Wednesday 29 May 2024 both ends of the day!

A SW wind all day. Sunny periods in the morning showers in the afternoon, then sunny again late evening.

Pete did an early seawatch
Sea 0510-0620: 
7 Manx Shearwater
1 Gannet
2 guillemot
3 plus 6 common scoter.  
All out except 3 c Scoter

Middleton Nature Reserve 
These shots by Janet

Lesser Whitethroat 


Burnet Companion 

Male Common Blue

It was sunny for an hour or so mid morning so I had a walk around (Malcolm). The only dragonflies I could find were a couple of Four-spotted Chasers.
Cetti's warbler, Chiffchaff, Willow warbler, Common Whitethroat, Blackcap, Reed warbler and Sedge warbler all heard singing.
The female Mute Swan wasn't sitting on her nest and appeared to be trying to salvage something from under the water. It looked like yesterday's heavy rain had raised the water level again (note the Little Grebe behind the swan at the beginning of this clip).

On the way back, I checked from the other side, expecting to confirm that the water level had risen. But is was at its normal height. I could just make out the female, now stood over her nest. There only seemed to be one egg. 
I had assumed that they had mated again after the first batch was swamped and that she was sitting on a new clutch. But perhaps this lone egg is just a remnant from the first clutch. Either way it doesn't look promising for a large mute family this year.

I checked the inner skear rocks as they became exposed again this evening (Malcolm)
Eider 12
Herring Gull 206
Lesser Black-backed gull 6
Oystercatcher 400
Knot 200 - when the Knot arrived, many took advantage of the freshwater running off to take a bath.

Gannet 1 adult had come overland from somewhere. It was clearly exhausted and the gulls were merciless, pecking at the back of its neck. It barely reached the shore and landed. The gulls then just landed around it and left it in peace!

Just another 20m and it could have landed on the sea and drifted out. It was fine for now, it tucked its head under its wing and rested, safely surrounded by alert gulls. But this beach is patrolled by the Heysham Head foxes after dark so I hope it moved on. It was still there at 20:15.

Sleeping Gannet and Herring gulls

Tuesday 28 May 2024

Osprey sandwiched between showers

A SE switching to SW wind. Overcast with regular showers very heavy by evening 

Middleton Nature Reserve (Janet)
Male Common Blue from yesterday 

Roe Deer today

Heysham Head high cliffs from the shore (Malcolm)
Just a quick check in the morning when the tide was out. This shot, later at high water shows the location.
Heysham Head high cliffs, just left of centre - the cove is actually called Blaise's Bathtub

Rock Pipits 3 at least, 2 were taking food to nest sites.

One of the nesting areas is near this "dog's head". A Rock Pipit makes a fine dog's ear!

Common Whitethroat 3 singing males between Half Moon Bay and the high cliffs.
Linnet several
Goldfinch several - presumably these are feeding, but sure on what.

This Wood Pigeon has a recently fledged youngster begging to be fed.

Adult with juvenile Wood Pigeon

Heliport - just a quick passing check at high water (Malcolm)
Knot and Oystercatcher on the sloping sea wall

Male Eider resting on the Near Naze rocks - no sign of his mate

I checked the inner skear rocks as they became exposed this evening (Malcolm).A very heavy shower had just finished, and another was clearly on the way, but for five minutes the sun shone creating striking lighting conditions.
Knot under dark skies and the first beams of light

Suddenly we were in full sunshine and the Knot were coming in to land.......but not for long.

Osprey 1 - it must have rested through the previous shower, possibly on Heysham Head as it came from that direction lifting everything in its path. It then turned around and flew out over the sea into the onshore wind. The Oystercatchers after their initial panic, were continually "bothering" it, although to be fair, it wasn't much bothered! 

By this time the sun had turned the sky white

I couldn't see any rings
The Osprey continued west and was lost in the sun, it didn't return.

Oystercatcher 600
Knot 800
Curlew 1
Bar-Tailed Godwit 1
Bar-Tailed Godwit

The waders were just beginning to return, but the black clouds had again covered the sun, it was time to leave. The heavens opened as I was heading back, but fortunately with the wind and rain to my back. Quite an enjoyable 20 minutes!

Monday 27 May 2024

Brent surprise and the small Hawker lingers

Plenty of sunshine after early showers. A light west wind.

Heysham Skear
Two checks today (Malcolm)
First as the tide covered the outer skear on the morning rising tide.
Eider, Mergansers and GC Grebes all present in similar numbers to of late.
No waders other than Oystercatcher seen till the tide covered the outer skear, then a flock of c2,000 Knot lifted and instead of moving inshore to rest or continue feeding they flew off to the NW.
A little later a single Sanderling landed on the middle skear to feed and a flock 9 flew past.
Solitary feeding Sanderling

Turnstone 1 also flew by at this point

A second "quick" check in the evening as the inner skear rocks were becoming exposed (turned out not to be as quick as planned)
Curlew 1
Oystercatcher 300
Knot 400 feeding.
Dunlin 8
Dunlin trust their camouflage, and for good reason, when they freeze they are very difficult to spot. I almost trod on this pair.

I managed to skirt around them without them moving

A little later they were surrounded by Knot. You can just make one out in this clip.

I was just starting to head back, when the unmistakable honk of Brent geese was behind me. Turned out that they were:
Dark-bellied Brent geese a flock of 32 (Pete advises that this is the largest flock ever recorded in Lancashire)

They landed on the sea, everything they need is here, freshwater running off to drink and bathe plus abundant gutweed. Whether their instincts guide them or one or more has been here before is impossible to know. The dominant goose at the end of this clip seems to be in charge.

Gutweed is now easy pickings here, although they didn't feed for long,
they seemed to have plenty of fat reserves already

So it was time for a rest and preen

Little Egret and Dark-bellied Brent geese

Middleton Nature Reserve (Janet and Malcolm)
These shots from Janet
First Bee Orchid of the year

Burnet Companion

First Small Heath of the year

Janet spotted a "small hawker" halfway up the hill on the west side. I'd been on the reserve for 90 minutes looking for the hawker without success so I made my way there (Malcolm). 30m west of the bridge to the road the ringers use a small stubby hawker flew past me to the west. So, again decent but extremely brief and mobile views combined with long range impressions suggest the identity as Hairy Dragonfly, but some photo evidence is really needed.  This is a potentially significant record, and the required rigour to verify it must be maintained, shame the weather isn't looking good!
This is the area along the central path that I had my "Brief Encounter" (Malcolm)

I did manage some dragonflies

Two of 10+ Broad-bodied Chasers

One of three Black-Tailed Skimmers

Four-Spotted Chaser 10+

Sunday 26 May 2024

Another Osprey.......and another likely Hairy Hawker

A light SE wind till mid afternoon, when it switched to the west. Mainly overcast with the odd shower.

Heysham Head - Josh Hedley

Osprey - 1 east at 09:55
Canada Goose- 4 north at 09:15
Rock Pipit- 1 display flight
Linnet- 9 (one juvenile bird)

Heysham skear - low water 08:30 (Malcolm)
Canada geese 7 came in off the sea from the west at 10:00 and continued north close inshore (additional to Josh's 4)
Eider 72
Red-breasted Merganser 2
Great Crested Grebe 3
Little Egret 5 minimum (5 on both south and north side, but they could have moved across when the tide started making)
Slightly ruffled Little Egret

Oystercatcher 400
Whimbrel 1
Knot 450 - just 2 on the middle skear, but 250 flushed from outer skear by tide and another flock of 200 came in and immediately began feeding.
In contrast, the group that had been feeding on the outer skear just
rested. These are just a few of them

Sanderling 12 - they were feeding together along the water's edge. I positioned myself further inshore and the rising tide brought them right up to me. They were clearly searching for Shrimps, not catching many but they must have been finding enough to make it worthwhile.

They are perfectly camouflaged in this terrain - they disappear when they freeze.


Middleton Nature Reserve 
Kevin and Alison had good close views of a small Hawker patrolling along the central path. It clearly had a green thorax and a mainly dark abdomen with some green. Again, the only logical species is a Hairy Hawker, but a different one to yesterday which had a blue and black abdomen. 

Saturday 25 May 2024

Interesting early Hawker

A warmer day with a freshening SE breeze. Sunny spells all day.

Heysham Nature Reserve 
I escorted a lunchtime field trip (Malcolm). 14:15 - On the return along the dog walk path c100m from the main reserve a Hawker dragonfly was also making its way north, green thorax with blue and black markings along the abdomen. Its small size suggested a Migrant Hawker, but far too early for them. Indeed early for any of the regular hawkers here. Pete advised that the only realistic possibility is a Hairy Hawker which would be only the fourth Lancashire record.
I eventually lost it in the scrub near the road, the nearest pond would be the dipping pond. A return with the help of Jean scoured the likely areas but failed to relocate.

It was the only dragonfly seen today, but there were lots of Damselflies. These are Azure Blue and Large Red ovipositoring (the Chiffchaff wasn't exactly sat on my shoulder, but it wasn't far away).

Large Red Damselfly

Common Blue Butterfly
Other butterflies:
Orange Tip
Small White
Large White
Green-veined White
Speckled Wood

Burnet companion moth 

Not really any birds of note, but an obliging Peregrine Falcon circling the Power Stations provided entertainment and good binocular practice.

North shore (Malcolm)
Just a quick check as the ebbing tide began exposing the inner skear.
Little Egret 13 - this one using an unusual stalking method for this terrain, but it appeared to work (note the quick check behind, to ensure there was no competition, before grabbing its target).
Eider 5
Red-breasted Merganser 2
Female Red-breasted Mergansers with a Herring gull

Oystercatcher 400
Knot 400
Sanderling 4
Things were different today. The waders were finding small invertebrates (almost certainly tiny shrimps) in the shallow water and wet mud. This is the feeding technique I expect here at this time of year, but haven't been seeing up to now. This clip begins on the four Sanderling then pans across some of the Knot.

As the tide exposed more of the skear, the Knot moved further out. But the Sanderling were happy to stay and feed, again, something that they haven't been doing of late.
There is no obvious metrological or tidal reasons for tiny shrimps to suddenly become available. Perhaps they have just been late developing this year. Hopefully, if they are here to stay, we might see higher numbers of Sanderlings feeding here.

Friday 24 May 2024

Quite a productive short seawatch

Early morning showers were over by 08:00, after that dry but mainly overcast. A light west wind.

Seawatch report - Pete
Sea Heysham 1010-1110:  all heading out, perhaps entered bay during earlier murk: 
1 light morph Arctic Skua
1 adult kittiwake
1 subadult Gannet
2 Manx Shearwater
3 Common Scoter
4 Razorbill/guillemot 
flock of c35 Sanderling plus c20 Dunlin

South shore (Malcolm)
30 Knot out 10:00

Still lots of Lesser Black-backed, Herring, Common and Black-Headed gulls around the outflows, but fewer feeding today.
Gulls along No.2 outflow railing

Middleton Nature Reserve (Malcolm)
I just went to see if the Mute's nest was still above water. I had nothing to fear, despite the heavy rain the water level remained the same, presumably most of the rain soaked into the soil.
High, dry and virtually impregnable 

Gadwall 1
Mallard 6
Coot 2
Little grebe 1
Swallow 2
Reed Bunting 2

Singing warblers: 
Cetti's warbler, Chiffchaff, Willow warbler, Common Whitethroat, Sedge warbler, Reed warbler.
There are two Reed warblers in this reed bed along the western bank of the main pond. Meanwhile, a Sedge warbler is singing from the scrub behind it and a Chiffchaff behind me.

This Goldfinch was having a nice duet with a Blackbird.

North shore (Malcolm)
The exposing rocks of the inner skear, were almost deserted when I arrived this evening, just 150 Oystercatcher and 4 Knot. Eventually Oystercatcher numbers reached 450, but 4 Knot was all there were.
This Knot was having a drink and a bath, the water here will be quite brackish with all the groundwater draining out.

Sanderling 2 - interestingly, as the Sanderling approached, the four Knot flew up and joined them. They circled a couple of times before landing to the south. For the only time today the sun had come out and made seeing awkward.
Sanderling (left and right), four Knot and Oystercatchers

The Sanderling quickly moved on, but the Knot remained.

Little Egret 10
Eider 14

These Eider are not today's, but the pair that regularly feed out from the heliport
at high water - taken by Kevin Singleton yesterday 

Red-breasted Merganser 3
Great Crested Grebe 1

Thursday 23 May 2024

Better variety

A fresh NW wind. It did really well not to rain today, it threatened to all day. Surprisingly cold, the warmest point in the day was 12.5°C, and that was at midnight! 

South shore (Malcolm)
Just a walk along the sea wall mid morning on the rising tide.
There were lots of, mainly large, gulls feeding on both outflows. Clearly plenty of food was coming through, hopefully they will attract something different. This is No.1 outflow.

Osprey 1 - all the Power Station gulls lifted and looking up it was high above me. There was no obvious white showing as it was in silhouette and it wasn't immediately obvious that it was an Osprey.
Gull mobbing a very dark looking Osprey (the gull also looking dark)

Its white features becoming more obvious as it moved away

It was in no rush to move on and did a couple of circuits around the Power Stations before continuing north.

Linnet 3 between lighthouse and waterfall 
Rock Pipit 1 displaying between the outflows.

North shore (Malcolm)
Once again I checked the inner skear rocks as the ebbing tide was exposing them.
Sanderling 55 minimum. It was quite frantic today, the birds were very mobile and it wasn't easy avoiding duplication, 55 was the most I could account for any one time. And right from the start small groups were heading off into the NW wind. Within 30 minutes they had all moved on and most of the skear still to be exposed.
These are some coming in with a single Knot.

31 in this clip, and a Dunlin at the end.

One of the small groups regularly heading off to NW

Oystercatcher 500
Knot 1
Dunlin 2
Bar-Tailed Godwit 21 heading NW
Some of the Bar-Tailed Godwit passing through 

Eider 45
Eider framed by the South Lakes

Little Egret 2