Thursday, 19 April 2018

Two more Black Redstart

There was a lot of Wheatears moving through today, associated with one mobile group of about 15 birds was a particularly ghostly female/immature Black Redstart, see snap below (it actually is on this picture). They were on the rocks and sea wall around Red Nab before drifting inland about 12:30.

A second, also female/immature, Black Redstart was on the south wall roundhead. This was a more striking bird, but no sign of white wing patches. It initially flew to north wall, but quickly returned, unfortunately to the inside of the Power Station confines (so no pictures) 13:15. It was relocated at 14:50 by Jeff on the roundhead.

Sandwich Tern - 29 offshore
Rock Pipit - still around lighthouse area. Record shot below is slightly overexposed making it appear pale.

Wheatear - minimum 27, between 11:30 & 13:30, most moving through.
Whimbrel - 1

Small White on Ocean Edge salt marsh

Middleton Nature Reserve
Cetti's warbler - 2 singing
Lesser Whitethroat - c10 singing

(report MD)

Wednesday, 18 April 2018

The calm, hopefully before the storm!

A quieter day, by recent standards, but still not bad.

Redwing ringed on HNR

Great Crested Grebe - 6 seen from Knowlys Road

Rock Pipit, sitting quietly on steps near lighthouse on south wall roundhead (see yesterday's post). But as soon as a Meadow Pipit landed on roundhead it saw it off. It appears to be "on territory".......

Arctic Tern on No.1 outflow. Arrived about 2hr before high water.

Whimbrel 1 on Red Nab, another, or same mobile bird, on Ocean Edge salt marsh.

Wheatears - minimum 4

Middleton Nature Reserve
1 Cetti's warbler and 2 Lesser Whitethroat singing
Tufted 2
Teal 3


Tuesday, 17 April 2018

Ring Ouzel leads another decent haul

A southerly wind didn't promise much but there were definite signs that we perhaps should have put at least one net up in the shelter before the rain hit after 0845

Ring Ouzel - female on top of bush by office late am - flew towards tank farm via mist net ride!
Arctic Tern - one outfalls

Razorbill - one in sp flew out
Med Gull - 2CY outfalls but very mobile
Rock Pipit - still hanging around south harbour
This is a favoured resting location between the lighthouse on roundhead and the steps to the east of it. Please do not go down the steps, they are perilous! (MD)

Chiffchaff - one south harbour
Wheatear - at least four

Monday, 16 April 2018

Black Redstart

New for the year today:  Black Redstart and Lesser Whitethroat

Black Redstart - a very elusive and secretive female/imm, spending large amounts of time in dark crevices between boulders at Red Nab - found by Malcolm late am

Thanks Janet
Lesser Whitethroat - one started singing next to HNR office midday, two on MNR in afternoon.
Wheatear - 4 Ocean Edge
Little Gull - two adults flew in off the sea on to the outfalls near high tide
Shag - on the large skeer with Cormorants pre-tide then flew towards harbour
Eider - 175
RB Merg - 9
Great-crested Grebe - 9, including flock of 4 - all sp (north European birds??)

Presumed fence-hopping Snake's Head Fritillary on HNR now in flower

Grey Seal

Sunday, 15 April 2018

A colourful day

New for the year: Firecrest, redstart and common sandpiper

Thanks for the pic holly 

Firecrest - singing Male found by holly page in willows alongside the alder copse boardwalk.   Couldn’t be found later but searches impeded by difficult terrain in the NE corner
Redstart - Male ringed 0800
Common sandpiper - one
Little gull - two adult and 3cy at various times
Shag - 2cy wooden jetty
Common scoter - one offshore
Sandwich tern - two early am
Wheatear - 5
No apparent sign of any Brent’s today

A steady trickle of chiffchaff, willow warbler and blackcap in the two nets set in the shelter below the old obs tower

Vis 07:30-10:00
Meadow Pipit 110
Linnet 34
alba wagtail 3
Redpoll sp 4
Siskin 4

On the sea
Eider 72
Great-crested Grebe 1
Red-breasted Merganser 2

Saturday, 14 April 2018

Black headed day

An early flurry of blackcaps in the mist nets, the superb adult summer little gull and later today a colourful black headed wagtail just up the road in fields next to the em pool

Shag - Juv near naze over tide
Little gull - probably three different adults
Cetti’s warbler - two singing males middleton
Whimbrel - one North
Brent goose - five pale bellied

The shag is one of the few pics of mine I’m not too embarrassed to claim - the little gull is a very brief visitor  to the outfalls in the afternoon.  Thanks to Janice Sutton

Friday, 13 April 2018

Black and white things emerge from the mist

Very poor visibility today, but the wall to wall overnight rain had failed to drop any night migrants eg Wheatear during the morning at least.  A search of the grassy areas for the potentially 'grounded' Chough also failed to produce.  However, Red Nab and the outfalls provided some publishable material, notably a pink-flushed ad summer Little Gull:

Little Gull - three - probably the recent on/off adult winter and new adult summer and a 3CY at Red Nab/outfalls at various times during the am
Brent Goose - todays lottery number was five pale-bellied (multiple observation of just four yesterday!)
Sandwich Tern - 13  came into Red Nab
Rock Pipit - petrosus type still lingering around the south lighthouse area - record shot later
Wheatear - 1
Cetti’s warbler - singing central marsh middleton

Thursday, 12 April 2018

Cumbrian feeding frenzy

A couple of things over and above the routine today, most notably two Barn Owls briefly on Middleton NR

Gannet - two adults diving distantly in Cumbria
Barn Owl - two feeding on Middleton briefly during early am
Thanks Janet
Sandwich Tern - 14 similarly with the Gannets - no others seen!
Rock Pipit - one fairly 'dark' bird near the south lighthouse
Brent Goose - 4 pale-bellied today - on Red Nab throughout
Cetti's Warbler - two singing males at the same time on Middleton
Wheatear - just one
No notable vis (two each of Swallow and Meadow Pipit!)
No serious searches for the Chough we are aware of and not visible during a casual scan of the first two fields and sheep field 

Wednesday, 11 April 2018

Brent reconnection

Pale-bellied Brent Goose - 5 Red Nab
Little Gull - new adult on outfalls
Sandwich tern - 6 on outfalls railings, 38 in during 30 mins seawatching on dropping tide
Meadow Pipit - 26 recorded heading north
Swallow - 3 north during seawatch
Chough - no known reports today BUT was seen 'all yesterday afternoon' around the headland
Chiffchaff - two new birds with pollen above bill
Blackcap - one new bird
Goldcrest - one new bird
Sedge Warbler - one probably two Middleton
Cetti's Warbler - at least two Middleton but only one singing

Moth trap held Chestnut as well as the usual orthosias

Tuesday, 10 April 2018


Observatories, by virtual of the usual locations, are not Nuthatch-fests and despite decent habitat at Heysham Head, this is isolated and only the occasional bird makes it through, sometimes staying for quite a long time.  Noisy one this morning in the churchyard trees on the Head

Chough - heard this early morning by a pre-work dog walkers who is well used to it!  No sign later
Sandwich Tern - 42 sitting on the railings at the end of Heysham two outfall with a further 10 offshore - 24 were still there two hours later.  Not seen this before here
Red-throated Diver - one seen offshore
Little Gull - flying about off the end of the outfalls - ad in partial sp - but only there early am
Nuthatch - one Heysham Head at least 0900-0910

Monday, 9 April 2018

Fogbound rubbish then a very welcome sighting

Nothing seemed to move early on during the fog this morning, epitomised by the lack of any Chiffchaff/Willow Warbler in the nets at Heysham and the nets at Middleton either definitely or probably picking up returning breeding birds.  In this respect, three Willow Warbler males ringed in previous years were caught.

Nothing overhead of note either until:

Jean (at the nets) and myself (by the office) simultaneously uttered the word 'Chough' at 1109hrs as calls were heard high in the sky to the SW.  It flew over the top of the pylon line and spiralled down towards Half Moon Bay area.  It was not followed up immediately and could not be located later but it is clearly (assuming it is not a one-off passing through) seeing Heysham Head as a familiar 'clocking in location' whilst wandering about looking for a mate.  It does beg the question that surely it can be turning up any where within a thirty or so mile radius of Heysham, including its presumed former haunt of one of the Blackpool golf courses.  It does seem highly unlikely that it has flown as far as the Sefton coast with its observer saturation, but a key potential observer is currently absent from the Rossall area and the rest of the Fylde coast south of there is tricky to cover unless it goes inland over Marton or as far as Fairhaven.  As previously mentioned, it definitely flew over Knott End mid-am on 20th March

Goldcrest - three ringed at Heysham with at least one other there
Raven - one flew over Middleton - hard to find these days and mostly high-fliers
Chough - see above (not the pic, that's the Raven!)
Sandwich tern - 6 on or around the buoys off the north wall pm
Brent Goose - none seen in several checks off Knowlys
Red-throated Diver - 2 offshore
Common Buzzard - four seen soaring high to the east of Middleton (and four fighting over Heysham Moss in pm) 
Sparrowhawk - one probably migrant north
Meadow Pipit - just 10 recorded
Swallow - just two
Cetti's Warbler singing central marsh

Early Orange Tip seen nearby on Heysham Moss.  Otherwise the 'big four' hibernators were at large:

Thanks for all the pics Janet

Sunday, 8 April 2018

An odd day plus a predictable afternoon Osprey

Every so often a migration day throws up the unexpected epitomised by six |House Martin (its only 8th April in a 'late' year) and up to 100 Swallow sitting around in bushes at Middleton!
all six house martin are on here - thanks Malcolm

Masses of Meadow Pipit and other odds and ends of vis mig flying north past the Stone Jetty yet no vis records whatsoever over Heysham NR

Lets go back to the other day when a mass of Meadow Pipits were grounded on Heysham head and the horse paddocks but very few were moving south over the reserve of sites to the south.  I wonder if this explains 500+Meadow Pipit over the Stone Jetty this am?

Going back to the hirundines, this was unprecedented in spring and Malcolm suggested that these were a product of overnight roosting, some in the reed mace as they had "fluff" stuck to their feathers equating to the friable reed mace seed.  They were reluctant to head north in the murky weather but gradually moved on in dribs and drabs with others arriving from the south similarly

The dropping tide received very little coverage at Heysham but as usual we trawl in any seabird passage and publish it here

Kittiwake - 5 out flock 41 in off SJ
Red-throated Diver - 7 SJ, just one Heysham
Guillemot - 2
Common Scoter - one in SJ
Brent Goose - 9 pale-bellied off horse paddocks early am presumably joined by the three dark-bellied seen flying south at SJ mid-am

Cetti's Warbler - one singing by no-swimming pond surely not same as central marsh bird?
Blackcap - 3 ringed plui at least 4 in field
Willow Warbler - one ringed, at least 10 in field
Chiffchaff - 3 ringed
Goldcrest - 2 ringed

OSPREY - south over Middleton 1530hrs (thanks Mario) 

Saturday, 7 April 2018

Black-throated Diver

Coverage pre-dawn to c0910

This was just about within record shot range but with the light so bad and the bird diving most of the shots were fresh air and sea with the record shot being deemed to resemble an elephants trunk sticking out of Loch Ness.  Available to view on request

Black-throated Diver - not quite in full summer plumage but a nice bird!  Floating out on the tide and fishing
Red-throated Diver - two together floating out in the am  and Nick had 8-13 on the incoming tide off the SJ in the afternoon
Guillemot - one in winter plumage floating out
Meadow Pipit - 38 N before cloud arrived
Mute Swan - flock of 5 north
Goosander - three females flew north over Hey NR early am - rare here
Brent Goose - flock of 8 pale and two dark with two additional pale
Barn Owl - quartering Middleton early am
Cetti's Warbler - one burst of song from Midd central marsh
Great-crested grebe - at least three poss four pairs
Eider - much reduced (Nick had 130) and no Velvet Scoter
Kittiwake - 18 floating in past SJ in afternoon
Wheatear - 3
Single Blackcap and Willow Warbler ringed and control Goldfinch AACxxxx  

Friday, 6 April 2018

Migrant Trickle

Two fairly sheltered nets saw two overdue year ticks in the form of single (surprisingly female) Blackcap and Willow Warbler along with three Chiffchaff and two Goldcrest.  A single Sand Martin was an even more overdue year tick and the late afternoon hirundine movement recorded elsewhere brought two Swallows to the model boat pond

Velvet Scoter - Ad drake again off Heysham head north side readjusting its position in the outgoing tide race
Brent Goose - today's lottery number was five pale-bellied!
Gulls - masses of all shapes and sizes on the outfalls with the exception of anything remotely unusual.  Watch this space

Meadow Pipit - about 40 recorded in total overhead
Great crested Grebe - about 5 offshore (6 yesterday)

Grey Seal - two offshore - also seen yesterday

Pics posted tomorrow - thanks Janet

Thursday, 5 April 2018

Osprey, Swallow and a returning Velvet Scoter

A piece of carelessness on my part not carefully checking what was a spike in the numbers of Eider at low tide but was distracted by an Osprey and an incoming phone call!  Thanks to Nick for picking out the Velvet Scoter on the dropping tide

Osprey - one flew up a central channel at c0930, hovering briefly over the centre of the channel before progressing north.  Cant understand why these innocuous fish-botherers cause so much mayhem - everything was up in the air, including large gulls and Oystercatchers, unless a Peregrine was targeting the high swirling Knot flock at the same time
Guillemot - the only auk seen today was a non-breeding plumaged Guillemot on both the incoming and dropping tide
Velvet Scoter - drake relocated on the dropping tide late afternoon - definitely been absent recently
Eider - at least 290 with an "additional" raft at low tide c/p the last week or so
Swallow - one north Middleton (IOY)
Coot - now 3
Gadwall - 7
Tufted Duck - 2 pairs
Teal - 3 pairs
Lots of Pheasant Middleton!
Chiffchaff - 5+ singing male Middleton
Wheatear - 2
Brent - 13 pale bellied today ( or strictly speaking 12 pale bellied together at low tide and one thought to be pale bellied joining them on the incoming tide

Wednesday, 4 April 2018

Razorbill influx and concentrated Meadow Pipit movement

Wheatear - 3
Meadow Pipit - 820 NE/grounding on Knowlys fields, many flushed from Heysham head grassland, others heading past out to sea. All just after heavy rain ceased and most passing in a continuous stream over 30 minutes.   Not replicated on the south side of the harbour with just 37 in same time period
alba Wagtail - just 4
Greylag - one north along coast
Shag - 2CY on rocks at base of wooden jetty at seaward end
Sandwich Tern - three fishing at yellow buoy range
Razorbill - 12 in (3, 2 or singletons) on sea
Guillemot - one in on sea
Great-crested Grebe - 6
Red-throated Diver - three together in on sea but distant
Goldcrest - 3 below obs tower
Green Woodpecker - one in non-op land
Chiffchaff - singing along dog track and at Middleton
Eider - 202
Red-breasted Merganser - 5
Little Gull - ad type outfalls

Pale-bellied Brent Goose - 7 at Red Nab (but only a gang of four seen off Knowlys earlier)
Siskin - one heard Heysham head

Tuesday 3rd April

Sorry someone else was supposed to be posting for Tuesday!

Little Gull - adult briefly stage two outfall
Brent Goose - 7 pale and one dark on the usual routine, initially feeding on the skeer off the horse paddocks
Eider - 194
Shoveler - pair on the sea off Heysham Head - what a good year so far for here!
Razorbill - 2+1+1+2 floating in on the sea
Guillemot - 1 floating in on the sea
Raz/Guilli - distant one floating in
Meadow Pipit - c60 grounded or north
Pied Wagtail - 6 grounded or north
Goldcrest - one Heysham head
Chiffchaff - two singing EDF land
Wheatear - 3

Monday, 2 April 2018

Two Sandwich Terns

Malcolm braved the elements to do the whole south shore area today with the reward of just one Wheatear.  Its really hard work at the moment but it all looks to change tomorrow onwards with a corridor of sorts for stuff trying to reach us from the south.  Again its going to be wet and hard work but hopefully eg the first B Redstart for a couple of years will materialise

Two Sandwich terns materialised out of the gloom and landed on Red Nab where they were joined by a small number of Brent Geese from about 1135hrs
Brent Goose - 6 pale and one dark-bellied arrived at Red Nab about 1135
Wheatear - one
 It was wet and horrible and this was taken through gallons sorry litres of rain
A new combination "photo" for here!!

Sunday, 1 April 2018

Very little small bird migration for the time of year

Shag - Presumably the regular 2CY reappeared in the usual routine on rocks below the jetty
Kittiwake - 11 + c100 + 38+ 29 in, the last spiralling up and inland
Black-headed Gull - about 100 in in dribs and drabs plus c70 outfalls at low tide
Common Gull - 270 on outfalls at low tide, mostly 2CY as usual
Large Gulls - 180 on outfalls and area at low tide but no sign of yesterdays bird of interest
Brent Goose - 12 Pale-bellied off sunny slopes pre-tide along with three dark-bellied, just 8 of the PBB made the usual late stages of the incoming tide journey to Red Nab along with all three DBB, then the subsequent high tide move to Middleton saltmarsh "left behind" one of the dbb presumably remaining around Red Nab/OE saltmarsh!  Per LDBWS site
Eider - c280
Red-breasted Merganser - three flying quite high into the bay

Robin - three unringed birds caught at HNR, the only semblance of night migration
Meadow Pipit - c70 north, including loose flock of 18
Siskin - 2 north
Sparrowhawk - one north-east
Cetti's Warbler - one singing central marsh Middleton

Saturday, 31 March 2018

Three little gull

A flock of three little gull flew out rather distantly mid am

Eight pale and two dark bellied Brent Geese on the usual routine

2Cy Gull photographed which looked interesting but couldn’t get close enough before it was displaced by the tide.  It was definitely a 2CY and the (escape) flight view suggested Caspian or hybrid but by the time I had driven to the closest point to Red Nab it had already taken off as I was driving and I couldn't swing the car round fast enough to get a phonescope of escape flight.  I'll have a look for it tomorrow

Friday, 30 March 2018


Whooper - flock 17 North
Red throated diver - 4 North
Pale bellied Brent - flock of 10
Dark bellied Brent - 2
Meadow pipit - c10
Med gull - 2cy near red nab by pipeline
Snipe - 8 on heliport seawall ht
Robin - two lightweight birds ringed
Cetti’s warbler - one southern end central marsh
Buzzard - two over middleton prob local

Thursday, 29 March 2018

Little Gull

A few bits and bobs from a fairly early start this am, most of them in these better pics - original deleted!


Thanks Janet - Red Nab; some of the pale-bellied Brent plus the Little Gull
Brent Goose - Two dark-bellied and eight pale-bellied Red Nab on the incoming tide (with 6 (of these??) off the children's play area as seen from Knowlys road earlier)
Little Gull - adult winter on outfalls then on Red Nab then around rest of day
Blackcap - male Red Nab bushes - first of year
Red-throated Diver - 3 sp birds in
Rock Pipit - 1
Meadow Pipit - no more than 26 overhead
Siskin - 2 north
Goldcrest - 2 ringed
No sign Iceland Gull first thing despite loads of gulls on waterfall and area
Grey Seal - one offshore
Nags are back in the paddocks off Knowlys road  

Wednesday, 28 March 2018

Negative news negligence

Told off twice today for not saying on here that birds were not seen as opposed to not mentioning them!   Need to show more awareness of our responsibilities to target birders

Chough - a big NO during normal working hours but it may still be roosting on the Head, leaving early and returning late
Velvet Scoter - a slightly smaller NO as there is a big vast expanse of sea out there but the "guiding" large Eider flock has broken up
Iceland Gull - the 3rd S was sitting on a lamp stand on building just south of waterfall at high tide 0900ish
Common Scoter - pair out
Meadow Pipit - single figures north
Goldcrest - at least one!

Scandinavian Rock Pipit - one in summer plumage briefly on Half Moon Bay shore in am
Brent Goose - 15-17 on Red Nab at high tide (3 dark bellied), 17 definitely flew to the north side of the headland as the tide dropped and distant binocular views suggested at least 15 pale-bellied.  So in theory one dark-bellied left on its own on Red Nab and this has happened before!  Goodness knows how we are going to write these up accurately starting with are they the same birds as prior to the few days without any sightings or are they commuting regularly across the Bay!   We should really be studying and photographing each individual to compare plumage minutae but is it really worth it?
Little Grebe - one on fence pond

Small Tortoiseshell - one Heysham old village
Much reduced numbers of Oystercatcher today on the heliport roost

Tuesday, 27 March 2018

Minimal coverage

Iceland Gull - 3rd S on rocks by wooden jetty am
Kitiwake - ad on Heysham two outfall same time

Monday, 26 March 2018

Meadow Pipits push north

Fog was a problem until 10:35 but once it lifted grounded Meadow Pipits headed north or east in numbers.

Iceland Gull - 3S in harbour all day by waterfall - the only scarcity seen today
Velvet Scoter - negative on low tide scan but just 168 Eider present
Green Woodpecker - noisy individual around Heysham NR most of am

Meadow Pipits - 975 mainly NE over three different flightlines in the morning
Heysham Nature Reserve
Visible migration 07:30 - 12:30
Meadow Pipit 444
Alba Wagtail 4
Grey Wagtail 1
Sparrowhawk 3 high NE together whilst regulars displaying
Buzzard 1 NE
Reed Bunting 1
Skylark 1
Pink-footed Goose 1flock heard plus a single bird lost in the fog.

Ocean Edge foreshore/Middleton west
Meadow Pipit - 331
Wheatear - male
Skylark - 1
Merlin - male

Not sure what was seen other than 200 Meadow Pipit and a Cetti's Warbler was caught which was ringed last autumn - not the one we were expecting if indeed it was the singing male!
Two Buzzards were displaying over to the east.

A fox made an appearance near the office.

More pics from Janet to follow but having problems downloading

Sunday, 25 March 2018

Early morning fare

Taken as it flew SE over Middleton NR today - the first time it has been seen over there. Thanks Janet

Interesting perception this lunchtime from a 'camera no binoculars' type.  "Why is the Velvet Scoter publicised when it is impossible to get a photograph of it".  My response was that it was up to him to convey this to the snapper community as it had been made repeatedly clear on here for birders that a good telescope zoom lens or 35 x + fixed lens was required to connect!  Have the snappers as opposed to photographer/birders got their own Facebook/website?

The most regular observer of this bird (Jean Roberts doing vis mig from Heysham Head) routinely uses 30-35 x to locate and 60 x to double-check.  Very occasionally identifiable whilst asleep on 20 x if close inshore.  Obviously if it flaps or flies to readjust its position on the dropping tide, even binoculars will identify it, but you need to find the right bird in the right flock of Eider in the first place to see if it flaps!

Pink-footed Goose - c75 north
Velvet Scoter - ad drake offshore with Eider:  too repeat (see above) 35 x plus scope needed to see this bird properly
Iceland Gull - 3S still in sw corner of harbour
Tawny Owl - calling Heysham Head
Raven - at least one and probably two heard flying high to north (scarce again around here now)
Carrion Crow - 17 on shore then east
Jackdaw - 5+2 east over HNR/OE
Redpoll - 3 N
Siskin - 1 N
Meadow Pipit - c10 N
Alba Wagtail 2 N
Goldfinch 2 N
Linnet 5 N
Chough - flew over Middleton NR just after 0900 heading SE - the only sighting this am despite presence in the area since 0700.  Suspect it went on to the golf course early am.  It then flew north over Heysham village east side late afternoon, the last known sighting to at least the 28th
Cetti's Warbler singing Middleton central marsh
Barn Owl - hunting early am at Middleton NR
Goldcrest - two ringed Middleton

Saturday, 24 March 2018

It’s back!

Chough seen and photographed on beach this am and in first field north of café at 1230
Iceland gull - 3s in harbour south end
Velvet scoter - offshore with eider
Red- throated diver - 8 circling up and heading over Barrow
Whooper swan - 5 North
Med gull - 3cy outfalls early am
Cetti’s warbler - singing central marsh near fence pond
Kittiwake - flock of c40 floating in on the sea
Brent goose - 12 on distant skeer just after low tide
Goldeneye - f/imm off north wall
Barn Owl - one Middleton again late afternoon - thanks Janet

Not a bad mainly on-going haul to compensate for a rubbishy migration day!!

alba Wag - 5 N
Meadow Pipit - 34 N
Grey Wagtail - 1 N
Robin - 4 in-ringed birds early am but not particularly light weight
Goldcrest - just two reported
Chiffchaff - singing HNR
Carrion Crow - 4 in-off then NE, 18 together Midldeton

Friday, 23 March 2018

Seabird passage

About 1/3 of the incoming tide was covered for seabirds this am and it didn't disappoint by our standards

Kittiwake - 211 in about 10 flocks increasing in size with a max of 40 at the end of the watch; two ads on the outfalls briefly after the watch had finished
Red-throated Diver - 4-5
Razorbill - one out
Guillemot - one out close inshore
Little Gull - adult flying steadily out
Velvet Scoter - ad drake in main Eider gang at low tide at least
Iceland Gull -  3rd S - Seen quite a few times this morning with the seawatching being undertaken from the back of the harbour and again on Red Nab early pm
Brent Goose - 10 pbb flew into Red Nab from the north mid pm

Chiffchaff - one by Obs tower pond HNR

Barn Owl - quartering Middleton late afternoon

Thursday, 22 March 2018


No sign of the Chough again 😢

3S Iceland Gull at the “waterfall” in the inner harbour again.

Ad M Velvet Scoter in the low tide channel with 306 Eider as were
8 Red-breasted Merganser and
1 Great-crested Grebe
4 Wigeon

Little gull - adult briefly off the outfalls then out as freight ferry leaving

10-11 Pale-bellied Brent and 1Dark-bellied Brent flew in from the north to the north side of Heysham Head early am

1 Meadow Pipit on Heysham Head.

Wednesday, 21 March 2018

Iceland Gull remains

Iceland Gull 3rd S on waterfall mid-am
NO Chough
Velvet Scoter ad drake drifting in with tide 0940.  Why is it easier to find now we have been asked.  Fine-tuning its routine and indeed those of the Eider helps, especially noting that the main channel starts moving quite quickly four hours before HT.  Clearer and colder weather post-new year as opposed to a lot of poor visibility westerlies pre-NY with daylight at a premium.  Finally the difference between it being 0.06% of the ducks in late November compared to about 0.3% now!
Brent Goose - 6 PBB by half moon bay.  They then flew south and joined up with one DBB on Red Nab where there were also two PBB staying separate (the originals).  The flock of 7 (one DBB) headed south to Potts corner, with the two PBB later moving from Red Nab to OE saltmarsh.  Do watch out for colour ringed birds

Middleton NR
Goldcrest - 2
Great Tit - 4 appeared to be moving through north
Pink-footed Goose - 80+13 N

Tuesday, 20 March 2018

Rampside rejects pile across

No sign whatsoever of the Chough unless some visiting birders can contradict here.  Predicted by two of us to be a day to go if it was going to do

The Brent Goose situation is getting out of control as regards nice neat documentation!   It does appear that the original two went (back?) across after a lengthy stay on this side and dragged all sorts of odds and ends over, some of which may have subsequently done their own thing.  However we really do have no idea how many Pale-bellied there have been, especially after today, but Dark-bellied remain at a maximum of two, reflecting their respective ratios over the Bay

No overhead passage of even the slightest note today

Brent Goose - flock of 12 Pale-bellied flew in from the north to Red Nab late am, then 15 (at least 13 clearly PBB) flew north at 1450hrs
Velvet Scoter - drake with the Eider on arrival at 0920 after which they slowly started to drift into the bay with the tide
Iceland Gull - 3rd S on waterfall early am
Eider - 377 (excluding those way north of the head at low tide (c50??)
Great-crested Grebe - 5

Middleton NR
Buzzard - two circling high on east side of unknown status as regards migrant or nearby residents, probably the latter
Little Grebe - trilling birds on two of the ponds
Reed Bunting - influx after a noticeable absence with minimum of 5
Water Rail - squealing western reedbed
NO Cetti's warbler heard
Chiffchaff - 2

Goldcrest - at least one

Grey Seal offshore and three donkeys showing well near Middleton NR entrance

Monday, 19 March 2018

Last day of freezing cold??

A few bits and bobs today as well as all the old favourites bar the Iceland Gull where the tide and dredger activity was unfavourable.  Thanks to Janet for the pics

Chough - mobile in the half moon bay area and last reported on the pager from there at 1600hrs
Velvet Scoter - ad drake picked up with the Eiders on the float in off the stone jetty but still too distant for any pics
Brent Goose - 6 pale and one dark Red Nab but kept splitting up and regrouping as they move to other sites to the south with the tide

Stonechat - passage female on the gorse Heysham Barrows

Middleton NR
Mute Swan - 6
Coot - down to 2
Gadwall - 24
Mallard - 4
Teal - 5
Tufted Duck - 3
Little Grebe - one on Tim Butler pond
Little Egret & Grey Heron - one each
Snipe - 1
Redwing - c40 grounded along eastern edge of golf course
Meadow Pipit - 8 grounded

Goldcrest - one at least

Sunday, 18 March 2018

Early Greenshank

I was hoping to find out the date of Allan's funeral today but still not sure - will post when I can find out.  Allan was a mainstay of the Heysham Observatory in the very early days in the early to mid-1980s when we were initially operating amongst the scrub and lupins on the old railway storage area.  This is now the lorry park.  When this area became unavailable at the end of 1983, we switched to what is now Heysham Nature reserve.  At that time the power station site was a mass of bright lights with a few areas of screening planting, apple trees planted by a power station worker and gorse bushes.  The theory was that the lights attracted down the migrants, especially in spring following overnight south-easterly winds and poor offshore visibility.   Because there was so little vegetation, the birds landed 'amongst the lights' and (especially perhaps spring Willow Warblers) raced inland to find somewhere to feed.  So the name of the game for the ringers was to have the nets set by civil twilight and, on many occasions, most of the birds were caught before the sun appeared over the eastern horizon.  As already mentioned, poor offshore visibility was an essential component of a decent fall and Allan was the first to mention that "If you can see the lights of Barrow on the approach road to Heysham you might as well turn round and get an extra hour or twos sleep"!   This holds true even to this day as a night migrant numbers guideline.

Allan was absolutely vital to the continuity of the observatory after personal tragedy in early 1983 and lack of transport made it very difficult for me to continue.  Allan chivvied me along, got me going again, and helped by others such as Shaun Coyle, Andrew Cadman and Tom Wilmer, we more than ticked over.  It is almost impossible to visualise this now, as it is well-established 'old hat', but the likes of extensive Robin migration from late August throughout September at that time was just not 'something which happened on an inland headland on the west coast' with any changes in distribution were just a bit of local post-breeding dispersal.  Allan was really enthusiastic about this as well as the appearance of the likes of Barred Warbler and Wryneck.  Yellow-browed Warbler was a real west coast rarity and not on our radar in those days and it was one of the broadest grins I have ever seen when Allan appeared with a bag containing the first one ever located in a mist net.  

Many of these early morning sessions were prior to Allan having to circumnavigate Lancaster and be at work at the Castle by 0800!  This says an amazing amount for his dedication and also the lack of early morning traffic problems in those days!  These were also operations undertaken from the boot of the car in the early days and Allan's battered but reliable car certainly had character, especially the contents of the rarely visited bottom of the boot!  There were no sheltered comfortable chairs to cover the vis mig in between mist net rounds! 

More than anything else though it was the friendly companionship whether at daft o'clock morning mist net rounds or equally daft o'clock overnight expeditions to see rare birds or seawatching from the north harbour wall watching our first and only Balearic Shearwater cursing because it was only a subspecies in those days and why couldn't it be a Sooty!  I last saw Allan at an Askam Twite-ringing session last year and I will really miss him.  Rest in peace.

Brent Goose - 5 pale and two dark, then 8 distant 'Brent Geese' Middleton sands late afternoon at or very near the same time there were 4 pale and one db on Ocean Edge saltmarsh
Iceland Gull - back on waterfall 1640
Greenshank - one with Redshank off OE saltmarsh (NFY)
Wheatear 1 male OE salt marsh
Chough - first field HMB at lunchtime
Meadow Pipit - trickle south - c20


Saturday, 17 March 2018

Plastic bottle bombardment for the Oystercatcher roost

Wish I had videoed this late morning as the Oystercatcher roost was bombarded by flying objects with one being bowled over by a whack from a 2 litre milk carton.  This was the accumulation of rubbish which had dried out after being trapped under the vegetation until the heliport was recently cut and the blustery easterly gale did the rest with a lot of swirling about below the seawall.  The Oystercatchers either departed or moved on to the grass at the top.  No wonder the seas are full of plastic and other rubbish

Pale-bellied Brent Geese - all pale-bellied today
7 of them but only two remained on Ocean Edge as the tide was nearing full.  Photos in sequence as the tide came in showing the north to south movement, presumably because the original two adopting this strategy with the tide have returned bringing some mates (Knowlys, off the village, fly round to red nab, oe saltmarsh, potts corner area).  Thanks Malcolm.

Chough - Ocean Edge and over the HN reserve today - not looked for at half moon
Iceland Gull - no sign but no one has had chance to look at low tide
Quite a few birders around half moon bay area but no known postings of anything else of note

Friday, 16 March 2018

The sound of spring

Middleton NR
Chiffchaffs - 6 calling and seen feeding in the willows around the model boat pond.
None at all on Heysham NR but didn't arrive until mid am.
Chough - flew over then flew back over Heysham NR then presumably back to Half Moon Bay. It's getting desperate to find a friend now but it will have to range a lot further to find one, unfortunately. It has been visiting the "undercliff" near the old Pontin's site
Brent Goose - one dark and eight pale Red Nab pre-tide but some uncertainty over one of these from the long range shot.  Unfortunately not there when other observers arrived

Velvet Scoter phantom
For the second day running the Ad drake recorded off Heysham Head mid pm by a mystery observer.  Great - certainly saves me a lot of eye strain!

Ocean Edge
Wheatear - 1 male on the rocks
Little Egret - 1 on the salt marsh

Great visibility now as all the bushes and brambles have been cut down. But best to use the car as a hide as the birds aren't used to people stopping at the fence and I scared off hundreds of Oystercatchers while trying to check for rings.
Plus scared off:
Snipe - 7

NNEW Iceland Gull


Thursday, 15 March 2018

Long-stayers hang on

I need to access the old Heysham Observatory reports to do a full tribute to Allan Mackenzie's contribution to Heysham Obs in the 1980s and I will be able to do that in the office this weekend and also probably know the funeral arrangements by then

Velvet Scoter - Ad M reported on the pager as being visible distantly from the Head at 1445 which would be about right for the tide.  A chance of a mid/late morning float-past at the Stone jetty this weekend
Iceland Gull - 3s absent, probably tidally related - until 1600 when on the waterfall
Chough - on Malcolm's "house list" at last though no other known reports
Pale-bellied Brent Goose - 6 Red Nab mid-am.  Four Brents earlier flew distantly south towards the Lune at least one of which was pale-bellied but the rest looked dark
Redwing - one by HNR office

Wednesday, 14 March 2018

Brents come over from Furness

Allan Mackenzie sadly died today - I'll publish a full tribute tomorrow

Dark-bellied Brent Goose - one flew over from Furness with 7 pale-bellied, turned south at Heysham Head and ended up for at least the rest of the morning on Red Nab
Pale-bellied Brent Goose - see above
Chough - visited Ocean Edge football pitch this am before flying back towards half-moon bay via Heysham NR airspace; later in the afternoon on half moon bay fields
Iceland Gull - now 3S and seen in the harbour in the morning

Meadow Pipit - 80 north
Red-throated Diver - 1 in
Siskin - 2+ north
alba Wagtail - 2 north
Pink-footed Goose - 6 south
Knot - c4K south of OE