Monday, 2 October 2023

Unlucky for some.....13

A light SE breeze. Overcast but mild, the rain held off till early afternoon.

Black Terns 0 - the first record was two weeks ago, and an almost constant presence on the outflows ever since. Today would have been day fourteen, but there have been no records of any local sightings today. A number of visiting birders were unlucky, but pragmatic, there is always something to see here.

This report from Josh Hedley:
A few notes from Heysham NR and the Power Station Outfalls 09:30-11:30 today

Pink-footed Goose- 260 south
Bar-tailed Godwit- 1 between the outfalls
Swallow- 12 south at 10:30
Wheatear- 1 by the lighthouse

Meadow Pipit- 4 south
Chaffinch- 3 south
Siskin- 1 south
Goldcrest- 2 along dog walking track
Great Black Backed Gull N:0G8 at the harbour (reported to the North West England gull project).
Ringed in Walney 6/07/21. It has been seen at Heysham on 4 previous occasions,
Now seen in each of its three winter periods. Last record was 13/01/23

This is what it looked like in January this year.

I did a morning check of the sea wall and foreshore (MD)
These are the records that definitely do not overlap with Josh's report.
Shelduck 114 - these are some this morning having a drink and a wash in the freshwater runoff near Red Nab.

Rock Pipits 3
Meadow Pipit 36 east in small groups
Skylark 15 south in 2s and 3s.
Chaffinch 18 stopped briefly on Ocean Edge grass before continuing SE
Pied/White Wagtail 6
Robin 7 along foreshore and Red Nab - at least 3 more than usual 

Linnet 48 feeding on the small pink flowers on Ocean Edge grass - ref Jean

Ringed Plover and Turnstone 
This shot actually from Saturday when Jeff Gorse checked on the Black Terns

Pink-Footed geese were flying high to the south all around the recording area,
but it's difficult eliminating overlap. This shot from Janet from Knowlys Rd

Sunday, 1 October 2023

Black thirteen!

A south to SW wind. Mainly dry apart from a few very light showers.

South Shore
Report from Pete Crooks:

3 juvenile Black Tern – still at Heysham Stage 2 Outfall

5 Mediterranean Gull (2 adults, 2 2nd winter, 1 1st winter) spread between Red Nab and Heysham Harbour

1 adult Little Gull – briefly behind the Sea Truck ferry as it rounded the Wooden Pier to enter the harbour

1 Guillemot – by outflow pipe in SW corner of harbour

48 Cormorant – roosting on the Wooden Pier

72 Pink-footed Geese – south offshore over HS2 outfall

3 Rock Pipit – 1 Red Nab and 2 by HS1 outfall

1 Swallow – south over the tideline off HS2 outfall

Later report from Shaun Coyle 

Heysham Outfalls 16:00-17:30:

Black Tern 4 juvenile on no 2. Three mostly together, other drops in briefly, then disappears. 

Common Tern 2 juvenile (one on each outfall). 

Sandwich Tern 1 (no 1). 

Mediterranean Gull at least 6 adult types. 

Guillemot still in harbour (intake/waterfall). 

North shore 

I checked Heysham skear at low water 07:30 (MD)

Pink-Footed goose 360+ - a flock of 60 was flying SE at 07:45. Then no more till the incoming tide lifted over 300 from distant sand bars. They resolved into 3 skeins and headed SE.

Shelduck 2 south

Eider 37 - these are some coming in

Great Crested Grebe 4
Red-breasted Merganser 18 - I managed to get most of them in this clip. They are swimming against the current, meanwhile a couple of male Eider drift in on the tide.

Little Egret 14
Grey Heron 1

Oystercatcher 500 - many more flew from the outer skear on the rising tide

Curlew 10

Redshank 50

Turnstone 30

Knot 1,000

Swallow 4 together south

Skylark 4 together south

Meadow Pipit 3 east

Carrion Crow 53 at least, as well as the typical 10 or so scattered around there was this group of 43.

Carrion Crow and Knot
Middleton Nature Reserve (JP)
Grey Wagtail 1 (not ringed)

Saturday, 30 September 2023

Singing lessons

A light SE wind freshened slightly when the rain started after lunch.

Heysham Nature Reserve 
Report from Jean:
85 PF Geese heading north

(Retraps in brackets)
Chiffchaff 3
Blackcap 1
Goldcrest 1
Dunnock 4 (3)
Goldfinch 9 (2)
Coal Tit 1 (4)
Greenfinch 4
Blue Tit 10 (2) - bird of the day!!
Great Tit 2 (4)
Chaffinch (2) 
Robin 2

South shore
Black Tern 4 juvenile on No.2 outflow at 08:00 - ref Pete
I checked at 09:15 (MD). At that time there was only 1 on No.2 outflow and none were showing when I walked back at 10:00. A quick (wet) evening check saw at least 3 on No.2 outflow.
Shelduck 35 beyond Red Nab
Wigeon 3 in the channel next to No.2 outflow - waiting for the tide to reach Red Nab
Pink-Footed goose - in the morning there were plenty heading south but the flight line was inland and only visible when I was at Ocean Edge and a quick visit to Middleton Nature Reserve. 219 in about 20 minutes.
In the evening this individual was grounded near the lighthouse.
A rain affected Pink-Footed Goose
No sign of the Greylag Goose today, but a Guillemot was in the middle of the harbour.

Rock Pipit - in the morning there were 3 (Red Nab, sea wall and lighthouse), but in the evening there were 3 on the sloping wall by the lighthouse. These are 2 of them.
Linnet 4 near the lighthouse, 40+ on the saltmarsh 

The only passage seen while along the sea wall in the morning was:
Thrush sp (probably Song) 6 south

But as soon as I reached the foreshore, overhead movement began. These records from the 10 minutes it takes to walk the length of the foreshore 
Meadow Pipit 47 east 
Skylark 2 south
Pied/White Wagtail 2 east

Middleton Nature Reserve (MD)
Just a 10 minute check of the two main ponds proved interesting 
Mute Swan 2 adult with 7 cygnets 
Coot 9
Moorhen 2
Little Grebe 1
Mallard 9
Gadwall 4 
Sparrowhawk 1

Cetti's warbler 2 male. One at the "no swimming" pond just announced itself with a typical short burst of song. But one in the SE corner of the main pond was going through its repertoire of song and calls, almost as though it was practicing. Nothing to see in this clip, even though the bird is only a couple of metres away. We are only 20m away from the feeding area and you can also hear a young family feeding the swans.
He eventually nailed it and produced a loud burst of typical song.

Friday, 29 September 2023

Black Terns hang on, and a wildfowl passage

A fresh west wind. Mainly dry with some sunshine.

Report from Pete:
Black Tern 4 juvenile on No.2 outfall. All four headed south towards the Lune estuary at 1105 after a previous attempt to fly out to sea was aborted in the strong winds. Looked like they may have been heading off, but by 1200 all four were back on No.2.
Common Tern 1 juvenile on outfalls

Southbound wildfowl; 
Pale-bellied Brent goose 2 distant
Canada goose 6
Pink-Footed goose 60 
Pintail 9
Wigeon 7
Shelduck 191 (8 flocks)  

A check behind the lunchtime ferry:
Kittiwake 2 - Ad and Juv 
Common Tern 1 additional Juv
Mediterranean gull 7
distant cross-over with outgoing freight ferry probably cost a few birds. 

I had a morning walk along the wall (MD). 
Yesterday's Greylag goose hadn't flown off, perhaps it's injured. This morning it was in the harbour mouth trying to get to calmer water.
It managed it as Kevin saw it near the waterfall in the afternoon. I can't think what, if anything, it can find to eat here.
Rock Pipits 3

I had another look in the afternoon (MD)
The 4 juvenile Black Terns and the juvenile Common Tern were still on No.2 outflow. But three of the Black Terns were resting on the rails.
Three juvenile Black Tern resting along the top rail.
Note the Turnstone below the bird on the left for a size comparison 
Zoomed in shot of a juvenile Black Tern and a Turnstone 
This is a visualisation of the relationship between the four Black Terns. Two routinely stick together with a third in association, while the fourth bird has its own agenda.
Today's light made their paler rumps look particularly pale, especially on one of the birds. The independent one.

Juvenile Black Tern

Mediterranean gulls 11 arrived at the beach by the wooden jetty to feed
Shelduck 33 on mud beyond Red Nab (224 for the day)
Wigeon 11 south (18 for the day)

Guillemot 1 near the waterfall, don't think it is the same one as yesterday.
Healthy looking Guillemot 

Thursday, 28 September 2023

A few more storm driven seabirds

The very strong overnight SW winds started to ease early morning. Overcast all day, but remarkably it remained dry.

Pete and Jean had a check first thing.
Jean checked the north side:
1000 Knot on the skear but will probably end up  on the heliport- couldn’t see any colour rings. Later another 300 flew south.
13 Red-breasted Mergansers 
3 Great Crested Grebe in the low tide channel.

Some Knot did indeed move to the Heliport, this from Howard.
I decided to visit the Heliport today to check out Knot numbers and also visibility for ring reading, the vegetation is pretty high thus obscuring lots of the wall which is going to be a problem for recording


Redshank, Knot and Oystercatcher 

South shore
Pete scanned from Ocean Edge:
Loads of birds on heysham outfalls or resting on nearby mud with long range scan from Ocean Edge: 
Black Tern 4 juvenile on seaward side of No.2 outflow
Common Tern 2 
Little gull 1 adult
Both the above were on the seaward side of No.1 outflow but were displaced by the rising tide
Mediterranean gulls 32 at least

I had a morning walk along the wall (MD). Saw the 4 Black Tern, by this time on the sea wall side of No.2 outflow.
This lonely looking Greylag goose was in the harbour. You can just about hear it honking above the sound of the wind.

Birds aren't noted for their facial expressions, but you have to say that this one looks sad!
Almost certainly never been alone before.
Shelduck 3 south.

Tom and Eric had a look in the early afternoon, at that time only 2 Black Terns were on No.2 outflow.
Little gull 1 adult on the seaward side of No.1 outflow- likely to be the same bird as earlier
Kittiwake 3 behind the IoM Ferry. 2 x 1cy and 1 adult
Several Mediterranean gulls seen both along the wall and behind the ferry
Guillemot 1
The Greylag goose was still in the harbour.
Rock Pipit 2

I checked again mid afternoon (MD). Three juvenile Black Terns on No.2 now - the important thing here is that at least two were seen at every stage of the tide today, so a visit at anytime should be productive.
Common Tern 1 juvenile

Juvenile Common Tern

This first calendar year Mediterranean gull was on No.1 outflow. It has a white darvic ring. This must be a new bird as we haven't seen any ringed  first calendar year birds this year. One to watch out for!

1cy Mediterranean gull with a white darvic ring, just beyond reading range!
Another 15 adult/2cy Mediterranean gulls turned up to feed on the beach next to the wooden jetty, including green and white ringed birds, but both previously seen this year.

Shelduck 51 feeding just beyond Red Nab
No sign of the Greylag Goose it must have flown off. But one storm affected bird won't be flying anywhere. I don't know if this is the same guillemot as seen by Tom and Eric, but I suspect not. They didn't say anything about it having a broken wing, which this bird clearly has.

It elected to remain on the rocks by No.1 outflow as the tide ebbed.
It at least managed to set its wing to the correct position and seemed to be asleep.

It won't be able to dive effectively either, but of all the places for a flightless guillemot to be at least here there will be feeding opportunities with the fish from the outflows, but almost certainly only prolonging the inevitable.

Grey Seal 1

Wednesday, 27 September 2023

Still four Black Terns

The SE wind freshened all day as storm Agnus approached. Some heavy showers began after lunch.

South Shore 
Black Tern 4 juvenile - they were all feeding on No.2 outflow when Janet checked mid morning. She managed some even better shots than yesterday.

Whitebait is back on the menu

The Black-Headed gulls were also feeding on the Whitebait 
It was surprising that there weren't more gulls feeding today

I reached Red Nab just about high water - 10:30 (MD). I was going to walk down to the outflow to have a look, but two of the Terns flew past me heading south. I hoped they were going to rest on the remaining Red Nab rocks, but they continued south and were lost at sea!
When Pete checked at 12:45 all four were back feeding on No.2 outflow again.

Earlier, I had started at Red Nab and checked the shore out from the saltmarsh as the tide came in.
Wood Pigeon 10 resting on Red Nab
Pink Footed goose 46 flew low to north 08:40 - presumably flying to feeding grounds
Shelduck 62
Wigeon 1
A solitary male Wigeon flew from Red Nab towards Potts Corner at high water
Little Egret 9
Grey Heron 1
Janet's shot of the Heron
Wheatear 2
Rock Pipit 2
There was a 15 minute period of overhead passage to SE, not sure if it was time related (09:30) or location - close  along the eastern shore.
Pied/white Wagtail 14 - 6 & 8
Meadow Pipit 27

Oystercatcher c300
Curlew- again no more than 20 seen
Bar-Tailed Godwit 84 - these are some of them, plus a few Knot, finally being persuaded to move on by the rising tide.

Bar-Tailed Godwit

Grey Plover 5
Knot 2000+ grounded plus several flocks south
Dunlin 3000+
Redshank 150 feeding closer inshore 
Lapwing 53 - 40 SE plus 13 on saltmarsh 
Juvenile Lapwing amongst the saltmarsh Samphire 

Turnstone 50 close inshore - this young Turnstone seemed adept at finding food, but made a bit of a meal of eating it! Here it has a Sea Slater.

Tuesday, 26 September 2023

Some better Black Tern pictures

The wind started SE but freshened and shifted to SW during the day. Mainly dry but a couple of heavy showers in the afternoon.

South Shore
Black Tern 4 juvenile - when Pete checked they were mainly on No.1 outfall. When Janet looked a little later, there were initially 2 on both outfalls, but one joined the two on No.2 and the other bird on No.1 "disappeared" (as it is wont to do).
Janet took some good shots, and as ever with Janet's pictures best opened to see the detail.
This one has a decent sized shrimp and is holding it by its antennae 

Juvenile Black Tern with a Black-Headed gull behind

The three Black Terns that ended up on No.2 outflow

Low flying Pink-Footed geese flying south

Heysham skear - low water 16:25 (MD)
Great Crested Grebe 3
Red Breasted Merganser 11 - all female/immature 
Eider 5 - all males in various stages of moult to breeding plumage.
Male Eider moving to breeding plumage 

Little Egret 7
Oystercatcher c1,000
Curlew only a few seen today <20
Redshank 50
Turnstone 100
Ringed Plover 17
Knot c1,500 - these are some of them coming in to land, just ahead of a heavy shower.

Monday, 25 September 2023

Black Terns hanging on, but mobile.

A fresh SW wind. It looked like rain all day, but it managed to hold off.

South shore
My only outing today was to exercise my daughter's dog late morning, we walked along the sea wall (MD).
Black Tern 3 juvenile - I actually only saw 1 on No.2 outflow. A little later Pete saw 3, later still there were only 2 when Alan Physick checked.
Mediterranean gulls 17 minimum - there were 5 on the beach between the outflows. 8 on the beach next to the wooden jetty and 4, including one 1st calendar year behind the ferry.
Two adult Mediterranean gulls on the beach between the two outflows.
One has a white darvic ring and is in the same location as the one read by Pete Crooks yesterday.
But this is a different bird, again one that has been read before 34ET

Two Bar-Tailed Godwit were resting on the same beach

Quite a striking Cormorant in the harbour

This Guillemot was also in the harbour, seen in the same spot later by Alan. It does appear to be at peace with the world.

Rock Pipit 1 near the lighthouse 

Not a single gull on No.1 outflow today, and only a handful on No.2. 

Sunday, 24 September 2023

Looks like the feeding bonanza may be over, for the gulls at least.

The rain just about held off till lunchtime then it was persistent till evening. Quite a fresh SE wind.

Middleton Nature Reserve 
Raven causing a commotion with the resident corvids - Janet

South shore
Report from Pete Crooks:

4 juvenile Black Tern – 3 favouring Heysham Stage 2 Outfall, the other commuting between HS2 and HS1 Outfalls and sometimes seeming to disappear – presumably wandering further offshore

12 Mediterranean Gull (8 adults, 3 2nd winter, 1 1st winter) spread across the beach between Red Nab and Heysham Harbour. One of the adults was a previously seen colour-ringed bird – White 3LX9.

25 Cormorant – roosting on the Wooden Pier

70 Pink-footed Geese – groups of 61 and 9 flew south offshore

3 Swallow – south over Heysham Harbour was the only evidence of passerine ‘vis mig’

I walked down as Pete was heading back (MD)
It was noticeable that there were only a few gulls feeding on the outflows, it looks like the feeding bonanza is over. The juvenile Black Terns seemed to be finding food though. These are the three on No.2 outflow.

Juvenile Black Terns

This is the very erratic bird on No.1 outflow. I thought this young Herring gull was chasing it presuming the tern had had a decent sized fish, but there is no sign of it carrying anything when I checked the individual frames. Perhaps it just wasn't welcome! 

I'd gone down to watch the beach next to the wooden jetty become exposed, but these neap tides go out so very slowly, even the gulls were becoming impatient. There were already nine Mediterranean and three Black-Headed gulls waiting on the sea for the mud to show.
Eventually 10 arrived on the mud. At this point very little was available and space was a premium. These two 2nd calendar year were bickering 
Unfortunately none of the gulls that ended up on the beach were ringed.

The tide was 20 minutes later leaving the shore than I expected. I'm not normally good at waiting, but the time wasn't wasted. This Bar-Tailed Godwit flew in and fed a while.

Goosander 1 flew out beyond the wooden jetty. Goosander are not normally common in the recording area and one or two sightings like this a year are typical. But this year there have also been numerous sightings on Middleton Nature Reserve. Towards the end of this clip it flies past a Mediterranean Gull feeding beyond No.1 outflow.

Distant Goosander

Rock Pipit 2 on the sea wall
Meadow Pipit 3 flew to SE
Wren 3 along the foreshore and I near the waterfall 
One of the three Wrens along the foreshore 

These Great Black-Backed gulls have found a dead fish. This species used to be called a Lesser-spotted Dogfish, they have now been reclassified as a Small-spotted Catshark (Oh the ignominy!)
Whatever you call them their skin is like leather. The adult has a go first then the youngster.

Saturday, 23 September 2023

Pinks through in numbers and decent ringing session

Mainly dry with just a couple of light showers. The sun didn't really break through till lunchtime. Light variable breeze.

Heysham Nature Reserve 
Ringing and vis report from Jean
It was another Pink-footed Goose arrival day with many birds flying at height. A minimum of 1245 flew over Heysham Nature Reserve and others were seen over Middleton NR. No doubt others flew over the sea as they could be heard in that direction but not seen.

Other than Pinks the only other vis from 0700-1300 consisted of:
Chaffinch 7
Meadow Pipit 2
Jackdaw 4
Bullfinch 1
Jay 8

Raven - 2 appeared and were harrassed by the local Crows.

Ringing was pretty busy with 64 birds caught over 4.5 hours
Grey Wagtail 1 
Goldcrest 4
Robin 4 plus 1 retrap from October last year
Chiffchaff 3
Blackcap 1
Greenfinch 9
Goldfinch 9 plus a retrap from September last year
Coal Tit 3 plus a recent retrap
Great Tit 6  plus a retrap
Long-tailed Tit 1
Dunnock 3 plus a retrap
Long-tailed Tit 1
Blue Tit 5 new and 4 retraps (from July and August this year)
Wren 5

Report from Pete:
Black Terns 2 juvenile on the outfalls, only one left by late afternoon per Janice Sutton
Latish Lesser Whitethroat seen Heysham Nature Reserve 
Reed warbler trapped Middleton Nature Reserve - full report to follow 
Mediterranean Gull at least 9 around today including metal only ringed adult 

I just had one short walk on the shore between Red Nab and the saltmarsh mid afternoon (MD).
Even from there I could make out a Black Tern patrolling the seaward side of No.2 outflow. A slightly different angle this with the wooden jetty behind and the South Lakes behind that.
At this time there were very few gulls feeding on the outflows but there were over 1,000 resting on the mud. Mainly Black-Headed gulls. I only managed to find three Mediterranean gulls, all adult. Including one of the regular German ringed birds.
ANLT just about to take off. They were very flighty but it just seemed to be a consequence 
of so many stretching over a long distance. It just needs one to take flight and others react.

Juvenile Wood Pigeon on the saltmarsh 

Linnet 67 on the saltmarsh.
This is what the Linnet are currently feeding on, the Michaelmas-daisies have gone to seed.

The daisies cover much of the saltmarsh edges

The Pink-Footed Geese continued flying over high to the south all day, both  Mark Jones and Janet reported sightings plus several skeins have passed over my house. Three skeins while I was out totalled 176.
Pink-Footed geese high to the south

Also from Janet - Middleton Nature Reserve 
Chiffchaff 1 singing
The regular Grey Heron had been stood amongst the feeding swans.
The bread that attracts the swans, also attracts the fish.

The alternative strategy, is to wait patiently in a quiet spot