Wednesday, 30 May 2012

Twitchable Burnet Companion attracts the hordes

Heysham Obs
In the absence of any redirected Hartlepool warblers (this fortunately turned up on my only 'work-free' day, in contrast to the bad miss with the Cream-coloured Courser), the highlight was yesterday's Burnet Companion moth in exactly the same place and being 'nailed' by photographers and moth twitchers.  On the same theme, an overnight sheet/light plus Robinson trap run below/from the classroom produced two new species, an unexpected Small Elephant Hawk-Moth and a range-extension for the spreading White Pinion-spotted.  

Burnet Companion Heysham NR.  Thanks Janet..  Tried also to upload its congenor, Mother Shipton, but problems!

Tuesday, 29 May 2012

Local Breeding birds

The third CES visit carried out this morning suggested plenty of breeding pairs of various species around the Obs Tower area this year.  Also young Long-tailed tits, Robins and Dunnocks captured.

Middleton NR - 06.00 - 07.40hrs.
Mute Swan - 14 (2 pairs, 1 with 10 cygnets)
Shelduck - 2
Mallard - 3 (2m/1f)
Tufted Duck (1m/1f)
Pheasant - 1
Grey Heron - 1
Kestrel - 1
Moorhen - 1
Coot - 6 (inc. 2 juv)
Lesser Black-backed Gull - 20+
Herring Gull - 5+
Woodpigeon - 4+
Swift - 3
Magpie - 6+
Carrion Crow - 4+
Swallow - 5
Chiffchaff - 1
Lesser Whitethroat - 2
Whitethroat - 6+
Grasshopper Warbler - 3
Sedge Warbler - 3+
Reed Warbler - 4+
Wren - 5+
Starling - 1
Blackbird - 8+
Song Thrush - 1
Mistle Thrush - 1
Dunnock - 3
Chaffinch - 10+
Greenfinch - 5+
Goldfinch - 4+
Linnet - 30+
Reed Bunting - 3+
(No Willow Warblers or Blackcap seen or heard)

Burnet Companion - 1 seen during butterfly transect near reserve entrance road - a very scarce species here.  What may have been a Poplar Kitten in the office trap this morning, also the first Eyed Hawk of the year and another Shaded Pug.  A worn highflyer spp awaits a check (both Ruddy and May occur here) .

Monday, 28 May 2012

Shaded by the pugs

North harbour wall 0445-0645
1 ad. Little Gull flying in.
3 Gannets across toward Walney & 1 out.
2 Mute Swans flew west half way across the bay then landed on the water to drift out on the ebb.

North harbour wall 0805-0835
Razorbill - 2 in close inshore, 5 in a bit further out
Arctic Tern - flock of 31 in, gaining height but not dramatically so at 0822
Black Tern - 2 with the above - would have missed them had they been on their own - really hard to see against the background of the Furness peninsula
Canada Goose - 2 in
Swallow - 23 in
Swift - 3 in together
Dunlin - 14 out (flock)

Amazingly, no heathaze, which was a real pain in the cold weather earlier in the month!

Middleton NR
Greylag - 7 on the model boat pond
Gadwall - pair, but no apparent chicks, in the central marsh
Reed Warbler - 3+ singing

A decentish moth catch by recent standards included the first three Shaded Pug of the year - a local speciality

24 Four-spotted Chaser seen Middleton during check from concrete central road also male Broad-bodied Chaser, a scarce insct at Middleton.  "A few" <10 Common Blue Damselfly over the water at the model boar pond but no sign of any larger dragonflies on there 

Sunday, 27 May 2012

Distant terns and the traditional peak time for wandering Canadas and Greylags!

Heysham Obs
Thanks to Pete for this morning's coverage which indicates that what were presumably (but safely 'spp'd' due to distance) Arctic Terns are still on the move in easterlies.  Unlucky not to have a Black Tern with them.  Canadas and Greylags like wandering around this time of year!

Heysham Harbour North Wall - 05.35 - 08.10hrs.
Canada Geese - 13 flying in
Greylag Geese - 5 flying in
Shelduck - 5 in
Gannet - 2 (1imm. in/1ad. out)
Whimbrel - 3 in
Commic Tern - 146 in but well out (flocks of 7/26/46/10/40/17) between 06.47 & 07.15
Swift - 7 (2 E from across bay / 5 NE)
Sand Martin - 2 NE
Swallow - 20 NE
House Martin - 1 NE

Saturday, 26 May 2012

Bits and bobs still on the sea from the last two days

North harbour wall
Yesterday – 06.30 – 07.35
3 Sandwich Terns
3 Swallow NE
2 Shelduck (looked like the pair from my previous visit – the female had distinctive white markings on head – but no sign of any of the ducklings. The pair flew off and I saw them again I think when i moved up to Middleton.
Today – 10.45 – 11.05 ish
1 adult Little Gull flew in and landed on oil-jetty skear
19 Commic Terns flew out to gather around stage 1 outfall. I went round to see if any were Common but by the time I got through gate 38 and onto the south wall they had moved on.

[Pom Skua and c17 Arctic and one Black tern entered the bay early morning at Rossall]

Thanks for the info, Pete

Friday, 25 May 2012

Common Tern at last!

Heysham Obs
Three of the team who have been covering the place pretty conscientiously this spring are largely unavailable for the next two weeks, so any help keeping a daily log going gratefully received - we don't mind missing the odd Red-backed Shrike on Middleton or the long-overdue Subalpine warbler on the next CES - perhaps more likely, looking at the forecast, a singing Rosefinch.  Given the forecasted 'perfect' easterly weather, it would be great if they were recorded as our track record for these late spring oddities (because there is too much cover to search for just one lost late migrant) is dreadful compared to the likes of nearby Walney, despite the rest of the year comparing favourably with these less-vegetated coastal sites

Perhaps more realistically, any moth trap records or dragonflies would help to keep the daily postings going

Sea 1000-1030
Common Tern - at last!!!! one in the channel feeding
Small White butterfly - 3 north
Flies - several unknown species in-off

Highlighted by a Lychnis.  Late news for yesterday - a Heart and Dart in the trap - the first of many one assumes

Thursday, 24 May 2012

Perfect CES weather and a few micros and vis

Heysham Obs
Nice calm murky weather again knocked the sea on the head, but allowed what, at this time of year, is usually a very quiet Middleton CES visit to be undertaken in near-perfect conditions

Middleton CES
The ringing included a couple of presumed breeding Grasshopper Warblers - again both unringed, despite 40+ being ringed there last year.  There has only ever seemingly been one ringed bird returning as a breeding adult, assuming we do ring and retrap most of the breeding birds and offspring.  This contrasts with a majority of the Sedge and Reed Warblers being returning ringed birds

Vis mig 0630-0930
Swallow - 34 NE
Sand Martin - 2 NE
Swift - 2 NE

Ancylis badiana and Timothy Tortrix were disturbed during the ringing activities on Middleton.  The hut trap was also micro-dominated with Cochylis atricapitana and both White-shouldered and Brown House Moths

Wednesday, 23 May 2012

Moths and unexpected retraps

Heysham Obs
A strange morning with a 'fret' knocking any seabird visibility on the head & encouraging a session with mist nets by the office interspersed with report writing.  The moths were good by recent standards and surely not all due to the recent revelations that moth trap bulbs lose their efficiency after a few months and should be replaced.  Certainly the hut trap blended bulb was looking a bit yellow and its replacement was a lot "whiter" but surely the upturn in moths was mainly due to temperatures/wind direction the last couple of nights?

Office ringing
A major surprise comprised three seemingly all male retrap Lesser Whitethroat caught in the same net in quick succession and all being ringed either as juveniles in autumn 2010 or 2CY in spring 2011.  None of these were breeding immediately locally but were surely not new arrivals??  Very odd.  In a similar vein was a retrap adult male Common Whitethroat from 2010 in the same net, again neither of the two noisy immediately-local males which still seem to be unpaired

Common Swift, Scalloped Hazel, Flame Carpet, Common Pug all kicked their year off whilst Hebrew Character and Clouded Drab were drawing their year to a close

Tuesday, 22 May 2012

Moths, baby shelduck and a trickle of migrants

Heysham Obs
By recent standards a phenomenal moth catch this morning of 10 moths of 7 species including year-ticks Muslin Moth (not annual here), Cinnabar and Rustic Shoulder Knot

Seawatch for 1.5hrs north wall
Wheatear - 4 in sandworks
Common Sandpiper - 1 along wall
Whimbrel - 1
Arctic Tern - flock of 7 in
Swallow - 16 NE
Goldfinch - 2 NE
Gannet - one out
Shelduck - pair brought 10 young from direction of Heysham Head and they were last seen feeding under the wooden jetty.  No idea where these came from with a Heysham head rabbit burrow perhaps being unlikely?

Red Nab high tide
Oystercatcher - 221
Bar-tailed Godwit - 20
Whimbrel - 1

Monday, 21 May 2012

Poms slip under the radar and a missing parrot

Heysham Obs
First the excuse (other than having a lot of work to do).  It is really difficult to know what seabirds, if any, move in the kind of weather we had this morning - it is often quite promising, but have you really got two hours to spare watching paint dry for the sake of a single skua sighting?  This is where Jenny Brown's Point comes in as it is decision-time for skuas and they can hang about wondering what to do, instead of being a one minute easy-to-miss wonder entering the Bay as seen from Heysham

Missed on the sea, but picked up at JBP
Pomarine Skua - At around midday, a flock of four light-morph watched approaching JBP from the outer bay (i.e. off here!) and headed up the Kent channel, then returned a few minutes later before landing distantly on the sea off the Keer mouth.  They were then joined by two other skuas of similar size, but they were too far away to be identified either to species or morph (thanks to Tom Wheeler for info)
Arctic Tern - flock of 9 off JBP

Heysham NR
Willow Warbler - two ringed, probably migrants

Middleton NR
Reed Warbler - four singing males
African Grey Parrot - thanks to Brian Russell for informing us of the presence of one of these 'last week' around the gun club building/model boat pond (assuming there is no other wirehopper which is 'pigeon-sized, grey with a bright red tail' - Brian did not see the head/bill properly?)

There were a few!  The moth trap held a White Ermine and Common Carpet.  Middleton NR produced teneral Four-spotted Chaser, teneral Common Blue Damsel and about 30 Large Red Damsel (central marsh only checked).  Heysham NR butterfly transect saw 30 Large Red Damsel, 13 Common Blue butterfly and single Orange Tip, Small White and Peacock (no Speckled Wood!)

Sunday, 20 May 2012

First Spotted Flycatcher ringed this millenium!

Heysham Obs
Sea 0500-0645
Light morph adult Pomarine Skua close in, then turned north-west and headed high towards Black Combe at 0523hrs
Mute Swan - 3 in
Gannet - 3 out
Sandwich Tern - 1

Office area
Two Spotted Flycatcher Obs Tower pond fence 0530hrs and a ridiculous ringing statistic (we had ringed 79 between 1980 and 1999) was revised at last with one in the net at about 0915hrs
Lesser Redpoll - 2 north, 1 later

Not much else by 1000 as report-writing/mist net checking/short break to post this was the order of the day with no time for pure observation.   Minor interest provided by a grey/olive-green migrant female Willow warbler in the nets and the first "1J" of the year, a speckled Robin, presumably from the office-area pair, which includes a partially-leucistic female

A text message indicated 9 Dotterel on Ingleborough - worth checking the local tops for this delayed passage?

Ringing recoveries
The following of interest.  The Coal Tit was one of three lengthy movements for this species involving north Lancs, perhaps all related to autumnal movement out of upland conifer origins.  The Blackcap shows that the odd admin. error can be made at Observatories which receive more birds than here - always worth checking your old ringing data for such omissions!

145062-          1                 04.06.11                       Puffin Island
Sighted            5                 18.02.12                       Heysham 109 km

Meadow Pipit
L742790        3                 15.10.11                       Sowley Pond (Hampshire)
Controlled      5                 24.03.12                       Heysham 376 km

R716088        3J               18.07.04                       Heysham
Controlled      5M             15.05.05                       Bardsey Is (Gwynedd) 190km

Coal Tit
L333947        3                 23.09.10                       Heysham
Controlled      6                 28.01.12                       Topthorn Barn (Cumbria) 40 km

Blue Tit
Y470538        5                 23.02.12                       Heysham
Controlled      5                 25.02.12                       Brookhouse 15 km in 2 days
Y333136        3                 14.10.11                       Heysham
Controlled      5                 11.02.12                       Bowerham 8 km

L999092        3                 20.09.11                       Machrihanish B.O (Argyll & Bute)
Controlled      5F              03.02.12                       Heysham              239 km
L999067        3                 20.09.11                       Machrihanish B.O (Argyll & Bute)
Controlled      5F              16.3.&25.2.12               Heysham

Reed Bunting
T825950        4F              13.08.08                       South Walney
Controlled      6F              16.03.12                       Heysham 19 km

An incredible grand total of 19 moths of 10 species in the trap for the WHOLE of May so far.  Not helped, of course, by the trap entrance facing east.  This morning excelled itself with three moths, including a late Common Quaker and an iconic Brown House Moth

Saturday, 19 May 2012

No heading suitable for a family audience

Heysham Obs
A statistic crossed my mind this morning.  If you added the temperature to the number of birds of interest, this must surely be the worst day ever, receiving a modicum of coverage, in the history of the Obs.   Low temperatures are normally pretty good for birds with e.g. the usual winter array of Meds and the like.  Saved by a Common Sandpiper.

Seawatch/reading the paper 0815-0845 in 6.5C
Gannet - one along the Cumbrian horizon
A Grey Seal

WeBS count in 7.5C
This was unbelievably bad with just TWO species of wader (even Curlew absent!).  Not a single passage small wader other than a Common Sandpiper along the north harbour wall.  All the Turnstone appear to have gone - the wooden jetty was carefully scrutinised from both sides and Red Nab/Ocean Edge foreshore and the tideline towards Middleton were completely devoid of anything small and wader or even any lingering Barwits and Grey Plover.  Even the immature Common Gulls have moved on (just 6 seen).

The Webs included:
Herring Gull - 114 non-breeding imms on Fisher's roof
Oystercatcher - 156 on Red Nab were the only ones in the recording area (heliport devoid of birds)
Common Sandpiper - one at the north roundhead flew into the harbour and landed along the western side

Ringed Plover - female with at least one chick on the gravel between the fence and the parked buses along the north wall
Linnet - flock of 17 on Ocean Edge feeding on weed seed


Friday, 18 May 2012

Bits on the sea

Heysham Obs
A short session on the north harbour wall was not completely useless

0710-0745 north harbour wall
Arctic Skua - lm on the sea, then in 0730
Gannet - 2 out
Razorbill or Guillemot - one out
Swallow - 21 in
House Martin - 9 in
Sand Martin - 1 in
Starling - adult and recently fledged young by gate

Middleton NR
Grasshopper Warbler - just one singing briefly
Gadwall - at least one and quite possibly two different pairs seen on two separate occasions

A fractionally better night still only produced one Brown Silver Line and one Herald

Thursday, 17 May 2012

Intriguing Gadwall

Heysham Obs
Just about got away with the CES this morning by making sure both the Heysham and Middleton ones were started at dawn.  Given the conditions, a surprising lack of migrants with just a hint of a handful of presumed migrant Sedge Warblers at Middleton at the end of the session and a couple of Wheatear on Ocean Edge

Gadwall - a male flew off the central marsh pond, leaving a female giving anxiety calls, but no young could be seen in the well-vegetated marsh.  At the same time, presumably the same male joined another male chasing another female around in the sky for what seemed to be ages, before pitching in around the Tim Butler pond
Reed Warbler - the other 'positive' from Middleton was at least 4 singing males which may have included the two already-ringed returning birds caught

The main downside of the Middleton CES was that only one Grasshopper Warbler was heard singing briefly, despite rather good conditions for singing birds.   The number of Whitethroat also appeared to be down with a majority of birds in peripheral scrub, rather than scattered throughout the wetland bramble/scrub areas as previous years.  Maybe they have not all arrived yet.

Vis mig
Lesser Redpoll - one flew NE over Middleton
Swallow - 6 flew NE over Middleton

No information

Still mothless!


Wednesday, 16 May 2012

Paint-drying sea & a few waders

Heysham Obs
The sea produced zero as far as I am aware unless the odd passing Shelduck counts as a 'sighting'

Ocean Edge
Grey Plover - 22
Dunlin - 18
Whimbrel - 4
Curlew - 64
Oystercatcher - 98
Bar-tailed Godwit - 1
Common Sandpiper - 1 (Red Nab)

Virtually no gulls on the incoming tide - all the Common Gulls seem to have dispersed with the PS outfalls producing little or no food.

This morning's weather-watch produced a unique combination of serious windscreen frost clearance and -2C to the accompaniment of singing Garden Warbler (scarce at High Tatham) and over-flying Swift

Still no moths in the hut trap

Tuesday, 15 May 2012

Nothing to say in a north-westerly

Heysham Obs
No moths and no birds other than 6 distant Gannets on an early-morning seawatch (thanks Jean, Pete, John).  A great day for going straight from home to the day's fieldwork without wondering what you were missing

Just prior to typing this, the highlight for the day was marble-sized hailstones for about 1 minute at High Tatham.  I have never known a spring like this for persistently polar weather - I have not set a moth trap (other than checking the 'constant-effort' trap at Heysham) for over a month during which time there have been no night temperatures above 8C!

Monday, 14 May 2012

Unproductive seawatch

Heysham Obs
Not a lot of time this morning and two short sessions were pretty useless with the feeling that the observations started too late.  Amazingly no Gannet or auk spp seen!

Sea 0615-0645, 0715-0750
Manx Shearwater - flock of 5 distantly out was the highlight of the morning!
Fulmar - one in
Arctic Skua - dm in distantly at 0635
Whimbrel - noisy flock of 14 out
Swallow - 2 in

Ocean Edge
Wheatear - 2
Linnet - flock of 17
no waders other than Oystercatcher

Sunday, 13 May 2012

Early morning seabird entertainment

Heysham Obs
One of those rare mornings when you had to scrabble for a piece of paper & could not keep all the figures in your head.  A continuous stream of inbound Gannets between 0615 and 0635, then the plug was pulled with no further ones 'in' until at least 0930 (other than an outbound trickle).  The Pomarine Skua was so nearly missed as it climbed into the sky before seemingly circling inland over Heysham Head.   The first Arctic Skua, in contrast, hugged the water and headed low into the Bay.  The seawatch died a death after about 0645 with only a close flock of 11 Razorbill of note and another Arctic Skua just after I left (thanks Pete & Mike)

Sea 0610-0720 & a few later sightings added in
Gannet - 106 in
Kittiwake - 21+19+13 in - first flock all 2CY, second & third flocks all ad! (58 out later)
Common Scoter - c25 distantly out
Guillemot - 3 out
Razorbill - 1+11 out
Guillemot/Razorbill - 41 out
Sandwich Tern - one out - the only tern seen
Pomarine Skua - light morph in/up/overland at 0630
Arctic Skua - lm in as soon as I arrived about 0612, dm in 0830hrs
Fulmar - 3 out
Swallow - 3 in
Whimbrel - 9 seen

Gadwall - male still lingering, fingers crossed re-nesting attempt
Hirundines etc:  30 House Martin, 15 Swallow and c12 Swift over and above the model boat and no swimming ponds

Saturday, 12 May 2012

Nestbox Monitoring

In the absence of any other interesting reports so far today, a round-up of the nestbox progress may suffice as a starter.

Of the 21 boxes in the scheme, 7 remain unused this season.
Great Tits occupy 10 boxes, Blue Tits only 3.
All the occupied boxes are at the incubation stage with the exception of two Great tit nests that contain young birds - broods of 6 & 7 young which were ringed today.
One box contains a very active colony of Bumble bees, Bombus hypnorum, and was not examined too closely!

The hut trap contained just one individual - Flame Shoulder.

During nestbox work:
Common Blues seen on the reserve and Landscape Strip
Brimstone seen in the Far Marsh area.


Friday, 11 May 2012

Not bad for a wind a bit too far to the north-west

Heysham Obs
A 'windy weather from the west' seawatch this early morning with, typically, no terns seen!

North harbour wall 0645-0915, dropping tide
Pomarine Skua - light morph adults into the Bay at 0715 and 0800, the latter very close inshore.  In addition, flocks of 23+14 'very dark' birds were seen flying 'in' then circling high before heading north-west over Black Combe.  They were thought to be skuas by the observer but too distant to be at all certain
Kittiwake - flock of c75 in, then on, then out.  6 in
Fulmar - 2 out
Gannet - probably about 15 in total, including a few immatures
Whimbrel - 10

Sea 1325-1425hrs
Arctic Skua - dm in at 1335
Gannet - 4
Sandwich tern - 2 out
Whimbrel - 1
Dunlin - 3

Thursday, 10 May 2012

Wet drought lie-in

Heysham Obs
Late news for yesterday concerns a female/imm Black Redstart around the office at 1000hrs (not the leucistic Robin on territory there!)

Today's 'highlight' so far is the fifth record of Least Black Arches in the moth trap.  Maybe some coverage of the tide when the wind swings to the SW and visibility improves, but hopefully, seabird late-in-the-day-wise, including a few beefy showers

Mid-afternoon check
Still near the middle of the weather system with hardly any wind & poor visibility

Ocean Edge beach:
Common Gull - 61
Black-headed Gull - 2
Wheatear - large female

"Seawatch" 1430-1450
Dunlin - flock of 13 NE, gaining height
a few large seagulls

Wednesday, 9 May 2012

Arctic Skua antics

Heysham Obs
An early morning start in calm conditions revealed the following during a short visit:

Arctic Skua - light morph chasing large gulls and anything else which moved for about 5 minutes before chased off by Black-headed Gulls - then circled high to the north (0605hrs)
Common Scoter - 4 in
Arctic Tern - 31+7 in
Whimbrel - flock of 17 in
Tree Pipit - 1NE
Lesser Redpoll - 2 NE
Goldfinch - 7NE
Linnet - 3 NE
Rock Pipit - very late migrant north wall
Swallow - 18 NE 0800-0900
House martin - 2 NE 0800-0900
Garden Warbler - one singing briefly by the office
Grasshopper Warbler - singing male in tank farm still singing 0900 (unpaired?)
Three Willow Warbler, a female Blackcap and 3 Whitethroat ringed first thing in very limited ringing effort

Hebrew Character and the first Cochylis atricapitana of the year

Tuesday, 8 May 2012

No north or east in the wind, no terns

Heysham Obs
Work is going to really downsize the coverage this spring from now onwards with quite a few early morning 'away days' in the next fortnight.  Help with coverage greatly appreciated, and probably the best chance of picking something up is to check the tide about 3 hrs before high tide as the sandbanks start to be covered.  Skua passage is hard work (some would say not worth the time spent!), but there have been some really good days over the years, especially if there is a mixture of sunshine and showers off a south-westerly or during easterly winds

Sea/reading the paper 0755-0835
Arctic Skua - dark morph blogging in the Kent channel - last seen heading 'in' low at 0820hrs
Red-throated Diver - one distantly out
Swallow - 6 NE
Goldfinch - 2 NE
No terns

Ocean Edge/finishing reading the paper 1200ish
Wheatear - 2 'greenland' males
No waders on beach

No moths for the fourth consecutive morning!

Monday, 7 May 2012

The forecast that wasnt

Heysham Obs
Geared up for night migrants this morning, then the skies cleared after thinking the early morning cloud to the south was the frontal edge.  Cue a passage of Tree Pipit and Lesser Redpoll & nothing to lure them into the nets until it was too late and sunny.  Not helped by locking myself out of the office at the critical time and having to waste time collecting a spare set of keys.  Lots of Swallows along the north wall but just one early group of Arctic Tern so far.  6 late Pinkfeet NW.  Best bird so far an early morning flava Wagtail (no detail seen on bird but sounded like flavissima)

Office early to 0900
Lesser Redpoll - at least 30 NE (largest flock 6)
Goldfinch - 27 NE
flava Wagtail - one NE
alba Wagtail - one NE
Tree Pipit - 4 NE
Linnet - 9 NE
Siskin - 2 NE
Swallow - 22 NE
House Martin - 1 NE
A scattering of grounded migrants but all mist net captures were pre-0630hrs as the sun in combination with wind put paid to any ringing thereafter

North wall 0610-0945
Great Skua - one in at 0755hrs (& one possible very distant skua spp earlier)
Gannet - 4
Sandwich Tern - just 5
Little Egret - feeding in channel along seawall - flew off north
Swallow - at least 204 with others passing behind observers
Goldfinch - just 5
Lesser Redpoll - 8
Whimbrel - 12
Kittiwake - distant flock of 50 presumed this species (but dont count in records)
Arctic Tern - a flock of c20 rose high in the air and disappeared very early on and this was the only evidence of movement with just 4 subsequent birds lingering
Sand Martin - 3
House Martin - 3
Swift - 1
Pink-footed Goose - 6 north
White Wagtail - one in-off, just about the only thing seen 0915-0945hrs
Meadow Pipit - one photographed by the heliport - late migrant or territory?  Thanks Janet:

Sunday, 6 May 2012

A bit below par for a south-easterly

Heysham Obs
South-east wind this morning but still very cold first thing with temperatures just above freezing

Seawatching highlights (0600 - 0900 hrs):
Arctic Skua - 2 dark morphs flew into the Bay along the Kent Channel at 0723 hrs
Arctic Tern - 216 flew into the Bay (largest group = 67)
Kittiwake - 28 in single flock circling offshore and gaining height
Whooper Swan - 4 flew north across the Bay at 0640 hrs

Also offshore: c.50 Eider, 8 Red-breasted Merganser, 3 Common Scoter, 14 Sandwich Tern, 1 Great Crested Grebe, 10 Swallow,

Whimbrel - 2 below North Harbour Wall, flock of 9 off Ocean Edge
Dunlin - Just 70 off Ocean Edge
Bar-tailed Godwit - 21
No Grey Plover or Ringed Plover today

NR office area:
Slow with just a meagre trickle of birds:
Tree Pipit - 2 (1 ringed)
Thanks John

Greylag Goose - two prospecting the Obs Tower pond for a short time
Lesser Redpoll - 4 NE (2 ringed)
Sedge Warbler - two singing by office first thing
Grasshopper Warbler - male singing tank farm
Goldfinch - 35 NE including flock of 19
Swallow - only about 25 NE
Linnet - 5 NE
Willow Warbler - just 3 ringed and two bounced out of net very early on
A large accipiter was reported this afternoon behaving like it was an escapee and thought to be female Goshawk-size.  Last seen landing in a tree along Moneyclose Lane, calling.  Any more info gratefully received.  Thanks.

Grey Seal offshore

Still no moths!

Saturday, 5 May 2012

Arctic Tern passage

Heysham Obs
First of all the summer plumaged Black-throated Dover was seen earlier yesterday morning, again on the sea. from Rossall and obviously floated in with the tide.  

Steady northward passage up until 8.20 when the (too northerly?) wind got up, the tide was well-in and it died a death.  Little else other than Sandwich tern and a gang of 6 Swift heading north over the sea.  Whoopers were late for here

Sea 0700-0845, 1005-1035
Arctic Tern - 374 in, maximum flock 57 & another 45 in 30 mins mid-morning = 419 in total.  Quite a few of these birds were sat on the sea before moving up the Bay and this may account for the big discrepancy between the more extensively-covered Rossall (6.5hrs).  On the other hand, some may have come from overland as has been observed in the past when the feeding area off the outfalls available (it is not available this year due to 'outage' at Heysham One Power Station, therefore all Arctic Terns have been strictly on passage)
Sandwich Tern - c25
Little Gull - adult in
Whooper Swan - 2 N
Red-throated Diver - 1 in (fsp)
Swift - 6 (flock) NE
Linnet - 6 NE
Swallow - 1!
Whimbrel - 1 in
Can anyone explain the lack of Goldfinch over Heysham this spring (two experienced vis miggers covering most mornings!) compared to Rossall?

Ocean Edge
Wheatear - 2
Dunlin - 370 (mostly if not all schinzii in summer plumage)
Grey Plover - 21
Ringed Plover - 15 (tundrae)
no sign of any Barwits

None - what a surprise!

Friday, 4 May 2012

Very distant Black-throated Diver pieced together

Heysham Obs
A combination of zoom lenses and a lengthy time period narrowed a diver down to either summer plumage Black-throated or Pacific with the flank patch seemingly clinching the more predictable option.  The remainder of the seawatch flattered to deceive with the list looking "fairly good" until the small print of "five hours" is read.  On land it was pretty dire, just the right day to do the CES ringing at both Heysham and Middleton, as we are not supposed to be catching migrants, are we?  The vis mig was also rather paltry compared to recent days.  Thanks to Dan and Jean for running the seawatching event

Sea 0600-1050hrs (multi-observed), 1130-1300 (Tony)
Arctic Skua - dark morph in 0930, flock of three (one LM) in the mouth of the bay c1045
Skua spp - one in at 0847hrs
Black-throated Diver - the observer with the highest quality zoom lens was convinced that all the requisite features were visible on a summer-plumaged bird at long range with others in the 'high degree of certainty' camp and no dissenters. Visible c0910-0930hrs
Red-throated Diver - 8
Sandwich tern - 24
Arctic Tern - 183, maximum flock 30, again rather distant in the absence of any food on Heysham one outfall
Gannet - 12
Common Scoter - 18 out
Kittiwake - 3 in
Pink-footed Goose - three sitting on the water together - also floated out later on!
Mute Swan - 2
Whimbrel - 4
Guillemot - one on

Vis mig combined
Lesser Redpoll - 11 NE
Tree Pipit - 1 NE
Swallow - 58 NE
House Martin - 2 NE
Linnet - 13 NE
alba Wagtail -  NE
Goldfinch - 16 NE

Redstart - female flew quickly inland through Middleton NR
Wheatear - just 3 seen today
Whitethroat - at least 2 migrants
Willow Warbler - no evidence of more than 2 migrants!

Harbour Porpoise - one offshore c1040hrs
Grey Seal - three together

Thursday, 3 May 2012

Early morning dross followed by a trickle

Heysham Obs
Interesting posting read yesterday gave a long list of birds enjoyed by the observer followed by "despite not being in the hide".  Along with several other early morning migration oddballs, I wouldn't touch a hide at this time of year, unless it was as a rest from birding.  There is so much happening overhead and within earshot as well as what might be visible in front of you.  However, the converse can be true, you can "sniff the air" at a ridiculous time of the morning, feel the wind is too far from the north, note the sky is clear and listen to the resident dawn chorus with no 'extra noises'.  In other words, its "dead" as happened at 0515 this morning!  Fortunately at this time of year, there are several options, notably staring at the sea, and this morning eventually livened up a bit and came up with a reasonable list

Sea 0610-0850
Swallow - 147
Linnet - 8
Goldfinch - just three!
House Martin - 4
Sand Martin - 1
Whimbrel - 15 (including flock of 11)
Sandwich Tern - c50
Arctic Tern - 95, most of them in one flock of 68
Arctic Skua - LM in 0615, DM in 0755
Skua spp - probable very distant LM Pom at 0720
Kittiwake - 25
Cormorant - two high to the NE overland
Gannet - 6
Auk spp - 2
White Wagtail - 2
Lesser Redpoll - 1
Swift - 2
Common Scoter - 8 out

Ocean Edge
Wheatear - 12
White Wagtail - 2
Little Gull - 2CY
Kittiwake - ad
Common Gull - 71
Black-headed Gull - 63
Med Gull - usual 2CY
Grey Plover - 22
Bar-tailed Godwit - 140
Dunlin - 120

Office area
Swallow - 25 NE
Sand Martin - 1 NE
Lesser Redpoll - 4 NE - all before nets set at 0515hrs!!
Willow Warbler - about 15 migrants seen (9 ringed)
Goldfinch - 21 NE
Grey Heron - 3 north at dawn

Brown Silver Line started its year

Grey Seal
2 off north wall

Wednesday, 2 May 2012

Nice varied morning of migration

Heysham Obs
Well worth the backtrack and 1.5hrs migration coverage from Jean (sea) and myself prior to returning back past my house to go and work in a mobile/internet-free dale near Hawes.  Alan also put in a major effort covering the mist-netting side of things from dawn.  John and Pete also helped the coverage and the only shame was missing the flock of four Poms which must have gone through us at about 0930 (tracked past Blackpool/Rossall but no seawatching here 0815-0935)

Anyone responsible for Lesser Redpoll L458922?

North harbour wall 0635-0810, 0935-1135
Pink-footed Goose - big departure (for early May): 220+80+140+120 north prior to 09.40
Common Scoter - 3 out
Gannet - 23
Peregrine - 1 in off sea flying E over HM Bay
Whimbrel - 3 in 
Pomarine Skua - single light morphs in at 0755 & 0805 (see above)
Arctic Skua - 3 in (2 dark at 10.18 / 1 light at 10.56)
Kittiwake - 59 in (4/ 17 / 38)
Sandwich Tern - 62 in/blogging
Arctic Tern - 154 in (largest flock just 29)
Swallow - 0935-1135: 139 NE along wall & offshore (probably only c.50% of movement - many coming in behind me)
Willow Warbler - 3 early one (one ringed on right leg, therefore not one of ours from this morning), 1m later singing in sea buckthorn
Wheatear - 10
Whinchat - one male
alba Wagtail - one north
Meadow Pipit - 19 NE (more heard)
Goldfinch - only 6 NE!
Linnet - 1 NE!

Office vis intermittently/ringing 
Lesser Redpoll - c27 NE (5 ringed and one control)
Swift - one NE
Swallow - c37 NE
Siskin - 5 NE
Tree Pipit - one NE
Sedge Warbler - one singing tank farm

Mist netting included the above Lesser Redpoll, 30 Willow Warbler plus a few Chiffchaffs, Blackcaps, Lesser Whitethroats and a single Common Whitethroat 

When these were received from Janet (thanks Janet) this evening, the first thought was that they were early (especially the Common Carpet moth).  However, it is early May, even thought the temperatures and those for the immediate future don't feel like it.  Anyone able to say whether these are Azure or Common Blue damselflies, please?

Tuesday, 1 May 2012

A much quieter and colder day

Heysham Obs
Bitty coverage due to work and maybe lack of incentive produced:

Ocean Edge 20 minutes 0930-0950hrs
Swallow - 102 NE (over 1000 in four hours 0600-1000 over Rossall)
House Martin - 17 NE
Dunlin - 85
Grey Plover - 3
Med Gull - usual 2CY

Arctic Tern - flock of 31 mid-pm headed up the bay after a bout of feeding.  I wish Heysham One Power Station would get back on line as the favoured feeding area seems to be food-less at the moment and many recent sightings have been quite distant (but identifiable range from Common) flocks heading straight past!
Sandwich Tern - 4 early morning
Swift - one NE
Just a handful of swallows reported
The north wall appears to be wrong side of the PS for hirundine passage in these NE winds, also many of the birds which are coming through this side flying 'behind' observers through the harbour

Wheatear - c22 with a flock of 7 on Middleton NR and at least 10 in the Power Station non-op land but none on Ocean Edge!
No other indication of grounded migrants but no mist-netting today