Thursday, 28 February 2013

Waxwings again

Heysham Nature Reserve
3 Waxwings flew NE over the reserve at 1315hrs, heading towards Heysham village
Further evidence of birds shifting around came in the form of the following unringed birds caught:
Blue Tit, Great Tit, Long-tailed Tit, Dunnock and a dozen Greenfinches.
A Common Buzzard flew NE at midday.

North Harbour Wall
Twite 45 - at least 5 unringed
Red-throated Diver - 1 offshore
Knot 1700 - below the heliport

Wednesday, 27 February 2013


Our international correspondants have now sent details of Med 3CY.  This Belgian youngster was ringed as a chick in Antwerp on 17/05/2011 with ring no. E929291.

Other news from the North Harbour Wall today:
Mediterranean Gull - one of the adults around
Turnstone have increased to 150.
Twite 17 at 10am

That was it 2 hours before high tide (unless you want to include the 13 Cormorants, 1 Magpie, 7 GBB Gulls and 2 Herring Gulls on the wooden jetty).

Tuesday, 26 February 2013

The Great Med Mystery - almost solved

Super sleuths Packham and Cook continued to track down the 3CY Med and, armed with no more than slices of cheap bread and rather expensive cameras, took more covert photos of its leg ring to, hopefully, reveal the secrets of this bird. 
Here we can see the the first letter and number very clearly.
And here are the last three numbers.
When enlarged this appears to read 9291 but it's not really clear enough to clinch it.
Attractive though its legs might be, here's the rest of the bird showing its attached body and wings!
Investigations continue via our international contacts and we hope to bring the results soon.
The usual adult Meds were on the railings at the north Harbour Wall.
Visit to top-up nyger seed at lunchtime but only c20 Twite seen flying across the harbour.   


Monday, 25 February 2013

Excellent visibility

 Excellent visibility but nothing unusual about (up to 1310hrs anyway).

North Harbour Wall
Twite 60, Goldfinch 2, Robin 1, Dunnock 1, Pied Wagtail

Mediterranean Gull 1 adult, Black-headed Gull 124, Herring Gull 46

Wooden Jetty
Turnstone 127, no sign Purp Sand.
Great Black-backed Gull 12, Cormorant 26

Red Nab
Redshank 10, Curlew 86, Shelduck 37, Wigeon 68, Lapwing 48, Knot 1, Black-headed Gull 52, Lesser Black-back 2, Oystercatcher 290

Black-headed Gull 30

The only other bird of "note" was a Siskin which flew over the dogwalk track.

Middleton NR
1 stoat in full ermine
5 mute (3 juvenile)
9 coot
4 moorhen
7 gadwall (1 "spare" male)
3 tufted
2 pochard
1 goldeneye
17 teal
10 mallard
1 little grebe
4 snipe
10 redwing

Sunday, 24 February 2013

More Twite

North Harbour Wall
Increase in Twite from previous days
52 Twite
Only 3 unringed and at least 1 Machrahainish bird red / white
2 Linnet
1 Robin
2 Med Gulls Adult and 2nd Winter
Red-throated Diver in at 1330hrs

Heysham Reserve
20+ Mixed Finches Greenfinch Chaffinch and Goldfinch

Friday, 22 February 2013

Med Gulls

North Harbour Wall

The two usual adult Med Gulls came to bread.
But no sign of the 2nd Winter.
Also 30+ Twite and 3 Goldfinch, 1 Song Thrush, 1 Robin and 2 feral pigeons.
Red-breasted Merganser - pair in channel at high tide

Twite observed at 0900hrs:
1 out of 22 birds unringed
2 Machrahanish birds - 1 x red over white , 1 x green over white

Middleton NR - Model Boat Pond
Mute Swan  - 2 adult and 3 juvs
Tufted Duck - 2 male, 1 female
Coot - 4
Lesser Black-backed Gull - 1
Black-headed Gulls and Herring Gulls also present
Dunnock - pair in the brash at the side of the pond.
Oystercatcher - flew to MBP but couldn't see where it landed

No Swimming Pond
Coot 1, Mallard 1 male.

Thursday, 21 February 2013


Most of the usual observers were out of the area today but Janet took a pic of one of the Herring Gulls:

Note the colour ring.  It may be a bird from Walney but we await details.

Wednesday, 20 February 2013

Quick Visit

Just a quick visit early afternoon to top up food and feeders.
North Harbour Wall
32 Twite
2 Goldfinch
These competing for food with 4 Feral Pigeons.
Also unringed Adult Med Gull

Tuesday, 19 February 2013

Belgian-ringed 3CY Med nearly 'sorted'

Heysham Obs
The 3CY Med Gull saga took a positive step today with the reading of the last two numbers (91) and two lines of rather small vertical writing between the end numbers and the butt of the ring = 1000 Brussels. Thanks Renaud.

North harbour wall
Twite - 101, including at least 6 unringed and Machrihanish-ringed bird

Thanks Janet

Med Gull - 2 adults and 3CY
Guillemot - 1
Red-throated Diver - 1, but offshore visibility poor

Heysham Nature reserve
Lesser Redpoll - one north
Siskin - Four grounded along the dog track

Monday, 18 February 2013

Routine odds and ends

Heysham Obs
The 3CY Med Gull showed the butt end of its ring today and there might be another number to add to the painful process of reading it when the pics are scrutinised!  Thanks Janet

North harbour wall late stages of dropping tide
Red-throated Diver - 1
Eider - just 131 - tide not as low as yesterday
Med Gull - 2 Ads in the morning, 3CY in the afternoon
Twite - at least 81
Guillemot - 1

Sunday, 17 February 2013

Eiders top 200

Heysham Obs

North wall low tide
Eider - 245
Red-throated Diver - 2 together
Great-crested Grebe - 7
Med Gull - adult
Twite - 70+ but light bad

One Chestnut

Saturday, 16 February 2013

Low tide routine

Heysham Obs

North harbour wall
Med Gull - 2 adult
Twite - c80
Linnet - 1
Blackbird - female
Goldfinch - 2
Eider - c140 offshore
Wigeon - 63 visible off outfalls

Friday, 15 February 2013

An E and a 92 but nothing else!

Heysham Obs
Why do people ring gulls above the tarsus when surely most of the returns will be from telescope observations?  Can understand it with waders where longevity of the ring is the priority c/f subsequent captures.  The 3CY Med behaved today, but there were hordes of people walking doen the seawall at the wrong times and it was never fully read.  It starts with an E but is not a British ring and there is a consecutive 92 somewhere along the number.

North harbour wall
Med Gull - 2 ad & 3CY
Twite - c60
Linnet - 2+
Guillemot - 1
Kittiwake - 3 2CY

Middleton NR
Gadwall - now 6 - 3 pairs
Goldeneye - 1
Pochard - 4
Tufted Duck - 10
Teal - 21
Little Grebe - 1
Coot - 10

Chestnut, Dotted Border and the first March Moth of the year (c/p Millhouses trap checked earlier which had 5 Small Brindled Beauty, 31 Pale Brindled Beauty, Dotted Border, 9 March Moth, 2 Spring Usher and Chestnut)

Thursday, 14 February 2013

Low tide eider morning

Heysham Obs
North harbour wall low tide
Med Gull - one adult
Eider - c140 offshore in two flocks
Red-breasted Merganser - 8 as above
Great-crested grebe - 6 as above
Twite - 102, at least 4 unringed
Linnet - 5
Goldfinch - 2
No obvious sign of Kittiwake H32 which was definitely present yesterday

Off heliport
A mindless mutt was allowed to chase all the subroosting waders off the intertidal next to the heliport - a surprising number for so early in the incoming tide cycle.  The mutt resembled a sheep (white and curly, medium size) and the owner straight off the 118 moustache advert.  Fleeing waders comprised 520 Knot and about 2,500 Oystercatcher - therefore a significant assemblage for this stage of the tide
and all in resting subroost mode.

Office area
Redwing - 1

Wednesday, 13 February 2013

White leading edge

Heysham Obs
Janet's purple patch with local mammal photography continued today - cannot remember any other Grey Seal pics as they are usually blobs at quite long range. Taken by the harbour 'waterfall'.

Absolutely vile this morning - a leading edge of an atlantic weather front blizzard which turned to equally horizontal rain as the temperature crept just above freezing.  The sea wasn't properly visible, neither were the outfalls from the comfort of a car.  The Twite were just about manageable!  Wimpish behaviour and put to shame by Janet's results from a bracing walk to the harbour mouth.

North harbour wall
Med Gull - two adults patrolling - the head markings being the only sign of spring today:

Thanks to Ian and Janet
Twite - 81, including 3 unringed and the presumed usual Machrihanish-ringed bird
Linnet - 1
Goldfinch - 1

Tuesday, 12 February 2013

Solitary Sanderling and tree rat invasion

Heysham Obs
A late posting after a lot of computer trouble today

North wall
Twite - nervous and uncooperative with 90-100 around
Red-breasted Merganser - 14 offshore at low tide

Kittiwake - 2 x 2CY
Little Gull - just the one 2CY

Kittiwake - H32 still present but looking rather sickly

Mudflats to south of Ocean Edge
Little Egret - 1
Sanderling - 1 with Dunlin
Knot - 12,570
Dunlin - 4,850
Bar-tailed Godwit - 2,810
Grey Plover - 141
Redshank - 215
Grey Seal - one offshore
Grey Squirrel - at least 2 around the reserve

Dotted Border

 Guilty-looking Grey Squirrel

Monday, 11 February 2013

Same again

Heysham Obs
Nothing new today, other than very distant Common Scoter, that we know  of during some reasonable coverage

Inshore & offshore areas
Little Gull -2 x 2CYoutfalls
Kittiwake -  ad harbour
Med Gull - ad north wall
Twite - 105 on seed in morning, 4 unringed
Linnet -  5 as above
Goldfinch - 3 as above
Rock Pipit - one south harbour wall
Red-throated Diver - at least 3 offshore
Common Scoter - 2 very distant offshore
Snipe - 3 Ocean Edge saltmarsh foreshore (arrived too late for maximum snipe numbers)

Sunday, 10 February 2013

Increase in grebes and divers

Heysham Obs
Just the two routine species, but in better numbers than for a bit as per 30 minutes incoming tide seawatching

North harbour wall
Twite - good long look at 101 with just 4 unringed and one Machrihanish bird (presumably the usual one with red/white r.l., metal over green/white l.l.)
Linnet -  7
Goldfinch - 3
Red-throated Diver - minimum 9, maximum 13
Great-crested Grebe - minimum 11, maximum 21
Guillemot - 2
Rock Pipit - 1
Purple Sandpiper - reported by visiting birder as being along the base of the seawall
Med Gull -  Czech adult on railings, none on Fisher's roof

South of harbour (but gate 38 area not checked)
Little Gull -2 x 2CY outfalls
Mute Swan - 2 ad (one HC6) on sea by OE saltmarsh
Jack Snipe - one flushed out by tide OE saltmarsh
Snipe - 11 flushed out by tide but possibly others earlier

Middleton model boat pond
Med Gull -  adult briefly
Pochard - 4
Goldeneye - 1
Mute Swan -2 ads and 4 juvs - male chasing one of juvs off
Oystercatcher - 5 in 'communal display mode' on spit

Dotted Border

Saturday, 9 February 2013

Murky miscellany

Heysham Obs
A ringing session next to the office competed with the national decibel competition on the nearby non-op land, where they seemed to be breaking up containers (anyone want a asbo-proof bird hide?).  This put the Greenfinches off the feeder but drove a few odds and ends out of the tank farm, including a surprising unringed female Bullfinch

North harbour wall
Twite - a good view of 89 on the seed revealed what was presumably the usual Machrihanish-ringed bird and just 4 unringed birds
Med Gull - Czech-ringed adult on the railings, ad on fisher's roof
Goldfinch - one on seed
Too murky to see anything offshore

HNR Office area
Blackbird - unringed continental female caught
Robin - unringed bird caught
Bullfinch - unringed female caught

Middleton NR (thanks Malcolm)
Jack Snipe - 1
Teal   54, mainly Tim Butler pond
Gadwall - pair TB pond, female model boat pond
Goldeneye -  1
Mallard 13
Tufted Duck 6
Pochard - 4 males
Mute  Swan - 7 (just 3 juvs left)
Little Grebe - singles on TB pond and fence pond
Coot   5
Moorhen -  4+

Stage 2 outfall
Little Gull - 2 2CY late afternoon

2 Dotted Border and a Chestnut

Friday, 8 February 2013

Major Pinkfoot exodus

Heysham Observatory
At least 4,000 and probably 5,000 Pink-footed Geese headed purposefully north over the bay about 0925hrs, but an accurate count was not possible due to Twite ringing duties.  A single northbound Grey Wagtail was a clear-cut example of early 'vis'.  The darvic-ringed Kittiwake is still around.

Coastal areas dawn to 1200hrs
Kittiwake - 5-6 around the harbour/outfalls, including the darvic-ringed bird
Little Gull - 2 x 2CY outfalls
Guillemot - 3 offshore, including one in summer plumage
Red-throated Diver - one offshore
Med Gull - 2 x ad, 1 x 3CY Fishers roof - the same bird as on Middleton the other day.  3CY by the heliport.
Pink-footed Goose - 4000-5000 N at c0925 in one straggling flock, 63 NW later
No sign Purple Sandpiper

Twite - at least 70 - 11 unringed birds caught, all but two of the 30 retraps were from this current winter period
Goldfinch - 2 unringed and 2 ringed birds caught
Linnet - at least 2 around
Grey Wagtail - one purposefully north

Dotted Border  

Thursday, 7 February 2013

First Duddon Twite of the winter

Heysham Obs
A Twite bearing a yellow site ring was seen briefly this morning - unfortunately no other details could be obtained before the birds were flushed due to obscuring by other individuals

North harbour wall
Med Gull - 2 ad
Guillemot - one harbour mouth
Kittiwake - c10 harbour mouth, ad by waterfall
Twite - 70ish
Linnet - 3+

Outfalls area
Little Gull - 2 ads & 2 2CY (thanks for the pics Janet - taken today)

Kittiwake - ad

Offshore near low tide
Eider - 71
Red-throated Diver - probably 2
Great-crested Grebe - 10-12

A fairly mundane session by the office saw about 11 new birds, mainly Greenfinch but also including single Blue and Great Tit

Grey Seal  harbour mouth

Wednesday, 6 February 2013

Interesting veteran ringed Kittiwake?

Heysham Obs
Just a few leftovers today as the wind went firmly into the north. Late yesterday afternoon produced what seemed to be a routine darvic-ringed Kittiwake, expertly 'nailed' in flight by Janet.  We ended up sorting out not just the Heysham sighting but also an additional sighting at Seaforth.  It's about 24 years old.  However, we have been urged to exercise caution here as it seems unlikely that the original darvic ring would have lasted for 24 years and there is a possibility that it was a re-ring/duplicate.  This is why the 2008 sightings is probably very important, acting as an interim sightings of what was certainly metal-ringed bird on the other leg.  Hopefully it will not turn out like the example a few years ago from Heysham Harbour of what could only be "traced" to someone putting a pigeon-type ring on an easily accessible nestling on a pier or whereever:

The bird (Yellow H32) was ringed as a pullus in Waterford, Ireland in 1989 and was first seen at Seaforth on 25/5/1991 and subsequently on 11/6/1991 and 16/8/1998.  It transpires that it was also seen at Seaforth on 23/8/08 and now Heysham on 5/2/13.

Top = One of two shots used to try and determine the ring number at Heysham yesterday.  Thanks Janet.  Bottom = the pic taken of the same bird at Seaforth on 23/8/08.  Thanks Gavin 

North harbour wall
Twite - 81 min
Linnet - at least 5
Goldfinch - at least 7
Great-crested Grebe - 10 visible, including a gang of 8
Kittiwake - 350 gulls far offshore included a tight cluster of 37 sitting on the water which all seemed to be this species - the rest (more scattered) mainly flying birds appeared to be Black-headed. Single adult by the waterfall
Med Gull - 2 adults behind outgoing ferry
Rock Pipit - 1

Little Gull - 8 (5 2CY) on a quick long-range check but could have been others resting on the mud

Tuesday, 5 February 2013

Decent influx in strong winds

Heysham Obs
The Little Gulls were all at long-range apart from the harbour birds and for 'adult', read 'adult or 3CY'
Thanks Janet

North harbour wall 0900-0930
Kittiwake - flock of 17 blogging offhore
Little Gull - 2 adults far offshore heading out
Red-throated Diver - 2 out
Guillemot - 3, one close inshore
Auk spp - one out far offshore
Med Gull - adult and 3CY (latter on beach by heliport)
Twite - present but not checked properly

Harbour 0945-0955
Kittiwake - 2 Ad and 2CY by waterfall
Little Gull - 2 ads blogging in harbour mouth

Outfalls 1000-1010
Little Gull - 21 adults and presumably the same 7 2CY as yesterday - the adults were mainly at the seaward end.  Therefore 32 Little Gulls seen in total this morning
Kittiwake - 2-3 2CY
There may have been other Kitts and Little Gulls resting on beach with BHG, but not visible from O Edge

IOM passenger ferry followers 1215ish
Nice idea in theory but subhorizontal heavy sleet straight into the optics & poor visibility rendered it pretty impossible.  c15 Kittiwakes in the murk (but could have been 100), at least one ad little gull, presumably one already recorded

Middleton NR model boat pond late pm
Little Gull - ad, 3CY and 2CY
Med Gull - new 3CY - very faintly-marked wingtips

Grey Seal in the harbour mouth

Monday, 4 February 2013

End of the Buzzard-free zone?

Heysham Obs
Two species, Common Buzzard and Jackdaw are not to be found in residence in the Heysham area, other than a few Jackdaw at the southern end of Middleton village.  Therefore migrants can be isolated and recorded which is what you want at an obs.  Former 'migrant-only' species such as Jay have now a very 'fuzzy' status, due to at least one resident pair.  Unfortunately no incoming ferries checked today.

Common Buzzard
One by the bypass roundabout this morning, the first winter record for the recording area, although the reserve staff say they are now 'almost daily' on Heysham Moss NR, from being very scarce for years ago

North harbour wall
Red-throated Diver - one out
Twite - 84, including the usual Machrihanish bird and at least 7 unringed
Goldfinch - increase to 15
Linnet - 10
Med Gull - ad

Little Gull - 7 x 2CY, 2 x Ad
Kittiwake - 2 x 2CY

Grey Seal in the harbour by the waterfall!

Dotted Border (2) and Chestnut, both 'year ticks' for here and the first moths since the first week of January (and the last for a bit?)

Sunday, 3 February 2013

Little Gulls hang around

Heysham Obs

North wall area
Twite  80+
Linnet -1+
Goldfinch - 5
Med Gull - adult
Eider - 86

Little Gull - 5 2CY, 2 ad
Kittiwake - 2 2CY

Saturday, 2 February 2013

A Barrow town hall clock morning

Heysham Obs
Used Barrow TH clock to find out the time this morning (as seen from Heysham north wall) in crystal clear conditions with a 'polar' airflow

Thanks Janet

Coastal areas low/early incoming tide
Eider - 86
Med Gull - 3CY by heliport
Little Gull - 3 x 2CY outfalls
Kittiwake - at least one 2CY outfalls
Twite - 100-105 on seed but continuous disturbance
Guillemot - one distantly
Linnet -  10
Goldfinch - 5

Middleton NR (thanks Malcolm)
Gadwall - added to the year list with male and female on Tim Butler pond
Little Grebe - 2
Mute Swan - 9 (5 juv left)
Coot - 7
Moorhen - 5
Teal - 45 (min)
Tufted Duck - 21
Mallard - 14
Pochard - 3
Goldenye - 1 female
Snipe - 2

Friday, 1 February 2013

Dolphin surprise plus assorted leftovers and residents

Heysham Obs
Coastal area Ocean Edge to Half Moon Bay & brief seawatch
Rock Pipit - singles half moon bay and north wall area
Little Egret - one north end of half moon bay, 2 red nab
Med Gull - 2 adults north wall, 3CY heliport, 2CY outfalls
Little Gull - maximum day count of 4 ad & 3 2CY outfalls
Kittiwake - 2CY outfalls, 2CY by waterfall, 2 ad following IOM ferry
Twite - c60
Linnet - 8
Song Thrush - 1
Pink-footed Goose - injured bird in harbour (for third day), 51 north
Guillemot - at least 5 offshore, floating in with the tide
Red-throated Diver - one 'out' very distantly, later 2 'out'

Dolphin spp headed purposefully out at 1220hrs (thanks Ian)