Sunday, 24 May 2009

Summer mode after a trickle of seabirds

Heysham Obs
Looking at the weather forecast, I think today is probably 'it' for attempting to connect with skuas etc. this spring. This last fortnight has been the most frustrating period of spring seabird coverage since we started proper monitoring in the late 1990s. We have never been fans of other than morning coverage, not the least because of the light conditions, and I suspect that we have missed quite a few skuas in what have been rather good conditions in the last week or so as many of the birds have been passing through the Irish Sea in the afternoon/evening...............apart from yesterday when there was no-one here! Thank goodness for a car-less John Wood who rescued one afternoon's worth by 'bussing' to the Stone Jetty. More work committments than usual have also taken their toll amongst the regular observers. However, I dont think we missed the early May Arctic Tern passage. It did not appear to exist through this area in any numbers other than during late April. Thanks to Tony who valiantly covered JBP and confirmed that this site is (usually) too far into the bay unless the skuas are "kept down" (from circling up and heading overland e.g. via the Keer) by fresh south-westerlies and poorish visibility.

You post the above rubbish and then Ian has a flock of 95 Arctic Tern going into the bay, then out again off Cockersands at 1140hrs. This most be the latest large passage flock seen in this area and fits in with a strange disruptive spring as regards migrant arrival/passage

North harbour wall 0600-1015hrs
Arctic Skua - lm in at 0650, dm in at 0850
Sandwich tern - 15 in
Arctic Tern - 6 in (but see above)
Common Tern - 2
Wheatear - 1
Black Guillemot
Ringed Plover - pair with 2 mobile chicks at the heliport end (SD46A)

Middleton IE
Four-spotted Chaser - at least 23
Large Red Damselfly - 49
Common Blue Damselfly - 13+
Painted Lady - 2 (see Portland site for last few days) & one north harbour wall
Wall - one - recently scarce in this area
Mute Swan - at least one small cygnet 'under' the mother

Harbour Porpoise of NHW

10 Sanderling and 95 Arctic Terns on/off Cockersands