Thursday, 21 October 2021

Snow Bunting.......also on cue!

The NW stiff breeze was icy. The sun shone for most of the day, but the temperature never got over 10C. An odd shower by evening.

Heysham Head 
Last night, Pete advised that this morning's conditions should provide Whooper Swan and possibly Snow Bunting, so this morning Jean braced the cold wind for a vis check from Heysham Head and managed both!
Jean's report:

It was quality rather than quantity over Heysham Head this morning from 0825-0920

Whooper Swan 2

Brambling 1

Snow Bunting 1

Siskin 4

Skylark 4

Chaffinch 4

Jackdaw 2

There were 20 Carrion Crows on the skear.

Pete's comprehensive low tide channel wildfowl count this am from Knowlys:

71 Eider

21 or 22 Great Crested Grebe 

13 (7 plus 6) Red-breasted Merganser 

South Shore on morning rising tide (MD)
Linnet 45 on saltmarsh 
A few of the Linnet 
Shelduck 93
Wigeon 26
Meadow Pipit 1
Rock Pipit 1 - both pipits on foreshore
There were hardly any gulls on outflows or waterfall 
Mediterranean gull 1 2nd calendar year flew south past the end of the wooden jetty. None feeding on the beach.

Middleton Nature Reserve 
A nice walk in the afternoon sun
Mute 2 adult with 9 moulting immature 
Coot 1
Moorhen 10
Gadwall 27
Mallard 14
Teal 2

Cetti's warbler 1 calling from Tim Butler pond
Redwing 15+ at least 2 feeding on hawthorn near Tradebe with 5+ Blackbird. Groups of 3 and 10 blogging on the east side.
Buzzard 1 to south
Sparrowhawk 1 feeding

1 Large dark underwing butterfly could only have been Red Admiral or Peacock, but not seen a Peacock for some while.
Common Darter 13+ all but one male
This is the only female seen, she is eating a large fly, although most of the actual eating is hidden from view.

Wednesday, 20 October 2021

Green Woodpecker shows up on cue

Light WNW breeze, rain early on then fine till late morning when the rain started, becoming increasingly intermittent showers by the afternoon and a bit of sunshine by the evening.

Only my stuff so far, but not a bad day. (MD)

South shore 
Mediterranean gull 1 2nd calendar year on Red Nab (probably missed others)
Wigeon 54 - feeding out from the saltmarsh till the Samphire was out of reach, then most moved towards Potts
Mallard 2 on saltmarsh 
Linnet 46 on saltmarsh 
Common Snipe 3 on saltmarsh (long before the tide covered it)
Jackdaw 13 south
Rock Pipit 1 on Red Nab
Wheatear 4 (one on saltmarsh plus three together on foreshore)
Again, today's Wheatears were large birds
But not large enough to deter one of the territorial Robins from seeing them off!

There were lots of small birds between the lighthouse and waterfall, probably seeming more than there were as three Robins were battling it out and stirring everything up.
Robin 3
Dunnock 1
Wren 2 
Goldfinch 12
Greenfinch 2
Linnet 2
Meadow Pipit 1

Just a few Black-Headed gulls feeding on the outflows
Guillemot 1 first winter bird diving close in along the sea wall

Guillemot diving
I didn't see it catch anything, but last seen making its way to harbour mouth. If it finds the waterfall, it should also find plenty to eat

Heysham Nature Reserve 
Just a quick look in the late afternoon, primarily to see if I could relocate the Green Woodpecker seen by Alan on Monday
I'd had a quick look yesterday afternoon (it really was a quick check, it only takes 2 minutes from the car park to the top track were the dead trees are), but no sign of it then. Today it showed nicely, I wouldn't say "confiding" but definitely obliging. I'd just reached the top track where I could see the dead tree tops at 16:20. The Green Woodpecker called loudly as it flew from the east side of the reserve and landed in the dead tree, in a position that from where I was, would be one of the few lines of sight. It hung around a few minutes before heading to the north of the reserve, later I heard it from the east side again.
Female Green Woodpecker 
Sorry about the swaying in this clip, it was me not the tree swaying, I had to balance on tip toes to see the woodpecker. It seemed to be scraping the loose bark off with the edge of its beak.

Also on the reserve:
Mute Swan 1 over to east
Moorhen 4
Wood Pigeon were everywhere, no movement, just milling around. 10 was the the most seen at one time, probably double that.
Bullfinch 2
Chiffchaff 1
Jackdaw 25 over to east 
I walked back past the dead trees on the way back, and there was a woodpecker in the same same tree, but this time a female Great-Spotted Woodpecker, it would seem that these trees are worth keeping an eye on.

To get to this area, leave the car park by the gate near the offices, walk up the hill, just before the top there is a gate on the right, this is the top track. The dead trees are about 150m from the gate.

Tuesday, 19 October 2021

Rufous rain........right.

A fresh SE wind heavy and constant rain through the morning, turning to showers in the afternoon.

Red Nab to Saltmarsh - high water 11:30 (MD)
Mediterranean gulls 4 adult/3rd calendar year plus 1 x 2nd calendar year - none visible through the rain on the first visit, but on the return the tide was almost full. Three adult were just flying off leaving one adult and the 2nd calendar year on the last of the rocks.
Adult Mediterranean gull with a more typical mask than yesterday's bird

2nd calendar year Mediterranean gull with Lesser Black-Backed gull

Little Egret 6
Grey Heron 2
Wigeon 106 flew from Red Nab to saltmarsh 
Redwing 3 - they appeared to come in off over Red Nab, but suspect they were heading out and changed their minds.
Rock Pipit 2 on Red Nab
Robin 2 now defending winter territories on the foreshore - same areas as last winter, one on the corner nearest Red Nab, the other towards the saltmarsh slipway.
Linnet 45 on saltmarsh 
Wheatear 1. This is what today's title refers to. So, not an obscure Prince song, or an American singer (apologies if you got here by searching for either!). This is quite a late bird, large and rufous which is typical of the northern (Greenland) race which tend to come through late. But a morning in the heavy rain made it look even darker (it looked like a Kingfisher at distance!).
Wheatear - even more rufous in the rain
This was a very flighty bird and it took me ages to get in a position to be able to get a decent shot. Fortunately, the rain eased for a while and the fresh wind meant that I could shield my camera with my body. Even so I only managed this short bumpy clip.

Harbour Waterfall
Just a quick check from Fishers side, showed that the waterfall is currently very productive. I watched the cormorant in this clip for a few minutes, in five dives it caught four fish. In this clip it caught two in three dives. Watch it exit stage right with a small whitebait at the end of the clip. These fish are perfect Shag sized and Shag have been regular visitors in previous years.
These are a couple of stills from the above clip
Cormorant with, probably, a Weaver fish or Goby.

Cormorant with what looks like a Whitebait 

The gulls were catching too, this Lesser Black-Backed also has, what looks like
a small Whitebait - this frame is not from the above clip
After this the Cormorant flew off. Hopefully the abundance of fish here will be reflected by increased activity on the outflows. I'll have a look tomorrow.

Heysham Village bay
I stopped in passing at Knowlys Road, just to check if there were any Brent Geese. No Brent, but a distant Canada goose. I couldn't resist walking out to get a better view - just a word of caution, it is fine walking out from the Village, but stay on the rocky sections, the mud further out can be treacherous. If you were stood where this Canada goose was, you would soon be stuck! (MD)
I walked out on the rocky shore till the goose became fidgety, took this quick clip and left it in peace, it was still there when I got back to my car.


Monday, 18 October 2021

Green Woodpecker showing last!

SE breeze. Overcast all day with the occasional light showers.

Red Nab to saltmarsh - high water 11:00 (MD)
Mediterranean gull 1 on Red Nab at high water- this looks like the same adult, with a pale mask, that I showed yesterday, but closer today. It had no qualms about clipping an Oystercatcher behind its ear!
This short clip is just to show how close to the sea wall the med was.

Little Egret 6
Grey Heron 2
Lapwing 66
Mallard 4 out from the saltmarsh, but living harmoniously with the two feeding Wigeon today.

Wigeon, originally just two out from the saltmarsh but the Red Nab birds flew to the saltmarsh as the tide rose - at least 120. No wonder the Mallard were tolerating them!
Having just realised yesterday that the older plants of Samphire are providing seeds, it seems that it isn't just the Linnet taking advantage. This is one of the original two feeding Wigeon. You can see the tops of the fresher Samphire out of the water, but the Wigeon appears to be feeding on older growth just below the surface. 

Linnet 41 - but by the time I reached the saltmarsh, their favoured feeding area was already underwater.
Meadow Pipit 2 (no Rock Pipit seen or heard)
Grey Wagtail 1 SE
Common Snipe 8, only two flushed from saltmarsh, the others possibly flushed from Red Nab.
Kestrel 1

Heysham Nature Reserve 
Alan had a quick walk around in the afternoon and was rewarded with:  a confiding Green Woodpecker making good use of the dead willows along the top path (previous sightings this year have just been fleeting, mainly on Middleton).

Heysham skear - late afternoon - low water 17:45
Not a lot
Great Crested grebe 2
Red-breasted Merganser 11 (2, 8 and 1)
Eider 1 
Knot c60 

Sunday, 17 October 2021

Sea "turf" wars and samphire

Light SSE breeze all day, the rain alternating between drizzle and quite heavy.

Red Nab to saltmarsh area - high water 10:15
First an update from yesterday, a check by Pete located:
Mediterranean gull 7 - 5 adult plus a 2nd and 1st calendar year 

Today (MD)
Little Egret 7
Grey Heron 1
Pink-Footed goose 16 low to south
Wigeon 87 - most on Red Nab
Mallard 6 - this is where the "turf wars" come from, the Mallard cleared away the few Wigeon that were out from the saltmarsh. Not sure why the Lesser Blacked-Backed gulls joined in, they probably thought the affray was over food.

Lapwing 78 on the saltmarsh 
Kestrel 1

There was only one flock of mixed waders on the mud out from the saltmarsh, mixed both in species and habit, some feeding some just resting.
Knot 250
Grey Plover 12
Dunlin 40+

There were a scattering of gulls on the mud, with equally scattered Redshank.
Mediterranean gulls 3 adult or 3rd calendar year - in this short clip a Mediterranean gull is at the back with a Common and a Black-Headed gull in front. This individual has an under pronounced "mask", making its face look similar to a BHG. But the white wing tips and distinctive bill give it away (apologies to the birders out there, but many post readers ask about identifying Meds, particularly in winter plumage MD).

Linnet at least 35 - it was raining quite heavily at this time and there could easily have been more. Yesterday there were at least 50 and I will share a video of them shortly, but I was a bit confused yesterday (plus a bit embarrassed at my ignorance), here's why.....
Marsh Samphire (known as "samfer" to locals) - I have known this plant since I was a child, and I have just regarded it as a delicate tasting succulent. But yesterday this is what the Linnet were feeding on, so today I went to have a closer look. The picture below shows the three stages on Samphire out from the saltmarsh at the moment.
The plant on the left is most reminiscent of the Samphire I'm familiar with, but in summer the
stems are also succulent. I now realise that the remaining green at this stage are seed pods.
The pods have withered further on the middle plant, but it is the stage on the right where the
seeds must become available, and this is what the Linnet are feeding on.
The size difference of these specimens is just coincidental, all sizes of each stage are available.

There isn't much Samphire on the saltmarsh itself, it grows around the fringes. This clip shows some of the Linnet landing  just out from the saltmarsh and start to feed.

In this next clip, you can see all the three stages of Samphire that I have pictured above. It is clear that the Linnet are feeding on the third stage.
So, you live and learn. I'd never even thought of Samphire providing seeds, but what else do plants do! When I looked into it, Samphire seeds are listed as a favourite of Twite, perhaps the vagaries of Samphire could be part of the shift in local Twite behaviour? (MD)

Middleton Nature Reserve 
I just checked the main ponds on my way home, mainly to see if the saltmarsh Mallard could have come from here. Sure enough, six Mallard were "missing".
Mute unchanged
Mallard 4
Gadwall 27
Coot 1

Kevin had a good moth in his moth trap last night:

An uncommon migrant moth - Palpita vitrealis.

I say uncommon but it's the third I've had in consecutive years! My site seems to be a magnet for them.

Saturday, 16 October 2021

Not bad, despite the drizzle

SE light breeze, very low cloud occasionally turning to drizzle.

Middleton Nature Reserve 
Ringing report from Alan:

After a night that was clear until around midnight and then clouded over I was expecting that there might be few birds present this morning.

The catch turned out to be rather poor however. It was calm with a very slight drizzle at times and very few birds were moving around the reserve. No Grey Wagtails seen and only single figure numbers of Redwing roaming about.

Wren 1

Robin 1

Song Thrush 1

Cetti's Warbler 1 retrap

Chiffchaff 2

Goldcrest 1

Blue Tit 3

Bullfinch 1

Lesser Redpoll 5 (all adult except for one)

Vis report from Jean:

Only a little bit of vis today at Middleton 07:00-09:00

Pink-footed Goose 110 NE, presumably from the roost at Pilling, 55 S 

Jackdaw 28 S, 103 N

Rook 5 S

Redwing 5 S

Mistle Thrush 3N

Song Thrush 3 NW, 4 grounded

Blackbird 6 grounded then 2 S

Chaffinch 5SW

Goldfinch 5 W

Reed Bunting 2 SE

Skylark 2 SE

Grey Heron 1 NE

Pied Wagtail 2

Linnet 2 SE

Siskin 1 heard but probably more

Chiffchaff just 1 heard on the reserve

Coal Tit 1

Bullfinch 2 heard - probably local

I just did a quick check of the two main ponds (MD)
Mute unchanged 
Moorhen 8
Coot 1 on main pond - new in
Mallard 10 on main pond
Gadwall 27 all on "no swimming" pond, unusually for this autumn when their numbers increase, no accompanying Mallard or Wigeon.
Teal 2

Red Nab to saltmarsh area high water 09:15 (MD) 
Wigeon 80+ on Red Nab
Shelduck 82
Pink-Footed goose c80 seen heading north, many more heard just above the low cloud.
Rock Pipit 2
Meadow Pipit 1 grounded on foreshore 
Stonechat 1 female or first winter on foreshore near Red Nab. It was being harassed by a Robin, but seemed determined to stick around.
Robin and a Stonechat 

Linnet 50+ feeding on saltmarsh - a marked increase, more on this tomorrow after I've had a closer look at what they are feeding on. 
Lapwing 64
Carrion Crow 24 together on beach just out from the saltmarsh.

The remaining records are waders out from the saltmarsh. There were a lot close in and many more passed by towards Potts. Unfortunately, visibility was poor with the drizzle and a number of walkers out with their dogs was a constant threat.
Bar-Tailed Godwit 53
Grey Plover 15
Knot 250
Dunlin 1,300 resting plus c200 feeding
Sanderling 2
Also present but not counted, Oystercatcher, Curlew and Redshank 

This clip is just to show where we are, and what was going on. There are Oystercatcher, Curlew, Bar-Tailed Godwit, Dunlin, Grey Plover and Knot, then I pan up to show the foreshore behind.

The tide was going out now and allowing easier access to the beach, but to be fair I had longer with the birds than I had expected, but an approaching dog finally spooked the feeding birds, at least allowing an in flight clip.

All that remained was a large (1300) resting flock of mainly Dunlin, this is where the winter plumage Sanderling were. Both at the back of the flock, partly obscured and head firmly tucked under their wings. I knew the walkers would soon spook these too, so I focused on one of the Sanderling, hoping for a clear head shot before they moved off. But it was the last bird to react!
Sanderling top centre 
 This is a still from the clip below and the best view provided before they all took off.
If you watch in slow motion you can see it was the last bird to take off, but no detail possible.

Friday, 15 October 2021

Enough moving through, on a clear day, to be interesting

It started cold and calm. The air temperature never really got above 10C but the sun made it feel warm. The breeze started light from the east and briefly switched to NW for a period in the afternoon. Before returning to SE.

First, this excellent shot of a Little Egret taken yesterday by Kevin Singleton 

Middleton Nature Reserve 
Report from Jean:

I’ve gone and left the ringing book in Pete’s car and I don’t know what John ended up with (apart from the 10 Redpoll). As far as I remember I only caught 2 Wrens, a Robin and a Reed Bunting.

The vis from 07:30-10:30: 

Mainly corvids.

Jackdaw 235 south, 10 NW - largest flock size was 80

Carrion Crow 10 south, 2 NE 

Pink-footed Goose 82 north, 67 south

Grey Heron 4 SE

Little Egret 1 North

Redwing 39 north

Song Thrush 1 

Blackbird 6 

Woodpigeon 18 south

Grey Wagtail 1 caught

Pied Wagtail 2 north

Chaffinch 1 south, 3 north

Finch sp 10 NW 

Redpoll 1 SE plus 10 caught

Bullfinch 3 south

Skylark 4 SE

Linnet 2 

I had a look around mid morning (MD)
Mute unchanged 
Mallard 11
Gadwall 18
Moorhen 12
Little grebe 1
There was a large mixed tit flock feeding near golf course 30+ birds. I've tried merging a few short videos, not sure if it will work, to convey the general activity. It starts with a Long-Tailed Tit watching the others go by, then a Blue Tit, not sure what it is picking off a leaf. There was at least one Chiffchaff and three Goldcrest, but not certain the crests were actually moving with the feeding flock, or just feeding in the same area.

Migrant Hawker 3
Common Darter 6
(One each of the above were seen by Pete, quite early in the morning when the air temperature was still very cool).
This is a clip of a female Common Darter, first landing then visibly "relaxing" in the warmth of the sun.

Out of recording area - Heysham Moss
It was a very nice walk around this under visited reserve. The recent rains have refilled the pools between the peat. (MD).
Teal 4
Mallard 1
Grey Heron 1
Green Sandpiper 1 (heard only)
Great Spotted Woodpecker 1 at least
Mixed tit feeding flock c25 birds
Sparrowhawk 1
Raven 1
I couldn't decide if the Sparrowhawk was seeing off the Raven, or vice versa. The Raven ended up heading north.
Ravens and a Sparrowhawk 

Insects - this was my main reason for a visit, it was warm in the sun and I wondered if there were still Black Darters around. I didn't see any, but at times the number of Common Darters around the pools was more like midsummer than mid October!
Common Darter 55 - most in  100m square in the NW corner of the peat pools. Unlike Middleton Nature Reserve where many of the remaining Common Darter are mature female, the Moss darters were all, but one, male. The only female seen was already coupled with a male.
The above was c14:00. On my return to this area c15:00 the breeze had shifted to NW and it was cooler, resulting in only a handful of Common Darters seen, and only when flushed.

Surprisingly no Migrant Hawkers

Presumably third generation Small Copper in the heather

Thursday, 14 October 2021

A lot of mergansers, but not a lot else!

West wind quite fresh and blustery all day, moving to WSW by evening. Mainly overcast with a few light showers. 

Only my stuff so far and I didn't manage to get out for a walk till early evening (MD).

Heysham skear.
Just a quick look at low water on this neap tide.
No sign of Great Crested Grebe or Eider.
Little Egret 18
Red-breasted Merganser 15 - 1 male the rest female or immature birds. This was the largest group of 10

South shore
Linnet 20+ on saltmarsh 
No Rock Pipits seen or heard
Shelduck 36
Wigeon 27 flew on to Red Nab.
Some of the Wigeon flying to Red Nab as the tide makes

There were a lot of gulls behind the SeaTruck, unfortunately it got to the harbour before me and all I managed was:
Mediterranean gulls 1 adult plus 2 first winter.

It was starting to get dark as I was walking back. The Starlings were heading for their wooden jetty roost, as were the Cormorants - there are 14 cormorant in this clip.

Just received these nice Rock Pipit and Curlew shots from Kevin Singleton. All from Half Moon Bay Cafe area. It's worth opening these to see plumage detail.

Wednesday, 13 October 2021

At the very fringe of huge Redwing movement

NW breeze quite fresh early on, overcast all day with the occasional light showers

Middleton Nature Reserve 
Report from Alan:

It was an unexpected, and un-forecasted start to the morning with a light drizzle for a while early on and a blustery NW breeze that persisted through the morning. The catch was predictably low with a total of only 17 birds caught with nets set on both East and West sides.

Meadow Pipit 1

Pied Wagtail 3

Wren 1

Dunnock 1 retrap

Robin 3

Song thrush 1

Redwing 2 - up to 25 were seen moving, a very low number compared to areas in the south of the country and the east coast. Hopefully more will arrive in our area in the days to come.

Goldcrest 1

Long-tailed Tit 2 retraps

Chaffinch 1 retrap

Reed Bunting 1

I had a look around mid morning (MD)

No thrushes grounded

Wildfowl pretty much unchanged except, no sign of any Little grebe.

Water Rail I calling 

Jack Snipe 1 flushed by ringers on western marsh - first record this autumn.

Cetti's warbler 4 males singing, both marshes plus "no swimming" and Tim Butler pond birds.

Red Nab to saltmarsh area early evening.

Mediterranean gulls 2 - 1 adult plus 1 x 1st winter on mud out from saltmarsh.

Rock Pipit 2 on foreshore 

Linnet 10 on foreshore 

Wigeon 47

Shelduck 64 - this clip shows some of the Shelduck bathing along with some Wigeon, Redshank and a Curlew. The two "mischievous" Shelduck, appear to get a scolding!

There were loads of very mobile waders around plus many more towards Potts Corner.

Curlew 200+

Knot 1,000+

Part of a Knot flock

Dunlin 1,000+ - this clip shows just a few Dunlin feeding while a Mediterranean gull preens. The keen eyed should also be able to spot two Ringed Plover, although the second bird only makes a late appearance.

Grey Plover 6 near the saltmarsh - this isn't a great clip, it was getting quite dark, but does show how close the Grey Plover, with some Dunlin feed to the shore. You can see the foreshore rocks behind them and the surface water drain at the bottom of the slipway.

Tuesday, 12 October 2021

Jackdaw movement continues, but almost certainly under recorded

NW breeze, largely overcast with a few light showers.

Heysham skear - low water 10:30
Eider 10 
Great Crested Grebe only 1 seen!
Red-Breasted Merganser 10. A group of 8 female/juvenile plus another single f/j and a male. 
Pink-Footed goose 70 south
Little Egret 9
Grey Heron 2
Peregrine 1 rested on the skear a while before heading inland.
Grey Wagtail 1 SE

Middleton Nature Reserve 
Just a 5 minute visit on my way home.
Mute unchanged 
Mallard 10 on main pond plus 1 male in association with....
Gadwall 15
Little grebe 2 together, 1 was markedly larger than the other, but I don't know if that relates to sex, age or both (MD). At least one of these birds is new on the pond.
This is just a still from the above clip.
Two Little grebe with an immature Moorhen behind

Just as I was leaving 11:45. A group of c50 Jackdaw headed south. It's hard to imagine that this would have been the only movement here today. Jackdaw pass over like a wave, they seem to move in all directions, but the net effect is travel in the desired direction. This is some of them.

Red Nab and Ocean Edge towards high water.
Mediterranean gull just two adult identified on Red Nab
Wigeon c20 - the Wigeon keep Red Nab gut weed cropped quite short, but they prefer feeding on it when it is floating in shallow water.
Canada goose 2 south (ref Kevin)
Shelduck just 1
Rock Pipit 2 on foreshore, again, no Robins.
Linnet c20 on saltmarsh 
Finally, this Carrion Crow was convinced that this milk bottle contained something edible.
It continued like this for several minutes, before I moved on. And it was still trying to open it when I returned 15 minutes later. I think there was little bit of rancid milk inside, presumably the crow could smell it.