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