Thursday, 24 September 2020

Of light and shade, and far away places

 The wind started SE but by evening had swung round to NE. Light rain for much of the morning then some sunshine and very heavy showers in the afternoon.

Jean's report for this morning:

The blog should be entitled "The Best of the Rest" because we missed most of the vis, which occurred in the first hour and a half of daylight (see for reports from other areas). Arrived at Heysham NR just 20 minutes before the rain began and in that time (07:40-08:00) there were:

Meadow Pipit 72 (3.6 per minute)

Goldfinch 2

Alba wagtail 7

Siskin 1

3 Goldcrests and a Chiffchaff were calling and a Blackcap seen.

In the short, dry spells between the heavy showers, Meadow Pipits were still coming through and several flocks of Pink-footed Geese. So in 2hrs 40 mins (between 08:40 and 11:20) there were:

Meadow Pipit 253 (1.5 per minute)

Pink-footed Goose 113

alba wagtail 2

Grey Wagtail 1

Siskin 1

Ocean Edge 

A notable 15 adult Mediterranean Gulls were loafing on the shore towards Potts Corner. A juv was on Red Nab. 

40 Ringed Plover and a Dunlin scurried about near them.

Low tide channel

Eider 67 - numbers are slowly building up.

Great-crested Grebe 11

Red-breasted Merganser 6

Other records (MD)
South shore
Wheatear 2
Rock Pipit 3
Grey seal 1

Middleton Nature Reserve 
Mute 4 adult 4 cygnet
Coot 5
Moorhen 4
Little Grebe 1
Mallard 1
Gadwall 2
Teal 1
Water Rail 2
Common Snipe 1

Cetti's Warbler 1 singing
Chiffchaff 1 singing plus at least 3 calling
Common Whitethroat 1 seen
The sun chose this moment to shine through
leaving the Whitethroat in silhouette.
Still, a distinctive profile.

Visible migration:
to south/southeast 
Pinkfoot 367 ( including 144 in the afternoon)
Swallow 2
Skylark 9 (one flock)
Meadow Pipit 72 (same number, but different birds to Jean's)
Jay 3 (north)

Lighthouse area early evening
There were some very dark clouds and distant rain and hail showers visible, but the sun was bright and created some spectacular views, one of which was a revelation to me.
Kevin took these splendid pictures:
Silver skies over Fylde

Dark skies over the south lakes

This next one is special, to me at least, I had no idea that this view was possible from here. This is looking out past Knott End/Fleetwood. White clouds had moved behind distant "hills" allowing them to be seen in silhouette.
Revealing the unmistakable profile of Snowdonia
in north Wales!

Once Kevin had shown me the location, I could make it out, even in less favourable conditions. You learn something new every day!

Footnote from Kevin:

I used a map measuring tool to find out the distance from the harbour to Snowdon, and it's 80 miles! I also realised, on close inspection, that the view was probably a mixture of the Carneddau range, the Glyders, with Snowdon behind them .It's very satisfying to see that the straight line does indeed just miss the tip of Knott End/Fleetwood.

Wednesday, 23 September 2020

Bypassed by the Pinks

 Northerly wind first NNE then NNW. Overnight rain petered out by 09:30, after that some sunshine and light showers.

South Shore
Pink-Footed Goose - there were large numbers heading south generally. 12,000 over Moffat in Scotland and c5,000 arriving at Martin Mere. The only records over Heysham were 168 south at 10:35 and 15 SE at15:20
Wheatear 4
Great White Egret 1 - 15:20 a flight line from the estuary past the wooden jetty. GWE have been seen reasonably frequently in both directions along this line, both from the Observatory and Potts Corner.
Wigeon 5
Shelduck over 100
Grey Seal 1

At low water on these spring tides the mud is still wet from the previous tide and the waders spread out to feed. There are plenty around, just not immediately obvious. 
Knot - there have been a group of four feeding directly in front of Ocean Edge foreshore rocks all week.
Including this juvenile 

Grey Plover only two seen 
This male still sporting (most of) his summer Plumage

Ringed Plover - spread all across the mud in loose flocks - at least 60
Dunlin - also spread about but in small groups - also c60
These two vigorously feeding

They prey hardly seems to justify the effort!
The one on the left has a small mollusc

Tuesday, 22 September 2020

Greenshank best of an otherwise standard bunch

 The wind freshened throughout the day starting a cool SSE then swinging towards SW. sunshine in the morning then largely overcast with light drizzle.

Middleton Nature Reserve 
Report from Jean.
Meadow Pipit 9
Reed Bunting 3
Linnet 2
alba wagtail 1
Grey Wagtail 2
Siskin 1
Greenfinch 1
Chaffinch 7

Reed Bunting 3
Meadow Pipit 3
Chiffchaff 2 (+1 retrap from yesterday)
Lesser Redpoll 1

Ringing control information
Meadow pipit
Ringed: Erme valley, Harford, Devon as 1st calendar year on 13/9/19

Caught: Midd NR on 18/9/20
407km N
But obviously migrated north of here to breed as both captures were on autumn passage 

South shore
Dunlin 105
Ringed Plover 70
Knot 2
Greenshank 1 juvenile in inshore channel
Wigeon 3
Wheatear 2
Rock Pipit 3
Linnet c30

Heysham Nature Reserve
Chiffchaff 5 heard from road and car park

Heysham skeer low water
Great Crested Grebe 7
Red-Breasted Merganser 4
Eider 2
Turnstone c50
Knot c20 + c40
Redshank and Curlew - numerous, but scattered in small groups
Oystercatcher everywhere 
Little Egret 8
Grey Heron 2

Monday, 21 September 2020

Good variety, including Osprey and Brent

The breeze shifted round today, from east through south and ending up WSW. Mainly sunny.

Heysham Nature Reserve - report from Jean
Low key vis (in terms of numbers) this morning but high flying in the clear sky.

Heysham NR vis 07:30-09:30
Pink-footed Goose 20
Skylark 1
Swallow 5
Grey Wagtail 3
alba wagtail 1
Meadow Pipit 81
Chaffinch 18
Linnet 1
Siskin 3

On the deck/night migrants
Robin 11, Chiffchaff 4, Goldcrest 2

Middleton Nature Reserve- ringing report from Alan:

Three Grey Wagtails seen this morning and of these only one was caught.

Other passerine passage must have been very high in the clear conditions apart from a few Meadow Pipits that came down to the lure and seven Swallows that flew southwards across the reserve.

19 Pink footed Geese flew south well to east of Middleton.

A few birds were trapped and ringed:

Meadow Pipit - 4

Grey Wagtail - 1

Wren - 1 +1 retrap

Robin - 1 retrap

Chiffchaff - 4 + 2 retrap

Blue Tit - 1

Great Tit - 1

Lesser Redpoll - 5

Reed Bunting - 2

Pete conducted low water scans from various vantage points:
Out from Ocean Edge
Curlew Sandpiper 1 juvenile 
Dunlin 120
Ringed Plover 87

Red Nab area
Mediterranean gull 5 - 2 adult 2 x 2nd calendar year. 1 x 1st cy
Shelduck 175
Alba Wagtail 72 grounded on OE grass - ex ps roost presumably.  

Over in 1 hour
Meadow Pipit 22
Grey Wagtail 2

North side low water channels
Pale-Bellied Brent Goose - Two flew along Kent channel then swung towards walney
Great Crested Grebe 11
Red-Breasted Merganser 3
Eider 11

South Shore approaching high water (MD)
Wheatear 7
Rock Pipit 3 on Red Nab plus 1 on rocky outcrop south of the saltmarsh 
Wigeon - the flock has now swollen to 5!
Osprey - fishing between the outflows c2 hours before high water. Watched for a while by one fortunate  observer, who eventually saw it catch a fish then head towards Red Nab. 

Some nice views of the smaller waders as they rested on the last of Red Nab rocks
Dunlin and a Ringed Plover

The Ringed Plover, almost left it too late

Sunday, 20 September 2020

Good coverage with at least one reward

 Pretty quiet today (report from Jean)

Vis 07:00-10:00


Pink-footed Goose 25

Snipe 6

Jackdaw 37

Carrion Crow 10

Skylark 9

Blackbird 1

Grey Wagtail 8

Meadow Pipit 81

Chaffinch 5

Linnet 2

Goldfinch 2

Siskin 2

Reed Bunting 8

Notables on the deck:

Kingfisher 1

Cetti's Warbler 2 singing

Water Rail 1 squealing

Sparrowhawk 1 chasing a Meadow Pipit

Ringing (including Alan's)

Meadow Pipit 11

Grey Wagtail 2

Wren 2

Robin 2

Blackbird 1

Chiffchaff 2

Blue Tit 1

Great Tit 3

Chaffinch 2

Reed Bunting 4

WeBS counts

Ocean Edge 

A high tide roost of 70 Redshank, 5 Turnstone and a Curlew Sandpiper huddled together well away from anglers, paddlers, dogwalkers etc

Red Nab

68 Turnstone, 16 Ringed Plover and 5 Dunlin squeezed onto what remained of the rocks on the 10.3m tide. 3 Rock Pipits preferred the seaweed covered sea wall.

2 noisy Peregrines were flying high above the power station - it looked like a young one was harrassing an adult.


3100 Oystercatcher, 364 Redshank, 26 Turnstone, 4 Lapwing, 114 Knot, 3 Dunlin and 1 Grey Plover.


Herald moth pretended to be a leaf on the curved sea wall below the power station.

Picture by Kevin

Saturday, 19 September 2020

High spring tides bring Ospreys in

 The easterlies continue. The air is cooler but the, almost, constant sunshine warm.

Middleton Nature Reserve - report from Jean

Below is the vis for Middleton NR. It was quieter today with fewer birds overhead but a bigger variety. A Chiffchaff from elsewhere was caught (ie "controlled") so it will be interesting to find out where it is from. No Yellow-browed Warblers yet.

Vis 0630-1130


Teal 3

Snipe 10

Collared Dove 2

Jackdaw 3

Swallow 24

Grey Wagtail 5

alba wagtail 3

Meadow Pipit 110

Chaffinch 1

Linnet 12

Lesser Redpoll 4

Goldfinch 1

Siskin 4

Reed Bunting 7

Ringing totals:

Grey Wagtail 4

Meadow Pipit 8

Lesser Redpoll 1

Coal Tit 1

Blue Tit 5

Great Tit 4

Chiffchaff 2

Sedge Warbler 2

Reed warbler 1 (retrap)

Blackcap 3

Goldcrest 2

Robin 1

Reed Bunting 3

Ocean Edge 

Two good records as the tide was approaching high water. Thanks to Dan and Ian Hartley.

Osprey Two! Later flew north from Potts Corner towards Red Nab 

Curlew Sandpiper 1


Great White Egret - 1 at 10:40. Flight line from estuary towards Power Station.

Knot c100 A few still in partial summer plumage 

Grey Plover c20, two still in almost full summer plumage 

Ringed Plover one flock of c50 plus other smaller groups

Dunlin one flock of c60 lots of others scattered around in twos and threes

Bar-Tailed Godwit 1 (a small juvenile)

or a large Ringed Plover

Wheatear 3

The following moving south

Swallow 2

Meadow Pipits 25 in small groups

Friday, 18 September 2020

The wind turns

 Quite a fresh easterly breeze, generally sunny.

The easterlies are set till Tuesday and Pete (M) advises that it could bring some good land birds in, with a reasonable possibility of Yellow-Browed Warbler.

Grey Wagtail ringing surprise re-trap (PM)

A Grey Wagtail was colour ringed whilst taped on NW to SE vis mig on 31/8 and continued to the SE after release. Today a high flying flock of four dropped into the net on vis mig from the NW including the above bird, almost certainly via crossing of Morecambe Bay from the south Lakes as is the norm (using Heysham PS as a cross Bay ‘guide’ hence a flightline concentration) This was 0800 well after ex-immediately local roost time.  All four headed off together to the SE. Almost like it wasn’t happy with its first effort at migration and went back to try again.

Middleton Nature Reserve 
Visible migration report from Jean:
A surge of migrating birds flew over at sunrise then slowed into more of a trickle. Meadow Pipits kept coming over throughout the morning. The first migrating Song Thrush of the autumn was seen. 
Pink-footed Goose 38
Snipe 3
Carrion Crow 22
Swallow 25
House Martin 2
Song Thrush 2
Grey Wagtail 20
alba wagtail 12
Meadow Pipit 500
Chaffinch 1
Linnet 2
Redpoll sp 6
Reed Bunting 2

Results from Jean
Meadow Pipit 43
Pied Wagtail 1
Chiffchaff 1
Great Tit 2

Alan's catch included:
Willow Warbler 1
5 Robin
9 grey wags (plus the retrap!), 
4 Blackcap, 

Mid morning (MD)
Just the western side checked
Cetti's warbler 1 singing
Chiffchaff 1 singing
Dragonflies- just two species seen
Common Darter - everywhere 
Migrant Hawker 8 (all males)
The males tolerate each other's company,
 at least away from breeding areas.

Butterflies - in order of abundance 
Red Admiral 
Speckled Wood
Small Tortoiseshell 
Small White 
Comma 3
Meadow Brown 1
This worn female is quite late.

South Shore - am (MD)
Shelduck 108
Wheatear 6
Rock Pipit 3
Linnet c30
The above grounded, below heading south
Meadow Pipit 35 in ones and twos (including some seen from the west side of MNR)
Swallow 2 

Weasel 1 flushed from the flotsam at Red Nab by the rising spring tide.

Raven - 1 over the barrows early pm (ref Janet)

This Black-Headed Gull was near the waterfall. It has an extra toe growing out from its left knee!
What do you call a gull with a toe growing from its knee?