Saturday, 17 April 2010

A good morning at the local patch

Heysham Observatory
This morning was an excellent example of what goes on if you have a local patch and you are an imperfect birder and why having your own is just great for getting the most out of your birding!   The morning had its 'RSPB moment', a very definite 'Heysham moment', a Mainwaring/Pyke 'stupid boy' piece of misidentification, a sensible decision not to go for the third blank morning in a row with the mist nets, a disappearing 'v-shaped' large raptor, a completely unexpected Wren-fest.....and no sign of the targeters target.  The 'Heysham moment' comprised the second seawatch shift which saw asphyxiation by a lurid green rust bucket called Maersk Importer, a few seagulls and some unidentified auks.  The 'RSPB-moment' occurred early on when there was a good movement of Kittiwakes, including a swirling flock of 80 close enough to hear the multiple calls as per Bempton cliffs.  The observer also works for the RSPB.

North harbour wall in two-person shifts 0730-0900, 0900-1030
Kittiwake - not possible to be sure of exact figures as early morning coverage was in the fog but it included a flock of c101 and 80.  Two other flocks were heard but not seen in the fog.  As the fog lifted so did the Kittiwakes which had floated in as far as the yellow buoys.  As per the terns they circled higher and higher until lost again in the cloud, presumably heading north east.
Sandwich Tern - just 2 - the only terns
Razorbill - one floated in
Auk spp - three flew out
Purple Sandpiper - one under jetty
Turnstone - 122+ under jetty
Great-crested Grebe - 5
Red-breasted Merganser - 2
Whimbrel - one in
Redpoll sp - flock of 6 NE plus 8 others
Swallow - 8 NE
Meadow Pipit - 20 NE
alba Wagtail - 5 NE
Goldfinch - 6 NE

 No sign Black Guillemot

Nature reserve CBC & vis
Little Grebe - the first record for the Obs Tower pond involved a calling pair.  In retrospect, the muffled "odd trilling noise" heard the other day - dismissed as a strange Great Tit - was exactly this - the excuse being that I had forgotten there was a pond there!  A great record for the Business challenge
Grey Wagtail - one very late migrant NE - adding to the rather time-warped vis this morning (e.g. a minor re-surge of Meadow Pipits, lack of terns plus the Kitt passage being more like late March)
Meadow Pipit - 24 NE
alba Wagtail - 5 NE
Goldfinch - 11 NE
Linnet - 16 NE
Marsh Harrier/Common Buzzard - probably the former glimpsed in disappearing silhoeutte (NE) pursued by gulls at about 0840hrs
Wren - after just one, then two, then three singing males appearing, the latter during the last week, this morning saw NINE singing males scattered around the reserve.  It was not a brilliant morning for song (frosty) and these were all singing pretty continuously apart from the long-stayer by the office.  I would suspect that these have just infilled vacant suitable habitat in the last day or so, hence the continuous song.  Ringing has revealed a small but significant movement of Wrens during mid-late April.  These birds were not there previously in non-singing mode.  I wonder if they will all stay and how many were actually paired up this morning?
Willow Warbler - just one burst of song from a presumed passage bird on a circuit of the reserve
Chiffchaff - just two singing males on the reserve, one wide-ranging & continuous, suggesting not paired
Blackcap - just two singing males on the reserve CBC circuit - below par

Middleton IE
Singing single Sedge Warbler and Whitethroat but no Groppers as yet