Sunday, 30 April 2017

Great migration day

Best was an adult White-winged Black tern accompanying one of the Black tern flocks (seen by Andrew) along with a record count of Black tern.   Quite tricky to keep tabs on birds which were spiralling up and heading inland (eg a flock of 120 Arctic and several Black tern) and the following counts should be seen as minima with three observers at different locations liaising over the phone.  Pete Crooks diligently covered the early morning low tide period.  Unfortunately the land was very much second best and goodness knows how many warblers slipped through in the absence of any ringing and presence of the more 'obvious' species in some numbers like Wheatear and Whinchat.  Stuff is still arriving as this is being typed, notably a massive hirundine passage

Evening update (Shaun Coyle et al)
ICELAND GULL - 2CY past outfalls towards harbour 2000 hrs
Black tern - flock of 45 in - at least 185 for the day!

Sea - 0700-1315
Gannet- 9
Sandwich Tern - 18, mainly blogging but purposeful flock of 12 in
White-winged Black Tern - 1 adult
Arctic Tern - 569 NE
Black Tern - 140 minimum, probably another 30 NE
Black-headed Gull - 72 in
Common Scoter - 3
Whimbrel - 5
Swallow - 500 NE
Sand Martin - 120 NE
House Martin - 5 NE
Tree Pipit - 3 NE
Meadow Pipit  86 NE (late!) plus another 30 small passerines prob these over the sea
Alba Wagtail - 3
Goldfinch - 2
Siskin - 1
Kestrel - 1
Great-crested Grebe - 1 on water
Common sandpiper - 2 near naze, one red nab

Wheatear - 22 minimum
Whinchat - 3 minimum
Yellow Wagtail - male Ocean Edge
Willow Warbler - 2 south harbour wall, 3 OE foreshore rocks

Pete Woodruff late afternoon - note the record Common Sandpiper count (thanks for this info)
13 Wheatear, being 11 flying off Red Nab in procession toward Ocean Edge, and two on the waste ground at the south wall where there was 3 Willow Warblera Whitethroat, and a White Wagtail, 8 Common Sandpiper were below the sea wall between outfalls

Saturday, 29 April 2017

Less of a spectacle

Low tide coverage by Phil and myself on the north wall failed to reveal any semblance of proper migration.  Hordes of seagulls as yesterday eventually revealed an adult summer Little Gull at extreme range as the BHGs started to move up the bay on the incoming tide.  That was about it in the 'boldface stakes'.  Similar picture for Malcolm on the south side of the harbour

Some nice pics from Janet at Middleton yesterday:

Knot - about half yesterdays number - c3000
Eider - 270ish
Sandwich tern - 8-9 bloggers early on
Pink-footed Goose - one south!
Whimbrel - 1 north
Wigeon - pair north
Little Gull - adult summer with BHGs - only seen when they flew north
Mute Swan - 2 imms north over sea
Great-crested Grebe - one on sea
Red-throated Diver - one on during a mid-morning check
Wheatear - 3 OE
[Ian had a flock of 145 Arctic Tern heading into the Bay at Rossall mid/late afternoon, hopefully a precursor of the main theme during the easterlies in the next few days]

Heysham N Reserve area
The only definite migrants were two Lesser Redpoll ringed and about half a dozen Swallows over

Grey Seal - 1

Friday, 28 April 2017

Spectacle birding

low spring tides allow skeers to be uncovered which don't normally see the light of day very much and hordes of birds often take advantage of this temporary source of food

Large gulls (mostly 2cy herring) - 890
Black headed gull - 1240
Common gull - 257
Knot - 6400 (great murmurations)
Eider - 259

Dark-bellied Brent goose - two north at the time a lot of birds were being displaced by The tide (thanks Malcolm)
Arctic Skua - dm in 0815
Sandwich tern - 14
Common scoter - 3
Red throated diver - 2
Pink footed goose - 110 n plus a singleton on the water
Guillemot - 1
Common sandpiper - 1 (Ioy)
Wheatear - 8

Grey seal - 1
Harbour porpoise - 1-2

Thursday, 27 April 2017

The day of the Gannet

It didn't look great for a seawatch at first as the visibility was very poor as a weather front passed over but suddenly in the gloom a flock of Kittiwakes and appeared and then another so it was time to concentrate. The following were then seen in the run up to high tide from 08:20 to 12:00:

Kittiwake -  116 (35+70+1+5+1+4)
Gannet - 100 - exact count of inbound birds (largest flock = 30). As all but one were adults they contrasted superbly against the grey background.  As usual many were seen flying out at some distance heading around Walney - these all assumed to be the same birds as already counted
Sandwich Tern - 10 in and 3 out
Arctic Tern - 9 in at 11:53
Arctic Skua - dark morph in at 09:15
Great Skua - 2 in at 09:40 (one initially, the second bird probably got off the sea and joined it - suddenly appeared in line with Barrow...and 1 in very close at 11:40 which had been tracked past rossall then knott end (1126)
Pomarine Skua - 1 lm ad very close in at 11:33, first picked up flying round end of wooden jetty
Red-throated Diver - 7 in
Manx Shearwater - 3 (2+1) - distant flying across
Guillemot - 2 out

2000 Knot and 200 Dunlin flew out (towards Middleton) from the skears at around 09:20

Wednesday, 26 April 2017

Lots of Sandwiches today

Another chilly morning vigil at the North Harbour wall. Tally so far (to 10:15hrs):
Sandwich Tern -  73
Arctic Tern - 2 plus 6 in
Unidentified large raptor in distant heat haze  - 1 at 1008
Red-throated Diver - 1
Little egret - 3 north together 

Whimbrel - 3 red nab
Grey plover - 1 red nab
White wagtail - two ocean edge grass
No wheatear seen oe!

Shoulder stripe in moth trap 

Tuesday, 25 April 2017

Chilly seawatch

Nice view of the snow clad Lake District from the North Harbour Wall today but the air was cold so there was a "heat" haze over the sea (i.e. The sea being relatively warmer than the air above it) making distant birds (if there were any) difficult to see.

Managed to see the following:
Sandwich Tern - 13 in
Gannet - 5 in
Auk sp, probably Guillemot, - 1 in
Swallow - just the one.

3 Wheatear were seen at Ocean Edge by Malcolm

Speckled Wood and an Orange Tip seen at Heysham Nature Reserve by Janet (see below)

Heysham Reserve
Redstart - 1 female along path at north end of reserve, pm.
Lesser Whitethroat singing near the hut


Monday, 24 April 2017

Mixed bag after a late start

Interested to see what tomorrow mornings seawatching will be like in the northerly - in the past it has produced some terns etc.  Today we were too late for a proper seawatch and certainly missed the decent number of early morning Red-throated Diver seen heading in from Rossall (thanks for info Ian)

Sea 0900-0940
Red-throated Diver - 2!
Great Skua - see by two of us but distant brief views as it headed in (thanks for the alert Ian)
Gannet - 2 in
Dunlin - 35 N
Knot - 700 south

Ocean Edge saltmarsh
Scandinavian Rock Pipit - one in summer plumage (usually gone from round here before they gain s.p.) (Malcolm)
Wheatear - 1-2

Sunday, 23 April 2017

At last a bit of action by our standards!

Unfortunately the Pom Skua was at best an unidentifiable blob high above Walney lighthouse (seen off Rossall and communicated straight away), otherwise a nice mix of stuff today.  Would have been even better without a heat haze from early doors knocking a couple of additional species on the head!

Offshore 0630 to 1020ish (Pete Crooks and Pete Marsh)
Med Gull - the major surprise was a pair of adults heading up the Bay (very late for this age class to still be on the move).  Also new in was a 2CY with the Common Gulls on the tideline by Ocean Edge
Gannet - 3
Arctic Tern - 3+10+5 in (IOY)
Red-throated Diver - at least 14 either 'in' or 'on' but floating in, singletons or twos
Common Scoter - 21
Sandwich Tern - 3
Guillemot - 8 - 'on' floating in - all singletons
Whimbrel - 6 in, 2 on shore Red Nab
Knot - flock of c4800 south
Meadow Pipit - late flock of 5 in
Swallow - c40 in (mostly after 0925)
House Martin - 2 in
Sand Martin - 7 in together 0945
Goose spp - c130 NW very distantly
No ducks other than the odd Eider (very poor spring for RBM in particular)

Harbour Porpoise - three well-separated individuals
Grey Seal - 2 (one close inshore)

Middleton NR (Malcolm)
Cetti's Warbler - two singing males but the main territory of the wintering male silent (hopefully paired and nesting)
Lesser Whitethroat - 2 singing males
Grasshopper Warbler - two additional territories/passage birds today (singing males - one near Solrec/Tradebe)
Sedge Warbler - 5 singing male
Reed Warbler - one singing male
Swallow (3) and Sand Martin (1) casually noted
Pheasant - 2
Mute Swan - 3 pairs, two sitting
Coot - 2
Moorhen - 7
Gadwall - 5 (4 males)
Mallard - 3 males
Tufted Duck - 3 (2 males)
Little Grebe - 2 on model boat pond - one trilling

No ringing this am or coverage of landbirds away from Middleton

Saturday, 22 April 2017

More additions to the Cumbrian year list

Quite a bit of stuff in the clear skies has been in Cumbria as scoped from the north wall and it is a good job todays high flying Marsh harrier was showing well-defined 'headlights' otherwise it might have been a bit of a struggle.  Unfortunately  no-one covered the early morning incoming tide

Offshore 9ish onwards on early dropping tide
Marsh Harrier - distant high flying bird purposefully in (any new ones at Leighton today - f/imm with pronounced 'headlights'?)
Common Scoter - c15 u-turned in line with turbines
Red-throated Diver - 6 on, including three together
Swallow - 5 NE in about 45 mins

Small influx of Sedge Warbler (three ringed)
Reed Warbler - singing male (IOY)
Grasshopper and Cetti's Warbler - at least two singing males of each

Wheatear - 2 Ocean Edge
Grey Plover - 16 in fsp visible along tideline
Common Gull - 37 outfalls/tideline

No other sign of life migrant-wise although no observers were there early am

Friday, 21 April 2017

Wanted and unwanted ducks

Wanted ducks
Shoveler - three 'in' (one male)
Wigeon - flock of 5 'in' (long after the wintering birds have departed) a potential tricky year tick but just too far away to be certain

Plus other things on the sea:
Sandwich tern - one in distantly
Red-throated Diver - two in sp in
Gannet - 2 out very distantly

Unwanted ducks
Other newly arrived grounded migrants
Hirundines or any other landbird vis during the seawatch

Mediocre miscellany
Little Egret - 3

Thursday :excellent coverage but...

Possibly the least productive coastal search ever at migration time in what looked like reasonable conditions
Wheatear - one OE saltmarsh
Whimbrel - one Red Nab
Gannet - one far offshore out

This might be the Grasshopper Warbler caught in the morning but may not even be a British ring??? (thanks Janet)

Ringing took place at both Middleton and Heysham.
Although the numbers caught were low, only twelve birds at each site, the highlights were the first Grasshopper Warbler ringed this and first Whitethroats of this spring at Middleton and Heysham.
Willow Warblers - 10
Chiffchaff - 4
Blackcap - 2
Grasshopper Warbler - 1
Whitethroat - 1 (& one seen Heysham)
Reed Bunting - 1
Goldfinch - 1 plus 1 retrap
Dunnock - 1 retrap
Chaffinch - 1 retrap
Blackbird - 1 retrap

Also at Middleton, at least three Grasshopper Warblers, the Lesser Whitethroat of the last few days and two Cetti's singing/calling early morning.

An additional Lesser Whitethroat was singing from the edge of the field next to the bypass roundabout on the south side of the road

Wednesday, 19 April 2017

Low Key Morning

Heysham Obs

Offshore 1000-1020
Speedboat presumably involved in scientific work managed to clear the whole of the wildfowl from the low tide channels prior to my arrival!
Sandwich Tern - 2 in
Swallow - 35 N
Sand |Martin - 4 N
Odd that there were none over HNR over a much longer time period

A ringing session this morning produced fewer captures than expected from five nets set from dawn. It was a case of quality rather than quantity.
Although plenty of local pairs of birds were flitting around there appeared to be few newly arrived birds.
Sedge Warbler - 1
Chiffchaff - 2 retraps
Willow Warbler - 4 plus 2 retraps
Blackcap - 1
Goldfinch - 2 plus 2 retraps
Dunnock - 1 retrap

None in the hut trap.  The overnight wind although broadly southerly, did have a little east in it  which may have deterred moths from entering the window.

Not fit for purpose in my opinion.  Lost three micros escaping through the beehive slats the other morning and this must be happening all night. Don't forget this trap has been unchecked for three nights as no one had access.  Design modifications needed (ie the original design implemented!!) otherwise it is a waste of time.  Are the nearby security lights still on all night? (Pete Marsh - county moth recorder) 


Tuesday, 18 April 2017

Female Scaup tops the bill

Counting rather than just skimming through the Eider saw a female Scaup trying its best to blend in but it soon became clear it had its own agenda and floated out on its own whilst the Eider maintained position, feeding.  A very distant Osprey was only picked up under a cloud of gulls after it was well north of Ulverston and it was soon lost against the background - probably turning and flying towards land judging by the gull response.  Migrant or wandering associate with/component of the breeding birds?

Sea early morning low tide
Osprey - see above - 0900ish
Scaup - female see above
Black-headed Gull - flock of 17 purposefully in
Eider - 187
Red-breasted Merganser - 2 pairs
Sand Martin - 6 north
Swallow - 11 north

Malcolms notes from Middleton plus additions from John/Doreen/Pete
One Lesser Whitethroat between gun club and steps.
A couple of Redpoll blogging.
Slow trickle of swallows - 8 in total, one group of 3 the rest singles.
1 male pheasant.
Sand Martin - 3 north
Cetti's Warbler - at least two singing males
Sedge Warbler - two singing early on only, one ringed
5 Tufted
2 Gadwall
1 Little Grebe ( no swimming pond)
1 Lapwing on model boat pond peninsula

Lots of male orange tip. 

Thanks for the following pics from Middleton, Janet

Monday, 17 April 2017

Coverage around low tide

Ducks were the order of the day although it was great that Malcolm fully confirmed three Cetti's warbler territories as all were singing at the same time this am

Garganey - a pair flew from across the bay and then swung and flew up the bay over heysham skeer and lost heading for the stone jetty
Goldeneye - two females were a very welcome sighting as they headed up the bay
Common scoter - drake flew on and u-turned out
Red throated diver  - one on
Great crested grebe - one on
Eider - 197
Red breasted merganser - NONE!!
Whimbrel - 2 in
Swallow - 40 in including gang of 32
Sandwich tern - just the one in
Redpoll - flock of 5 north
Meadow pipit - c15 n
Linnet -c20 n
White wagtail - 2n

Gadwall - 6
Tufted duck - 3
Cetti's warbler - 3 singing male
Common buzzard - one high to north
Sedge warbler - one singing briefly

Saturday, 15 April 2017

Perseverance on the sea

Sea for about 1.5 hours
Little gull - two ads in
Common scoter - three distantly out
Kittiwake - flock of 55 on then in
Eider -c135
Knot - 2700 on skeers
Grey seal 1-2

Lesser whitethroat still singing
Cetti's warbler - at least one
Gadwall - 2
Teal - 2
Tufted duck - 2

Friday, 14 April 2017

Warm sector scraps

Nowt yesterday other than 130 Eider in low tide channel

Spent about 30 minutes this morning in absolutely superb haze free visibility trying to see Brent Geese at Rampside!!   Just too far away, but there was nothing to look at in between Heysham and the Furness coast - absolutely dead bar one Eider flying out, despite a strong incoming tidal flow

Grasshopper Warbler - singleton giving a few bursts of song
Lesser Whitethroat - ditto
Cetti's Warbler - two possibly three singing males
Teal - two pairs still

Heysham NR
Sedge warbler singing by office for a short time

Absolutely zero hirundine passage contra elsewhere eg over the sea

Zero yet again on Wheatear which have been incredibly scarce after an early flurry

Brown House Moth in the moth trap along with Early Grey and Early Thorn

Wednesday, 12 April 2017

Fulmar on the year list

Probably about an hour in total watching the sea during the early stages of the incoming tide but about a third was during poor visibility

Gannet - one in, 14 out
Fulmar - one out

Tuesday, 11 April 2017

One Gannet

One distant Gannet in 30 minutes

Middleton NR (Malcolm)
Cetti's warbler(s) singing:
Fence pond/central marsh - 1 burst
NE corner of central marsh - 3 bursts
NW corner of "no swimming" pond - 1 burst.
Unfortunately, I never heard two at the same time, but I suspect more than one bird was involved.
2 Tufted
6 Gadwall
2 Teal

Monday, 10 April 2017

Gannet duo

A couple of adult gannet and a single red throated diver from about an hours incoming tide seawatching this am.

Six little egret best of the rest!

OSPREY ne across the se corner of the recording area about 1208 yesterday

Sunday, 9 April 2017

Migration still low key

Heysham NR
Vis 06:15 - 10:00
Meadow Pipit 26
Alba Wagtail 3
Lesser Redpoll 12
Carrion Crow 3

Seen from the North Harbour Wall
Knot 1000  flew from the skears towards Middleton
Turnstone - at least 150 on the wooden jetty
Dunlin 160
Common Gull 39
Bar-tailed Godwit 5
Little Egret 5

Middleton NR
Little change here. Willow,Warblers and Chiffchaffs singing, a single Blackcap, Cetti's Warbler in NE  corner of central marsh. No other types of warbler yet.
Tufted Duck 2
Teal 2
Mute Swan 3 pairs
Little Grebe 1
Buzzard soaring to east.


Saturday, 8 April 2017


Early WeBs count saw two distant Sandwich Tern and a Swallow heading north.  Records elsewhere suggest a significant coastal (but not up the Lune) Lesser Redpoll passage from first light and about 10 were caught later on in the morning Heysham/Middleton

Other than the redpoll, vis mig was very slow or high with occasional pulses of Meadow Pipit including a flock of 16 mid morning

6 Little Egret Red Nab!

Friday, 7 April 2017

The door remains closed

This comment certainly seems to apply to migrant birds at the moment but it is also embarrassing when, on a whistle stop visit to see if anyone was in (so could check the moth trap), you have to refuse a regular visitor access to the toilet.......because the door to the new office remained firmly locked all day and you do not possess a key.  They have only been issued to paid staff.  

Red Nab
Little Egret - 5
Meadow Pipit - 4 NE
alba Wagtail - 8 grounded (all Pied)

A survey vessel plonked in the outer Kent channel area appeared to have two birders aloft - hope we get the seawatching data!
Red-throated Diver - 1 out

Thursday, 6 April 2017

Very quiet

Heysham NR
Apart from a couple of early morning Willow Warblers there was not much in the way of grounded or visible migrants.
Just 3 Meadow Pipits and 2 Pied Wagtails over in 3 hours.

No moths in the super new mothroom.

Hoping for a big improvement on Saturday when the winds are southerly.

Wednesday, 5 April 2017

Tuesday: one decent bird but a repeat for the year!

Iceland Gull - Middayish: 2CY flew from the WSW (but didn't see how far away it came on that line) and joined a gang on they seaward end of Heysham Two outfalls for 10 minutes or so before flying purposefully north west-ish in the direction of Roa Island causeway

Meadow Pipit - 5 north in 30 minutes
Little Egret - 3 Red Nab/outfalls area  

Monday, 3 April 2017

The early bird .....

Middleton NR

The early bird (Malcolm) caught the worms today with a fall of Willow Warblers and Chiffchaff. By 08:10 when I arrived there were only two Willow Warblers and two Chiffchaffs  singing.

Model Boat Pond
Mute Swan - 1pr
Teal - 1pr
Gadwall - 2prs

No Swimming Pond

Tim Butler Pond
Mute Swan - 1

Cetti's Warbler - 2 singing, one in central marsh, other north of NS Pond (NB 2 birds heard on 1 April).

Sparrowhawk hunting over the rough ground in the north.

2 Meadow Pipits and a Lesser Redpoll over.

2 April - Fox in the new scrapes area.

Hoping to catch up with the Willow Warblers, I went round Heysham NR
Willow Warbler - 1 called from the willows on the northern edge of the reedbed
Chiffchaff - 3 singing and 1 calling.


Sunday, 2 April 2017

No vis mig coverage

Shame it wasn't possible to watch the low tide channels and fare overhead in the early morning.  Not a morning for grounded migrant enthusiasts!

Pink footed Goose 35 S mid am

Single Goldcrest and Chiffchaff ringed by office

Saturday, 1 April 2017

Low spring tide channel fare

Quite a bit but failed with a white winged gull target but light often poor

Light bellied Brent goose - two on furthest skeer
Wigeon - migrant flocks of 45, 2 on water by heysham skeer
Large gulls - c350 on or around skeers
Eider - c105
Sand Martin - 5 n
Meadow pipit - 40 n
Alba wagtail - 5 n
Pink footed goose - flock of c360 north
Red breasted merganser - 5
Knot - c4000 on skeer plus murmuration - first ones seen in numbers north of wooden jetty this year

Singing Cetti's warbler central marsh as usual