Sunday, 31 May 2009

Watch your cabbages!

Heysham Obs
North wall area
Whimbrel - one in
Black Guillemot - on water by jetty

Gull nest count Fishers west side
Lesser Black-backed Gull - 29
Herring Gull - 17
Great Black-backed Gull - one (still sitting)
Nature reserve CES ringing
Jay - a retrap from 2006 caught on the CES - obviously still an elusive breeding bird in this area
Middleton IE
4-spotted Chaser - 93 seen, a majority in the central marsh pond in what were quite windy conditions. The model boat pond was very windswept (see tomorrows posting)

Grey Seal - one offshore - the only item of interest amongst a lot of speedboats taking anglers to the mouth of the bay

Large White - 37 on the north wall mound & c8 moving north
Painted Lady - c10 north at the north wall - much fewer than Large White - & only about 10/hour heading north over the rest of the recording area until at least mid-pm
The Woodchat Shrike postings/photos from the Lancaster DBWS site have been removed due to serious issues with the accuracy of some of the posted written material. No discussion will be entered into on this, as further material in the public domain will serve no purpose other than increase the chances of people suppressing their finds due to perceived endemic irresponsibility at rare birds, when in fact it is a very small minority who are not present at every 'twitch'. Osprey Leighton area all afternoon and 14 Crossbill (including adult males) NW over Tarnbrook fell

Saturday, 30 May 2009

Butterfly Day

Heysham Obs
North wall angler report
Canada Goose - flocks of 28+11 blogging for a short time
Black Guillemot

Following yesterdays 'invasion' of Painted Lady butterflies a count of 58 were recorded on the reserve between 12.30pm and 13.30 thanks to Doreen Carmen.

A single Clouded Yellow was also seen in the far marsh on the reserve late afternoon as well as two Four-spotted Chasers and an excellent count of other butterfly species.

Friday, 29 May 2009

Outfalls grilling

Mediterranean Gull two 1st S between the outfalls, side by side for comparison one had slightly more of a dark mask, neither appeared to be ringed.
Black-headed Gull C100 mostly 1st S
Black Guillemot off NHW
Heron N over WJ eventually came down on Sandylands skeer
Swallow pair near Gate 38
Pied Wagtail F near Gate 38
Feral Pigeon nesting inside large rusty cylinder on end of WJ entering on foot through door which has been left ajar.

Small white SHW inner harbour
Female nominate form Woodchat Shrike Tower Lodge

Thursday, 28 May 2009

Hazy gulls

Heysham Obs
A quick check of the gulls on the outfalls prior to the tide through a significant heat haze produced:
Arctic Tern - 2
Common Gull - 67
Black-headed Gull - 19
Little Gull - a worn-looking 1st summer

Nothing yet (1445hrs)

Wednesday, 27 May 2009

Purple Sandpiper surprise

Heysham Obs
North harbour wall
Purple Sandpiper - one with a flock of 11 Turnstone below the north wall was a surprise - perhaps the latest spring record for here
Black Guillemot inshore

Lunchtime seawatching Ocean Edge foreshore
This was pretty hopeless with the wind dropping and the low cloud not really clearing
Manx Shearwater - 2 together across the mouth
Arctic Tern - one outfalls
Common Gull - 37 outfalls
Black-headed Gull - 39 outfalls
Whimbrel - 2

Tuesday, 26 May 2009

Mid-morning routines

Heysham Obs
North harbour wall 0845-1045
Fulmar - 7 in
Gannet - 8 in (5 of these out), 6 across the mouth
Sandwich Tern - 2-3
Black Guillemot - on wooden jetty

Outfalls/Red Nab - low tide 1000-1025
Arctic Tern - 3 Heysham 2 outfall
Common Tern - 1 Heysham 2 outfall
Common Gull - c35
Med Gull - the usual 1st summer (forgot to post it!)

A Mother Shipton was found in the recently created heath area below the observation tower. No vast number of Painted Lady in the cool breezy conditions (c5)

Ad male Honey Buzzard giving great views as it flew low to the SW over High Tatham 0750-0755ish mobbed by 2 Ravens. Up to four 1st summer Little Gulls have been around Leighton with a further bird at Aldcliffe. At least one of these will probably end up moulting at Heysham outfalls from the late summer

Monday, 25 May 2009

Pale bellied Brent heads north

Heysham Obs
Lengthy seawatching by Mark produced a small reward but no proper seabird movement in the early stages of the incoming tide

North harbour wall 0600 to 0915 (ongoing)
Pale-bellied Brent Goose - one headed north accompanied by 6 Shelduck at 0645hrs. Worth checking Shelduck concentrations north of the Stone Jetty?
Common Scoter - 14 blogging, then out
Sandwich Tern - 14ish
Black Guillemot

Half Moon Bay
1 wheatear - unusually perched on top of lamppost next to car park

Quite a nice selection including Peppered, May Highflyer, Herald, Poplar Hawk-moth

Nothing yet

Sunday, 24 May 2009

Summer mode after a trickle of seabirds

Heysham Obs
Looking at the weather forecast, I think today is probably 'it' for attempting to connect with skuas etc. this spring. This last fortnight has been the most frustrating period of spring seabird coverage since we started proper monitoring in the late 1990s. We have never been fans of other than morning coverage, not the least because of the light conditions, and I suspect that we have missed quite a few skuas in what have been rather good conditions in the last week or so as many of the birds have been passing through the Irish Sea in the afternoon/evening...............apart from yesterday when there was no-one here! Thank goodness for a car-less John Wood who rescued one afternoon's worth by 'bussing' to the Stone Jetty. More work committments than usual have also taken their toll amongst the regular observers. However, I dont think we missed the early May Arctic Tern passage. It did not appear to exist through this area in any numbers other than during late April. Thanks to Tony who valiantly covered JBP and confirmed that this site is (usually) too far into the bay unless the skuas are "kept down" (from circling up and heading overland e.g. via the Keer) by fresh south-westerlies and poorish visibility.

You post the above rubbish and then Ian has a flock of 95 Arctic Tern going into the bay, then out again off Cockersands at 1140hrs. This most be the latest large passage flock seen in this area and fits in with a strange disruptive spring as regards migrant arrival/passage

North harbour wall 0600-1015hrs
Arctic Skua - lm in at 0650, dm in at 0850
Sandwich tern - 15 in
Arctic Tern - 6 in (but see above)
Common Tern - 2
Wheatear - 1
Black Guillemot
Ringed Plover - pair with 2 mobile chicks at the heliport end (SD46A)

Middleton IE
Four-spotted Chaser - at least 23
Large Red Damselfly - 49
Common Blue Damselfly - 13+
Painted Lady - 2 (see Portland site for last few days) & one north harbour wall
Wall - one - recently scarce in this area
Mute Swan - at least one small cygnet 'under' the mother

Harbour Porpoise of NHW

10 Sanderling and 95 Arctic Terns on/off Cockersands

Saturday, 23 May 2009

Bank holiday fare

Heysham Obs
Two jetskis cleared the area to the south of the outfalls quite effectively

North wall
Black Guillemot - 1
Sandwich Tern - 1

Red Nab
Whimbrel - single flushed
Med Gull - 1st summer, then flew towards Middleton Sands

1 Ocean Edge
2 North Wall Round Head

Friday, 22 May 2009

Jonathan Livingstone birding

Heysham Obs
A heaving great feeding flock of smallish/medium sized white things on the Cumbrian side of the Bay in early afternoon seemed to indicate some sort of fish spawn-fest. In the most coordinated seawatching effort ever in this area, simultaneous watches from Jenny Brown's Point, the Stone Jetty and Heysham heliport came to the very distant heat-hazy conclusion that they were.....seagulls

North harbour wall 0930-1045
Kittiwake - 2CY harbour area
Gannet - 6 in, 2 across bay, 2 out
Grey Plover - 2 out
Sandwich Tern - 3 in
Common Scoter - 25 in then landed on sea
Black Guillemot - on the wooden jetty

Ocean Edge/Red Nab
Whimbrel - 5

Nothing yet but a few Quail in Northern England on the pager

Thursday, 21 May 2009


Heysham Obs
** Mega news. Definitely TWO Black Guillemot by/on the wooden jetty on 9th May. Please check the nest site carefully if visiting & one bird is on the water (= 3 sections to the right=seaward side of number '9' as viewed from the NHW) . Thanks Derek. See

I thought I'd heard of the above title, so googled it. It transpires to be Acrylic Album Cardstock Patterned Paper with the slogan 'every moment matters'. The latter is relevant as this mornings 45 minute seawatch was unbelievably inattentive due to four work-related phone calls and being shown the contents of a moth trap! What was missed? The G-horizon referred to the Gannets. Can you successfully google any combination of words/letters these days?

North wall 0810-0850
Gannet - 5 along the horizon, only visible during the upper part of the 'wheeling'
Arctic Skua - LM in very distantly at 0820hrs
Sandwich tern - 1+3 out
Whimbrel - 2 in
Black Guillemot - spent all the time in or next to its hole on the wooden jetty

No Ortolan as yet at Bradshaw Lane (North Fylde c/f yesterdays good performance). Spoonbill on the 'flood' at the eastern end of the Eric Morecambe Pool

Wednesday, 20 May 2009

Heysham Obs

North harbour wall 0930-middayish
Arctic Skua dark morph 'in' 1015 hrs
Kittiwake 12 'in'
Gannet 4 blogging, 10 across the mouth of the bay
Sandwich Tern 1 'out' & 10 around later
Common Tern - 1
Arctic Tern - 1
Auk sp 'out'
Swallow 3 in-off
Med Gull - the 'usual' black-headed 1st summer
Half Moon Bay 7:15pm
5 “comic” tern blogging in distance for about 10 minutes before 4 flew out and 1 in
Spoonbill Leighton Moss

Tuesday, 19 May 2009

The bird of the year slips through the fingers?

Heysham Obs

Morning seawatch
Red-throated Diver - 1
Gannet - 1

North wall 1430-1645
This was a cock-up and a good example of why you should follow up everything, just in case.

Pomarine Skua
Four (all light morph, two with full tails, the other two were the same size but "tailless") were picked up distantly in the mouth of the bay, sitting on the sea, at c1500hrs and dismissed as "gulls"!!! They took flight about 5 minutes later and the initial niggle of "why are they sat so close together on the sea for gulls?" was answered. These circled round and drifted/gained height towards Black Combe as soon as what transpired to be the last of the squalls had passed.

dark-rumped Whimbrel
After an hour of increasingly flat sea and dropping wind, chilled out on a seat by the seawall using binoculars, trying to get rid of the oilseed rape pollen clogging my system after a morning working on the Nottinghamshire/Lincolnshire border and a round the houses via Harrogate return, courtesy of an overturned lorry on the M62. Therefore a Whimbrel calling to my right near the sandplant entrance was presumed to be in transit and ignored. About 15 minutes later a Whimbrel call was heard and a bird seen in flight, having been displaced from the inshore skeer by the incoming tide. It headed south along the seawall and I casually glanced at it with the naked eye as it was level with me at about 60 or so metres range. NO white on the rump which was concolourous brown (to the naked eye) with the mantle and tail!!!! A quick check of this feature with binoculars saw me then erroneously attempt to scope the bird, therefore a valuable second or so whilst there were possibilities of at least binocular views of the head pattern were missed. On reaching the harbour entrance, the bird swung "right" and began a shallow gradual climb as it headed north-west towards the south Furness coast. It was calling all the time IF I had had the scope set up and IF I had bothered to check the bird out on the skeer, I might have clinched the head pattern and other subtleties allowing confident identification as Hudsonian Whimbrel. The only hope of anything definite coming out of this is if it is quickly relocated on the Cumbrian side. Fingers crossed
Arctic Tern - 1 out

2cY Rose-coloured Starling seen at Arnside in the promenade bushes at 1245hrs by at least four obsevers

Monday, 18 May 2009

Not a lot

Heysham Obs

North Harbour Wall 0630-0830
Grey Heron 1 high NE
Swallow 1 NE
Pied Wagtail 1 in-off and landed on jetty during a heavy shower
Sandwich Tern 2 out
Black Guillemot - usual area

Little Gull still in Aldcliffe area

Sunday, 17 May 2009

Calm and seabirdlessish early morning

Heysham Obs
North harbour wall 0640-0740
Tree Pipit - 2 NE
Redpoll - 3 NE
Swallow - 14 NE
Fulmar - high flying bird eventually flew towards Cockersands
Shelduck - two birds still behaving territorially
Black Guillemot - invisible in the hole for 30 minutes, then more active - again harried by Carrion Crow
Med Gull - black-headed 1st summer did one circuit of the end of Stage one outfall (then towards stage 2?)

Late afternoon update:
Arctic Tern - 4 on outfalls
Sandwich Tern - 1
Gannet - 2 near turbines
Whimbrel - 1 heard
Swallow 1 NE
Black Guillemot - still hanging around the jetty

A Small Square Spot was the sole exciting occupant of the trap

Little Gull in ploughed field at Aldcliffe

Saturday, 16 May 2009

Why did we not turn round at Shap when the Gwynedd skuas came on the pager at lunchtime???

Heysham Obs can wait in these circumstances

Fortunately John Wood was able to retrieve the situation at the Stone Jetty and some observations were made by Tony at JBP. Here is John's report. Note the caution as the light is tricky looking out of the Bay in the afternoon and therefore the flock of 23 was not rubber-stamped as Poms.

1515-1815 hrs. A phone call from PJM suggesting a sea watch this afternoon as "the winds are blowing Poms up the Irish Sea". No car available so had a bus ride to the Stone Jetty.....
1540 Pomarine Skua 'in' fairly high steady flight.
1610 Pomarine Skua 'in' again fairly high.
1615 Skua flock of 23 much higher and more distant NW towards Black Combe, finally going out of range.
1625 Arctic Skua 'in'
1650 flock 5 Skua 'out' very low, all appeared dark but silhouetted.
1725 after heavy shower -
Fulmar 2 'in'
Gannet 2 'in'
1735 Gannet 3 'out'
1742 Arctic Skua dark morph 'in' then landed on sea.
1750 Arctic Skua 'in' and attacking Lesser Black-backed Gull. Followed immediately by
2 Arctic Skua 'out' one light & one dark morph. Both attacked one of a flock of 6 Kittiwake forcing it to disgorge which they both dropped to on the sea.
1758 Arctic Skua 'in'
Red-throated Diver 'out'

Heysham north wall 1840-1920
Pomarine Skua - light morph seen at 1845 and probably the same more distantly at c1910 - seemed to land on sea

North harbour wall 0750-0840
Black Guillemot - in residence throughout
Med Gull - a nice summer-plumaged 1st summer on the sea 0750-0800 Purple Sandpiper - summer plumaged adult mobile between NHW and under wooden jetty with about 35 Turnstone
Swallow - 18 NE - all via the harbour!

Absolutely nothing moving offshore!

Middleton Industrial Est
1 Wheatear

At least one Pom Skua and 30 Common Scoter off JBP early evening

Friday, 15 May 2009

What else is around in the atrocious/fall conditions?

Heysham Obs
North harbour wall 0745-0815, 1215-1245
Spotted Flycatcher - one near the Twite feeding station
Whinchat - one by the heliport
Wheatear - 4
Zero offshore early am

LBB Gulls starting to nest build on the Centrica offices! A full count is planned of roofnesting gulls. Any Power Station workers with some height to overlook the harbour able to help here, please? The south side of the old Fishers roof is especially difficult (perhaps from by Duke of Rothesay traffic lights?)

Ocean Edge 0820-0845, 1245-1315
After the above, reasonable expectations but the rain was becoming torrential and only the following were seen during short attempts to see what was on the rocks:
Wheatear - 3
Whimbrel - 2

Lunchtime produced:
Arctic tern - 9 at seaward end of Heysham 2 - all sitting on railings
Sandwich tern - 2 off Heysham 2

Rain-soaked check around the office/Obs tower pond 0850-0900
This was prompted by a Spotted Flycatcher on the Obs Tower pond fence
Spotted Flycatcher - just the one
Sedge Warbler - a least 5

Lunchtime vis mig
Swallow - 33 NE (inc. loose flock of 19)
Swift - 4 NE

Dockacres complex (Pine Lake etc etc) 'dead' mid-afternoon apart from c250 hirundines of the common varieties.

Thursday, 14 May 2009

A black and white lunchtime

..........following more early morning rubbish for a suffering Jean (see yesterday, the day before, the day before.........). Why there were no Spotted Flycatchers seen/caught is beyond comprehension e.g. 20 at nearby Walney.

Ocean Edge foreshore 1215-1245, then north wall to 1310
Black tern - 6 - one on Heysham one outfall, the rest south of Heysham 2 along the channel
Arctic tern - 47 as above
Wheatear - one
Swallow - 26 NE
House martin - 1 NE

A few migrants including Blackcap, Sedge, Garden and two female Willow Warblers but no Spotted Flycatchers!

Large White - 7 north along the seawall and at least 5 others seemingly heading north at more inland locations

Black tern briefly on Tewitfield fisheries this afternoon

Wednesday, 13 May 2009

Sheer dredgery

Spent another 1.5 hours watching the dredger go in and out of the harbour.

An ebbing tide and a strong offshore wind are obviously not the conditions conducive to seawatching - just one Sandwich Tern in. Not sure whether you can count the 100 Black-headed Gulls which also flew into the Bay.

The vis was little better:

Swallow 8
Swift 2
Linnet 1
Lesser Redpoll 1

On the sea:
5 Mute Swans (mum, dad and the kids).

Leighton Moss - 4 Black Terns, Curlew Sandpiper, 2 spotted Redshank.
Borwick Waters - 1 Black Tern

Tuesday, 12 May 2009

No news

No news received today.

Monday, 11 May 2009

Nice weather, shame about the (lack of) terns

North Harbour Wall 0615-0940

Brisk eastnortheasterly wind and clear skies favoured vis rather than seawatching.

Just 12 Arctic Terns on the outfalls and 12 Sandwich Terns on the sandbank at low tide.
Whimbrel 1 on the skear and 4 flew into the Bay
Dunlin 18 on the skear then flew SW
Knot 50 on the skear.

Swallow 49 NE
Sand Martin 3 NE
Lesser Redpoll 14 NE
Goldfinch 2 NE
Linnet 8 NE
alba Wagtail 1

Grounded (on the sandplant mound)
Wheatear 1 female
GRASSHOPPER WARBLER -brilliant views down to 2 feet!

Yesterday - 2 Black-necked Grebes at Blea Tarn reservoir
Today - Black Tern over canal at Carnforth (details later)

Sunday, 10 May 2009

Heysham Obs.

North Harbour Wall
Wheatear 1 female
Pink-footed Goose 6 SW
Linnet 1
Swallow heard

Middleton IE WEBS
4 Mute Swan TB pair sitting, fence pond nest empty
9 Coot + chicks 3 (2 week) & 1 (new)
3 Moorhen
6 Shelduck
1 Mallard
2 Little Grebe
3 Lapwing
7 Greylag
21 Swallow
15 House Martin
4 Swift (2 mating)
1 Great Spotted Woodpecker
2 Wheatear

Saturday, 9 May 2009

Bits but no showers to spice things up until we had to pack up!

I'm working away during the easterlies this week. Re-the daily postings, please could you send any sightings to Jean Roberts (see right hand column) or post on the LDBWS site. As well as general sightings of interest, please could you forward any seabird records, even the likes of Gannet and Fulmar or half a dozen Arctic terns, as we try and be comprehensive with spring seabird coverage. Thanks very much. Pete

Secondly apologies to anyone accessing this site who has not received a reply to an e-mail sent during the daytime. The computer I use at that time has a problem with sending e-mails. Will sort when I return.

Heysham Obs
Sightings from other Irish Sea sites seem to indicate that we missed the best chance of multiple Poms this week by leaving too early i.e. before the heavy rain was even on the horizon - did anyone hang in beyond c1200 please?

North wall area to 1200 (no early morning coverage (pre-0700))
Pink-footed Goose - flock flying across the bay variously estimated at 250 or 500 by observers with other priorities
Black Tern - a major surprise in a non-easterly was two flying out together at 0715hrs
Arctic Tern - 27 blogging to the south of the wooden jetty
Common Tern - first of the year on the outfalls
Sandwich Tern - 14 blogging and c13 out
Common Scoter - 4 out
Gannet - 3
Black Guillemot by wooden jetty
Arctic Skua - 2 dm in 1140 (presumably those on the pager for JBP at 1215?)

Ocean Edge foreshore
Wheatear - 11 OE foreshore

Grey Seal seen briefly

2 Arctic Skua JB Point at 1215hrs. Flock of 6 Arctic Skua seemingly unhesitatingly headed inland at JBPoint early afternoon just before the heavy rain. CATTLE EGRET by Sand Villa (along A588 just north of Lane Ends) late afternoon at least

Friday, 8 May 2009

Slack tedium punctuated by quality

Heysham Obs
A rather strange morning with lengthy periods of tedium due to the complete lack of any numbers of common seabirds after the first hour or so. However, there were quite a number of skuas seen by various observers. The most interesting sighting involved a 'sky scan' during a rather belated WEBS at about 1340hrs which revealed 31 'dots' in two groups "above" the north harbour wall. I assumed they were hirundines, but they then circled down and revealed themselves as Arctic Terns, therefore originally higher than I thought they were! They fed in a line off Stage one outfall before flying in and across the bay towards Ulverston. The first high-flying Arctic Terns seen in strong westerlies.

North harbour wall early morning to 0930
Pomarine Skua - close light morph ad started to climb into the sky as it flew NE at 0813hrs. This was a full-tailed individual. At 1015hrs a light morph was seen at JB Point which had an "almost fully grown tail". This was multi-observed at very close range and seen again intermittently until about 1215hrs - presumably just the one bird. At 1130 a light morph adult flew out of the bay past Heysham. Therefore at least two, probably three birds involved with the early morning Heysham sighting of a bird starting to climb when conditions were clear probably different from the other two.
Skua spp - one very distant in at 0800 - prob dark Arctic
Arctic Skua - one rapidly in flying quite high at 0640 (no morph details), light morph in hugging the sea at 0855 as the cloud cover increased, dark morph rapidly in about 1100hrs [JBP data suggests this bird was accompanied by 2 others as they had three approaching from Heysham direction at 1107hrs- this could easily have been the case as the bird(s) was often invisible due to waves], 2 dark morph in at 1150hrs, light morph on the sea, then in at 1330hrs [3 seen heading for Heysham, as viewed from Knott End, at 1156hrs, do not seem to have been picked up]
Manx Shearwater - 1
Gannet - 29 out early on, then just another 3 logged
Fulmar - 4, including 3 together
Whimbrel - 5 out, 4 on Red Nab
Red-throated Diver - one circling high into the sky early morning
Kittiwake - 2 ad in, 2CY blogging
Common Scoter - 1
Sandwich Tern - 3
Arctic Tern - 31 (see intro)
Guillemot - one floating in
Dunlin - 78 out

Two Arctic Skua resting on the JBPoint groyne flew out to sea at 0925hrs. Pom Skua JBP (see above). Little Tern just to the north of Morecambe Stone Jetty at lunchtime

Thursday, 7 May 2009

Surprisingly poor - not enough squalls?

Heysham Obs
North harbour wall 0530ish to 1130 (ongoing)
Pomarine Skua - one out then in again at 0825hrs
Bonxie - distant bird in then appeared to land on sea
Skua spp - dark bird out distantly
Arctic Skua - 2 dm in early, lm & dm in mid morning, lm on sea off Ocean Edge (2dm & lm on sea off nearby Cockersands c0925)
Red-throated Diver - 4
Fulmar - 6
Gannet - 14 out 5 in
Sandwich Tern - 10 early morning only
Swallow - 23 in
Arctic Tern - one out
Guillemot - one in & one on water
Whimbrel - one in, 2 out & 5 on Red Nab
Sanderling - 4+4 out
Ringed Plover - 4 out, 27 in
Dunlin - 6+10+15 out, 45 in
Black Guillemot - on wooden jetty/in hole late morning but very elusive/"invisible"!
Purple Sandpiper - one on wooden jetty & c170 Turnstone
Kittiwake - 2CY blogging early on

At least 2 and probably 3 Common Porpoise

The above Bonxie was seen at JBP. Mid-afternoon Osprey at Leighton Moss. 3 Arctic Skua (2 dm) on the sea off Cockersands c0925.

Wednesday, 6 May 2009

Warm sector rubbish

Heysham Obs
A pair of Great Black-backed Gulls are nesting on the rooftop of the old Fisher's building next to the vent. At least 35 nests of Herring Gull and Lesser Black-backed Gull adorn the sloping part of this roof.

North harbour wall early morning
Sandwich Tern - 2 in
Swallow - 7 in
Red-throated Diver - 6
Skua spp - 1 distant
Arctic Skua - 2 out (DM)

Ocean Edge/Red Nab
Whimbrel - 4
Wheatear - 3 (& 1 NH wall)

Grey Seal off NHW

Tuesday, 5 May 2009

Thank you BBC!

Heysham Obs
Any excuse to escape boring admin work and the BBC offered an intriguing cloud/rain-flow sequence last night which included a tiny gap between the morning and afternoon rain in Morecambe Bay. Didnt look promising at 1115 with the rain/poor visibility seemingly esconced, then it cleared! Further incentive provided by a Bonxie during the earlier morning session

North harbour wall 0650-0750, 0900-0930, 1115-1200, 1800-1840
The Arctic and Pomarine Skuas were during 'flight opportunity windows' of clear(ish) rainless weather between about 1120 and a rapid closing in again at about 1145 & 1810-1840.

Bonxie (Great Skua) - one as sat on the sea on the edge of the murk at 0905hrs and flew into the said murk in a generally NNW direction
Arctic Skua - a phone call-interrupted bins-only light-morph 'spp. prob Arctic' heading in at 1125 was upgraded after the Pom went 'in' on the same line. Another LM 'in' further offshore at c1132. 6 'out' at 1815; LM & DM inshore and 4 x DM further out
Pomarine Skua - light morph in at 1135 on the yellow-buoy line, therefore really nice views of the full tail
Gannet - one out 1140, plus 13 out prior to 0720 and 4 in, plus 24 out in the evening
Common Scoter - 2 out, 1 in early am
Sandwich Tern - 1 on the red buoy early am
Arctic Tern - one out c1830
Fulmar - one in c1840
Whimbrel - 3 out & 4 on Red Nab
Turnstone - 35 flew off high to the north - wouldnt be my choice of migration departure weather but they are probably used to it!

Common Pug was an exciting new addition to the year list

Two bulky skuas sat on the JBP mudflats at 1200hrs at long range, at least one of which was light morph (reliable and very cautious observer) - they then flew out into what was murky conditions. These MAY be additional to the above Heysham birds and may of course still be milling around in the bay

Monday, 4 May 2009

Such a fine line...................

Heysham Obs
.............between suitable and unsuitable seawatching weather. What was wrong this morning was far too much cloud and rain first thing stopping things moving - e.g. not a single Gannet 0600-0830. A total of at least 7 (6 dm) Arctic Skua so far (all together on the shore at JBP at 1030hrs).

Worth checking on the evening tide otherwise roll on tomorrow.

North harbour wall to 1230hrs
Arctic Skua - 1 dm in & one out, 2 dm in, 3 dm out then sitting on sea, possibly with 1+ other "dark" bird at 1217 (up to 7 at JBP - 1030). Unless more evidence to the contrary, all sightings today could refer to the constituents of the flock of 7 at JBP at 1030hrs, as it is not suitable weather for overland migration from the inner bay.
Manx Shearwater - 2
Common Scoter - 1
Red-throated Diver - 1
Fulmar - 4 (one behind the IOM ferry)
Gannet - 1, plus another late afternoon
Black Guillemot - around wooden jetty
No tern species seen, indicating that the "blogging" Sandwich on calmer days are not the same birds each day

Ocean Edge
Med Gull - 1st summer on shore off OE saltmarsh with other gulls
Whimbrel - 4
Wheatear - 2

3 Arctic Skua together at JBP headed up the Kent at 0955hrs, then 7 appeared seemingly out of the Kent Estuary, sat on the beach and preened before having another go at flying up the Kent. Nothing happened at JBP prior to 0955hrs. 3 dark-morph Arctic Skuas off JBP in the late evening (different birds or not?)

Sunday, 3 May 2009

A taster of things to come?

Heysham Obs
Hopefully someone can cover this evenings incoming tide - looks pretty reasonable for more skuas as the wind backs westerly [see below under Arctic Skua re-mid afternoon low tide]
Much better than expected this morning as there was an extra touch of west in the north-westerly and a nice clear corridor for Irish Sea birds to the south. Most unusual to get this amount of stuff in a north-westerly but it only looks good against some of the recent dross!

Arctic Skua - 10 in (7 dark, 3 light), all before 0815hrs. A short low tide seawatch saw two Arctic Skua fly out along the close low tide channel at 1440hrs (LM & DM)
Fulmar - 1
Manx Shearwater - 6+1+1
Red-throated Diver - 6
Gannet - 24
Arctic Tern - one flock of 12 - unexpected
Sandwich Tern - 5-10 blogging
Common Scoter - 8
Whimbrel - 2

Black Guillemot - one around outer harbour, then flew offshore
Purple Sandpiper - 2 on wooden jetty - despite careful checks, only a maximum of one has been seen recently - therefore one of these could be an extra passage bird, as is to be expected with the spring movement of Turnstones

Little Stint with Dunlin flock at Cockersands Point

Saturday, 2 May 2009

Always check the gulls in the harbour...........

Heysham Obs
Fortunately two birders (Jean Roberts & John Mason) were by the gate at 0725 when all the gulls in the harbour were disturbed. The one departee, via a flightline taking it over the Twite ringing site thence out to sea towards Ulverston, was a juvenile Glaucous Gull. Unfortunately not possible to communicate in time with observers at the end of harbour seawatching site. Always worth scanning gulls on Fisher's roof, by the waterfall etc. on arrival at this site. The Glauc. will probably be a major local year-listing 'blocker' now we have no rubbish tip.

North harbour wall 0600-1000 (mostly pre-0815hrs)
Glaucous Gull - see above
Black Guillemot - by wooden jetty as usual
Gannet - 30 in
Red-throated Diver - 8 in, 2 out
Kittiwake - 1 in
Fulmar - 1 in
Guillemot- 5 in
Sandwich Tern - 12 in plus 7 blogging
Arctic Tern - 1 in
Common Scoter - 27 in
Bonxie (Great Skua) - 1 in at 0749 [Please use both names to facilitate the records search at e.g. the end of year!]
Dark-bellied Brent Goose - 1 out at 0800
Whimbrel - 3 in

Vis (all NE unless stated)
Goldfinch 2
Swallow 6
Linnet 2 SW

Ocean Edge
Wheatear - 4

Two Yellow Wagtail on Lune south of Wenning

Friday, 1 May 2009


North Harbour Wall 0600-0730

S F3 visibility poor at times, excellent at others but generally improving at just about the time I had to leave.

Gannet 7 in
Guillemot 1 out
Common Scoter 30 out
Sandwich Tern 7 blogging
Black Guillemot below the jetty
Turnstone 115 on the jetty

alba Wagtail 2 NE
Swallow 7 NE
Linnet 5 NE
Meadow Pipit 2 NE

Wheatear 1 on the mound