Saturday, 31 August 2013

Bonaparte's Gull visits SD36V at last!

Bonaparte's Gull was showing very well in the harbour mouth late afternoon in association with 5-6 Black-headed Gulls sitting on the water and carrying out short flights A flock of 11 Med Gulls was on the mudflats between Heysham one and the wooden jetty Two Little Gulls were mobile around the outfalls area Two juvenile Curlew Sandpiper were in Ocean Edge saltmarshg creek this morning before being spooked by an alarm-calling Redshank and flying out to the tideline and mingling with Dunlin, Grey Plover etc Moths Dark SWord Grass in the trap

Friday, 30 August 2013

Make sure your information is up to date before publishing site guides

Heysham Obs
See below. Just read the whole thing.  I'll re-write it is the politest thing I can say although some is obviously editorial mix up over numbers and sites.  Most of the info can be found on the map below but I'll do a 'how to watch' in more detail = far too many people turning up on high spring tides!

Information published on complex industrial/recreational areas can often rapidly become out of date and indeed inappropriate as regards current access arrangements.  Access routes change, new buildings appear, buildings are knocked down, gates are locked or unlocked, general security issues change and so on.  Therefore it is really important if you are doing a Site Guide that you make sure you have up to date information.  This has not happened with the latest Birdwatching magazine Site Guide to this area, which seems to have drawn on outdated historical stuff and has certainly not involved contacting the Wildlife Trust or local birders.

Apologies to the Ocean Edge caravan site for suggesting that birders can park within the complex - this is not the case and indeed the current access arrangements have been been repeated on a virtually daily basis in the public domain since mid-July with respect to the Bonaparte's Gull

The author is obviously casting himself quite a distance from sites he personally knows well.  Therefore what I have suggested to Bird Watching is that it is important that he runs any Site Guides past the relevant County Recorder who can then forward the draft to the appropriate local to check the up-to-date situation.  Misinformation, even of a seemingly minor nature, can cause problems at a local level, especially if it is relating to access arrangements.

Outfalls/Red Nab area
A 'power walk' round the circuit was long overdue and produced:

Little Gull - adult-type, perhaps 3CY on mudflats
Med Gull - 10 in the usual gathering ground between Heysham one outfall and the wooden jetty
(2 juv, 4 adult, 2 2CY, 2 3CY).  None appeared to be ringed - certainly not with darvics

The bad news is that Heysham One seems to be 'off' and the number of gulls on the outfall was the lowest I've seen for a bit and no obvious sign of the Bonaparte's.  However, it was low tide and many gulls were scattered far and wide over the mudflats to th south

Outfalls/Red Nab evening
Nothing on the sea!
Bonaparte's Gull - Red Nab, but really hard to see facing away - too ages before it lifted its head & gave confirmation to presumed id
Med Gull - now 4  juvs
Little Gull - also roosting red nab - same bird as earlier     

Thursday, 29 August 2013

Toadflax Pug and the return of the Wall

Heysham Obs
Toadflax Pug in the moth trap - a local speciality - and a great record of Wall Brown on the bank by Red Nab - a butterfly which used to be common here but this is the first since 2011.

Just a Little Gull and 3 Med Gulls on a casual glance around the mudflats/outfalls

Juv Reed Warbler in the HNR nets the only presumed migrant encountered

Wednesday, 28 August 2013

Morning and evening Bonaparte's

Heysham Obs
As the rubbish westerly appeared a day/night earlier than was originally forecast, it was back to seagulls with today being notable for the longest time period between Bonaparte's Gull sightings in a single day

Outfalls/Red Nab
Little Gull - 3CY in heavy moult, adult-type distantly in more advanced moult
Bonapartes Gull - Heysham one and area in the morning and then roosting on Red Nab late afternoon - not easy facing into the westerly in bad light
Med Gull - just 11 seen and only one juv

Ringing this am
Nothing printable to say other than no migrants

500 Swallows in the Middleton roost last night (and therefore this morning) and a handful of warblers caught indicating a reflection of the small arrival at the nature reserve in the morning

White-line Dart a bit late

Tuesday, 27 August 2013

Bonaparte's Gull and trickle of grounded migrants

Heysham Obs
A bit disappointing so far with no migrants on the mound/sandworks and a trickle appearing the  Heysham NR office nets.  At least there are some Willow warbler this morning (all two of them), other birds ringed so far include 6 Whitethroat and a Sedge Warbler

Ad Bonaparte's Gull showing well on sand and on outfalls just after lunchtime along with at least one 3CY Little Gull

Six Med Gulls following two outbound ferries 0845hrs, including "our" ringed bird 2P96, 2 ads, 1 2CY and 2 juvs

Flock of 16 Goldfinch and 5 Linnet on mound

EVENT on 7th September
Please see LDBWS site for details (link on right hand side).  If you want to arrive pre-0900 to see what might be happening migrant-wise early on, please email so I can retain your e-address and contact nearer the time.  Alternatively, if this is easier, text (not ring) 07532433043 making sure you don't register as 'unknown' at my end!  No mobile answerphone messages please, I often forget to check

If  Metcheck long range is reliable, it suggests a westerly airflow which is fine for the main event, especially the chance of something on the outfalls, but not too clever for anything happening earlier on unless strong enough the previous couple of days or so to accumulate some Leach's Petrel

Thanks Pete

Monday, 26 August 2013

Time to leave seagulls and switch to landbirds for the rest of this week

Funny morning. Middleton NR CES saw a Crossbill, 11 Tree Pipit and two Yellow Wagtail south by 0645hrs but deadly silent as regards grounded birds or lingering local summer visitors. Then the vis ceased apart from a few hirundines and two early Meadow Pipit and there was an hour of absolute zero activity. Then a trickle of grounded migrants from about 0830 to 1000 including a bit of local quality in the form of three Whinchat together and a Pied Flycatcher
The other significant feature this morning was a complete absence of Willow Warblers within earshot at either Middleton or Heysham
The Ad Bonaparte's Gull was on Heysham one outfall just after lunchtime along with 3CY Little Gull

Middleton NR 0530-1015 grounded
Whinchat - flock of three made their way inland across the two marshes, perching regularly, at 0835
Pied Flycatcher - female type in willow by gate into central marsh area at least 1005hrs 
Sedge Warbler - one seen & heard & caught!
Reed Warbler - three juvs (2 unringed) the only activity
Whitethroat - about 10 seen 4 ringed
Lesser Whitethroat - moulting adult and three juvs ringed

Middleton NR vis 0530-1015
Tree Pipit - 11 south-east, all before 0645hrs and including groups of 5 and 3 
Flava wagtail - two south-east
Crossbill (spp?!) south at about 0635hrs - too high to see details
Swallow - difficult to work out whether there was any passage
House Martin - at least 20 presumed migrants

Heysham NR
A trickle of warbler species and one Tree Pipit

Outfalls area 1230ish for about 25 mins
Little Gull - 3CY on mud, then flew towards Heysham one outfall
Bonaparte's Gull - on Heysham one outfall
Med Gull - at least 5

Yellow-barred brindle notable for here

The office buddleia hosted: Brimstone, Meadow Brown, Speckled Wood, Green-veined, Small and Large Whites, Painted Lady, Comma (briefly), Small Tortoiseshell, Red Admiral, Peacock

Heysham Moss 2 snipe flushed.

Sunday, 25 August 2013

Gulls behave themselves today

Heysham Obs
No visiting birders, Bonaparte's Gull easy to find!  This has been a regular 'formula' this last month, although John and Sandra were able to join me from Ocean Edge and John managed some video of bathing on Red Nab

Red Nab/outfalls area as scanned from Ocean Edge foreshore 1215-1245
Bonaparte's Gull - on the sea between the outfalls and Red Nab then 'brought' inshore by the tide, before flying on to the small stream crossing Red Nab.  It then proceeded to chase and consume flies and alternated this with bathing but rarely keeping still - it was running around like a small Calidris!  A couple of wing stretches appeared to indicate either P9 in moult stage 4 and P10 in stage 3 or P8 in stage 4, P9 in stage 3 and P10 in stage one.  Predictably looks rather round-winged in flight and impressions at rest two days ago did suggest it still had a single old primary and the timing would appear to indicate that P10 is indeed in moult stage one.
Little Gull - 3CY on the sea near the Bonaparte's Gull
Med Gull - at least 11 but again only two juvs seen

Office area
Garden Warbler ringed but little else migrant-wise in evidence apart from:
Wheatear - 3 on Red Nab

Painted Lady on office buddleia for third day

Saturday, 24 August 2013

North-westerly negatives

Heysham Obs
No reports of the Bonaparte's Gull today as far as I am aware and it certainly did not partake in the usual high tide sequence involving bathing and roosting on Red Nab before being forced off by the tide

Red Nab area lunchtime
Med Gull - at least 14 but only one juv seen.  This has happened before when the wind has gone round to the north-west - is this because it stifles a procession of different birds moving through or were they all round the harbour mouth which wasn't checked?  6 2CY, 2 3CY (one with metal ring below knee), 4 adult, one juv
Little Gull - one 'immature'.  Didn't see it very well (or at all in flight) to note the moult sequence, but presumably 3CY getting rid of the final age-specific outer primaries, not advanced 2CY.  No sign of the usual moulting adult.
Whimbrel - at least one
Bar-tailed Godwit - juvenile - early?

Office nets
A trickle of warblers during the morning with 6 Whitethroat and two Willow Warbler ringed.  Good year for Whitethroat with over 120 ringed so far

Silver Y invasion with 40 in the trap.  No show-stoppers with the 'usual' agriphila latistria perhaps the best

Friday, 23 August 2013

Migrant insects and Bonaparte's Gull

Heysham Obs

Office area
Painted Lady on the buddleia and Rush Veneer in the trap along with Oblique Carpet and Brown China Mark of minor note

Tree Pipit - 2 singletons south - no other obvious vis but up to 20 House Martin at one point

Outfalls/Red Nab/Ocean Edge shore
Med Gull - at least 15 (6 2CY, 5 juv, 1 3CY, 4 adult)
Little Gull - not seen very well but either an advanced 2CY to 3CY or a 3CY - probably the same as the other day.  No sign of the adult which can be very erratic, especially during calmer weather
Bonaparte's Gull - showing on Red Nab, then flew south but could only find little gull on mudflats

Thursday, 22 August 2013

Bonaparte's Gull

Heysham Obs
Apologies to birders this late morning for "sitting" on the Bonaparte's Gull as it was on the sea off the southern end of Ocean Edge.  I was oblivious to people on the seawall as I have a vehicle pass for the caravan site and my birding this morning was 10 minutes here and there amongst lots of other things.  I also forgot my mobile phone and missed a reasonable pic as a result.  I also assumed anyone dowwn there would have seen it. I certainly didn't expect the gulls to clear off to the south but there were some people splashing around on the water's edge 

It was on the sea off Ocean Edge with Black-headed Gulls late morning before presumably heading off towards Middleton. Might be worth checking Glasson Basin during these high tides.........

At least 5 juv Meds, 4 2CY Meds and 3 adult meds around but didn't see the Little Gull

A plague of Old Lady!  Yet another individual last night along with a good variety, but nothing unexpected except perhaps Poplar Hawk Moth which is very late

Wednesday, 21 August 2013

Middleton Nature reserve yesterday. 20th August.

Common Darter

Look who's here again...

Bonaparte's Gull
Little Gull  - 3CY - sorry presumptuous over the report being the long-staying adult - thanks for clarifying Colin
Mediterranean Gull - 17 (8 juvs, 5 x 2CY, 4 ads)
Sandwich Tern
plus the usual Oycs, Redshank, Curlew and a couple of summer plumaged Turnstone

TWO Old Lady!  Also Broad-bordered Yellow Underwing

Tuesday, 20 August 2013

Bonaparte's Gull Again

A very quick check 0810-0820 saw the Bonaparte's Gull in a small cluster of gulls on the mudflats just south of Heysham 2 outfall

At 0930 it was on the pager as being on Red Nab along with the ad Little Gull and at least 10 Meds

At 1000 I returned and it was too late for Red Nab with all but a few Meds left amongst dwindling BHG numbers, including the one we darvic-ringed this spring = 2P96

A CES ringing session at Middleton provided a sprinkling of warblers including Sedge, Reed, Willow, Chiffchaff, Whitethroat and Lesser Whitethroat, with Stock Dove also seen.

Monday, 19 August 2013

Plenty of Meds but no interesting smaller gulls over the high tide

Heysham Obs
Observers perhaps a fraction too late today and had to contend with a high incoming tide and the early receding tide. Not the best.

Med Gull - four adult, 7 juvs and 4 2CY
Whimbrel - at least two
Wheatear - one heliport area

Bulrush Wainscot in the trap and Red Underwing sitting on the container

Sunday, 18 August 2013

Incoming tide Bonaparte's but tide too high for the latecomers

Heysham Obs
Apologies for the broken record but don't turn up here at high tide if it is going to almost cover Red Nab, as this morning with a wind surge.  Avoid high tide on spring tides and make sure you time your visit on 'spring' tides for the period about 3.5hrs before and one hour before. The dropping tide on spring tides is also useless as the birds are spread far and wide across the mudflats and only return to the outfalls in dribs and drabs.  On neap tides, Red Nab will retain the birds but the light on an afternoon neap tide during sunlight can be awful so best get up and cover the early morning.

Outfalls early morning
Little Gull - adult Red Nab 1000ish
Bonaparte's Gull - Heysham one outfall briefly then Red Nab 0810-0830 at least, when the observer left (but then pushed off by tide and very few gulls left by high tide)
Med Gull - at least 12 on the later stages of the incoming tide (7 juvs) - many of the birds will be on the sands to the south of Ocean Edge by this time

Saturday, 17 August 2013

Quality time with gulls in decent light at last

Heysham Obs
No it is not a 'nice day' when it is calm, the sun is shining and you are trying to watch gulls as has been the case rather a lot recently.  Gulls at all angles and all tones of grey depending on the angle of the sun.  Today was perfect with side-on gulls in flat light on Red Nab

The Bonaparte's was located very easily compared to previous occasions when it has been sleeping with the masses.  The grey nape is beginning to be evident and the head pattern now consists of a dark slate grey/black 'ring' running from chin to chin via the rear crown where it broadens slightly.  The crown itself is lightly peppered.

Not so easy were 2CY Meds!  They seemed to appear out of the woodwork when there was a slight dread and rearrangement of gulls - so easy to overlook at this time of year when even the bill seems 'nondescript' = helpful for sorting from still recognisable 3CY with unmoulted outer primaries

Red Nab/Ocean Edge foreshore & scans of the outfalls
Bonaparte's Gull - sitting on Red Nab & showing very well.  No flight views so not able to judge the state of wing moult
Med Gull - at least 30! minima of 11 juvs, 12 2CY, one 3CY, 4 adult-types.  "Our" 2P96 seen and at least one of the presumed German 2CY, but most of them were at rest not showing the legs
No sign Little Gull or any terns
Whimbrel - 2

Old Lady the star
Friday 16th August. LBBG seen at Heysham Nature reserve with just one metal ring on it's leg.

   Also a Common Darters and a Brown Hawker,  on the dog walking areas of the reserve.
Photos by Janet Packham.

Wednesday, 14 August 2013

A trickle of warblers

Heysham Obs
Work and mist-netting by the office saw no chance of checking the outfalls & no feedback from any visiting birders

Office area
Four Whitethroat, a Blackcap and a juv Reed Warbler ringed

A decent catch included Tawny-speckled Pug and Y scabrella

Tuesday, 13 August 2013

More later..............

A few Whitethroat and Willow Warbler around the office but the most dramatic feature of the ringing was a juvenile female Sparrowhawk, presumably from the nest on the reserve.  More later from e.g. the outfalls hopefully

Meal Moth and a pristine Bordered Sallow were unexpected

Monday Bonaparte's Gull

Bonaparte's Gull seen on Heysham 2 outfall at rest on the railings then flying about for 5 minutes 1320-1325.  It appeared to have just 3 old primaries - easiest to see on the underwing views with the clear-cut black trailing edge but it always remained in 'mid stream' on the outfalls, not joining the close melee.  It then flew towards Heysham one outfall but the three of us were unable to relocate on the incoming tide (no time to check through the gulls in detail on Red Nab)

Also 4 x juv, 3 x 2CY, 1 x 3CY Meds - not the best time of the tide for these.  No obvious sign of the Little Gull or any terns, despite the stiff onshore wind

Sunday, 11 August 2013

Med-fest continues and possible/probable Bonaparte's sighting

Heysham Obs
A rather frustrating morning as a small adult gull with white underwings and "quite a bit of summer head plumage"was located on the seaward end of Heysham one outfall on the incoming tide in association with adult Little Gull, at least one Med and Black-headed Gulls.  Unfortunately I was originally going to check from the north harbour wall which would have given the requisite views, but changed my mind and went to Ocean Edge -  a bit distant from Ocean Edge grass to be absolutely sure.    Any other birders around? Unfortunately, instead of switching to Heysham 2 as the tide came in, it flew along the tideline until lost, when it may have joined the wake of the incoming IOM ferry.  Had to move the car, increasing scope shake and couldnt locate.

Putative Bonaparte's Gull - see above - this sighting will not be claimed unless subsequently confirmed
Med Gull - 21 early morning at low tide, including a new darvic ring (white LC6).  This observer was concentrating on reading ring numbers, not searching for the Bonaparte's Gull.  11 adult, 2 3CY, 3 2CY and 5 juvs.  2P96 and AKRS also present.
Little Gull - ad seaward end of Heysham one outfall at least lunchtime, then fed on the sea between the two outfalls
Sandwich Tern - one

Saturday 10th August

Heysham Obs
Nothing startling in the moth trap for National Moth Night top compare with the Black Arches in the Millhouses trap!

Middleton NR
Marsh Harrier
What must have been this species was quartering the western marsh for about a minute late afternoon. Thanks for the info.
Swallow - only 40 or so in the roost late evening
Peregrine - juvenile

Friday, 9 August 2013

Juvenile Med influx

Heysham Obs 
A funny morning as regards coverage as had set several moth traps last night on the basis of the reasonable first half of the night for the national moth nights sequence (and not so clever two subsequent nights). However, it was a bit breezy this morning when I rescued the north harbour wall actinic! Just had enough time to scope the outer end of Heysham one outfall from the north wall, but unfortunately any further coverage was far too late in the tide cycle to be certain if the Bonaparte's Gull had put in one of its rather intermittent appearances

North harbour wall/Heysham one outfall Med Gull - A flock of gulls on the water off Heysham one proved to be 16 juv and 2 2CY & one 3CY Med! A further two adults were seen on the later check, giving at least 21 for the day

Moths Two traps in the recording area. The north wall trap held 12 Lime-speck Pug and 14 White Line Dart, plus a few generalists including new 10km square records in the form of Rosy Rustic and Lesser Yellow Underwing! The office trap was busy and highlighted by Agriphila latestria at this regular site and a couple of Bordered a Dot Moth (rare here!)

Thursday, 8 August 2013

No Bonaparte's Gull

Heysham Obs
Looking down the seawall towards the outfalls, there seemed to be reasonable coverage this morning on the incoming tide, although a 'dread' on Red Nab shifted a lot of gulls to the south before they had been really checked

Med Gull - 2 ads, 2 juvs, 1 3CY, 2 2CY
Little Gull - ad

Office area
Lesser Whitethroat - 5 ringed
Otherwise one Whitethroat and two Willow Warblers, a Robin and a few Greenfinches

Crescent in the toilet trap a very good record.  Small Wainscot new for the year, otherwise an unremarkable catch with Straw Underwing now very much taking a bow until another year and usurped in the numbers stakes by Six-striped Rustic, Flounced Rustic and Dotted Clay plus the usual hordes of Shaded Broad Bar

Wednesday 7th August

Heysham Obs
Sorry still having problems accessing this site for updates on my home computer - managed to get the HTML to work last night but it wouldn't 'allow' spacing.  I'll try fiddling about again with it tonight

Outfalls area
No sign of the Bonaparte's Gull today but observers appeared to be searching rather too near to high tide - priobably best before 1000hrs. Similarly, only three Med Gulls reported on the latter stages of the incoming tide

Middleton NR
A decent catch of Swallows yesterday evening at Middleton with the roost increasing to at least 400. Also there seemed to be rather a lot of Sedge Warblers around after all the local birds had seemingly departed - quite a lot of contact-calling around the place. Despite a clear night, the CES this morning also saw a sprinkling of new Sedge Warblers with low double-figures of new birds as was also the case with Whitethroat. Just 4-5 Willow Warblers caught - all but one moulting/moult complete adults. 95% of the 'new birds' were warblers with not a single tit species caught - the flocks are just not passing through here and there seems to be a particular dearth of Long-tailed Tits at the moment

..saw Bordered Beauty and Oblique Carpet of note in the Middleton actinics

Tuesday, 6 August 2013

Bonaparte's Gull shows well

Weather: N, calm, 19C, bright
Heysham Obs
A trawl via gate 38 for about 30 mins saw some excellent views of the Bonaparte's Gull as it frequented the incoming tideline just south of Stage 2, then flew and landed on the mud off Red Nab.  It was very easy to pick out in 'flat light' with the darker grey mantle/folded wings and the head still retaining an obvious dark slate grey tone comprising the rear two-thirds of the crown, despite a considerable 'whitish face' (0920-0950 - then had to return to office).  3 Meds casually noted but most of short time available spent searching for/watching Bonaparte's.

Ringing by the office revealed a small passage of Whitethroat and Willow Warbler with 6 new Whitethroat fairly notable.

Moths revealed a horde of noctuids but very few weak fliers after yesterdays 'moth trashing' weather.  Sallow and Square Spot Rustic new for the year

Monday, 5 August 2013


Heysham Obs
The early morning check of the outfalls revealed fewer than usual gulls as they must surely have been hitting wet fields as often happens during the winter months

Med. Gull -  6, mainly on Red Nab (3 2CY, 2 juv, 1 ad)
Arctic Tern - ad Red Nab

The only flicker of interest was that Flounced Rustic overtook Straw Underwing in the abundance stakes

Sunday, 4 August 2013

Bonaparte's Gull appears to go missing

Heysham Obs
The Bonaparte's Gull was not seen today unless evening rain observers struck lucky

20 Med Gulls were present this morning (thanks Stuart)

Saturday, 3 August 2013

Bonaparte's Gull yet again

Heysham Obs
The elusive Bonaparte's Gull reappeared on Red Nab at about 1100hrs, possibly having earlier been on the Lune/Sunderland area (no distance flying over land).  At least three juv Meds and a Common Sandpiper & Whimbrel, but no feedback on Little Gull or indeed any large Med totals - they seem to have decreased, as usual, this last few days

Middleton NR saw the family of Gadwall with four large young, 7 Tufted Duck, but a complete dearth of warblers as has been apparent for most of the last ten days

In contrast, topping up the feeders revealed 4 Whitethroat and 3 Willow Warbler around the mist net ride, reminding that it is indeed August and time to be on the move

Moths included a Fen Wainscot and Pale Mottled Willow in the office trap but (thankfully!) smaller numbers than yesterday.  Malcolm's order of abundance for butterflies on a Middleton NR/coastal walk as follows:
Small white
Meadow brown
Small skipper
Small heath
Red Admiral

Friday, 2 August 2013

Moths and Bonaparte's Gull

Heysham Obs
Too many moths at the moment - a 0530 start at various traps and they still 'ate' into work-time, despite the only obvious explanation for a high speed nil return, relatively drained battery and moved egg boxes in the north harbour wall actinic being that someone has already checked it.  Hope the stuff is entered on MapMate!.  The office trap could not be checked until 1100hrs and there were c480 moths of 62 species therein

Feedback from visiting birders and a brief visit to Red Nab:
Mediterranean Gull - 5 juvs, 2 ads, 2 3CY (including the winter resident 2P96) and 3-4 2CY
Bonaparte's Gull - rather elusive by all accounts but on Heysham 2 outfall about lunchtime
Whimbrel - 4

Lots but nothing really special with the rarest by Heysham standards being Purple Thorn and Cabbage Moth!  The first Rosy Rustic and Canary Shouldered Thorn of the year

The office buddleia is producing with an emergence of Peacock today totalling 5, plus Red Admiral, Brimstone

Thursday, 1 August 2013

Sat Navs and Bonaparte's Gull

Please don't use your sat nav - the postcode on one of the information services takes you straight into a reactor!  Please follow the instructions as per parking by the tall mast just before Ocean Edge caravan park and then accessing the shore via the nature park.  See map below

Bonaparte's Gull seen again today

Loads of butterflies, including a Holly Blue near the office