Friday, 31 May 2013

Burnet Companion

Heysham Obs
A creepy-crawly circuit in an increasingly noticeable and cooling north-westerly.

Heysham Nature reserve
Long-tailed Tit - family party
Burnet Companion - one on the slope alongside the entrance road (east end)
Common Blue butterfly - c6 on above slope
Large Red Damsel - c6 on circuit
Blue-tailed Damsel - 2 on circuit
Speckled Wood - just one seen on circuit
Small Tortoiseshell - one
Large White - one male
Small White - 2
Orange Tip - 2
Green-veined White  3

Common Pug, Flame Carpet and a late Powdered Quaker 
MNR Drinker moth caterpillar

Thursday, 30 May 2013

Treading water

Heysham Obs
Very poor coverage at the moment - sorry but everyone seems to be unavailable at the same time, so this is likely to be a rather intermittent/sparse run of postings for the foreseeable future

The only record of note today was two Four-spotted Chaser on Middleton

Twite surprise

Heysham Obs
Not usually given to rants but why do I pay for BT ""broadband"" when it takes up to 25 minutes to access this site.  Answer: shouldn't live at such as nice remote location out in the sticks.  I'm not around the Obs tomorrow so could someone else please post anything seen.  Thanks.

Ringing recovery
Alan has the details but there has been one of our Twite caught recently at Clachtoll, nr Lochinver - a population which mostly seems to winter on the east coast, including Orkney.  We have one previous involving this site.  ( This bird was captured by Tony Mainwood at one of his Clachtoll feeding sites on 16/05/2013 wearing our ring D137952.  It was ringed at Heysham Harbour as a juvenile female on 05/03/2013.  It is presumed to be breeding in the general area of capture in the highlands. ajd).
Med Gull - usual 2CY
Common Tern - 1
Kittiwake - 2 2CY

Wednesday, 29 May 2013

28th May

Heysham Obs

Outfalls & area
Arctic Tern - 2
Sandwich Tern - 3
Med Gull - 2CY (usual one)

Non-op land
Ringed Plover with 3 young, another pair with one young

Additional singing male Reed Warbler in marsh

Monday, 27 May 2013

Pre-rain bits

Heysham Obs
An early morning seawatch to 0715 produced the following
Mute Swan – 3 flying across from Barrow direction towards Middleton sands
Shelduck – 10 out
Gannet – 2 out
Kittiwake – 23 out
Sandwich Tern – 19 out
A later seawatch of 30 mins produced
Arctic Skua - lm 'in' at 0810hrs
Common Scoter - 15 out very distantly
Two outfalls checks on the incoming tide produced
Arctic Tern - 2 (first low tide visit only)
Common Gull - 189
Black-headed Gull - 25
Kittiwake - 2 2CY
No sign of the Meds
An actinic set just below the old Obs Tower site produced 3 Brown Silver Line and a Shuttle-shaped Dart

Sunday, 26 May 2013

Breeding bird pluses and minuses and gull census

Heysham Obs
A Lesser Redpoll over and some early morning Kittiwake flocks indicated that it is not by all means over for this spring, although it will probably have to involve decent easterlies or a howling south-easterly to produce any more notable goods i.e. the routine migration is probably just about over

Early morning seawatching (thanks Mark)
Kittiwake - flocks of 25, 30, 40 in, 12 out
Nothing else of note other than one of the two Meds below on Heysham 1 outfall

Red Nab high tide
Gull flock on the sea comprised
Black-headed Gull - 21
Common Gull - 22
Med Gull - 2 2CY - one of which was apparently ringed (thanks to the birder for info) with 3 characters (and head plumage) corresponding with the recent bird at Leighton Moss (and previously here, but legs not seen then) - this is a Dutch-ringed bird

Breeding bird census work
Lesser Redpoll - one north the only sign of migration - no Wheatear left
Ringed Plover - definitely two territories on the non-op land, the 'new' pair almost certainly having young but the original pair may have failed
Oystercatcher - breeding failure but the birds still hanging around
Great Black-backed Gull - pair nesting on the 'grey store' - the first breeding record for SD45E and the Power Station properties (another biodiversity notch!)

Gull census
Power Station non-operational land
Lesser Black-backed Gull - 13 nests
Great Black-backed Gull  - 1 nest
No definite evidence of nesting Herring Gull

Harbour area (one more roof to check)
Fisher's roof (harbour building - the one further back has not been checked yet)
Less than usual due to the hordes of roosting 2CY Herring Gulls, with most nests away from this at the east end
Lesser Black-backed Gull - 27 nests
Herring Gull - 10 nests

Centrica area
Lesser Black-backed Gull - 26 nests
Herring Gull - 6 nests
Great Black-backed Gull - 1 nest

Flat roof by rail terminal
Herring Gull - 13 nests (hard to see, possibly a few more - definitely the HG headquarters)

Roofs to the north of the freight access road
Lesser Black-backed Gull - 2 nests

Ocean Edge caravan site reception
Herring Gull - one nest
Lesser Black-backed Gull - 9 nests
Great Black-backed Gull - singleton hanging about but no evidence of nesting

Memo: Still to do:
Middleton IE
Back roofs at Fishers from Gate 38 area

Least Black Arches and Flame Shoulder

Saturday, 25 May 2013

Early morning migratory bits and bobs

Heysham Obs
The forecast was for a completely clear sky this morning, therefore adjusted the Middleton CES three hours accordingly.  First job was the clear frost from the windscreen i.e. an early start!

Middleton NR
CES was latterly spoilt by testing a motorcycle on the adjoining road from 0645hrs and nothing was subsequently caught in the best two nets.  Prior to that it was pretty good for this time of year with quite a few 'new' birds and returning Sedge Warblers from previous years which had not opened their account in 2013.  Highlighted by a Reed Warbler ringed elsewhere and a retrapping of the the French-ringed Sedge Warbler caught on the last CES, therefore nesting on site.  Three birds ringed elsewhere on each of the first three CES visits.  This has been the feature of this spring and so far the following birds ringed elsewhere have been caught/read in field:  Lesser Redpoll (4, plus an ex-cagebird ringed in Chelmsford!), Goldfinch, Chaffinch, Sedge Warbler (2), Reed Warbler, Med Gull (Belgian ringed bird released from fishing line), Twite, Kittiwake (an ancient bird ringed in SE Ireland) and I think another I cant remember

Lesser Redpoll - at least six lots north totalling at least 11 birds - the passage is dribbling on and on this spring
Swallow - c13 north
Swift - c5 north
Gadwall - 2 males and female
Greylag - 2

Seawatching (Pete and Ian)
Red-throated Diver - 2 in sp 'in'
Common Tern - 18 'in' - the highest numbers for many years
Common Scoter - c20 distantly on the sea
Swallow - c5 north
Grey Wagtail - late presumed migrant north

Friday, 24 May 2013

Brief run-round

Heysham Obs

Outfalls/Red Nab
Kittiwake - usual 2CY
Common Gull - 91 2CY
Bar-tailed Godwit - 32
Wheatear - nice bright large male

North wall
30 mins produced a single 2CY Kittiwake

Thursday, 23 May 2013

Little Egret deja-vu

Heysham Obs
The adult male Black Redstart has perhaps mysteriously disappeared - maybe it was just a one-day migrant.

Non-op land
Wheatear - 2

Outfalls/Red Nab
Kittiwake - 2CY
Bar-tailed Godwit - 32

An attempt to reap similar rewards to the unexpected skua movement in at least the north Irish Sea last night with a lengthy early morning seawatch failed miserably, but at least it produced a record flock of Little Egret - rather similar to last year's spring gang which also headed north
Little Egret - flock of 10 north-westish towards Barrow
Sandwich tern - 1

Recent pics from Sandra and John Truran
As well as the above Wheatear, these were taken (thanks for these):

Wednesday, 22 May 2013

brief bits

Heysham obs
Most of the day seemed to be spent driving too and from Millom on so-called 'A' roads.  A bit of coverage this afternoon but not including the Black Redstart in strong winds

Non-op land
Wheatear - two 'leggy' females
Ringed Plover and Oystercatcher still sitting
Common Sandpiper briefly

2CY Kittiwake

Tuesday, 21 May 2013

Breeding bird survey surprises

Heysham Obs

Power station non-operational land and area
Spotted Flycatcher - one on fence by office 0830ish
Wheatear - at least two in the non-op area
Black Redstart - superb adult male found by Reuben and watched by the three of us feeding in a flat gravelly area before seeming to fly towards the Power Station/storage yard
Oystercatcher - on 3 eggs
Ringed Plover - on 4 eggs
Grasshopper Warbler - confirmation of two territories on the tank farm

North wall
Sandwich Tern - 6 blogging offshore

Monday, 20 May 2013

Night migrant free zone

Heysham Obs
75 minutes of seagulls/sea and an hour of migrant searching left a clean page still in the notebook.  Nothing left from yesterday after a clear early night.

Heysham NR
Lesser Redpoll - 5+3 north, the latter flock refusing to enter a belatedly set mist net which was a pity one bore a left-leg ring
Common Blue
Swallow - 3 north

"Highlighted" by White shouldered House Moth and Brown House Moth on the same night!

Sunday, 19 May 2013

A nice late spring migration morning

Heysham Obs
First decent numbers of Spotted Flycatcher this millenium!

Heysham NR & area
Spotted Flycatcher - c9 (2 ringed)
Garden Warbler - one ringed
Sedge Warbler - 5 ringed plus another migrant
Reed Warbler - 1 migrant ringed, singing male marsh
Whitethroat - 6 migrants ringed
Robin - two unringed birds unexpected
Lesser Redpoll - 3 late vis mig birds ringed

North harbour wall
Spotted Flycatcher - one mound
Willow Warbler - one sandworks
Wheatear - 4 large birds mound - not there early am
Arctic Skua - 5 dark morph in
Gannet - 5
Sandwich Tern - c10
Arctic Tern - one outfalls
Common Sandpiper - one around all morning
Common Scoter - c50 raft offshore
Kittiwake - flock of 6 in
Pink-footed Goose - c75 north
Swallow - c200 per hour 0800-0900, fewer later
House Martin - 10 north

Red Nab area
Grey Plover - 61
Bar-tailed Godwit - 15  (75 yesterday)
Dunlin - c120
Kittiwake - 2CY outfalls
Med Gull - 2CY off Ocean Edge

Saturday, 18 May 2013

Work, rain and no proper coverage or trips to Margate

Heysham Obs
Not even a moth trap this morning as the light fitting was faulty

Med Gull - 2CY
Kittiwake - 2CY
Swallow - one north!

Friday, 17 May 2013

Mixed bag

Heysham Obs
Coverage today amounted to the Heysham NR CES, about 30 minutes of watching the sea plus a midday circuit of the mound area

Heysham NR
Willow Warbler - three presumed migrant females trapped and ringed very early on
No other evidence of movement other than a Swift and 2 House Martin heading NE

North wall/outfalls area
Shelduck - flock of 7 north (odd)
Black-headed Gull - flock of 12 2CY spiralled up Arctic-tern-style and headed north-east over Heysham Head (very odd - Scandinavia or Barden Res!)
Arctic Skua - very distant dark morph in at 0847hrs
Little Egret - one Red Nab
Whinchat - female Red Nab
Wheatear - ditto
Kittiwake - usual 2CY outfalls
Swallow - c70 north
House Martin - c15 north
Swift - 2 north
Linnet - N4 in 36V
No terns seen today  

Thursday, 16 May 2013

No sea but seo

Heysham Obs
A 'first' was a session at Heysham without seeing the sea - a shame because the outfalls/offshore might have produced on the early morning incoming tide, especially with the huge squall covering the Bay.  Unfortunately survey work in deepest Yorkshire beckoned.  A bit of micrositing cloud movement led to a decision that the Middleton CES was viable by about half a mile!  It was a pretty good second CES session of the season for what is often a 'graveyard slot', undoubtedly assisted by the lateness of the year and even male Sedge Warblers still being on the move.  The first bird taken out of the nets was a British-ringed Sedge Warbler from elsewhere.

Middleton Nature reserve 0530-0915
Short-eared Owl - one was disturbed by gulls as they were gathering nesting material and flew a short distance before appearing to land on the high point towards Ocean Edge
Swallow - 17 north, mostly in last 20 mins
Reed Warbler - 6 singing males within earshot western/central marshes, two males caught were returning birds (ringed).  Unusually, one was singing full song whilst in the mist net and the other gave a burst of song whilst in the birdbag!
Lesser Whitethroat - presumed migrant male (wing length) caught
Sedge Warbler - 5 'new' birds caught, all but one presumed males on wing-length (but not recorded as such in ringing data before anyone queries!), including the British-ringed bird from elsewhere
Whitethroat - 3 ringed - at least one a non-territorial male

Wednesday, 15 May 2013

Common Tern heads meagre fare

Heysham Obs
A calm early evening sent the Black Redstart on its way, then a horrible wet northerly overnight and well into the morning knocked any seabird movement on the head.  There didnt seem to be any migrant landbirds (but you only need one at this time of year e.g. just across the bay)

Sandwich Tern - 3

Common Tern - 1
Kittiwake - 2CY

Tuesday, 14 May 2013

Mystery raptor heads quality not quantity over the sea

Heysham Obs
Little Tern was a tangible new reward for sea-watching and only seen because we had run out of milk (which also deserved a short detour!). The early morning slot on the sea was not very mathematically challenging with no lines of Gannet or swarms of Kittiwake.  The mystery slot was a raptor picked up high 'over Roa Island' which then proceeded to head south-east with a projected landfall along the north Fylde coast.  Too far away to identify, it was not too far away to look interesting with a 'noticeable tail' and fairly broad wings not looking 'quite right' for any of the usual options of Marsh Harrier/Common Buzzard/Osprey.  Anyone know anything about what appears to be a stationary (therefore birds?) survey vessel anchored in the Lune deeps, especially as they would surely have had a good view of the raptor?

North harbour wall 0550-0725
Black Redstart - by the Twite feeding area from the word go
Pomarine Skua - light morph adult in at 0600 was a good start - downhill thereafter - c1 mile range
Arctic Skua - distant dark morph in at 0615, close (darkish) intermediate morph in at 0638
Kittiwake - 2CY 'out'
Arctic Tern - flock of 5 out
Sandwich Tern - 7 blogging, one in

North harbour wall 1030-1115hrs
Sandwich Tern - c20
Arctic Tern - c15
Little Tern - 2 slowly 'out' with the above
Raptor - see above, first seen c1045hrs
Gannet - a line of 15-17 very distant birds
Black Redstart - still there 1116hrs & further very close views at 1330hrs seemed to indicate 2CY female
Kittiwake - 2CY out

Monday, 13 May 2013

More seabirds and the ultimate late-afternoon reward

Heysham Obs
Unfortunately Heysham remained squall-free over a large part of the tide and this reduced birds to a trickle after a promising start - indeed Orange Tip butterflies were on the wing in the nearby Nature reserve!  These ameliorated conditions did allow the Black Redstart to forage regularly out in the open.  Then persistence paid off as a final seawatching stint saw a close Long-tailed Skua displaying its lengthy tail-streamers as it headed into the bay

Black Redstart - seen in same area as yesterday and later down the Twite feeder area regularly 0730-1330 at least
Wheatear - one large male

Seawatching 0700ish to at least 1630ish on and off with relatively little seen after 1100ish except for six individual skuas of four species & a small influx of Manx Shearwater during the afternoon!
Long-tailed Skua - superb adult with full tail streamers headed relatively close in at 1522hrs (as I was sat in the office!!)
Kittiwake - flocks of 43+68+225+28+21+30 in no particular order, plus a handful on singletons
Pomarine Skua - two together at c0715, one at 1200 - all lm ads heading in (& Rossall timing suggests one slipped through during a short period when there was no observation)
Arctic Skua - 7 lm and 4 dm, all 'in'
Bonxie (Great Skua) - one in c0720, one in 1345hrs
Skua spp - one distant, probably Arctic, one distant unidentified.
Fulmar - 3
Gannet - difficult - probably c190 'out' but possibly more than this in total (c100 in)
Sandwich Tern - at least 60 out, especially early on
Arctic Tern - dribs and drabs heading out throughout - c27, mainly early on
Manx Shearwater - no 'push' due to the lack of squalls with just 9 seen until a relatively concentrated scatter of 17 late afternoon
Red-throated Diver - 2+1 out
Whimbrel - 5
No auks!

Kittiwake - 2 x 2CY

Fisher's roof
1,120 large gulls, mainly 2CY Herring, at high tide but also including nesting birds which must have felt their privacy being invaded!

Sunday, 12 May 2013

The perfect early morning on the local patch

Heysham Obs
Decent sea-watching coverage this morning and a decent passerine just by turning your head round at the same spot!  Surprisingly few birders around for a Sunday and the recent seawatching goodies

Taken by Pete Cook.  Thanks for these

North harbour wall
Sea-watching from 7.15 to 1115 am produced: 

Pomarine Skua - 1 light morph landed on the sea at 9.55 am, a distant light morph skua heading in at about 1035hrs was almost certainly this species

Arctic Skua - at least 5 - a dark morph flew in at 8.00 am, 2 light morphs flew in at 8.55 am, another dark morph flew in at 9.15 am and light morph in at 1040hrs.  At least one other from another observer?

Great Skua - 1 flew out at 8.40 am, 1 flew in and landed on the sea at 9.40 am 

Gannet - 182 flew into the Bay between 7.15 and 8.30 am, then probably a similar number (but not counted) flew back out from 8.30 am onwards. 

Kittiwake - 224 flew into the Bay, including flocks of 90, 80 and 20 

Red-throated Diver - 1 flew out 

Also offshore: 2 Guillemot, 3 Common Scoter, 20+ Sandwich Tern, 1 Great Crested Grebe, 1 Whimbrel. 

Sea-watch from 10.45 to 11.15 produced only 1 Red-throated Diver flying in, 2 Guillemot and 1 Whimbrel. 

Med Gull - original 2CY
Kittiwake - usual 2CY

Landbirds north harbour wall
Wheatear - large male in sandworks, another earlier when the Bk Red appeared
Black Redstart - female type on the gravel between the narrow section of road and the Centrica fence from 0715hrs until Sunday population pressure took its toll (including child with escaping balloon) and it melted away about 1045hrs
Linnet - seemingly three pairs in the gorse on the mound (SD36V)

Saturday, 11 May 2013

Successful targeting

Heysham Obs
A visiting couple jammed in nicely on their target as a couple of Pomarine Skuas were located on the sea as the tide started to flow and then gave a flying display as they headed into the more murky conditions towards Grange - all after being there for just five minutes.  Sometimes seawatching can be so 'easy' - Fea's type Petrel 30 minutes into my first ever Bridges of Ross seawatch comes to mind - but a lot of the time it is like watching paint dry (e.g. the first hour this morning!).  Then just as I was about to give up and do other pressing things, my own 'target', Fulmar, meandered about for 10 minutes before slowly making its way out of the Bay.

North wall 0645-0730, 0845-0945, 1110-1120
Sandwich Tern - c8 out
Pomarine Skua - two LM adults on at 0855, then flew slowly and low towards Grange at c0905
Fulmar  - one slowly out at 0930
Kittiwake - flock of 21 in
Razorbill - one on

Half an hour mid pm after weather front (all out)
Arctic Skua - close flock of 3 dm & one lm
Manx Shearwater - 17
Gannet - c10

Med Gull - 2 x 2CY - one with black head
Kittiwake - 2CY
No terns

Friday, 10 May 2013

Good start then blocking low cloud in the mouth of the bay, improvement in the afternoon

Heysham Obs
Three species of skua in the first 15-20 minutes, then after about an hour conditions went a bit pear-shaped with lingering low cloud in the mouth of the bay.  Observations from the mouth of the bay suggest that an earlier start would have been a good idea!  A 1st summer Great Northern Diver on the sea was a nice bonus but an absolute pain to keep track of as it stayed under for up to 2 minutes!

North wall 0725-up to 1830 intermittently
Great Northern Diver -  1st summer on the sea, actively feeding c0800-0815hrs, then presumed to have gradually headed in with the tidal flow
Pomarine Skua -adult light morph in at 0742 and showing really well as it chased an adult Lesser Black-backed Gull, another fairly close light morph in late afternoon
Arctic Skua - dark morphs in in quick succession 0731 & 0734, then one dark morph in at c0935hrs
Bonxie  one in beyond the sandbank, then on 0738
Skua spp - one very distant 0815 prob a dark Arctic, flock of 5 including at least one light morph (prob Poms), again very distant, in, then apparently on at c0830
Kittiwake - flock of 55 adults in, usual 2CY outfalls, flock of 40 adults out then on early evening
Razorbill - one out, then on
Sandwich Tern - c30 out
Arctic Tern - 2 in
Common Scoter - c15 in
Gannet - at least 30 including flock of 6
Little Gull - ad & 2CY out early afternoon (thanks Andy)
Male and female Eider this afternoon off north wall.(Janet)
Manx Shearwater - at least 33
Fulmar - 1

Med Gull - usual 2CY
Kittiwake - usual 2CY
Wheatear - 3 scattered along Ocean Edge
Common (1) and Arctic (2) terns on outfalls at high tide

Loads of them on the skeers and nearby mudflats (& 650 roosting on Fisher's roof) mainly immatures and mostly 2CY Herring.  c1,250 in a single sweep off the north harbour wall at low tide this evening - the biggest concentration of large gulls I've seen in this area since the rubbish tip days

Thursday, 9 May 2013

Redstart in Black Redstart 'habitat'

Heysham Obs
Thanks to the International Ornithological Association for informing us quickly about the Lesser Redpoll bearing a cagebird ring which was caught here two days ago.  It was ringed as a aviculturally-reared nestling in Chelmsford, Essex in 2011 but we don't know when it escaped.

North harbour wall
Redstart - female on the fence by the lorry park was definitely this species!  It flew across the road, re-landed and then headed towards the half moon bay cafe area
Wheatear - three making their way along the north wall
Absolutely nothing of interest offshore

Ocean Edge/Red Nab/outfalls
Med Gull - 2CY-looked like the one from previous days
Kittiwake - the long-staying 2CY
Common Gull - c210
Black-headed Gull - just 3

Wednesday, 8 May 2013

Pre-frontal coverage highlighted by Wood warbler

Heysham Obs
An early assessment on arrival suggested a single sheltered mist net and a bit of vis mig, followed by a quick check of the sea.  In the end, the constant threat of 'proper' rain saw the net being taken down after 30 mins and the rest of the area given a bit of coverage .

Thanks to Professor David Norman for getting back to me over yesterday's close-ringed Lesser Redpoll.  The reason David was familiar with the format on the ring can be found here 

It was ringed under the auspices of the International Ornithological Association (hence IOA on the ring).  The 11 refers to 2011 along with the deep blue base colour year-code.  The IOA were in contact today and will provide a town/village location (but obviously not the private address of the aviary) for the above bird.  If anyone wants to have a look at their website access the following link:

The conversation with the IOA secretary included problems they have complying with the letter of the law re-Lesser Redpolls.  Their legal documentation refers to Carduelis flammea pre-split (which is now, of course, the separate species Common Redpoll) and the legislation has not caught up, therefore in theory they cannot legally exhibit Carduelis cabaret = Lesser Redpoll.  Maybe it will be sorted just as they are re-lumped! Thanks to IOA for getting back to us and setting in motion tracing the origin of this bird

They also confirmed that last year's close-ringed Lesser Redpoll (caught 25/3/12) was of French origin with the last two letters of the WOF code = ornithologiste francais (or spelling thereabouts!)...........but were not sure what the 'W' stood for.

Office area vis 0545-0615
Tree Pipit - 2 north
Lesser Redpoll - rather a lot but not possible to ring them this morning and a lot of the registrations were heard only.  At least 10 separate registrations including one flock of 5 and absolute minimum of 20 birds.
Reed Bunting - a very late individual flew high to the north
Goldfinch - 5 north
Swallow - 17 NE

Wood Warbler - Singing male in the copse over the road from 0605-0610 only
Willow Warbler - At least 20 migrants, seemingly including at least three males (snatches of song).  Moved rapidly inland as is typical for this species at this time of year - almost certainly several/a lot passed through prior to arrival
Chiffchaff - one presumed migrant caught

North harbour wall/Ocean Edge vis intermittently 0620-0800
Yellow (flava) Wagtail - one north 0720hrs
Swallow - 117 north along the seawall 0620-0640 but much lower numbers thereafter/the flightline changed
Sand Martin - 2 north
Whimbrel - noisy flock of 16 heading north at 0640, 2 singles thereafter
Goldfinch - 6 north
No terns or any other seabirds seen in flight!

Wheatear - 4 together by the sandworks 0620, flew inland along the seawall, just 2 on Ocean Edge.  All 'large'
Whinchat - female heliport area
Willow warbler - two on the mound in the gorse
Turnstone - c260 - very noisy and restless and may have included some incoming migrants
Guillemot - one on the sea

Tuesday, 7 May 2013

Cagebird migration

Heysham Obs
In a rush-more later.  An 'ultramarine' blue closed cagebird ring on a 'migrant' Lesser Redpoll today - the second cagebird ring in two springs.  This one was (white lettering) 10A (first line vertically),11 (second line vertically) then horizontally B1994.  Any ideas?  Thanks.

Office area
Trickle of swallows - c15 per hour. No other vis recorded other than ringed redpolls
Lesser Redpoll - 12 plus the above plus yet another 'proper' control, this one on the sequence starting D250
Willow Warbler - small fall first thing with 13 ringed
Blackcap - couple of unringed females may have been local at a rarely used net site

Very poor over the sea
Arctic Tern - 7 in
Sandwich Tern - 35 or so blogging/out
Whimbrel - 1
Meadow Pipit - one north!
Swallow - steady stream from early on (figures later)

Butterflies - mass emergence!

Red Nab, 2 linnets

Monday, 6 May 2013

Seawatching persistence pays off with the first Black Terns of the year

Heysham Obs
Land-bird coverage comprising CES mist nets and the ones by the office was unremarkable in the rather adverse weather conditions (south wind and medium-height cloud|) although another Lesser Redpoll control materialised and nesting female Chaffinch on the CES section also bore a ring from elsewhere (X887 sequence).  A good spring for 'controls' making up for the lack of warblers. 

Office area dawn to 1030hrs
Circumstances did not permit any vis mig coverage whilst carrying out the ringing this morning c/f absence of Tree Pipit c/p everywhere else.  Lesser Redpoll numbers an estimate of those attracted down by a tape 
Goldcrest - very late female ringed
Grasshopper Warbler - male singing on tank farm/by the pond and another male further away very early am only - the former was caught and ringed
Lesser Redpoll - c25 through but only 6 caught (control was D191 sequence)
Swift - 2 north - first of year here
Lesser Whitethroat - 2 unringed birds caught
Once again, no discernable passage of Willow warbler with just two retraps caught
Outfalls/Red Nab/Ocean Edge
Med Gull - 2CY showing well - probably the same bird as the other day
Kittiwake - 2CY outfalls
Dunlin - 46 in summer plumage Red Nab
No visible waders along the incoming tideline looking south

Sea 0540-0640, then 0730-1015
Sandwich Tern - 102 out during the first hour, not counted thereafter but smaller numbers
Arctic Tern - flocks of 16+5+4 in early on
Common Tern - one out with Sandwich tern early on
Black Tern - 3 in (distantly) at 0830hrs
Whimbrel  - 5 in early on
Fulmar - one in
Manx Shearwater - 2+4 in
Gannet - 3 u-turning, 2 in
Pink-footed Goose - 50 in then landed on sea
Razorbill - one floated in
Guillemot - just one floated in
Little Gull - adult flew out
Red-throated Diver - s.p. bird in
Diver spp - one flew distantly in at 0615 and what was probably the same bird out at 0900hrs. Almost certainly not a

No skuas (astonishing c/p Rossall - were they flying above the observation level of the two Heysham observers by the time they passed here or did they all go through in the 'gap' between 0645 and 0730?) or Common Scoter!

Swallow - none during the first period - c280 north thereafter
Sand Martin - 1 north
No other 'landbird' vis mig recorded

Middleton NR, Snipe, Sedge Warblers.

Sunday, 5 May 2013

Seawatching vigil

Heysham Obs
Thank to Pete and Pete for covering the sea this morning - unfortunately conditions not quite as good as yesterday with some low cloud and drizzle. Note complete absence of Arctic Tern.

Sea 0610-0920 then 1115-1125
Arctic Skua - dm in 0826, lm in 0843
Gannet - 17
Guillemot - 9-11
Common Scoter - 15 in, 4 out
Red-throated Diver - 4 out
Little Gull - adult out early on, then adult out 1120
Sandwich Tern - 16 blogging
Mute Swan - 2 out

Red Nab/outfalls/Ocean Edge
Wheatear - 4 'large' birds
Bar-tailed Godwit - 275 on tideline just north of cable route
Kittiwake - 2CY outfalls
No terns

Grey Seal offshore
Fox flushed from the back of the sandworks - headed through Centrica storage area (36V)

Saturday, 4 May 2013

Itsy bitsy seawatching

Heysham Obs
This unfortunately looks like being the theme for the rest of the spring seawatching season as the main protagonists are just not going to be as available as usual in the next week or so.  Help would be appreciated, especially during the incoming stages of the tide

Seawatch 0645-0700
A 50 minute journey (thanks to the two excruciatingly slow Argos trucks) and work away constricted what should have been at least 30 minutes of availability - same couldnt stay a bit longer:

Common Scoter - 2 out
Arctic Skua - lm in then on
Gannet - adult out
Manx Shearwater - one out (possibly 2 - very distant)
Kittiwake - 2CY inshore/outfalls
No terns

Sea 1015-1115
Kittiwake - flock of 90 eventually out high
Red-throated Diver - one u-turning
Common Scoter - 10 on
Sandwich Tern - 3

Office area -0705hrs
Grasshopper Warbler  -one singing by the car park

Middleton Nature reserve Canada geese passing over

Friday, 3 May 2013

A few early morning migrants

Heysham Obs
A quick check of the north wall and the outfalls on the dropping mid-morning tide was thoroughly unproductive but there were a few early morning migrants around the office area

Kittiwake - 1 2CY
Arctic Tern - zero
Sandwich Tern - none offshore or sitting on buoys

Office area
6 Lesser Redpolls ringed & another 6 seen, single out of habitat migrant Sedge Warbler and single Whitethroat ringed in the early morning before the wind got up

Middleton NR
Wheatear - 1

Thursday, 2 May 2013

Clear moonlit frosty dross saved by the French

Heysham Obs
A look out of the window at a clearly outlined Ingleborough, courtesy of the moon, at 0400hrs nearly sent me back to bed.  Definitely not the conditions for land-falling night migrants contra some forecasts.  However, the lure of the early morning Lesser Redpoll passage and the incredibly high ratio of birds ringed elsewhere.................

Due to problems with the CD, this was a disaster with a concentrated passage between 0515 and sunrise completely missed.  Plan B - a presumed Common Redpoll on a 'foreign' CD also failed to impress and it was only when Lesser Redpoll was played on the MP3 that half a dozen belated birds were ringed

Then it was Middleton CES time and this was an excellent little three hour/four net session for so early in the year with a French-ringed Sedge Warbler highlighting.

Needless to say there were few night migrants this morning although two, possibly three singing male Reed Warblers seemed to 'drift in' and establish their territories during the morning and the CES indicated a trickle of presumed migrant Willow and Sedge Warbler

Odds and ends mainly very early morning
Sandwich Tern - 17 offshore
Arctic Tern - just one seen this morning, 15 on the outfalls later
Little Gull - adult outfalls late afternoon
Kittiwake - 2CY outfalls late afternoon
Guillemot - c5 late afternoon
Bar-tailed Godwit - 329 on tideline off Ocean Edge
Grasshopper Warbler -singing before dawn on the tank farm, but just once thereafter - presumably paired and nesting
Green Woodpecker -one by the office first thing
Canada Goose - two casing out the pond near the office
Tree Pipit - one north
Lesser Redpoll - 35-40 north
Linnet - 16 north
Goldfinch - 20 north
Swallow - one north! - too early for them?

Reed Warbler - up to 3 singing males by mid-morning, following none for the first two hours or so
Ringing: 8 Sedge Warbler (including French bird), 5 Willow Warbler plus retrap, one Chiffchaff, 3 Reed Bunting plus 2 retraps, one Goldfinch, one retrap Blue Tit

Harbour Porpoise seen very early morning and then late afternoon, presumably the same beastie

April ringing
This was the worst in the 30-odd year history of the Obs for phylloscopus warblers, especially Willow Warbler.  Whilst this was partly due to observer unavailability, it was also due to the big fall day being just too wet to risk operating mist nets as the birds piled in  (Thursday 25th).  Only 237 birds were ringed of which 110 were Meadow Pipit, 33 Goldcrest, 32 Lesser Redpoll, 13 Chiffchaff (c/f internet postings on much reduced numbers on territory) and just 9 Willow Warbler

Wednesday, 1 May 2013

Early morning vis mig

Heysham Obs
As usual, didn't get here quite early enough this morning to completely monitor a decent vis mig corridor before the weather came in from the west and wind increased

Probably getting on for 100 Lesser Redpoll over since I arrived at the late hour of 0545hrs along with a really decent count for here of 9 Tree Pipit with the first three as soon as I arrived

Managed to belatedly retrieve the situation ringing-wise a little with 20 Lesser Redpoll including the second bird ringed elsewhere this spring from the same ring string Y794701-800. 

A late flock of Pink-footed Geese headed north as is often the case in early May

More later...but the weather is deteriorating into mediocrity

This late Snipe was photographed by Janet this afternoon