Sunday, 1 August 2021

Razorbill adds to the mix

The breeze swung around a bit this morning, but always a bit of north in it, ending up WNW. Ocercast but dry.

I think there was a ringing session on Middleton Nature Reserve this morning. I've had a comment that there were good numbers of Sedge warbler about, but not received the details as yet. Hopefully will add later, or possibly tomorrow.

Pete and Jean managed another session from the south shore
Mediterranean gulls 31 - 26 Ad/3rd cy + 5 juv Med Gulls Heysham Harbour outfall/pier area (1330)
Razorbill 2 in
Whimbrel 1 on Red Nab

Also on south shore
Linnet 22 on saltmarsh 
Rock Pipits 10. There were 6 together moving south along the foreshore, plus 2 x 2 along sea wall


Saturday, 31 July 2021

A good Med count

West to WNW breeze regular light showers

First a correction from yesterday. There were two juvenile Meds on No.1 outflow, but on the clip I originally posted I'd actually followed a juvenile BHG. Not easy to check through the small camera viewfinder, but I should have realised before posting! I'm blaming an evening pub meal washed down with a few beers, before doing the post last night! Or it may just be incompetence. Either way I've changed the clip now. (MD)

Pete and Jean did a pincer movement to check the number of Meds around the south shore this afternoon. Pete checking from Red Nab and Jean at the feeding beach near the wooden jetty, coordinating by mobile to ensure there was no overlap. The interesting result being:
Mediterranean gulls 27.
Adult 14
3cy at least 2
2cy at least 4
2cy/3cy 2 partially obscured
Juveniles 5
The only ringed bird seen was this metal ringed adult
You can see the sand mason worms tubes, looking more prominent now.

Whimbrel at least  2
Grey seal 1

Middleton Nature Reserve 
Just a very brief check of the two main ponds found the wildfowl, pretty much unchanged
Mute pair + 9 cygnet
Coot 2
Moorhen 4
Mallard 9
Gadwall 1 female with 3 young
Grey Heron 1

Friday, 30 July 2021

Only minimal coverage

The wind was light and mainly from the north. Plenty of showers, but not particularly heavy.

South shore
I only had time for one short walk today, so I checked the beach next to the wooden jetty 3.5 hours before high water. No other reports so far (MD)
Common Whitethroat 3 female/immature together on Power Station southern perimeter fence.
Rock Pipit 5 - 3 on Red Nab, 2 on Ocean Edge foreshore 
Whimbrel 1 calling from Red Nab
Mediterranean gull 10 - 6 adult/3cy on beach near wooden jetty, also 1 x 2cy and 1 juvenile here. Also 2 juvenile on No.1 outflow.
This clip shows one of the juveniles (I inadvertently followed a young BHG on the original clip I posted here, should have spotted before I posted it though - sorry for any confusion MD)

This is a still of the juvenile Mediterranean gull from the above clip
This is a still from the original clip. The upper bird is one of juvenile meds,
but the lower one a juvenile BHG, unfortunately that's the one I followed! (MD)

I'm not sure what's happening with No.1 outflow. One minute there are lots of gulls feeding, although most are sitting on the water, then a few minutes later there is nothing feeding. There was no dredger activity in the harbour today. Perhaps the fish and shrimps being removed from the cooling water are periodically being fed back into the outflows. More observations required! This clip shows the feeding at it's height.

This is the same outflow 5 minutes later - empty!

Most of the meds were resting on the rocks on the western end of the beach, till moved towards the wall by the tide. No ringed birds today.
Most of the meds were resting on these rocks

This is the 2nd calendar year bird, scavenging Oystercatcher leftovers 

I wouldn't normally bother posting this, but it is a slow news day. This Marbled Beauty moth was sheltering from the rain on my back door this morning. Not an uncommon moth, but nice to see nether the less. It is an attractive moth.
Marbled Beauty 


Thursday, 29 July 2021

Waifless and strayless

The strong WSW wind continued through the night and didn't start easing till lunchtime. Showers all day some very heavy.

There was a chance that the wind may have blown in some waifs and strays, and possibly it did, but none were seen/reported.

South shore,
Three quick checks today, trying to dodge the showers
Rock Pipits 5 - one on foreshore, two on Red Nab and two near the waterfall. One flew off leaving this one looking very much like a recent fledgling. So hopefully the waterfall pair have at least one young (it is thought the nest site is within the Fishers complex).
Probable fledging Rock Pipit (MD)

Whimbrel 3 - some seen/heard on each visit 3 was the highlight single sighting 

Mediterranean gull 6 - the beach next to wooden jetty had four adult including one with a white ring at low water. Four adult plus a juvenile arrived as the beach became exposed in the evening, no white ringed bird so at least 5 adult over the two checks. 
There are regularly two or three in the corner near the outflow, I had presumed that they were just resting, but in this clip the bird on the left catches a sand mason worm, it then defends its patch by seeing of the other adult when it came too close. The juvenile is also in this clip.

I can empathise with this clip, wading into the water, not looking where you are going, and falling into a drain - still, being able to fly off, as if nothing had happened, is an advantage.

The combination of hot and wet weather this year, has obviously suited the flora (mainly Unscented Mayweed, Ragwort and Dyers Rocket) along the top of the harbour wall. This stretch is usually mainly bare, with just a few tufts of vegetation. It's a shame there have not been more hot days with east wind to draw the insects in, these flowers would have undoubtedly both help attract and retain any. Still time for suitable opportunities.
A view from the waterfall looking back to the lighthouse 
The lighthouse looks pristine in the above shot, it is just being painted. Unfortunately the rain has curtailed activity.
A before and after view of the lighthouse 

Wednesday, 28 July 2021

Meds again - looking hungry

The WSW wind was quite fresh in the morning, becoming a strong wind by the evening. Mainly overcast with some light showers during the day, becoming heavy by late evening.

Heysham skear - low water 09:50
It somehow felt more "normal" today, I suppose by that I mean that the waders around felt like residents, not just off passage as of late. No Knot though (MD)
Great Crested Grebe 3 still in largely summer plumage
Little Egret 5
Grey Heron 1
Oystercatcher I thought I would try and estimate numbers, but it's like counting trees as you walk through a wood - they're everywhere. Eventually accounted for c1000 on the middle skear with presumably more on the outer skear.
Curlew only saw 10, definitely much reduced from recent visits, although still large numbers roosting on Red Nab.
One of today's Curlew 
Whimbrel at least 1, seen and heard several times
Turnstone 60+
Redshank c20 - this is typical numbers for this species here.
Dunlin 2 - one with Turnstone and one alone
Dunlin in summer plumage 

I'm not optimistic about attracting Brent Geese early this winter. There is some gut weed in the SE corner where they have been feeding in recent years, but not as much as many other areas. Plus there is no Sea Lettuce this year. I believe is was the crop of sea lettuce here that attracted them early last winter.
This is the SE corner plenty of weed but only gut weed and that is currently everywhere 

This is a lush area of gut weed, it's like this in several areas away from the SE corner

There are some patches of Sea Lettuce, but on the north side and only accessible on 
spring tides. This is where the honeycomb worms still prevail, I'm not suggesting the
Sea Lettuce needs the honeycomb worms but they presumably flourish in the same conditions 
Things can change of course, and I may be totally wrong anyway, it has been known! Watch this space.

South shore
Lions Mane jellyfish 10+ on the beach south of the saltmarsh, obviously a casualty of the west wind. They are getting bigger too!
Lions Mane Jellyfish plus my size 9 boot - avoid the temptation to touch!
(both the jellyfish and my foot! MD)

Rock Pipits 5 - 2 on foreshore plus 3 on Red Nab
Redshank c100
Mediterranean gull 19 all adult except 3 x 3rd calendar year 
18:35 the beach next to the wooden jetty wasn't quite exposed, but there were already 9 meds waiting on the water.
18:40 the beach starts to become exposed and the Meds arrive from both the north and south as well as off the water. 
Mediterranean gull arriving from the north
This clip is just to show how close to the wall the birds arrive, when they are hungry enough!
In just a few minutes there were 16 meds on the waterline plus two resting near the outflow, but the heavens were turning black so it was time to leave. On my way back another adult was making its way to the beach.

I got back dry, just, but suspect Lancaster got a soaking.
Black skies over Lancaster

Heysham got away with it then, but as I write this, 21:45, thunder is rumbling outside and the wind is increasing - looks like waterproofs tomorrow!



Tuesday, 27 July 2021

Mainly Meds news

Light west breeze all day. Mainly cloudy but no rain till mid evening when light showers began.

First I forgot to add Pete's sightings from yesterday:
Mediterranean gull 15 red nab/ocean edge saltmarsh/on sea nearby latter stages incoming tide plus one by heliport.  All adult or 3cy (2) 
2 Whimbrel Red Nab

Heysham skear - low water 09:10
Great Crested Grebe 2
Greylag goose 13 low to SE
Eider 1
The single Eider 
Curlew c30
Redshank c50
Turnstone c40
Little Egret 14
Grey Heron 2 - yesterday I extolled the virtues of a heron's stealth. Sometimes you have to move in a similar fashion to approach wildlife. I like these two clips, this first one the immature Heron almost strikes, but misses the opportunity (MD)

Undaunted by the near miss, and a complete miss of a neighbouring bird it remains focused and catches a small flatfish on its next attempt.


South shore early evening.
Just a quick walk along the wall to check the Meds feeding beach
Rock Pipit 2 on Red Nab
Whimbrel 1 by No.2 outflow 
Mediterranean gulls 13 (8 adult, 3 x 3cy, 1 x 2cy plus 1 juvenile). Unfortunately the nature of the beach this year does not seem to support the patchwork feeding method normally employed, where the meds defend their own patch of mud to feed on sand mason worms. When that happens the meds end up reasonably evenly spread across the whole beach. But at the moment they are following the tide out (and in again). There are several on this clip, plus some Black-Headed gulls. The juvenile flies in near the start of the clip.


Monday, 26 July 2021

Green Sandpiper and a brassica

The breeze started from south before turning west, some cloud around, particularly in the morning but plenty of sunshine. 

South shore mid morning
Rock Pipit 3 - 2 on Red Nab 1 near lighthouse (not the ringed bird)
Mediterranean gull 6 adult on the beach near wooden jetty.
Willow Warbler 2 at least in the scrub near the lighthouse 
Willow Warbler, there was another less yellow bird and possibly a third
There were few "non resident" butterflies around the scrub.
Large White 1
Small White 6
Small Tortoiseshell 2

This is the brassica referred to in the title, Sea Cabbage. Unlike most plants prefixed "Sea", this actually is a cabbage or at least of the cabbage (brassica) family.
Sea Cabbage
It has taken advantage of a long storm free spell, to grow in a very precarious spot on the foreshore, hopefully it is now rooted sufficiently well to withstand moderate storms. It is well within the splash zone for any high water storm. The location highlighted below.
If you manage to locate this and walk another 50m towards Red Nab, you should come across the Sea Holly, which is, of course, not a holly.
Sea Holly
It's interesting that they are both a similar shade of blue/green, perhaps related to them both being high salt tolerating (the sunflower that tried its best on the saltmarsh didn't get through the first spring tide!).

Middleton Nature Reserve early afternoon 
Mallard 13
Gadwall 1 adult 3 young
Little Grebe 1 adult
Green Sandpiper 1 calling from western marsh. A bird was heard calling on 22/7 and assumed to be this species, so it looks to be hanging around.
House Martin 3
Swallow several

11 species of butterfly seen, most quite numerous.
Red Admiral 1
Peacock 1
Comma 1
Common Blue
Gatekeeper (most numerous)
Meadow Brown
Speckled Wood 
Large Skipper
Small Tortoiseshell 2
Small White
Large White 1

Six species of Dragonfly:
Emperor 
Brown Hawker
Migrant Hawker 3 - the only one I saw stationary, again looked fresh, in that its characteristic "nail" below the thorax had not yet turned yellow (MD)
Migrant Hawker
Black-Tailed Skimmer 5
Common Darter - just 1
Broad-Bodied Chaser 1 male - this seemed odd, it appeared to be ovipositoring. But if you watch in slow motion you can see that most of the dips end just above the water surface (you can select what speed you wish the clip to play by selecting full screen for the clip, then clicking on the gear icon).

Finally, the mute pair with their young were back on the main pond. The aggressive male had chased a third bird to the top of the high bank on the east side and set about it. I thought  he was going to kill the weaker bird, so I stopped filming as started moving round to break them up (ultimately futile I know, but visitors were getting upset). Fortunately, just after this clip he let the bird escape down the slope, when he went down too the weaker bird went back to the top and the aggressive male seemed satisfied that it had been suitably chastened and let it be. Even so, I would advise the more tender hearted readers not to play this clip.