Wednesday, 29 February 2012

Wildfowl influx and a lone Lapwing

Heysham Obs
A trickle of unringed birds continued to appear at the feeder, including single Long-tailed Tit, Robin, Dunnock Chaffinch and Blue Tit as well as a few Goldfinch and Greenfinch.  Not a massive movement, but indicative that things are beginning to happen

Ringing recoveries
A batch were received from the BTO this afternoon.  Last year's Greenfinches included one from Walney and two to Walney during the course of last autumn, also a winter recovery near Crewe.  A Blue Tit nestling from Burton Wood was caught at Heysham last autumn complementing the one ringed last week (23rd) which was caught two days later (25th) at Brookhouse.  Another Heysham-ringed Blue Tit from last autumn continued along the coast where it was re-caught at Knott End

See above
Grey Wagtail - one north
Red-throated Diver - one flew out of the bay distantly

North wall
No feedback from observers visiting the harbour mouth
Med Gull - Czech-ringed bird on the seawall railings - it will be off soon, hopefully to return in late July
Twite - 27

Middleton model boat pond
Tufted Duck 19, Pochard male and female, Goldeneye 2
Male Lapwing on territory on the spit early morning, but not later

A record single-night catch for here of 6 Dotted Border, also the first March Moth of the year and yet another Chestnut. A tiny moth was also found which has yet to be identified.  Watch this space!

Peacock - 1 flying around the outside of the hut early pm.

Tuesday, 28 February 2012

very un-thorough coverage!

Heysham Obs
All I am aware of was 15 Twite on the seed this morning and an unexpected lack of moths in the trap at Heysham NR

Monday, 27 February 2012

Thorough coverage

Heysham Obs
Plenty of coverage today including a visiting couple from Dorset.  Thanks for all your records

Middleton NR
2 little grebe (first since mid-December?). The first one I heard then located in a regular location on Tim Butler Pond. The second was on the Western Scrape. 
Other wildfowl slightly increasing: 4 mute, 7 coot, 7 moorhen,13 mallard,19 tufted,4 gadwall, 2 goldeneye, 1 pochard

North harbour wall
No food left at the Twite feeding station when I arrived (1000ish) and the flock took quite a time to return
Twite - 17 early morning, then flew off and did not return until mid-afternoon, apart from a single bird which remained around the feeding station
Linnet - two around the feeding station
Goldfinch - one as above
Med Gull - two adults on fisher's roof over the tide
Shag - FIVE still early morning
Guillemot - one SW corner harbour
Purple Sandpiper - two along the seawall at high tide

Kittiwake - at least one 2CY

Office area
Siskin - one heard

Clouded Drab is very early for here, also single Pale Brindled beauty and Dotted Border 

Sunday, 26 February 2012

Subtle movement

Heysham Obs
Thanks to Macclesfield RSPB group for many of the coastal records
North wall
Twite - 29 first thing. 25 later
Shag - at least one
Kittiwake - at least one
Eider - 70 offshore
Meadow Pipit - one sandworks
Purple Sandpiper - two roosting on wooden jetty
Little Gull - 2CY harbour mouth
No Med Gulls seen by Macclefield RSPB group, despite careful coverage

Office area
The post title was particularly relating to the two unringed Long-tailed Tits which were caught this morning on different mist net rounds - most unexpected at this time of year.  In a similar, but more routine vein were two unringed Blue Tits, unringed Robin and single figures of unringed Gold/Green/Chaffinches

Green Woodpecker - heard several times around the north end of the reserve

Bit of a 'purple patch' for this site, usually useless in February, with 2 x Chestnut (the first time ever more than one has been caught on a single night, I think!), a different Agonopterix heracliana and a single Dotted Border

Saturday, 25 February 2012

Nice day for the Twite Recovery project team

Heysham Obs
A successful day for the visit by the Twite Recovery project team organised by the RSPB (Kerry Jenny & Tim).  As well as the highest count of the year (53), the group were able to see a small catch in the hand which included a Machrihanish-ringed bird.  Thanks to Emma for facilitation and use of the classroom

Harbour area
Kittiwake - one adult
Shag - 2 feeding along the north harbour wall
Guillemot - one
Twite - 53 (at least 6 unringed)
Goldfinch - one
Meadow Pipit - 2
Med Gull - two adults
Skylark - 3 north, possibly four

Kittiwake - 2-3 2CY

Suburban Heysham
Green Woodpecker in the NE corner of the recording area

Plain form of Agonopterix heracliana

Friday, 24 February 2012

Early signs of migration and Green Woodpecker reappears

Heysham Obs
Bearded miscreant (see rear view pic a few days ago) flushed all the Oystercatchers (just) pre-high tide off the heliport - fortunately most of them landed on the Near Naze, but a fair proportion ended up supplementing some intertidal work in the Red Nab/Ocean Edge saltmarsh area

Kittiwake - flock of 32 heading into the bay, then landed on the sea
Skylark - at least 5 north
Lesser Black-backed Gull - at least 85 around, noticeable influx

Kittiwake - 3 2CY

Red Nab
Wigeon - 46

North harbour wall area
Guillemot - one
Shag - one
Twite - 24 but very flighty due to disturbance, later c46
Meadow Pipit - on on the seed!
Med Gull - one adult
Purple Sandpiper - at least one roosting on the wooden jetty

Middleton NR
4 mute, 5 coot, 1 moorhen, 17 tufted duck,,1 pochard (f), 2 goldeneye, 4 gadwall (1 pair on "no swimming" 1 pair on fence pond), 3 teal, 5 mallard
Green Woodpecker

The second Hebrew Character of the year

Thursday, 23 February 2012


Heysham Obs
North harbour wall
Twite - 20+ but disturbed
Guillemot - one SW corner harbour
Shag - none located for the first time this year
Kittiwake - 2
Med Gull - one adult

Heysham N Reserve
A short ringing session included a Great Tit ringed as a local nestling in May 2006

One Dotted Border

Wednesday, 22 February 2012

Wild and woolly

Influx of large gulls today but no white-wingers.  Worth checking any similar accumulations along Morecambe seafront.

North Harbour Wall
Twite - 39
Goldfinch - 3
Mediterranean Gull - 2 adults
Shag - at least 3
Kittiwake - at least 4

Little Gull - predictable return of 2CY
Kittiwake - 3 x 2CY

Tuesday, 21 February 2012

Gadwall, Twite, Meds and Moths

Gadwall still in residence on fence pond.
40 Twite on feeder & two ad Med north wall. 
Pale Brindled Beauty in moth trap. 

Monday, 20 February 2012

Twite increase

 A selection of recent pics taken by Janet (Kestrel and one of Sunday's three heliport miscreants) and Pete Cook (Purple Sandpiper).  On Sunday, during survey work, just three people saw fit to walk along the heliport seawall at or near high tide out of well over 100, mainly dog walkers, using Half Moon Bay beach and adjoining grassland, but the first of these (and two dogs) led to a roosting flock of 2,700 Knot leaving the site 

Heysham Obs
An increasingly windy and wet day saw a lot of computer screen and not a lot of birds

North harbour wall
Twite - between 37 (early morning) and 42 (lunchtime) on and around the seed, including an absolute minimum of 7 unringed birds and at least one 2011 Machrihanish-ringed bird
Goldfinch - 3 with above
Med Gull - one adult
Kittiwake - 3 2CY on Heysham 2 outfall, waterfall area not checked

Middleton NR
Gadwall - still two pairs on the fence pond
4 Mute Swan, 6 Coot, 3 Moorhen, 14 Tufted Duck, 6 Mallard, 1 Pochard, 2 Goldeneye, 1 Snipe
10 Redwing a little unexpected

The first Hebrew Character of the year graced the trap, quite early for here

Sunday, 19 February 2012

Coastal two and four-legged counts!

Heysham Obs
If any dog-walkers or power walkers/strollers etc are reading this, please stay off the old heliport seawall at or near high tide.  A dog walker census was undertaken for Half Moon Bay and the grassy areas above - anyone interested in the results?  The bottom line is that there are plenty of dog-exercising areas in and around Heysham without the need to disturb large numbers of roosting waders.

Inshore areas
Med Gull - 2CY briefly to bread near the zoo cafe - wonder where this bird is spending most of its time? One adult patrolling th north wall
Knot - a return to some use of the heliport seawall, albeit flushed by the first dog walker at 0900hrs, whence 1,300 roosted on the Near Naze over the tide and 2,700 flew south to join another 2,500 off Ocean Edge
Bar-tailed Godwit - very quick count of OE saltmarsh saw 2,900 and one roosted over the tide with Knot on the Near Naze
Dunlin - as above revealed about 3,700
Shag - four 2CY left, including the ringed bird which was sorted out as one of two from Puffin Island - just couldnt be certain whether the last number was a 1 or 7
Kittiwake - 5 2CY in harbour
Guillemot - one near the harbour mouth
Purple Sandpiper - at least one roosting on the sunny south side of the wooden jetty
Twite - at least 13, including nine examoned of which two were unringed and one was from Machrihanish 2011

Agonopterix heracliana in its plainest form graced the trap (thanks John)

Saturday, 18 February 2012

Whistle stop

Heysham Obs
A very brief visit just after lunch saw:

Harbour/outfalls area
Kittiwake - now back up to five around the waterfall and one on the outfalls
Shag - just two visible in brief check
Twite - heard near the feeder
Med Gull - adult patrolling north wall

Friday, 17 February 2012

Finches and wildfowl increase

Heysham Obs
Sorry for the late posting - thought someone else was doing it

North harbour wall
Twite - c35 first thing, including some unringed birds
Med Gull - ad on beach off heliport

Office feeder
Four unringed Goldfinch and three unringed Greenfinch in the feeder net, plus single 'new' Great and Blue Tits

Middleton NR
Wildfowl still increasing: Mute Swan - 4, Coot - 6, moorhen - 3, mallard - 7,
teal - 7,  Tufted duck - 15, Gadwall - 4 (2m + 2f), Goldeneye - 2 (f/j), Pochard - 1 (f)

Thursday, 16 February 2012

Moths lead the way

Heysham Obs
Harbour area
Twite - c16 at the south of the sandworks, but not a scrap of food left on the feeder at 0930hrs!  After stocking the feeder, 33 were seen early afternoon with 'several' unringed birds
Goldfinch - one same area, later 3
Shag - two visible roosting on platform, including the ringed bird which is definitely not darvic-ringed on the left leg, narrowing the likelihood from observed numbers down to the usual Puffin Island source.  We need the last ring number, but the access is currently closed due to fence construction/demolition work!
Med Gull - adult patrolling
Eider - at least 63 offshore

The first record for here of the fuscata form of Dotted Border along with a Chestnut

Wednesday, 15 February 2012

Nothing obviously new in

Heysham Obs
Just to remind people, if you are returning from (light better later in the day) visiting Heysham, its well worth taking a few minutes to turn right at the Overton turning along the bypass and view Heaton/Aldcliffe marsh from SD444608.  A break between tidal counts today saw 350 Pinks with 2 Euro Whitefronts with them and the highly synchronous and wary Lesser Snow Geese with the 250 or so Greylags

Inshore sightings
Twite - 12 trapped and 6 of those were unringed birds.  Earlier about 30 seen.
Med Gull - two adults on the mudflats
Shag - at least two
Kittiwake - two 2CY outfalls/harbour mouth
Ringed Plover - 19 off Ocean Edge all day
Wigeon - 84
Goldfinch - one on the seed
Meadow Pipit - one sandworks

Another Pale-brindled Beauty, this time a melanistic individual.

Tuesday, 14 February 2012

A February moth at last and an offshore mystery

Heysham Obs
A flurry of activity early on soon degenerated into office work.  Sorry should have posted the offshore mystery earlier to alert people.

Eider - at least 60
unidentified probable small grebe - this was seen in flight with structure and distribution of white on the wing suggesting a small grebe (female Goldeneye eliminated), although it was very distant.  It then landed on the water and couldnt be relocated although it was about "half the size" of a Great-crested Grebe at a similar distance further north

Harbour area
Twite - at least 18
Med Gull - at least one adult
waterfall area not checked by me

Pale Brindled Beauty was new for the year and not guaranteed every year here

Monday, 13 February 2012

Cetti's highlights reasonable variety

Thanks Janet - the bottom four could make a nice mystery pic
Heysham Obs
A vocal Cetti's Warbler in the central marsh mid-afternoon

Harbour area
Twite - 33, 7 unringed, 2 ringed at Machrihanish in autumn 2011
Goldfinch - one with above
Med Gull - 2 adults
Guillemot - one
Shag - four
Kittiwake - one
No obvious sign of any Purple Sandpiper

Little Gull - 2CY, then flew offshore as the tide came in

Middleton NR
Cetti's Warbler - one calling central marsh
Returning wildfowl to thawed water comprised:  4 mute swan, 6 coot, 5 moorhen, 9 tufted duck, 2 female goldeneye, 3 teal, 5 mallard

Sunday, 12 February 2012

Poor visibility

Thanks to Rosie and Mario

Heysham Obs
Intertidal work knocked on the head today and its not going to be easy for Sunday WeBS counters

Harbour area
Shag - four by waterfall
Kittiwake - just one by waterfall
Med Gull - two adults on sandflats off north wall
Purple Sandpiper - two north harbour wall
Guillemot - rather dishevelled individual by waterfall at high tide (out of the underground area of water??)

Saturday, 11 February 2012

The seabirds continue to slip away

Heysham Obs
The Shags are at last beginning to depart with Kittiwakes reduced to just one individual today

Med Gull - two adults
Shag - absolute maximum of 5
Kittiwake - 1
Twite - 24, but very flighty
Purple Sandpiper - at least one

Heysham NR
Chaffinch - one with what appears to be someone elses ring (R877817) but havnt got access to IPMR to check.  Later news: no it isn't but one of ours ringed in 2005 and not seen since!
Blackbird - either an influx or birds targeting the softer ground of the churned up verges where Moneyclose lane has been resurfaced - looking at the number of unringed birds, probably the former with the birds using the latter!  22 were seen on a vist to Ocean Edge mid-afternoon

Friday, 10 February 2012

Purple Sandpipers cooperating again

Small numbers of Curlew were roosting during today's WeBS count (thanks Janet)

Heysham Obs
The Purple Sands were actually seen on the north harbour wall yesterday (thanks Barry) and today were by Heysham One outfall before transferring to the north wall

Inshore areas
Wigeon - 84 outfalls area
Med Gull - two adults north wall, one adult on Fisher's roof
Twite - c20 by north wall roundhead
Purple Sandpiper - see above
Kittiwake - at least 4
Shag - at least 6

Thursday, 9 February 2012

More salt-spreading than birding

Heysham Obs
Lethal conditions today as the milder drops of water descending from the sky met the cold ground, producing a skating rink

North harbour wall
Twite - 27, including 2011 Machrihanish-ringed bird and c6 unringed birds
Goldfinch - 3
Med Gull - 2 adults

Harbour at high tide
No sign of any Shags or Kittiwakes, but access restricted (no access through Gate 38 during fencing operations) and wooden jetty area not checked

Heysham Nature Reserve
Greenfinch - at least 25 - they have increased, as usual in early February, the last two days
Siskin - one heard by office
Green Woodpecker - heard distantly by office

Suburban SD46A
Blackcap - male and female coming to feeder Tranmere Crscent

Wednesday, 8 February 2012

Sunny Med Day

Heysham Obs
The Meds attended the morning anglers in cold but very sunny conditions:

The Czech-ringed bird photographed today (Thanks Janet)

Not particularly regular north of the harbour (thanks Janet)

North harbour wall
Twite - c16 morning, "large flock" in the afternoon
Goldfinch - 2
Med Gull - 2-3 adults

Shag - 7

Tuesday, 7 February 2012

Quiet weather, quiet birds

Artistic selection from the harbour area.  Thanks Janet - note the Czech-ringed Med

Heysham Obs
Not a lot happening today other than a further increase in Shelduck in the Red Nab area to just under 200.  The main surprise was a Golden Plover which flew inland with a gang of Lapwing mid-morning.  The cold weather has also dampened the enthusiasm of the early-season songsters with only Robin, Great Tit and Dunnock intermittently holding forth on the reserve

North wall
Med Gull - 2 adults
Twite - zero
Meadow Pipit - 1
A bit too hazy to count Eider

Kittiwake - 5
Shag - 6 - the ringed bird has a sequence ?1(4)6062? but is not traceable on these numbers

Outfalls/Red Nab area
Wigeon - 92
Shelduck - 189
Turnstone - 31
Golden Plover - 1, then inland
Kittiwake - 1 outfalls

Ringing by the office
About half a dozen new Chaff/Green/Goldfinches and a retrap Goldcrest.  Certainly no obvious influx of birds on to the feeders in the cold, but sunny & not wind-chilling weather

Monday, 6 February 2012

Mid-morning visibility reveals an Eider invasion

Thanks Janet - these were the closest ones!
Heysham Obs
One of the least auspicious days on the ringing front - Twite net fired by accident and the birds did not return, a readable Shag ring missed because of no steadying tripod available (you can't hand-hold a scope on 50x), the 2CY Med Gull also flying off unread and about 5 birds in 5 hours 'ringing' by the office.  Must do better, starting with some bread for the Med

Distant Eider were prominent once the weather cleared, mostly in the outer Kent channel at a range where, with 50 x, you could just about ensure there were no drake kings

Harbour area
Shag - the six juveniles still by the waterfall.  One of these is ringed on the right leg - perhaps the most 'ginger' of the six remaining birds.  The only chance of reading this ring is when it sits on the platform. Please note that the first important thing is not to try and read as many numbers as possible but to see where the 'join' is on the ring and therefore work out what the last number is, then work back.  A Shag which has definitely been ringed in 2011 (as this bird) should be traceable on the last four numbers, and certainly the last five.  If the join is not visible and the last number not viewable, please try and read the rest as it should be traceable to location although obviously not individual.  Thanks.
Kittiwake - still 5 around this morning
Meadow Pipit - one sandworks
Song Thrush - one mound
Blackbird - female sandworks
Twite - just 5
Med Gull - 2 adults and the 2CY was up at the zoo cafe end of the north wall

Eider - 208
Great-crested Grebe - 4

Sunday, 5 February 2012

One degree fog

Heysham Obs
No chance of intertidal survey work today!

North harbour wall
Med Gull - 2 adults, including Czech-ringed bird, on fence by anglers
Twite - 14-15 on seed (one out of 5 examined unringed)
Goldfinch - 3 on seed
Blackbird - female sandworks buckthorn

SW corner harbour
Kittiwake - just two left - ad & 2CY
Shag - still 6 by waterfall
Black Redstart - almost certainly this sitting facing (therefore definitely not Robin and 99% certain not Dunnock) on the corner of a yellow container at the north end of the the Fisher's warehouse at about 1455hrs, but couldnt relocate it (no access).  This thing, assuming the same bird, is really elusive in the extensive access-restricted suitable habitat!

Heysham village
Female Blackcap new for the year in Malcolm's garden = within the recording area in middle of SD46A

Saturday, 4 February 2012

Icy pressure gradient

Heysham Obs
Harbour area
Shag - 6 by the waterfall
Kittiwake - just 7 seen
Med Gull - adult fisher's roof
Twite  - none first thing but a flock of 24, including at least 7 unringed birds, at lunchtime
Dunnock - 2 with above

Red Nab/Ocean Edge
Shelduck - 92 feeding on inland bit of Red Nab
Bar-tailed Godwit - 1,810 & others towards Potts Corner in the next count sector

Friday, 3 February 2012

Dwindling seabirds

Heysham Obs
Its interesting that the one species I would have thought would high-tail it out of the place as soon as the weather calmed down, on past form, would have been Shag.  This is the only one where numbers seem to be holding up as the food source by the waterfall is obviously lucrative.  Kittiwake numbers have really nosedived this last three days and the Guillemots seem to have drifted offshore.  Unfortunately, the calm weather has also failed to reveal the whereabouts of the two Purple Sandpiper and this is of come concern.

What was almost certainly the elusive Black Redstart was seen again three days ago - flushed from the back of the sandworks and flying straight across the harbour ro the Fisher's side

Shag - 6 in harbour
Kittiwake - only 5 seen
Twite - c10 in two small flocks, including a retrap Machrihanish bird, ringed in autumn 2011 and caught at Heysham last October/November
Med Gull - 2 adults

Office area
Greenfinch - 5 unringed birds caught (no retraps)

Not before time, three more Cumbrian blog/websites have been added to the links. Re-LDBWS, the South Cumbrian blogsite has some useful postings from the north of our recording area, which does include the whole of SD58 & 68 and SD48 east of the Winster. One revelation was that someone else other than myself actually does occasionally check Wyndammere and birding in this area is not limited to the Barbondale honeypot.  The Furness site indicates the sort of level of gull-watching, (especially along Morecambe Prom?) needed in this area during the next few weeks of this record Iceland Gull winter

Thursday, 2 February 2012

2011 Heysham Obs report ready

Heysham Obs
The 2011 report is ready and printed.  Thanks very much to Tony Moriarty for facilitating this and EDF Energy for use of their photocopier.  The report can be obtained from Heysham NR office or Leighton Moss for £2-50 per copy

As Heysham is primarily a migration monitoring site, it acts as a barometer for what is going on at the relevant time of year in a wider regional context.  So even if you have no intention of visiting, the content is by no means 'site-specific' and will be useful if you want to learn about general migration in this area, the species involved and the time of year to look for them.  For example, the seabird information will be helpful if it is more convenient for you to watch from the Stone Jetty, the Carnforth Slag Tips or Jenny Brown's Point as a significant proportion of the same birds are involved on any given day.

Anyone wanting a postal copy, please send a cheque for £3-50 (not £3 as was accidentally published elsewhere) to Pete Marsh, Leck View Cottage, Ashley's Farm, High Tatham LA2 8PH & dont forget to leave your address!

Heysham NR
Siskin - male in the alders giving a short burst of song
Water Rail - at least one, probably two in the reedbed

Harbour pm
Shag - 6
Kittiwake - c15
Guillemot - 1

North wall pm
Twite - 16 in the afternoon, c30 reported in the morning
Linnet - 3
Goldfinch - 1
Blackbird - 1
Eider - 2 males
Thanks Pete

Wednesday, 1 February 2012

Single Siskin

Harbour SW Corner
5 Shags
18 Kittiwakes

North Harbour Wall
1 Guillemot
2 Adult Med Gulls
33 Twite to Nyger

HNR office area1 Siskin caught and ringed

Middleton NR
Gadwall - pair

Thanks for these, Janet