Friday, 31 December 2010


Heysham Obs
Brambling - one flew over whilst walking from the car to the HNR office

Mossgate park in NE of recording area (thanks Helen)
A good day at the bird feeders in our garden today with 4 siskins visiting, a male bullfinch and up to 6 bramblings.

Single Mottled Umber and Winter Moth in the trap

Thursday, 30 December 2010

More moths

male Winter Moth (thanks Janet)
Heysham Obs
Having just emptied a trap at Millhouses with an amazing 103 moths therein (51 Mottled Umber, 33 Winter Moth, 2 Scarce Umber, 15 December Moth, 1 Satellite, 1 Chestnut), it was not unexpected to find 3 Winter Moth, another Parsnip Moth and one Mottled Umber in the Heysham trap!

North & south harbour walls (thanks Sean)
Purple Sandpiper - at the harbour mouth below the north harbour wall
Med Gull - 2 adults
Red-breasted Merganser - 2 in the harbour
Cormorant - 49 on jetty
Starling - c10,000 roosting on wooden jetty in the calm weather

Wednesday, 29 December 2010

Insects on the prowl

Heysham Obs
A shortish visit to the office included 1.5 hours with the feeder mist nets and a walk round the top end of the reserve.  It was positively spring-like, full of singing Great Tits and winter-gnat-type-things.  No Bramblings seen/heard today

Heysham NR 1045-1330
Reed Bunting - one briefly at the feeder
Pink-footed Goose - c180 south at 1205hrs
Skylark - one south at 1110hrs
Song Thrush - at least 4 round the office
Goldcrest - one below the obs tower

Moth trap
Two Winter Moth and a Parsnip Moth was an instant response to a cloudy above-zero night (12 moths in the Millhouses trap)

Tuesday, 28 December 2010

Grey day with nasty black ice

Heysham Obs
North harbour wall
Red-breasted Merganser - four
Great-crested Grebe- 1
Song Thrush - 1
Twite - 30+

Brambling - at least 2 by the feeder late afternoon

Ice had virtually gone by late afternoon but still needed to take care off the main vehicle track down the entrance hill

Monday, 27 December 2010

A silent nature reserve

Heysham Obs
Alan & John - anything to add, please?

A walk round Heysham nature reserve early afternoon in an increasing southerly & rapid melt brought just 4-5 Blackbird, a Redwing and a Chaffinch, despite a bit of strategic pishing to elicit response from e.g. Wrens

The exception was the feeder by the office where there were at least three Brambling late afternoon and, perhaps ominously, a male Pheasant was strutting around.  In the past, when they were common on the reserve, they completely costed-out any ground feeding

North harbour wall
Twite - increased to 68 and included two Machrihanish-ringed birds (see sidebar), 8 unringed birds.
Linnet - 1 at least with Twite.
Meadow Pipit - wandering about by sand plant.

Sunday, 26 December 2010

Fractious Twite & Linnet

Heysham Obs
The Twite & Linnet were a bit fractious on a small amount of available seed until I turned up as peacemaker with a tub full of nyger

Twite - 27, 8 unringed, 5 with red/white, rest this last autumn's birds
Linnet - 2 ringed birds
Brambling - at least one at the office feeder
Teal - male Red Nab
Mallard - pair Red Nab
Wigeon - c160 Red Nab
Med Gull - ad Red Nab

Saturday, 25 December 2010

Female Brambling influx and a flock of Waxwing

Heysham Obs
Happy Christmas everyone.  First please note the colour-ringed Waxwing from Aberdeen which was seen at Leighton Moss about 10 days ago was seen in Ely, Cambridgshire yesterday; 284km in 10 days!   Noting that plenty are still around Leighton, presumably including some of the 'originals' in the flock, it just shows firstly the value of colour-marking and secondly just how 'erratically' mobile they are. 

Heysham Nature Reserve area
Very short mid/late morning ringing session.  Four Brambling were ringed - all 1CY females, along with a few unringed Greenfinch, Chaffinch and Blue Tit.  All the weights were higher than average by about 2-3 grams.  Idle thoughts included wondering if the newly branded BTO ought to change the very negative 5-letter species code of DUNNO to SHUFF - also ticks the 'use of traditional language' box.

Waxwing - 7 flew over heading for Heysham village at 1205hrs - the impression was that they had come from the SW end of the tank farm where there were a few rowan berries not so long ago
Snipe - one grounded briefly by the office
Reed Bunting - one by the NR feeder just as I left
Med Gull - adult north harbour wall
Twite - no nyger seed left when I got there (rabbits?) & 6 Twite were immediately down on the new supply (3 unringed)
Cormorant - 47 wooden jetty
Purple Sandpiper - one wooden jetty but hard to see on lower tiers of outer section

Nothing of note on Pine Lake (incl. one Little Grebe & Black-headed Gull Brit Mus E?45011 - think we have had this before, but just couldn't clinch the important second letter, but it was a G or C, therefore surely:

EG45011 - 4 - Bowness on Windermere - Cumbria - 23/11/07

06/10/10 - Pine Lake, Carnforth, Lancashire - 26km

Friday, 24 December 2010

Not enough time!

Heysham Obs
Not enough time to do the rounds at Heysham at the end of the day, given potential work/shopping traffic (and also put off by the low afternoon sun which also made southbound motorway driving really tricky, given the screenwash kept freezing), so absconded to Thrushgill via the A65 after returning from work in north Cumbria.  Anyone manage to get out?

7 Crossbill Thrushgill plantation by the entrance gate late afternoon (2+5)

Thursday, 23 December 2010

Cold & Quiet

Please note new mobile number (the old one does not exist now; apologies if people have been trying to contact me this week) for Pete Marsh in the Links on the sidebar.  Thanks

N Harbour Wall
Twite - seed topped up around 1100hrs & no birds seen on tour round area but 20 appeared at 1300hrs
Linnet - one with Twite at 1300hrs.
Song Thrush - 1 on mound plus 1 by Heliport
Med Gull - Czech ringed bird patrolling

ajd & Derek Gallagher

Wednesday, 22 December 2010

Blackbirds still prominent

Heysham Obs
Blackbird - at least 20 round the reserve (NE corner not checked) and at least 15 down Moneyclose Lane
Song Thrush - one reserve
Twite - 12 at the feeder on the north wall

No moths!

Any records for the next three days gratefully received

Tuesday, 21 December 2010

Nothing known about from today

Sorry, but these things happen after yesterday's London buses scenario

Reserve office will be accessible from about 0930hrs to 1345hrs tomorrow [unless the snow tonight hits this far to the north big-time ], otherwise the reserve is officially closed (although regularly patrolled, as usual, throughout the Christmas period).  Icy ground conditions mean the usual caveat of 'entry at your own risk'

Monday, 20 December 2010

Geese and offshore time!

Heysham Obs
North Harbour Wall
Twite - 32+
Common Scoter - female offshore
Red-throated Diver - three offshore
Med Gull - adult
Rock Pipit - 1
Cormorant - 56 wooden jetty - very high count for midwinter (peak usually in autumn)

Heysham Bypass
Pink-footed Geese (perhaps plus something else??) - 5000-6000 spread out in fields both sides of the link road between the "Reebok Roundabout" and "Middleton Roundabout"

ajd, Pete Cook & Tom Walkington

Sunday, 19 December 2010

Any takers?

Heysham Obs
A Heysham-ringed Twite was seen at Walney today (the flock of 160 there also included birds from the Duddon & Machrihanish)

Nothing from me today - any postings, please?


Saturday, 18 December 2010


The recent post about still "needing" Black Redstart for the BTO challenge list is not the case - there was one on the non-op land on 6th April - just seems so long ago in this eventful year!    So the only possible additions to the list in the last fortnight of the year would be displaced ducks on the sea off Red Nab/outfalls - not beyond the bounds of possibility with the Wigeon being potential carriers for Shoveler, or a grounded Snow Bunting at Red Nab/by the wheel (the mound does not count).  Havn't counted up yet, but we've done pretty well this year with the only realistic possibilities missed (I think!) being: Jack Snipe, Shoveler, Pochard, Marsh Harrier, Grey Phalarope, Glaucous & Iceland Gull (but a bit like rocking horse dung these days without a rubbish tip) and a grounded Snow Bunting (fly-overs dont count).  Stuff which was most certainly not guaranteed included Hoopoe, Little Grebe (on the Obs Tower pond!), Yellow-browed Warbler, Firecrest, Wood Warbler, Waxwing, Ring Ouzel, Black Redstart, Osprey, Common Buzzard, Hobby, Lapland Bunting (just about!), Tree Sparrow, Yellowhammer, Brambling, Leach's Petrel..........and Pheasant  

Heysham Obs
All the passerines were a product of very intermittent recording from 0940 onwards, both at Ocean Edge foreshore and by the office

Knot - 12,700 by Ocean Edge saltmarsh
Bar-tailed Godwit - 770 by Ocean Edge saltmarsh
Fieldfare - two on tankfarm, then south - usually very scarce in midwinter & weather related in occurrence
Redwing - 6 with above
Skylark - 2 SE, then flock of 6 S, then 3 by Ocean Edge saltmarsh & two by Red Nab
Meadow Pipit - one south over reserve and another 'in-off' then south Ocean Edge, two on the mound, then flew east
Teal - pair on sea by Red Nab
Black-tailed Godwit - two by OE saltmarsh creek
Twite - two flocks visited the feeder whilst topping this up: 1) flock of 14 with two unringed, then 2) a flock of 9 arrived from the north with 5 unringed birds
Med Gull - adult north wall area

Also - Mid to late morning
1 Goldeneye on boating pond Middleton Estate (a few medium patches of water still open)
Outflows area:
1 kingfisher
c150 wigeon
5 grey plover
Half moon bay:
1 jack snipe flushed from under the overhang between field and shore. First I've ever seen here.

An intensive search revealed no moths in the trap - surely the end of the unexpected  mid-December 'run'?

Friday, 17 December 2010

.........and even more south of the harbour!

Heysham Obs
Hard work today - having to 'assess' the hordes of birds just after the neap tide off Ocean Edge - quite a spectacle with a huge counters nightmare of mixed Knot/Barwit (this is where the missing Lune ones are) and Dunlin with a few Grey Plover

Black-tailed Godwit - scarce this back end with a count of 8 off OE actually quite notable!
Med Gull - adult red nab, adult north wall
Twite - 28 in short visit to feeder (3 unringed)

Thursday, 16 December 2010

More south of the harbour coverage

An emphatic 'no' for enabling comments!

Heysham Obs
Ocean Edge most of the day on & off
Med Gull - adult briefly on Red Nab, 1CY behind the IOM ferry near port
Kittiwake - adult distantly behind the IOM passenger ferry but flew back out c1/2 mile south of wooden jetty
Ringed Plover - 23, but no colour-ringed birds - looks like the Snettisham-ringed wintering bird may be no more

one Wnter Moth

Wednesday, 15 December 2010

Some decent ringing recoveries!

Heysham Obs
Reed Warbler
Z49451 1CY female  19.08.09  Handarribia (Guipuzcoa) Spain 43 21N 1 40W
Caught by ringer  12.07.10 Middleton NR  1186 km N

This was breeding in the small circular reedbed formed over a poorly-drained 'pit' dating from the oil depot days! 

BXC640  1CY  21.September.08  Middleton NR
Dead 06.05.10  Batschuns Vorarlberg Austria 47 16N 9 40E 1158 km SE

The first recovery of any species from this area in Austria. Presumably a north Scandinavian bird on more direct spring passage when this was terminated?

Willow Warbler
ARY109 Juvenile    12.07.10     Middleton NR
Dead hitting glass 08.08.10 Congreave (Derbyshire) 124 km SE

CDR913 1CY male   12.10.10   Heysham
Caught by ringer   20.11.10 Finningley Doncaster (South Yorkshire) 140 km ESE in 29 days

R687685 1CY male   01.11.08   Heysham
Retrap   04.02.09   Heysham
Caught by ringer  24.09.10 Clachtoll Lochinver (Highland) 485 km NNW
Retrap    31.10.10   Heysham

We didnt realise that we had caught this bird again this autumn until the ringing returns were received from the BTO!  This is the most northerly presumed breeding site for 'our' Twite

Despite a fair amount of time spent on the south side of the harbour, the only sightings of interest today, apart from over 300 Shelduck, were

Golden Plover - These are rare on the deck in the recording area so three along the shore by the old Pontins site was notable - they then flew inland

Med Gull - ad behind the Clipper Point

One Winter Moth

Jack Snipe the hard way

Heysham Obs
Did some coastal survey work today and for the sake of "completeness", this included slithering around in the spartina on Ocean Edge saltmarsh. 

Jack Snipe - one OE saltmarsh
Twite - 52 OE saltmarsh
Reed Bunting - 3 OE saltmarsh
Meadow Pipit - one along foreshore OE
Med Gull - adult seen distantly following IOM ferry

No time to cover the north side of harbour

Another December Moth!

Monday, 13 December 2010

Another novelty!

Heysham Obs
Judging by the noise(s), at least one Lapwing was nocturnally present on the 'plateau' this evening - a large area of suitable mown flower-rich grassland in the centre of Heysham NR. This follows 3-4 birds feeding on the short grass by the office during the first of the cold spells this winter - it is 'warmed' by the sunlight for most of the day

One Winter Moth in the trap - the last moth of the year?

Sunday, 12 December 2010

Frosty Again

Ringing session by the hut produced plenty of retrapped birds and new birds as follows:
Blue Tit - 1
Blackbird  - 1
Goldfinch - 1
Chaffinch - 1
Greenfinch - 5

North Harbour Wall
Twite - 15 on feed, seen on brief visit towards midday (together with arriving fishermen)

Just one Winter Moth


Saturday, 11 December 2010

December Moths living up to their name at last

North Harbour Wall
Twite - 46 birds feeding in a fairly orderly flock.  All ringed, except c6, with green/white or red/white colours.

December Moth - 4 - this is almost equal to the total of all-time previous records from here and coincides with a very unexpected emergence during the last two mild nights producing e.g. 22 at Millhouses (Wray), including two mating pairs last night (trap not set previous evening) and 'several' at mid-Lancs sites.  Given that it "normally" appears in late October throughout November but, in the last few years, over by early December, we assumed that the pre-cold weather emergence had comprised the full complement of this year's moths.  Wrong!   Also at Millhouses, a fresh Yellow-line Quaker was unexpected and must have just 'missed' the mild emergence period in early-mid November  
Winter Moth - 5

Friday, 10 December 2010


Heysham Obs
Back to dull, warm westerlies with not a trace of snow left on the reserve.  A very quick response to the change in fortunes produced  2 Mottled Umber, 4 Winter Moth and 2-3 'mossies' in the moth trap.  This follows last night's trawling the narrow road at Mealbank, nr Wray, the best site I know for moths during the winter months, and seeing a temperature rise of sixteen degrees from the previous evening's 'driving on gears' and single Winter Moth and Scarce Umber

North wall
2 x adult Med Gull

Ocean Edge
Black-tailed Godwit - 4 - first for a bit

Thursday, 9 December 2010

Short ringing session

Heysham Obs
The feeder nets were set for a short time as the snow melted before our eyes.  Average weights were about 2-4 grams more than usual and the catch saw several retrap tit species & a local Robin, but all the rest of the birds were unringed: single Brambling, 5 Greenfinch, 2 Chaffinch & a Dunnock.  Despite rapidly improving conditions, the nets were taken down after 1.5hrs to allow plenty of time for any birds which might have been put off visiting the feeders to feed.  In this respect, there were plenty of net-familiarised tits feeding & avoiding capture and all the small number of finches appeared to be unringed birds, as has been the pattern all autumn.

North wall
Twite - at least 50 on the seed but intermittent with a lot of disturbance nearby
Med Gull - 2 x Ad & 1CY patrolling the north wall - the 1CY likes perching on lampposts

Wooden Jetty
Purple Sandpiper - one

Wednesday, 8 December 2010

Minor displacement megas

Please can observers get out as much as you can around the British Energy/EDF-owned area in this weather so we can try and bolster the BTO challenge species list before the end of the year.  Thanks.  

Heysham Obs
This is the best weather for trying to increase the BTO challenge list as quite a few birds are in places they shouldn't be.  Also good for atlas records from otherwise rather limited suitable habitat (or even dry land in any form!).  Pity we cant count fly-overs (Goosander).  Real shame I couldnt complement Sean's vigil by grilling the nature reserve/inland parts of the BTO area

Woodcock - absolute mega for the mound and therefore SD36V was one observed being flushed by a dog, then flying inland towards Heysham NR
Purple Sandpiper - again just the single on the wooden jetty (& 32 Turnstone)
Skylark - 2 on the waste ground in SD35Z by the wooden jetty - great record!!
Med Gull - two adults and the recently elusive (but surely now wintering) 1CY seen around the harbour mouth
Goosander - flock of 5 high to the south over the harbour mouth
Linnet - one around harbour mouth briefly
Siskin - one flew south as seen at harbour mouth
Kingfisher - one or more was recorded in SD46A, 45E and 35Z
Twite - max of just 11, but an angler's dog in place
Pink-footed Goose - flock of 35 SW
Tufted Duck - a narrow miss for the BTO challenge with a pair remaining on the sea on the north side of the harbour before flying into the bay - a good SD36V record
Bar-tailed Godwit - impressive low tide count of 750 to the south of the harbour
Grey Plover - impressive (for this time of year and the numbers actually to the north of the harbour) was c120 duirng the incoming tide period
Lapwing - 4 on the 'sun-warmed' grass by the NR office (obvious signs of stress)

Late news:  a female/imm Pheasant within SD46A crossing the Heysham end of the bypass last FRIDAY

Tuesday, 7 December 2010

A Quiet Day

No news for today - pity as there is a lot of cold-weather displacement at the moment & implicitly, no serious searches made for Sunday's Long-tailed Ducks.  May be some time to look tomorrow, before the sea conditions become rough & unhelpful.

Twite update
On 5th Deecmber, two Heysham-ringed birds seen and photograhed at Grange-over-Sands, one ringed this autumn and one ringed during the last winter period.  Preliminary info. suggests that there was also a Machrihanish-ringed bird and one from Askam-in-Furness in the same flock.  Clearly this flock needs further grilling - this is a complete novelty in terms of location and direction of movement

It begs the question of whether there are any at a site between the two with previous 'history' = Bolton-le-Sands saltmarsh?

Monday, 6 December 2010

Wader Day

Water Rail disturbed on edge of marsh by the alder copse. Two woodcock flushed, one at the back of the marsh on the main reserve and the other in the shelter belt in the Nature Park. Two snipe feeding on the grassland by the office late afternoon.

Sunday, 5 December 2010

Chainsaw Day at Heysham

North Harbour Wall
The following taken from local Bird Club website:
Red-breasted Merganser - 2
Long Tailed Duck - 2 (1 male & 1 female/immature)
Mediterranean Gulls - 3 (2 adult & 1 first winter)
Twite - 26. Feed replenished at 09.00 when only 2 seen but no time to wait for return of flock.

From Pete/Malcolm
Middleton Nature Reserve
Moorhen - 1
Woodcock - 2
Reed Bunting - 1
Ocean Edge
Jack Snipe - 1
Reed Bunting - 4
Red Nab
Red-breasted Merganser - 5
Wigeon - 71

Roe Deer - 3 seen together mid-morning on Heysham Nature Reserve below class room bank opposite Pagoda path. (ajd)

Saturday, 4 December 2010

Dabbling displacement

Please could others keep the website up to date Sunday to Tuesday inclusive, please.  Thanks.

Heysham Obs
Nice additions to the BTO Business Challenge (seriously deficient in common ducks as Middleton ponds dont count!)

Red Nab
Gadwall - pair with Wigeon
Teal - 2 on Red Nab, 3 on sea off Ocean Edge (all males)
Med Gull - one adult

Wooden jetty
Purple Sandpiper - 1

Med Gull - one adult

North wall
c60 Twite, but only 15 seen on the ground (4 unringed and one with pale blue over split yellow/blue - the oldest bird we are aware of at the moment)

Moneyclose Lane traffic lights area/NE corner reserve
Waxwing - 2 on top of willow at about 1220hrs

Friday, 3 December 2010

Like gulls on a rubbish tip

Heysham Obs
Very short visit

North harbour wall
The Twite 'bear-pit' was in full swing when I arrived with 68 Twite attempting to feed on quite a small area of available food.   The situation was rectified with the food added to and spread out

Twite - 68, c14 unringed, one Machrihanish-ringed bird, at least 8 ringed prior to this winter, rest recently ringed
Linnet - perhaps surprisingly, none with the above
Med Gull - adult along seawall

Thursday, 2 December 2010

Twite battle for food

Heysham Obs
The feeding area was limited by the snow and there was a veritable noisy, bad-tempered scrum of Twite - more like the behaviour in spring as the territorial hormones get going

North harbour wall
Twite - 38, all but 3 ringed
Med Gull - single adult
Red-throated Diver - one offshore (& 15 Great-crested Grebe in the 20 minutes observation of dropping tide)

Early pm circuit of Heysham NR
Much reduced thrushes (only 15 Blackbird seen) with the only 'notable' being calling Water Rail(s) by the dipping pond.  A Long-tailed Tit flock only comprised three birds - surely not decimated this early in the mini-ice-age part 2?

Wednesday, 1 December 2010

A wary eye on the north-easterly sky

Heysham Obs
Some minor displacement again, mainly negative (e.g. Twite & inshore waders)

Mute Swan - imm in the harbour
Skylark - 2 grounded at Red Nab
Song Thrush - one north wall mound, 3 reserve
Redwing - one Moneyclose Lane, 5 reserve
Blackbird - 35 again on reserve
Siskin - 6 reserve
Med Gull - adult harbour mouth, adult on mudflats off Red Nab

***23 Twite back on the food early afternoon