Saturday, 31 December 2011

Rapid and early check in the drizzle

Heysham Obs
Breaking news - there are now FIVE 1CY Shags by the waterfall (thanks Malcolm - all five sitting on the base of the platform)

Gate 38/west quay/wooden jetty
Glaucous Gull - juv flew over the 'wheel' towards outfalls 0830ish (in poor visibility) and that was it as far as I am aware - NO SIGN at all during check of usual roost sites in the afternoon
Shag - definitely four by the waterfall early on, then FIVE from lunchtime plus possibly another gang of four offshore (too distant to be sure with binoculars) - watch out for them sitting on the lower tiers of the platform next to the waterfall if you cannot find them tomorrow
Kittiwake - 18 harbour, 4 outfalls area
Guillemot - 3 by waterfall early moning, SIX later
Little Gull - 2 1CY stage 2 outfalls mid-afternoon

North wall/mound/heliport grassland
Twite - 7 on seed
Goldfinch - 3 on seed
Reed Bunting - one on heliport
Purple Sandpiper - at least one on the big skeer next to the red gate (near the orange marker) but optics kept steaming up
No pipits seen/heard

Friday, 30 December 2011

A calm morning!

Heysham Obs
Two mist nets were set for the first time since a short weather-window on 16th December.  A very quick check of the coast early morning and mid afternoon.

SW corner of the harbour
Kittiwake - 10 on pipe, 3 on water (& 3 on outfalls)
Guillemot - 4
Shag - at least two 1CY, later 3

Harbour mouth area/outfalls/Red Nab
Glaucous Gull - juv on the mudflats (per pager), then sitting on seaward end of wooden jetty at 0945hrs,  then was sat on Red Nab at high tide
Little Gull - 1CY Heysham 2 outfall high tide
Twite - 'small flock' reported early morning on feeder area, then flushed by dog

About 12 unringed Gold/Green/Chaffinches and a Robin!

Thursday, 29 December 2011

Quick whizz round

Heysham Obs
Glaucous Gull - on the beach by the north harbour mouth at 0900hrs
Shag - 3 juv in harbour
Little Gull - 2 1CY 2 outfall, probably 3 later
Guillemot - 3 in harbour
Kittiwake - about 15 in harbour (10 on pipe), c60 behind the IOM ferry, but only seen as entering the harbour & others may have already flown out
Med Gull - 2 adults
Twite - 7; 3 unringed, one Machrihanish-ringed, 3 Heysham-ringed
Goldfinch - 1

Wednesday, 28 December 2011

Another day, another gale

Heysham Obs
Festive commiseration for those on board the Ben-my-Chree in what must have been marginal sailing conditions, producing a perhaps record c100 Kittiwake in tow as it staggered into the harbour at midday

Glaucous Gull - Juvenile on the waterfall 0915-0945, heading towards the outfalls over the inner end of the wooden jetty at 1000hrs, then roosting on Ocean Edge foreshore on the grass in the SW corner over the high tide
Kittiwake - c15 in the harbour, c15 just offshore early morning, then c100 behind the IOM ferry at lunchtime (mainly 1CY)
Little Gull - probably three, possibly four 1CY
Shag - 3 1CY in the harbour
Guillemot - up to 5 in the harbour and three-four offshore
Razorbill - one briefly in the harbour, probably another offshore, but distant
Med Gull - usual two adults
Twite - 3 early morning (1 unringed)

Tuesday, 27 December 2011

Waterfall supremo

Heysham Obs
Nearly went for the awful title of 'water off a glaucs back' as the bird was in pole position and this involved being right under the waterfall with a fair amount of water bouncing off its back

Harbour/north wall circuit 0830-0900
Calm this morning, but a bit tricky for spec wearers with a fret coating the optics
Glaucous Gull - at the waterfall at 0900hrs, on the wooden jetty 1215hrs
Kittiwake - c15 in harbour early morning, c20 more behind the IOM ferry
Shag - 3 juv by the wooden jetty early morning then in harbour
Guillemot - one offshore, one by the waterfall, 3 later in harbour
Little Gull - 1CY outfalls, 1CY harbour area
Purple Sandpiper - one on the big skeer by the red gate (not the 'white feathered' bird)
Pink-footed Goose - 51 north 1215ish, c200 grey geese north at 1330ish
Rock Pipit - one by the gate, one half-moon bay, one Heysham barrows
Meadow Pipit - one, poss two on mound
Twite - 3
Goldfinch - 3
Wren - one on mound
Dunnock - one by gate 38

One Mottled Umber

Monday, 26 December 2011

Productive quick run-round 0915-0950

Heysham Obs
Can I remind people that "Gate 38" is a bit 'stiff' and needs a good yank to open it (or a shoulder-charge on the way back!).  Conversely, please dont leave it 'half pushed to' in these strong winds as it will swing open.  Thanks.   Also there is absolutely no substitute for detailed directions when birding in this area as per sidebar (and map if you scroll down) - there have been several people receiving 'vague details' as per word of mouth in e.g. Leighton Moss hides (e.g. Sarfraz as per LDBWS posting) and relying on this will get you lost or, in the case of the power station entrance road, becoming an unauthorised person wandering into a restricted area.  If in doubt, try the NR office - someone may be in

Mid-morning trawl/midday IOM ferry and mid-afternoon trawl produced:
Behind IOM ferry
Kittiwake - 41, mainly 1CY

Red Nab
Glaucous Gull - juv bathing in stream at 0945hrs, not seen subsequently.  It has not knowingly been in the harbour area for two days, therefore not sure where it is feeding at the moment
Med Gull - 1CY

Little Gull - 2 x 1CY
Kittiwake - 13

Wooden jetty/harbour
Shag - 3 1CY

Waterfall area of Harbour
Kittiwake - 16
Guillemot - 3 & one just offshore

North harbour wall
Twite - just 2

Fisher's roof
Med Gull - 2 adults

Sunday, 25 December 2011

Satellite ticks the Christmas theme

Heysham Obs
Happy Christmas everyone and its looking good for a reasonable New Year's Day list looking at the stuff round Heysham and elsewhere

Coastal areas
Glaucous Gull - the juv was sat on the grass on Ocean Edge with other gulls and Oystercatchers at 1015hrs
Kittiwake - 20ish harbour/outfalls
Twite - 9 on the seed but no chance to check rings
Guillemot - 2 in the harbour, none seen offshore at high tide
Shag - 3 1CY around harbour area
Goldfinch - one on Twite seed
Little Gull - 1CY Heysham one outfall at high tide
Med Gull - 2 adults
Grey wagtail - one by harbour 'waterfall'

Heysham NR
Green Woodpecker - one next to the office at 1300hrs

A single Satellite was quite appropriate, especially as it actually had one, not one of your brown ones

Saturday, 24 December 2011

Unhappy Guillemots

Heysham Obs
Bit of a sign of a 'wreck' this morning with at least 7 Guillemot off the mouth of the harbour with an additional dead one being eaten by gulls.  Thanks to Malcolm for many of the following:

North harbour wall/outfalls
Glaucous Gull - juvenile on Fisher's roof, then in harbour late morning, but could not be found earlier
Med Gull - 3 adults
Shag - 3 in the SW corner of the harbour (plus one Cormorant), one roosting at the same time on the wooden jetty (all juvs)
Kittiwake - in the absence of any boat traffic, just 17 seen (4 of these on the outfalls), all but 4 were 1CY (morning), increasing to c30 on the waterfall in the afternoon, plus another 30 behind a ferry and 4-5 on outfalls 
Guillemot - one in the harbour, at least 7 inshore and one dead one
Twite - 11 (one 2011 Machrihanish-ringed bird and one unringed bird)
No sign of any Little Gulls on the outfalls (yesterdays bird was only seen following the IOM ferry)

Ocean edge saltmarsh
High tide produced:
Jack Snipe - one
Common Snipe (2)

Middleton NR
Paucity of wildfowl continues with just one f/imm Pochard of note

Friday, 23 December 2011

Glaucous Gull does a morning disappearing act

Heysham Obs
Unless someone can indicate to the contrary very first thing, the juvenile Glaucous Gull could not be found anywhere this morning, despite a careful search of the nooks and crannies over the high and early dropping tide.  However, as soon as the waterfall came into its own as the tide dropped even further in early afternoon, it appeared.  Presumably hauled up on an obscure rooftop (definitely not on the wooden jetty or Fisher's roof)

Inshore/offshore sightings
Shag - definitely four juveniles today, a gang of three and a separate singleton
Glaucous Gull - present under the waterfall from 1330hrs (se above) - thanks Sean
Kittiwake - only 20 or so during the morning, mainly SW corner of the harbour, then 7 behind a rig supply boat closely followed by 34 behind the
IOM ferry
Pintail - flock of 17 flew 'in'
Red-throated Diver - one distantly 'out'
Little Gull - at least one 1CY
Twite - c15
Med Gull - just one adult seen during the morning and none following the ferries!

Heysham NR
Green Woodpecker - one lunchtime

No moths, Guillemot or Purple Sandpiper seen today

Thursday, 22 December 2011

Seagulls and an unseasonal moth

Heysham Obs
A good day today.  The departure of the ludricous number of waders off Ocean Edge, which were a feature of October/November made the work part of it much easier than usual.  Ocean Edge also excelled in at least one of the 's' words today with NINE species of seagull in the 'scope at once at 1215hrs, as it was trained towards the outfalls/wooden jetty.  Earlier, Song Thrush, Wren and Robin were singing-by-streetlight in ASDA carpark at 0700hrs, another array of songsters greeted the arrival at Heysham NR and a check of the Heysham moth trap just as it started to get light produced a worn 'primary-migrant-like' Silver Y.   Better still in a local context was a female December Moth - by no means guaranteed to grace the year-list here.  The catch was completed by 3 Mottled Umber and a few gnat-type things, but surprisingly (or not as it was a bit windy?) no Winter Moths

By the HNR office
Woodpigeon, Dunnock, Mistle Thrush and Goldfinch heard singing

Coastal stuff/IOM ferry followers
Shag - 3 together in SW corner harbour
Kittiwake - at least 27 around harbour, 4 on outfalls and a massive 55 behind the IOM ferry, despite not being very windy
Med Gull - 3 adults around outfalls/Red Nab, additional adult followed the IOM ferry in before returning 'out', 1CY again on Heysham one outfall
Glaucous Gull - juv still around but ended up perching on a section of the (inner) wooden jetty not visible from the north wall at 1215hrs (but contributing to the nine species at once!) - beware if this habit continues.
Little Gull - 2, possibly 3 1CY outfalls
Twite - 12- including unringed bird and one ringed at Machrihanish in autumn 2011
Meadow Pipit - 2 sandworks
Rock Pipit - one by harbour mouth
Ringed Plover - 17 Ocean Edge south beach
Wigeon - just 56

Silver Y, female December Moth, 3 Mottled Umber

Wednesday, 21 December 2011

15 degrees warmer than last year!

Heysham Obs
A mild and murky day with no chance of any morning coverage as we became computer-screen-potatoes from pre-dawn with a 1200hrs work deadline

A short post-lunch foray produced (thanks to Sue and Mike for most of these records):
Glaucous Gull - by wooden jetty per Sue & Mike
Med Gull - yesterdays 1CY visible on the end of Heysham one outfall
Little Gull - at least one 1CY Heysham one outfall
Shag - one 1CY
Kittiwake - 20+
Twite - 14 on feeder
Lesser Redpoll - 1 on feeder(uncertain whether ringed)
Goldfinch - 2 on mound/feeder

After publicising the re-opening, there is now some minor fence work going on along the 'corridor' from Gate 38, so it may be a 'construction site' for the next day or so and therefore not accessible

The unseasonal conditions produed 2 x Mottled Umber and 1 x Winter Moth in the hut trap, a site usually "useless" for very early and very late species compared to my Millhouses woodland site

Tuesday, 20 December 2011

Whistle stop

Heysham Obs
About 3-4 minutes around 10ish along the north harbour wall, then some info from Andrew Cornall at lunchtime.  Thanks Andrew.  Sorry for the late posting - very busy today.

North wall/harbour area
Glaucous Gull - juv on the wooden jetty at 1000hrs, in the harbour at lunchtime
Twite - 10 on seed
Shag - two 1CY seen
Med Gull - 2 adults seen
Guillemot - one in harbour
Kittiwake - 28 at the very least

HN reserve
Goldcrest - one by the HNR office

3 x Winter Moth in the trap.  This is a good year if you want a Christmas Day moth list - a bad one if you have bet on a white christmas!  Worth getting the traps out for at least tomorrow and Saturday nights if you are sheltered from SWish winds

Monday, 19 December 2011

Full house in 5 minutes

Heysham Obs
A visit to the north wall around 11ish was the stuff birdrace dreams are made of

Glaucous Gull - juv by the waterfall morning 1100ish and again about 1445hrs
Purple Sandpiper - 2 on the rocks below the north wall
Little Gull - 2 x 1CY seaward end Heysham 1 outfall - visible through the outer gap in wooden jetty, later at least 3 1CY and possibly 4 on outfalls
Med Gull - 3 adults, including one with blackish head, 1CY Stage 2 outfall 1500hrs
Shag - two together in the harbour, one on wooden jetty
Kittiwake - 35 harbour, 4 outfalls
Guillemot - one by the waterfall
Twite - 17 on the seed
Rock Pipit - heard along the harbour side of the mound

Sunday, 18 December 2011

Good variety for the Sunday birders

Heysham Obs
Harbour area and outfalls
Shag - 2 1CY together, no reports of 3 today
Glaucous Gull - juv still present but mobile; sat on the wooden jetty at 1315hrs (on there for c3 hours so looks like this is now the preferred loafing site!)
Kittiwake - 39 harbour, 5+ outfalls area
Rock Pipit - one west quay
Little Gull - 2 1CY outfalls area
Med Gull - 2 adults outfalls area
Twite - 14
Lesser Redpoll - one on feeder, now ringed!
Guillemot - one inshore lunchtimeish
Purple Sandpiper - singleton on the rocks below the wooden jetty (thanks Nick)

Anything else from the large number of birders around, please?

Saturday, 17 December 2011

All present apart from the hidden or departed Guillemots

Heysham Obs
The big question here is have the Guillemots gone or are they in the underground reservoir enjoying themselves until the next high spring tides when they can emerge?  If this is the case, there are several precedents from the days when Guillemots were a regular winter feature in the harbour.  Graeme Dunlop used a landing net to catch them (including a large, dark nominate individual), then ringed and released them offshore until a sizeable risk assessment appeared stopping the catching process, which involved hanging on to a metal ladder with one hand and waving the net around with the other

Check from the west quay/wooden jetty area
Glaucous Gull - juv sitting on the edge of the south quay, then wandering around, including sitting on the end section of the wooden jetty, to 1315 at least
Shag - three around (2+1)
Kittiwake - 36 intake area & rest of harbour, increasing to c60 c5 outfalls area (mainly 1CY)
Med Gull - 2 adults seaward end Heysham one outfall, then 4 adults around later on, including boat followers
Little Gull - 2 x 1CY outfalls, ad briefly
Purple Sandpiper - the 'white-feathered' bird was on the seawall between the two outfalls mid-afternoon

North harbour wall
Twite - 21 (rings not checked)
Lesser Redpoll - one with Twite!

More evidence that the moths at this time of year like the colder, stiller weather with a Mottled Umber and another Dark Chestnut present

Friday, 16 December 2011

Dredger disruption

Heysham Obs
After some ice-road trucker conditions between Bentham and the A65 this earlyish morning (trucks coming the other way until one jackknifed), followed by a phone call at the A65/A59 roundabout that the Bradford meeting was cancelled, an unscheduled belated visit to Heysham this lunchtime/afternoon.  This included a short spell of ringing where the December total was more than doubled with the capture of 5 unringed finches!   It also revealed that dredger activity had dispersed many of the large gulls from around the inner harbour, perhaps 'dragging them offshore'.  No obvious sign of the Glaucous this afternoon.

Harbour area, mainly morning reports
Kittiwake - 35, mainly 1CY
Glaucous Gull - juvenile present during at least mid-morning around the waterfall, not seen in afternoon as far as am aware
Shag - 3 1CY around (2+1)
Twite - 17
Little Gull - at least one 1CY on outfalls
NO sign of any Guillemot - are they all in the underground reservoir?   Will try and find out.

Excelled themselves with a Dark Chestnut and two Winter Moth

Thursday, 15 December 2011

Despite the calm, many birds still in situ

Heysham Obs
Calm slightly frosty conditions saw a net loss of Guillemot, but all the other waifs in place

Glaucous Gull - Juv on the top of the old Fisher's roof along the south quay most of the day.  Only visible at long range from north harbour wall
Twite - 22, including Machrihanish 2011-ringed bird
Shag - 1+2 around, later all three together
Kittiwake - 22 in SW corner of harbour, c5 outfalls
Little Gull - 2 x 1CY outfalls
Med Gull - Two adults along north harbour wall (one Czech-ringed)
Guillemot - just 2 seen
Red-breasted Merganser - two in harbour
Goldfinch - 2 on Twite seed

Wednesday, 14 December 2011

Dont turn your back on the sea

These were taken today by Janet with the three Shag together by the waterfall.  Thanks Janet

Heysham Obs
Good sea conditions were somewhat neglected as observers looked the other way at the increasing number of waifs and strays in the harbour.  This included serious neglect on my part as a 'Glaucous-finding' session for a visiting group did not include the compulsory scan of the wave troughs behind my back.  A late Leach's Petrel was slowly making its way out but the observer was out of communication range at the harbour mouth.  Just to show the luck of the draw with seawatching and the need to be there in the short time-period, the Leach's observer then took a short break and missed the 'dark-morph' Fulmar seen by another local observer arriving just after the Leach's had disappeared!

In the harbour area
Shag - 3 1CY
Guillemot - max of  ELEVEN in the SW corner
Glaucous Gull - either on the waterfall or somewhere on the corrugated roof, but a bit elusive
Kittiwake - c30
Med Gull - 2 adult
Purple Sandpiper - 2 on the end of the north wall about 1300hrs

Freight ferry
Kittiwake - c60 (mostly 1CY)
Little Gull - 2 x 1CY

Leach's Petrel - one slowly 'out' at 1300hrs
Fulmar - light and dark (not double-dark) morphs out together at 1315hrs.  This bird had a greyish head concolorous with the grey mantle and contrasted with the white-headed 'normal' light morph
Pintail - 7 out
Guillemot - 2 out
very little else other than a trickle of Kittiwake

Little Gull - up to 3 adult and two 1CY, but birds dispersed as the tide/rough sea came in

Song Thrush - one still around the mound!
Twite - max of just 6 today
Goldfinch - 2 on mound area

Tuesday, 13 December 2011

Hanging on to what we have got in wild and woolly weather

Heysham Obs

 Thanks for these pics Janet - taken today in the SW corner of the harbour

Seawatch 0845-0930
Little Gull - 3 adults out
Kittiwake - flock of 15 sat on the sea, 'small numbers' offshore mid-afternoon
Pintail - three out
Razorbill - 2 together out
Guillemot - 2 closer inshore on the sea
Common Scoter - male inshore along the north wall
Med Gull - adult

Harbour area
Glaucous Gull - again did not arrive until about 0945hrs, then sat on the old corrugated roof along the south quay, still there 1145hrs
Kittiwake - 22 in the harbour
Shag - two together in the inner harbour - both looked 1CY at long range, but one much darker than the other
Guillemot - 4 in the harbour

Little Gull - 2 1CY, later also 3 ad
Kittiwake - 12

Monday, 12 December 2011

Glaucous Gull still present

Heysham Obs

First two in the harbour (thanks Pete) and the third from Ocean Edge beach (thanks Janet)

Inner harbour
Shag - at least two, probably three (at least 2 1CY, one possibly 2CY) either in the harbour or on wooden jetty
Guillemot - 4
Kittiwake - c25 - one Ad metal ringed (looked British) sat on the SW corner 'pipe'
Glaucous Gull - juv under the waterfall SW corner of the harbour at 0945hrs (also visible rather distantly from the north harbour wall) then later either under the waterfall or on the old Fisher's roof along the south quay.  This can only be viewed from the north harbour wall (north side of roof) or by the Moneyclose Inn traffic lights at long range (south side of roof)

Little Gull - 2 1CY
Kittiwake - 5

North wall
Twite - 17
Med Gull - two adult

one Winter Moth

Sunday, 11 December 2011

Rather impressive cast headed by Glaucous Gull

Thanks to Pete Cook for these pics

Heysham Obs
It has taken time, as it usually does before the turn of the year, but the gales are producing the goods.  This site really comes into its own in winter after a few days of strong onshore winds, both on the outfalls and in the shelter, and food availability under the waterfall, of the harbour

Glaucous Gull - juv feeding below the waterfall late morning and still around the harbour area to at least 1445hrs
Shag - mobile juv touring the harbour
Little Gull - two 1CY still on outfalls
Kittiwake - c18 in harbour
Guillemot - 4 in or just outside the harbour, one offshore
Purple Sandpiper - one on wooden jetty outer section
Twite - up to 30 seen with 17 around the feeder
Med Gull - three adults, one quite 'black-headed'
Sanderling - still with Dunlin on Oceab Edge beach
Eider - 1CY male inshore
Little Grebe - one in the inner harbour (thanks to the couple of birders for alerting us to this)

A single (20 minute) round produced two new Greenfinch

They got into the act for the first time for a few days with Mottled Umber and Winter Moth

Saturday, 10 December 2011

Waifs and strays slowly increase

Heysham Obs
The SW corner of the harbour is accumulating a collection of Kittiwakes and Guillemots and at least four Little Gulls were also inshore

Sea 0915-1015
Red-throated Diver - 2 out
Kittiwake - flock of 13 out, plus 3 singletons
Auk spp, prob Razorbill - 2 together out but distant
Guillemot - 2 offshore

Kittiwake - 10 in SW corner of harbour, c5 outfalls/harbour entrance
Little Gull - at least one 1CY, one 2CY and 2 adult, mainly Heysham 2 outfall
Med Gull - 2 adults around; patrolling the north wall early afternoon, additional adult Red Nab
Twite - 16
Guillemot - now 3 in the SW corner of the harbour
Sanderling - one still roosting with Dunlin on Ocean Edge beach
Red-breasted Merganser - 6 together inshore near Red Nab (4 male)
Wigeon - still 102
Linnet - one OE saltmarsh (at least)
No sign of any Purple Sandpiper or Shag

Friday, 9 December 2011

Harbour fare

Heysham Obs
Todays news included the possibility of yesterdays 'whirring thing' ending up as a Little Auk inside a Great Black-backed Gull at Rossall today.  Work prevented high tide coverage of the south side but there were a few bits and bobs around the harbour/north wall

The fare in the south-west corner of the harbour.  Thanks Janet

North harbour wall/harbour
Med Gull - adults patrolling the north wall and sitting on Fisher's roof (two birds)
Kittiwake - 7-8 in the harbour
Cormorant - two in the harbour (no Shag seen)
Guillemot - 2 in harbour
Auk spp - probable Razorbill out but very distant

Thursday, 8 December 2011

Stormy Sanderling and whirring mystery

Heysham Obs
What appears to have been a small auk was reported as having whirred past the north harbour wall, quite close inshore, about 1300hrs, but carried on beyond the wooden jetty.

Coastal sightings
Sanderling - one with Dunlin (27) and Ringed Plover (11) on Ocean Edge south shingle beach.  All winter records have been associated with stormy weather.
Kittiwake - flock of 35 on the sea first thing and 6 waifs in the sw corner of the harbour (2 1CY)
Guillemot - 1 in sw corner of harbour
Shag - mobile 1CY touring the harbour early afternoon - very elusive!
Twite - 3 seen
Whooper Swan - two adults flying out over the sea into the teeth of the gale early morning.  Why?!
Little Gull - adult outfalls in the morning

Wednesday, 7 December 2011

Tricky conditions

Heysham Obs
Neither Tom not Pete enjoyed the conditions today during brief visits which produced a few bits as per yesterday and a few extra Kittiwake.  Thanks for the info.

North harbour wall
Purple Sandpiper - yesterday's bird with white feather in right wing
Guillemot - 2 in the harbour by the 'intake'
Med Gull - adult patrolling
Kittiwake - 2 1CY in the harbour, at least 9 in transit offshore in two groups during very brief seawatches
No Twite seen (no food left?)

Tuesday, 6 December 2011

Blanket coastal coverage gives a reasonable selection

Heysham Obs

North wall area/off outfalls/IOM ferry
Common Scoter - one on the sea, then presumably the same in flight just after IOM ferry
Guillemot - 2 harbour
Kittiwake - not so windy today and just 3 in harbour (2 1CY) and four behind the IOM ferry, 3 of which 'signed off' at green No 7 buoy
Shag - at least one juvenile seen, possibly two
Purple Sandpiper - what appeared to be a new arrival with white feather(s) in the right wing and 'uniform' plumage half way along NH wall
Twite/Linnet/Goldfinch - c25 birds in total, at least 18 Twite & 2 Goldfinch
Meadow Pipit - 2 on mound (one ringed)
Red-throated Diver - one offshore
Med Gull - just the one adult seen today
Pink-footed Goose - c60+85+78+ c140 south/south-east plus a large gang circling around to the south off Cockersands/Lune Estuary
Dunnock - one along the west quay (35Z)
Song Thrush - two 'wintering' on the mound!
Rock Pipit - one heliport seawall
Wigeon - 102 Red Nab (as the 'other day')

Grey Squirrel - 2 together Moneyclose Lane (one there yesterday)

Monday, 5 December 2011

Cutting edge identification

Heysham Obs
A decent Kittiwake influx this morning, but the main identification challenge was to work out what had happened to red Number 8 buoy, a key feature just before the harbour entrance.  After a discussion over whether the top had blown off, it was deduced that it had turned turtle! 

North wall/harbour 0900-0945
Kittiwake - flock of 41 out, at least 8 close inshore, including 5 around the harbour waterfall
Med Gull - 2 adults in the harbour
Guillemot - at least one in the harbour mouth
Twite - at least 14 around

North harbour wall IOM ferry time
Kittiwake - c30 behind ferry
Shag - juv flew into the inner harbour, arriving from the north
Purple Sandpiper - one on the seawall with Turnstone by the red gate

Sunday, 4 December 2011

A decent array of species........eventually

One of the two Guillemot in the harbour this morning.  Thanks Janet

Heysham Obs
The birds were not being 'consistent' this morning and it was really unfortunate to see a visiting couple of birders, including a keen youngster,leaving just too early to see anything.  Always worth taking your time when visitig the north harbour wall as birds can hide in many nooks and crannies, notably the corners of the harbour during strong winds

Harbour/north harbour wall
Shag - juvenile on the wooden jetty this afternoon (first for a bit - very tricky to see this autumn, with all so far being single point in time (not even single day!) observations)
Purple Sandpiper - two flew in about 0930 nd sat on the seawall at the harbour mouth
Guillemot - two tucked right in the SW corner near the 'shag waterfall'
Kittiwake - 1CY SW corner of harbour, 3 1CY & one adult Stage 2 inner end at various times
Twite - 8 on the seed
Med Gull - adult(s) north wall and Heysham one outfall at different times
Little Gull - adult at the seaward end of the outfalls/in the boat channel

There has been a definite influx of continental Blackbirds over the last three days as the weather has turned colder, starting with an unexpectedly large flock of 26 along a hedgeline at Wray on 1/12 (area walked virtually daily during November).  There were at least 20 restless individuals on the nature reserve today, some of which moved down Moneyclose Lane using the 'seeiiip' call you often hear from continental night/early-morning-landfalling migrants, but not usually, apart from at roosting time, from "British" birds

Saturday, 3 December 2011

Saved by an interesting Twite recovery

Heysham Obs
Med Gull - adult over Tranmere Crescent and the usual two adults around the harbour mouth/Heysham one outfall, possibly just two birds involved here
Guillemot - one far offshore sat on the sea
Twite - 11 in flight mound area

Ringing recovery
Thanks to Gary Woodburn for the following
It was ringed at Heysham in spring 2011 (note pale blue site ring and split dark blue/orange season & year code) and photographed today at Long Nanny, Beadnell, Northumberland.  This site has also received at least two birds ringed at Machrihanish and one from Clachtoll (Lochinver), so obviously at least some of the flock are of western Scottish origin and therefore a Heysham-ringed bird was perhaps not unexpected
A Winter Moth in the trap (two the previous night)

Friday, 2 December 2011

Ringing window closed

The two Purple Sandpipers taken in foul weather conditions this afternoon on the north harbour wall.  Thanks for this, Janet

Heysham Obs
A possible ringing window as I left home in calm frosty conditions became a shower-laden F3 wind on arrival at Heysham, no good for a Twite session or the anticipated feeder ringing session where new Goldfinches and Greenfinches have been trickling in (observation of unringed birds).  Shame as there were plenty of birds around the office feeder and the Twite situation was more interesting than it seems to have been of late.....and there are not many calm possibilities on the horizon!

North harbour wall 0900-0930
The plan B (or C) was actually quite productive:
Kittiwake - flock of 5 1CY headed distantly into the bay
Red-throated Diver - one on the sea, one flying out
Med Gull - adult on beach
Purple Sandpiper - two flushed from below the north wall by the gate by tackle scavenger and headed towards the harbour mouth.  Later present on the north harbour wall (see pic)
Robin - unringed bird on feeder
Meadow Pipit - 2 (unringed) in sandworks
Twite - flock of 17 with 2 unringed birds were joined by another flock of 9 where 7 were unringed and one sported 2011 Machrihanish-ringed sequence.  Then everything was spooked and the Twite flew to the south towards the mast in two separate flocks
Goldfinch - 2 unringed birds

Thursday, 1 December 2011

Coastal blanket

Heysham Obs
Work-related wall-to-wall, apart from the harbour mouth/wooden jetty area, coverage of the coastal areas produced a slightly meagre fare (e.g. behind IOM ferry), other than the Whoopers and three 'large dark distant wildfowl' flying out in very bad light which were quite possibly Brent Geese!

Whooper Swan - 3 off Heysham Head, flew low to the south at 1155hrs
Kittiwake - 1CY behind the IOM ferry at midday, then flew rapidly out
Med Gull - the 'pelagic' adult followed the ferry in to No 8 buoy before flying back south down the shipping lane (regular habit).  Usual two adults inshore early morning
Twite - not searched for early morning - post-lunch check revealed just 5
Goldfinch - 2
Song Thrush - 1 mound area
Knot - c14,000 off Ocean Edge
Wigeon - 102 Red Nab area
Definitely no sign of any Little Gulls, despite strong winds and incoming tide watch
No targeted search for Purple Sandpiper as outside survey area (see above)

Wednesday, 30 November 2011

Peewit invasion

Heysham Obs
Ocean Edge/Red Nab low tide
Med Gull - adult behind departing ferry
Lapwing - very high count for here of 675, comprising 390 on Red Nab and 285 on the mudflats by Ocean Edge saltmarsh

North harbour wall
Twite - 17
Goldfinch - 3

Tuesday, 29 November 2011

Bits and pieces in unpleasant weather

Heysham Obs
Southerly gales and pretty useless sort of weather for birding

Ocean Edge and area
Little Gull - adult outfalls incoming tide, then disappeared offshore

North harbour wall
Med Gull - 2 adult
Twite - max of 8-10
Rock Pipit - one
Meadow Pipit - at least 2
Cormorant - now down to 40 on the wooden jetty at high tide
Ringed Plover - 25

Mottled Beauty in the trap

Monday, 28 November 2011

Normal service resumed with the usual suspects

This Purple sandpiper allowed a very close approach on the north harbour wall. Thanks Janet
Heysham Obs
North harbour wall area
Med Gull - two adults, one Czech-ringed
Purple Sandpiper - 1
Twite - c20
Goldfinch - 1
Rock Pipit - 1
Meadow Pipit - 3

Red Nab/Ocean Edge at high tide
Linnet - c26
Twite - c18

Sunday, 27 November 2011


Heysham Obs
The first ever Sunday since this site was started without any known coverage.  Sorry.

Saturday, 26 November 2011

A couple of quick breaks from work

Heysham Obs
North harbour wall
Twite - 17 (4 unringed)
Linnet - 2
Meadow Pipit - 2
Med Gull - adult
Little Gull - adult offshore in very brief scan

Ocean Edge/Red Nab
Linnet - a flock of small finches on OE saltmarsh saw all 26 visible birds surprisingly this species

Friday, 25 November 2011

Sporadic seawatch mode

1CY Little Gull north harbour wall this afternoon.  Thanks Janet

Heysham Obs
Very sporadic - work to do!

IOM ferry lunchtime
Kittiwake - minimum of 27 following

Little Gull - wide-ranging adult

North harbour wall
Twite - ONE buffeted around on the seed (unringed)
Med Gull - one adult
Purple Sandpiper - 2 along the north wall dodging the waves
Little Gull - 1CY mid-afternoon

Wind back in the west Mottled Umber!

Thursday, 24 November 2011

A lone Meadow Pipit checks the weather charts

Heysham Obs
A bit of a time warp as I arrived at Heysham Nature  reserve with a squeak from up above and a "typical vis mig mode flying at an angle to the wind and the right height and right direction" Meadow Pipit heading south-east.  There have been some late birds on the north harbour wall but this was the first in 'vis' mode for a bit

North wall area
It only took a handful of thoughtless (off-lead) dog walkers heading along the ex-heliport seawall at or just after high tide, to displace almost 6,000 Oystercatchers from their roost.  One of them was spoken to and amazingly "had not noticed the birds"!  I think the end of this roost is nigh; already the more skittish Knot seem to have given up the ghost.  A shame as it was a very good site for excellent close views, with the birds tolerating any amount of parked vehicles along the road and the usual industrial activities.   Time to address the whole issue of dogs and intertidal protocol, I guess - maybe in the Visitor  column

Purple Sandpiper - 2 at the far end of the seawall, presumably one of these photographed on its own near the red gate later on
Pink-footed Goose - 72(ish) high to NW - the flock may/appeared to also contain two Whitefronts but they couldnt be clinched
Cormorant - 109 on wooden jetty
Meadow Pipit - 4 mound
Twite - 12 mound
Linnet - 2 mound
Dunnock - one mound & one on Twite seed
Med Gull - adult in harbour

Thanks to Pete and Janet respectively, presumably two, not three birds (see above)

Ocean Edge saltmarsh was surprisingly 'dead' with no small passerines noted
Wigeon - 102
Outfalls/Red Nab

Wednesday, 23 November 2011

Local Twite Flock?

Heysham Obs
**Some photos added for the last few days

N Harbour Wall
Purple Sandpiper - 2 on harbour wall slope
Twite - 15, of which two only unringed.  This seems to be the local "resident" flock at present to the north of the harbour.
Goldfinch - 4 with twite.
Meadow Pipit - just a few around the mound area.

Hitching a ride or prey?  Thanks Janet

Ocean Edge area
Very brief visit and Red Nab not thoroughly searched
Med Gull - adult
Little Egret - one OE saltmarsh creek
Twinnet - 30+ - distant flight only over saltmarsh

Tuesday, 22 November 2011

Late Chiffchaff headlines the bits and pieces

Heysham Obs
Careful searches of the reserve over the last week or two have established the absence of Chiffchaff.  This morning a collybita-type was calling next to the office and headed towards the cream store.

Heysham Nature reserve
Chiffchaff - 1
Blackcap - ringed female by office
Treecreeper - two caught, one unringed
Redwing - 2 in tank farm

Red Nab etc
Dark-bellied Brent Goose - adult Red Nab
Wigeon - at least 72 Red Nab
Twite - c20

North harbour wall
Med Gull - adult on railings, later a second bird with an almost complete black head appeared (not the usual 'second bird')
Twite - 15
No obvious sign of any Meadow Pipit or Purple Sandpiper

Regular disturbance of the heliport roost by dog walkers

A circuit of the reserve included a Red Admiral, cat, female type Roe Deer, Water Rail and (along the dog track) Tawny Owl but no sign of the eared owl in the blackthorn thicket.  No moths in the trap (surprising?)

Monday, 21 November 2011

Blasts from the last century and a half

1960's pics from Pete Cook/Keith Hague with a very young, now well-known and respected rock-climber and birder behind the Kittiwake!  The top bird is an Iceland Gull present 27-28/5/60 - a late spring record but by no means unprecedented.  Thanks Pete

Sunday, 20 November 2011

Foggy thrush trickle and a long-winged owl

Heysham Obs
A trickle of migration did not seem to include anything better than a couple of  Blackcaps with the numeracy highlight being an influx (from zero the last few days) of at least 22 Redwing.

Heysham NR
Eared owl spp - flushed from blackthorn scrub on the east side of the marsh during a Woodcock(less) search but didnt allow a clear view (including where it went) other than ruling out Tawny
Blackbird - slight increase from a very low ebb to about 20 individuals
Redwing - c22, mostly in one gang in the tank farm early morning
Fieldfare - 2 Red Nab bushes
Chaffinch - a few flying over which may have been 'vis' (c10)
Blackcap - 1 male and 1 female ringed
No Goldcrest heard on a circuit of the reserve in calm conditions!  Only one retrapped bird caught during the morning session.

A trickle of 'new' birds, mostly Blackbird and Green/Gold/Chaffinches,
North harbour wall
Twite - 15, all ringed except two
Goldfinch - 5 (4 trapped)
Purple Sandpiper - 2

Saturday, 19 November 2011


Heysham Obs
After emptying a moth trap near home at Millhouses containing 216 moths and an assortment of midges/'mossies', caddis and dung flies, including a late migrant Dark Sword Grass and an early Pale Brindled Beauty, a few sorties from Heysham NR office also indicated many insects still on the prowl.  Two Red Admiral, at least three drone flies, many "bluebottle type things", three worker social wasps heading in the same direction (nest still extant?) and innumerable 'gnat-type things'.  Must do better with aerial insect id.

Indeed, it was rather odd seeing all these insects and so few birds as, for them, the migration season appears to be over, with even Blackbird down to the 'usual winter numbers'.

North harbour wall 
Purple Sandpiper 'targeters', please try not to flush the obviously "not needed" Twite by slamming car doors/boots!  Thanks.
Twite - 15 , mostly ringed, 3 briefly thereafter.
Goldfinch - 3
Purple Sandpiper - no sign early morning with fishing tackle scavengers on the skeers
Meadow Pipit - 9-10 - all unringed (9 ringed a few days ago, shows there is still turnover)
Rock Pipit - one at the harbour mouth
Med Gull - adult following boat

South of harbour
Twite - 56
Linnet - 7
Med Gull - 1CY on the mudflats

See above
Red Admiral - two together by the office at lunchtime
Moths - None - still too much east in the wind for the hut trap - shame, but its had a good year with the  otherwise predominance of westerly winds!

Friday, 18 November 2011

Unobtrusively doubled

Two Purple Sandpipers along the north wall. Thanks Pete

Heysham Obs
Bits and bobs today included a heaving great mass of waders to the south of Ocean Edge totalling about 27,000, mainly Knot but significant numbers of Bar-tailed Godwit, Dunlin and Grey Plover.  If you are a Leighton Moss Starling roost fan, you'll like this little lot.

Ocean Edge/Red Nab
Med Gull - two adults and a probable 1CY distantly behind the departing Ben My Chree
Dark-bellied Brent Goose - adult Red Nab

North harbour wall
Purple Sandpiper - now TWO - both seen early this morning on a skeer
Twite - 14 early morning

A geriatric worker social wasp was a surprise at the Near Naze

Thursday, 17 November 2011

Return of the unassuming interesting twite sighting

Heysham Obs
It took two visiting birders to point us in the right direction this morning with a species we had inexcusably "forgotten about" in the quest for further late migrants.  No check made of the Ocean Edge/Red Nab area today (c/f e.g. Brent Goose)

North harbour wall
Purple Sandpiper - first sighting of the autumn on skeer alongside north wall
Meadow Pipit - up to 11 with no obviously ringed birds
Twite - flock of 7 early morning flew off high to the south
Med Gull - 1CY and two adults behind the departing Clipper, feeding over the 'whirlpool' as it turned the corner past the wooden jetty
Pink-footed Goose - c45 south late morning

Heysham NR
Dead with no obvious vis mig or new grounded birds but:
Greenfinch - a singleton provided a long overdue bird ringed elsewhere (TS something)
Blue Tit - unringed bird caught
Woodcock - one by dipping pond

Late news for yesterday
Reeve's Pheasant - male along Moneyclose Lane by the entrance gate (new release??) 

Twite ringing recoveries
We have just heard of a bird ringed at Heysham this spring being sighted at Musselburgh, just east of Edinburgh on 14/11/11.  This is the first Heysham bird seen on the east coast to the north of here, as opposed to one or two birds from within the normal wintering range of Pennine birds.  This also correlates with two Machrihanish-ringed birds along with one from Clachtoll, near Lochinver being seen in the same flock on the Northumberland coast (see Beadnell Birder in the Links)

So far this autumn we have caught two 2011 Machrihanish-ringed birds and one 2010 Machrihanish bird

Also, not for the first time, a Heysham capture from earlier this autumn decided it had "overshot" and was caught at Askam in Furness on the Duddon the other day

Yet another Red Admiral by the office.  Forgot to check the moth trap!!

Wednesday, 16 November 2011

Comings and goings

Heysham Obs
Bit more evidence of movement this morning, both departures and arrivals

North harbour wall
Bit of an exodus with no Black Redstart (but I would check the west quay area before saying it has gone as it has more suitable feeding areas in the calmer conditions) and Meadow Pipit down to 5
Med Gull - 2 adult

Heysham NR (early morning action missed - 0830 onwards)
Blackbird - increase with about 35 around
Song Thrush - 3
Redwing - 7
Blackcap - male ringed
Robin - 2 ringed, one quite an 'orange-breasted' bird
Dunnock - unexpected new unringed bird
Chaffinch - at least 27 SW
Greenfinch - 18 SW plus 5 unringed birds caught
Bullfinch - yet another unringed bird caught
Long-tailed Tit - hyperactive flock of 15 headed south (about 20m above the mist nets!)
Goldcrest - at least 3

Red Nab/Ocean Edge
No Twite/Linnet seen in very brief check, but the tide did not flood the saltmarsh
Dark-bellied Brent Goose - Red Nab at high tide

A single Winter Moth was in the trap

Red Admiral - one flew south by the office at 1330hrs

Tuesday, 15 November 2011

The delights of the north harbour wall and an unseasonal pug

Heysham Obs
North harbour wall
Black Redstart - still on the banks of the mound
Meadow Pipit - 12+ (9 ringed)
Rock Pipit - 1-2 (one ringed)
Twite - just 14 seen but 7/10 caught were new unringed birds
Pink-footed Goose - c400 north (all presumed to be this spp)
Med Gull - adult

Red Nab/Ocean Edge
Intensive scrutiny, once again, of the beaches and coastal perches revealed a much reduced number of Twite at high tide (c28) [note Sunderland numbers yesterday late pm]
Dark-bellied Brent Goose - adult still Red Nab at high tide
Wigeon - 76

Pheasant - female seen along entrance road ('new in'!!)

Wormwood Pug was on the wall in the kitchen - has this emerged from a pupa near a heater?

1st W (e.g. median covert pattern/moult contrast in gcs) Rock Pipit of indeterminate form, but possibly a dispersing petrosus.  Many of the  saltmarsh-dwelling 'likely' littoralis have e.g. more prominent supercilia, less smudged underpart streaking and whiter outer tail feather.  Thanks Alan

Monday, 14 November 2011

Intertidal day

Heysham Obs
A quick trawl round the mound early morning failed to locate the Black Redstart but it "flew in" about 30 minutes later for another observer!  The Dark-bellied Brent appeared around Red Nab on the incoming tide.  "Huge" numbers of waders on the mudflats (accurate counts do exist!) were again flushed en masse by the "lady in red" (with a blue rucsac and medium-sized brown and black dogs) doing a long incoming tide tideline walk   This behaviour prevented up to 28,000 waders feeding where they wanted to for about 45 minutes.  Mr Woodburn would have enjoyed this.

Heysham NR - vis 0715-0745, pre-dusk walk round reserve
Chaffinch - 38 SW, all fairly high, therefore presumed movement, not ex-roost (or both!)
Siskin - heard x 1 early morning
Greenfinch - 2 SW
Goldfinch - 5 SW
'Crest spp - 6 heard, including 4 in the NE corner, no reason to suggest they were not all Goldcrest
Blackbird - as John discovered three mornings ago, they have all gone.  No more than 5 seen on late afternoon reserve circuit
Treecreeper - one NE corner

North harbour wall
Black Redstart - 1st W still north wall early-mid morning
Meadow Pipit - increase to 15-17
Rock Pipit - one
Med Gull - adult
Dunnock - one
Twite - 9

Ocean Edge/outfalls area
Twite - 125
Linnet - 20
Rock Pipit - 1
Dark-bellied Brent - adult Red Nab

 Thanks Pete

Sunday, 13 November 2011

Pleasant day with Barnacle Goose flock the local highlight

Heysham Obs
North wall area
Black Redstart - 1st W showing very well until at least 1215hrs frequenting the sandworks compound at the end of the north harbour wall
Med Gull - two adults, one Czech-ringed
Rock Pipit - one
Meadow Pipit - c10
Red-throated Diver - one flying out of the bay very distantly
Dark-bellied Brent Goose - the adult flew past from the Heysham Head direction late morning
Twite - 28 caught; 10 new, one 2010 Machrihanish-ringed bird, 17 Heysham retraps

Ocean Edge/outfalls/IOM ferry
Med Gull - additional adult behind the ferry, then flew out
Little Gull - adult behind the ferry but then sat on the sea 'miles out'!
Twinnet - c150, mainly Twite
Meadow Pipit - c6
Snipe - 1
Dark-bellied Brent Goose - adult on Red Nab during the high tide period

Barnacle Goose - Nine over Heysham Head at lunchtime
Red Admiral - one Ocean Edge, plus at least two NH Wall area.
Wasp spp - worker social wasp Ocean Edge

Saturday, 12 November 2011

Game on for all you local coastal/bush searchers!

Todays north wall 1st winter Black Redstart before and after a bath.  Thanks Rosie and Mario

Heysham Obs
Impressive day with all sorts of odds and ends, ironically on the first day for some while without any evidence of early morning thrush arrival.  Re-the heading, note that two Snow Bunting are at the tip of Sunderland Point today

Firecrest - (probably but not certainly a male (very rusty shoulders but crown not seen properly)) Heysham NR car park with tits 0730ish, then headed for the top path trees with the tits.  Not intensively searched for subsequently due to other things to do
Black Redstart - north harbour wall on the old control room roof (only building there) in the former sandworks compound  0945ish & in the same general area to lunchtime at least but then seemed to be flushed by walkers and may have flown over to the other side of the harbour
Dark-bellied Brent Goose - Adult appeared around Red Nab just after high tide with returning Wigeon & was still there at 1320hrs

Vis mig by the office 0730-0900, rather intermittent
Jackdaw - flock of 21 south
Chaffinch - at least 45 SW, possibly double this
Brambling - 5+2 SW early on
Siskin - 2 SE
Skylark - heard once
Greenfinch - conspicuous by its absence with just 6 SW and no grounded birds
Goldfinch - c10 SW, two unringed birds caught
alba Wagtail - 2 SE

Grounded/off-passage birds
Goldcrest - one unringed bird and at least one ringed bird
Blackbird - c25, mainly tank farm
Song Thrush - 2 tank farm
Woodcock - one flushed from 'usual spot'
Twite - 105 Ocean Edge foreshore
Linnet - 15 Ocean Edge foreshore
Reed Bunting - 2 OE
Snipe - one OE
Meadow Pipit - 10 north wall mound/sandworks
Treecreeper - one retrap

Pink-footed Goose - c54 & c35 south
Med Gull - ad north wall

One Red Admiral flew south past the office.  The element of east in the wind is no good for the moth trap, despite high night temperatures

Friday, 11 November 2011

Short on quality sightings, high on biomass

Heysham Obs
Once again, despite the best efforts of a 'lady in red' with a dobermann and another large brown dog creating a 360 degree, 400m avian exclusion zone on the dropping tide, today's intertidal count produced loads of birds, not quite as many as on the neap tides due to the displacement of high-tide roosting birds towards Middleton saltmarsh/Sunderland.  Given the time in the field/in the car watching things in the field, the fare was rather disappointing with the only real interest being:

Shoveler - pair Red Nab, the colourful half snapped by Janet
Med Gull - adult harbour area
Twite - maximum count of 63 on Ocean Edge at high tide with a few small flocks subsequently going backwards and forwards between there and the north wall.  2011 Machrihanish bird(s)  seen at both Ocean Edge and the north wall
Linnet - 11 Ocean Edge
Meadow Pipit - 2-3 on north wall mound
Rock Pipit - one Ocean Edge
Dunnock - one in the mound gorse on north wall

Rotting wood and rusty railings have their uses.  We used to birdwatch from the end of this in the 90's!  Thanks Janet

   Anonymous biomass

No insects seen today

11 hour presence and not a scrap of birding!

Heysham Obs
Today was deadline day and the only break was to top-up the feeders:

Goldcrest - 2 next to office

Fortunately Janet was out and about and photographed the above 1CY Med Gull which was also seen by a birder en route to Ireland..............along with an adult, as usual, following the boat and also a single Rock Pipit

Angle Shades in the moth trap and 2 Red Admirals whilst topping up the feeder alongh with a single worker social wasp

Wednesday, 9 November 2011

Late flurry of migrant Meadow Pipit

Heysham Obs
Just the mound/north wall covered this morning, then the Potts Corner-Heysham stretch was (rather disappointing apart from Ringed Plover) covered late afternoon:

Meadow Pipit - 11, including a group of 5 in-off joining the ones already there
Rock Pipit - one
Med Gull - Czech-ringed ad
Song Thrush - one mound
Twite - 56 early morning.  35 of these examined and there were 13 unringed plus one with autumn 2011 Machrihanish Seabird Observatory combination and one with autumn 2010 Machrihanish combination.  No chance to sort through the Heysham-ringed birds as the flock was flushed by a noisy Mistle Thrush.  Later a short ringing session confirmed the influx of new birds with a catch of 13 containing 9 unringed and a single 'new' Machrihanish-ringed bird.  By this time there were 24 Twite also on Ocean Edge, perhaps some of the morning flock of 56.

Ringed Plover - c60 close inshore along the southern edge of the recording area was a surprise and a perhaps further indication that we are missing birds on the WeBS counts between Potts Corner and Ocean Edge when the tide height is less than a full 'spring' - there is plenty of beach on which Ringed Plover can be very hard to locate - previous estimates for this stretch during the winter months have never exceeded 30.  The other alternative is that the elusive Sunderland Point birds joined forces with the Potts Corner-Ocean Edge birds today

Red Admiral - two 'in-off' during the twite-ringing session on the north harbour wall at lunchtime

Tuesday, 8 November 2011

Still some thrush movement

Heysham Obs
Earlyish arrival was greeted by c40 Redwing in and around the office and more unusually, 5 Fieldfare lifted from the bushes by the car park and headed inland.  Grounded Fieldfare are surprisngly scarce here

Heysham NR
See above re-early morning thrushes

Pheasant - male seen along entrance road today and yesterday (remnant of a release of "40" on the golf course, most of which were welcomed by the foxes).  Reeve's Pheasant seen along the PS entrance road 'last week'

An afternoon circuit was fairly unproductive with just 25 Blackbird, 3 Song Thrush, 1+ Water Rail and a Treecreeper of note

No time to do any morning vis mig but there just seemed to be the odd Chaffinch heading over

"Gate 38"/south wall/outfalls/Ocean Edge
Rock Pipit - one by wooden jetty, one Red Nab
Kingfisher - one Red Nab
Med Gull - adult Red Nab
Twite - 21 or so Ocean Edge (different from north wall birds)

North harbour wall
At least one Dunnock still in residence in the mound area
Song Thrush - one migrant
Twite - 36, including one ringed in autumn 2008
No sign Guillemot

5 Roe Deer reported by a dog walker along the dog track woodland strip - two have been regular in the NE corner of the reserve recently

A quiet day

Nothing out of the ordinary today. 

North Harbour Wall
No Guillemots
33 Twite whizzing about between the gasholder, the seed area, the sandplant and the mound.  Only 3 appeared to be unringed.  Managed to note the colour combinations of 15 of them:
2 were ringed 3 yrs ago,
3 were ringed 2 yrs ago,
1 was ringed 1.5yrs ago,
3 were ringed 1 yr ago,
2 were ringed at the start of this year
4 had been ringed since October this year
What is interesting is that only 23% of the birds noted had been ringed between Jan-March of any particular year and 77% were birds ringed in the October-December periods. 
Also in the area:
1 Linnet, 1 Robin, 2 Pied Wagtail, 1 Dunnock, 2 Mistle Thrush, 1 Song Thrush, 1 Meadow Pipit, 1 Rock Pipit.
1 adult Mediterranean Gull

Heysham Nature Reserve
Water Rail - 1 very noisy individual somewhere behind the dipping pond
Blackbird - 25
Song Thrush - 3
Robin - 9
Goldcrest - 2
Treecreeper - 1
plus Great Tit 4, Blue Tit 2, Greenfinch 1, Goldfinch 4, Long-tailed Tit 16 (in 3 flocks), Wren 8, Dunnock 2, Moorhen 2, Bullfinch 1, Chaffinch 1, Great-spotted Woodpecker 1

Ocean Edge saltmarsh
A further 25 or so Twite.  These alternate between snacking on the saltmarsh plants and going for a quick drink in a puddle on the grass above the marsh.

Monday, 7 November 2011

Early thrush flurry and SEO

Heysham Obs
Back into early-morning mode for perhaps the last time this autumn.  It was certainly the coldest morning of the year and the crystal dawn clarity did not seem to offer much.  Then Fieldfares were heard, then Redwings and the first half hour of 'proper' daylight was quite entertaining, culminating in a Short-eared Owl.  Downhill thereafter.

Vis mig dawn to 0845
Fieldfare - 98
Redwing - 51
Song Thrush - 3
Short-eared Owl - one low inland, mobbed by crows at 0745hrs
Brambling - at least one (heard)
Chaffinch - 39
Goldfinch - 17
Starling - on flock of 72 SW
Greenfinch - 24

Reserve circuit 0845-0915
Woodcock - one flushed from eastern woodland
Water Rail - 2+
Reed Bunting - one in marsh
Siskin - one grounded
Goldcrest - 5
Redwing - 27 still grounded - flew inland.  c200 grounded on Middleton
Blackbird - c30 grounded

North harbour wall
Guillemot - one far offshore, one close inshore
Twite - 33
Med Gull - 1 ad
Big shoal of medium-sized fish which kept jumping out of the water

A few bits:  New birds: 6 Redwing, 4 Blackbird, 3 Chaffinch, 3 Bullfinch, 2 Wren, 2 Long-tailed Tit, Coal Tit, Reed Bunting, male Sparrowhawk, Robin, Greenfinch

One Feathered Thorn

One Red Admiral

Sunday, 6 November 2011

A Blackcap finds it own way to the scope!

Heysham Obs
Jean Roberts had a really strange experience today whilst standing motionless surveying waders.  A Blackcap (not exactly a predictable record in any context in a coastal caravan site in November!) landed on the dangling tripod strap for about 30 or so seconds before jumping into a bush.  Alas no camera (although it would probably take a tabloid newspaper about 10 seconds to "construct" the shot)

Ocean Edge/Red Nab/recording area southern coastline/outfalls
Blackcap - male as above
Little Egret - 2 different birds briefly visited Red Nab
Snow Bunting - vocal apparent male flew low to the south over Ocean Edge shoreline at c1110hrs
Med Gull - 2 adults outfalls/Red Nab/following boats
Knot - 22,500
Rock Pipit - 2
Twite - 31 at the southern end of the recording area with just 6 ringed birds in the flock.  17-19 flew backwards and forwards on two occasions during the morning over Ocean Edge seemingly heading to/from the north harbour wall
Linnet - 5 Ocean Edge saltmarsh (probably more)
Pink-footed Goose - 68+75 south
Regular scans of the outfalls/incoming & outgaoing boats failed to reveal either the Arctic Tern or Little Gull but there were a lot of small gulls flying around offshore in the calm conditions

Middleton Industrial Est
Teal - 17
Snipe - 2
Quite a few bluebottle-type things flying about.  One Red Admiral seen.  Epirrata spp, Brick and Silver Y in the moth trap

Friday 4th November record
Black Redstart - fem/imm type on the perimeter fence of the old touring park along the eastern edge of Ocean Edge saltmarsh 'late morning'.  Described as a "black Robin with a red tail"!

Saturday, 5 November 2011

Diverse array of late migrants and odds and ends

Heysham Obs
This was undoubtedly one of the best single-day November species lists I can remember from here without anything particularly 'special'.  The wader flocks on the tideline between Ocean Edge and Potts Corner are spectacular with 3,500 or so Dunlin, 380 or so Grey Plover and up to 2,000 Barwit to add to the 17,000 Knot on this morning's neap high tide

North harbour wall
Twite - 17
Rock Pipit - 1
Meadow Pipit - 7
Dunnock - 2, including one in the mound gorse
Song Thrush - one descended into the gorse
Guillemot - one in the harbour
Med Gull - 2 adults (one Czech-ringed)
Sparrowhawk - 1CY male being a nuisance

Heysham nature reserve plus vis mig
Common Buzzard - one south (mobbed by Raven and Carrion Crow)
Whooper Swan - 5+ singleton (!) south
Mute Swan - 2 east
Pintail - flock of 22 south, then u-turned and headed north (seen from reserve)
Meadow Pipit - 11 SE
Chaffinch - 38 SW
Brambling - 1 SW
Reed Bunting - 4 S
Mistle Thrush - 1 SW
Skylark - 2 SW
Goldfinch - 20 SW
Greenfinch - 15 SW
Pink-footed Goose - 127 N, 116 S

Chiffchaff - 1 (collybita)
Goldcrest - c6
Blackbird - 40-45
Redwing - 20, most flew high inland
Song Thrush - 2
Water Rail - 1+
Long-tailed Tit - flock of 6 unringed birds trapped

Ocean Edge/Red Nab/outfalls
Wheatear - rather small juv Northern with injured left leg
Jack Snipe - one flushed from saltmarsh
Twite - c29 saltmarsh, some flew towards harbour
Linnet - 18
Skylark - one grounded on saltmarsh
Reed Bunting - 2 in saltmarsh spartina
Rock Pipit - one
Little Gull - adult outfalls
Arctic Tern - juv outfalls (amazing it has stayed in this calm weather!)
Knot - 17,000

Despite the lower temperatures, the wind direction was better for the moth trap: 3 Mottled Umber, 3 Feathered Thorn and 2 Silver Y.  Two worker social wasps seen and a single Red Admiral

Friday, 4 November 2011

Arctic Tern continues to enjoy the balmy weather

Heysham Obs
Sporadic coverage today involved a yomp round the periphery of the reserve (falling into a deep hole!) and a quick check of Ocean Edge.  Completely forgot to check the Twite in the rush to do a late afternoon check of the mudflats off Sunderland!

Heysham NR
Goldcrest - 4-5
Blackbird - c25
Treecreeper - 1
Woodcock - one eastern woodland again
Water Rail - absolute minimum of 6 squabbling (2 by dipping pond, rest in main marsh)

Ocean Edge/outfalls
Rock Pipit - one
Little Gull - adult stage one outfall
Arctic Tern - juv stage one outfall
Med Gull - two adults around

The solitary occupant, Scarce Umber, is a good record for here

Thursday, 3 November 2011

There is only one minutus

Heysham Obs
Brief visit produced:

Twite - 21 (of which, only 4 unringed birds seen).  Unfortunately, at least 3 Feral Pigeons have at last found the food, which could become expensive(!) and unsettle the Twite.
Little Gull - adult outfalls (but no sign Arctic Tern)
Med Gull - ad Red Nab
Lapwing - 151 Ocean Edge saltmarsh area

..........and no moths

Wednesday, 2 November 2011

Arctic Tern reappears at high tide

Heysham Obs
Just the southern coastal areas covered today in a rather intensive work-related manner!

Pink-footed Goose - flock of 220 south
Rock Pipit - 2
Arctic Tern - juvenile Heysham outfalls at high tide
Little Gull - adult seaward end of Heysham one outfall at low tide
Med Gull - 2 x 1CY briefly on the end of Heysham one outfall, also an adult there for a longer period
Kingfisher - one flew down OE saltmarsh channel
Twite - 23 OE saltmarsh, possibly more
Linnet - at least 15 OE saltmarsh

Red Admiral - 2 south along the tideline & another south whilst waiting at Moneyclose Lane traffic lights!  Feathered Thorn and Chestnut (the latter scarce here) in the moth trap

Tuesday, 1 November 2011

Decent coverage

Heysham Obs
Reasonably extensive coverage today with a few bits and pieces:

North harbour wall
Twite - 43 on feeder (& see below) in the morning; just 7 during a short ringing session in the afternoon.  These included a Machrihanish-ringed bird with the following details:

Ringed:  Machrihanish Seabird Observatory  3M  20/9/11
Recaptured: Heysham     28/10/11 & 1/11/11 (& probably seen mid-Oct)

Vis mig by the office 0730-0900
alba Wagtail - 1
Chaffinch - 55
Starling - 81+37
Redwing - 8
Siskin (H+)
Goldfinch - 13
Greenfinch - 3
Collared Dove - 1
Woodpigeon - 1
Mistle Thrush - 1

Power walk around the coastal circuit
Guillemot - one in the harbour by the intake
Twite - 15 'in-off' from the Walney direction, then flew across the harbour towards the mound
Little Gull - adult Heysham one outfall
Yet again we may have been denied a November Arctic Tern as there was no sign at low tide
Med Gull - two adults
Blackcap - male Nature Park but no other evidence of migrants on the dog track/nature park
Extra vis mig recorded during this walk (0915-1015) comprised 27 Chaffinch and 2 Meadow Pipit

Heysham NR late afternoon
Woodcock - one flushed eastern woodland
Blackbird - more than yesterday with c25 on circuit
Goldcrest - one NE corner along with another crest spp. nearby which refused to show itself in the gorse and might be worth a follow-up
Song Thrush - 3

Middleton NR (thanks Malcolm)
Water Rail - 2
Snipe - 2
Tufted Duck - 2
Teal - 5
Blackbird - 40+
Redwing - 7

Red-line Quaker in moth trap.  Rusty Dot Pearl disturbed from the Nature Park. Red Admiral dog track.  Single Common Darter, 2 Red Admiral and single Comma Middleton NR

Monday, 31 October 2011

Catching up with work................

Heysham Obs
................or trying too after a lengthy check of a surprising 189 moths of 24 species at my mega-site at Millhouses (migrants = Dark Sword Grass, Rusty Dot Pearl and Silver Y (2)).   Very rapid coverage at Heysham produced:

North harbour wall
Twite - 24
Linnet - 6
Meadow Pipit - 2 grounded

Stage one outfall low tide
Arctic Tern - juv
Little Gull - ad

Heysham NR
Dead - c10 Blackbird, one Song Thrush!

Heysham Moth trap
One each of the scintillating Agonopterix heracliana and Brown House Moth (wind needs to be in SW for this trap)

Sunday, 30 October 2011

Routine coverage ignoring GMT as you have to

Heysham Obs
Vis mig from dawn(ish)
Greenfinch - 41
Chaffinch - 64
Goldfinch - 32
Reed Bunting - 1
Meadow Pipit
Woodpigeon - 7+4
Meadow Pipit - 6 (inc flock of 4)
Brambling - 1
Redwing - 22
Bullfinch - 2
Jay - 2
Mistle Thrush - 1
Skylark - 2
Linnet - 3

North harbour wall/Ocean Edge
Twite - c25
Med Gull - 2 adults
Arctic Tern - juv Heysham one outfall
Twinnet - c22 of each Ocean Edge south beach at high tide

Grounded HNR
New Goldcrest and Chiffchaff ringed, Chiffchaff still in NE corner
Blackbird - c35
Redwing - 5
Wren - one unringed bird now ringed

Late Brimstone male NE corner, two Red Admiral & single Common Darter on circuit of reserve.  Single Feathered Thorn and Red-line Quaker in moth trap