow Warbler was on the rocks at Red Nab but, as indicated by the biometrics of trapped birds, this was 'female time' and they are very elusive and unobtrusive, as well as moving rapidly inland, once the now leafy vegetation has been reached. Therefore impossible to put a figure on Willow warbler this morning.

Sea/vis, mainly from the north harbour wall
Common Tern - the 'highlight'! - 2 birds close inshore, one of which ended up on the outfalls
Arctic Skua - LM in
Sandwich Tern - c8
Arctic Tern - flock of 7 in & 3
Gannet - 4
Manx Shearwater - 1
Pink-footed Goose - flock of 60 N
Swallow 15NE
House Martin - 2 NE
Linnet - 13 NE
Lesser Redpoll - 8NE
Goldfinch - 5 NE
Meadow Pipit - 5 very late birds NE
Tree Pipit - 1 NE

Common Sandpiper - 1
Black Guillemot - around & on the wooden jetty
Purple Sandpiper - one still on wooden jetty
Mute Swan - pair on the sea by Ocean Edge saltmarsh
Guillemot - one on sea
Common Gull - 82 off OE/Red Nab
Black-headed Gull - 16 of OE/Red Nab

Following a conversation with another of the observers, the Pomarine Skua seen two days ago has been 'firmed up'. This additional information on this bird was not available at the time of the posting

Belated mega JUST outside the area: DARK-EYED JUNCO in an garden at Newby, near Ingleton 13th April, the first Nearctic passerine anywhere near the LDBWS recording area! Predictably no sign of pratincole spp.. Three Black Tern arrived at Leighton Moss c0930 and left high to the NE at 2010; 2 were on Borwick Waters "this morning", but not there at 1500hrs.

Friday, 2 May 2008

Large falcon entertainment

Heysham Obs
Not sure whether it was worth getting up to be faced with serious identification problem at about 3 miles range = a pale headed 'thing' in a heathaze flapping and gliding low over the water. Fortunately is was heading for the wooden jetty, as many 'cross the bay' birds do and it was possible to "narrow" it down to something which looked like a Saker. Any conversation with falconers, especially the more knowledgeable ones involved with 'bird scaring' activities (and the best birds to use for this), will soon indicate that unless you have a white Gyr on a remote Irish/Scottish headland, large falcons are impossible to identify with absolute certainty in the field. This is based on an assumption that they are of captive origin and therefore subject to all sorts of permutations re-parent history, perhaps involving artificial insemination

North harbour wall 0650-0750
Saker or hybrid 'in-off' 0710!
LM & DM Arctic Skua
in at 0720 - they were starting to climb as they passed Heysham.
Manx Shearwater - 3 together out
Sandwich Tern - 6 blogging
Linnet - 6 NE
White Wagtail - 2 NE
No hirundines or Arctic Terns c/f last year!

Black Guillemot - in residence around the wooden jetty, harrassed by 1st summer Herring Gulls
Purple Sandpiper - one still with 155 Turnstone on the wooden jetty

Pratincole spp. frequenting wader scrapes along the Roeburndale West road, but flushed as a result of necessary farm work and not seen since midday. This was well-described by two people who are familiar with the usual birds and had no prior knoeledge that anything like a pratincole existed. The initial views were in flight and it was described as a big 'black and white' swift with a forked tail but it was later seen at the water's edge with Lapwing. One of the observers may have seen the underwing colour but I havent spoken to them. Black Tern Lilians Hide. Female Velvet Scoter on the sea at JBP at least 0820 but no sign at 0915. Razorbill on rocks off the Stone Jetty & fsp Spotted Redshank on the Strathmore groyne.

Thursday, 1 May 2008

DBBrent a BTO business challenge bonus

Heysham Obs
Dark-bellied Brent on the seaward point of Red Nab at 0800, then disappeared whilst making phone call!

North harbour seawatch 0705-0935
Pomarine Skua - one in very distantly at 0855 (more info. received on this bird, hence upgrade). 2-3 other birds which may have been skuas further out at the same time
Arctic Skua - lm in 0750, dm in 0920
Common Scoter - 18 in
Red-throated Diver - c9, mainly in
Manx Shearwater - 10 in, 3-4 out
Gannet - 2 in, 4 out
Sandwich Tern - 1 in
Arctic Tern - 3 in
Kittiwake - 2 in
Whimbrel - 5 out
Razorbill - 2 out
Guillemot - one on sea
Fulmar - 2 in, 1 out
Dunlin - 45 out (flock)
House Martin - 1 in
Swallow - 1 in

Black Guillemot intermittently noted
Purple Sandpiper - at least 1 on wooden jetty

Porpoise - one close inshore

Large Red Damselfly Middleton IE

Osprey Leighton Moss. No Scaup at Glasson/Conder Pool