Monday, 29 June 2009

More RVD weather

Heysham Obs
Middleton IE model boat pond
Red-veined Darter - at least two males
Black-tailed Skimmer - at least 8

Heysham Moss
Male Grasshopper Warbler trapped and ringed & breeding confirmed

Listen for Crossbills flying over - 5 SW near Shap this morning and an irruption is underway.

Sunday, 28 June 2009

Middleton full of birds & dragonflies

Heysham Obs
No known coastal coverage today

Middleton IE ringing
A good morning produced, for a team of five ringers, 92 captures (this after a slightly delayed start!). Captures included 34 Long tailed Tits, 12 Sedge Warblers, 2 Reed Warblers, 8 Grasshopper Warblers (a total of 13 ringed in two visits this week, the locations suggesting four broods), 11 Whitethroat, 3 Lesser Whitethroats & 8 Willow Warblers. (AJD)

Middleton IE dragonflies
Red-veined Darter - on the model boat pond, absolute minimum of 4 males and a pair in tandem with the female ovipositing. No definite evidence that the paired male was not one of the four previously observed singletons. This is the first observed ovipositing since 2006, although I remain to be convinced that any of these are of local origin, as opposed to a migratory influx along with the Painted Ladies. Today sightings do, however, point the pendulum a little more towards some local emergence.

Ringed Little Egret at the Allen Pools - definitely a wild bird - details soon, but apparently British-ringed.

Saturday, 27 June 2009


.............were the order of the day during a very quick check of the foreshore off Ocean Edge at lunchtime. They showed a lot of fieldcraft by displacing the gulls off Red Nab itself, with all its holes and rocks to hide in/behind on to the sands off Ocean Edge itself

Ocean Edge foreshore
Med Gull - 2 x 2CY

A good catch including 4 x Double Dart and the first time ever for Small Fanfoot and Fanfoot on the same night (both scarce here)

Wood Sandpipers at Aldcliffe and the Allen/EM Pools (beware of young Redshank at this time of year, but these two are genuine!).

Friday, 26 June 2009

At least two successful Grasshopper Warbler broods

Heysham Obs
Med Gull - 2CY black head with white forehead & crown feeding on tideline below North side of wooden jetty.
Black-headed Gull - 520 inc 4 juv. on and to the side of S1 outfall
Swallow - entering derelict building in harbour complex
3 Herring gull young - on stanchion by intake

Painted lady 1

Hut Moth Trap
A reasonable catch including Double Dart, Clay, Coxcomb Prominent & Shaded Pug.

The first ringing visit of the year here curtailed by blustery wind. Singles of Reed bunting, Reed Warbler, Sedge Warbler, Lesser Whitethroat & Blackbird, plus 5 Grasshopper Warblers captured. (AJD)

Thursday, 25 June 2009

Minimal coverage so far

Heysham Obs
Swift - 7 south in 30 minutes at lunchtime
Med Gull - 2CY with black head off Ocean Edge

Common Emerald new for the year, also Coxcomb Prominent caught

2 Red Admiral north at lunchtime (but no Painted Lady)

Wednesday, 24 June 2009

Red-veined Darters still present

Middleton IE
Two male RVD on the model boat pond during quick lunchtime visit (thanks to Pete Chappell)

Tuesday, 23 June 2009

race round

** Its going to be a 'hot week' in the moth trap (for the first time for three years?!). Suggest early morning rota for checking or we will lose half the catch. I can do Thursday but definitely not Wed or Fri (Pete). Please tip-toe past the door if you are entering the hut but cant check the trap!!

Heysham Obs
First ever visit without going into the office, I suspect, as a mobile phone call changed the direction of the day!

Red Nab
2 x 2CY Meds, one with almost black head

Middleton model boat pond (nowhere near enough time)
Red-veined Darter - 2 on eastern side, one western side, 2 x darter spp (One prob RVD, the other prob Common D), 1+ Common D along south shore

2 x Hobby north over Bolton-le-Sands mid-am.

Monday, 22 June 2009

Webs rush round & CES & a few insects

Heysham Obs
No Black Guillemot at high tide in calm weather
One 2CY Med on the remnants of Red Nab
Swift - c40 between HNR & Middleton but swirling around rather than moving

6 young Dunnocks, an unringed female Lesser Whitethroat & even more surprising, an unringed male Bullfinch

Reasonable catch included Small-clouded Brindle, Rivulet, Double Dart, Map-winged Swift and the micro Eucosma campolilana

Red-veined darter - 3 males on the model boat pond early afternoon - one on the rather windy eastern side & two on the more sheltered western edge

3 Green Sandpiper Aldcliffe area

Sunday, 21 June 2009

All at sea!

Heysham Obs
North Harbour Wall 8am
Mediterranean Gull - 1 adult and 3 1st summers
1st summer Kittiwake
1st summer Little Gull
summer plumaged Red-throated Diver - very unusual for this time of year
Red-veined darter - 2 males on the model boat pond at least lunchtime

More to come e.g. Midd IE WeBs from Malcolm

Saturday, 20 June 2009

Ragwort isnt just for Cinnabars

Heysham Obs
Outfalls area low tide
Med Gull - Ad summer plus 1 x 2CY

Dark Arches and Treble Bar new for the year. Also Shaded Pug
Eucosma campolilana, a local ragwort feeder, made its first appearance of the year and can be seen below (thanks John).


Spoonbill - still in the Sunderland Point area. Same? at Leighton early morning only. Osprey Leighton

Friday, 19 June 2009

Too northwesterly

Heysham Obs
.........but only just, creating false anticipation for seawatching (and continuing the negative headlines)! An early morning seawatch was limited to 'seagulls'. Shag most unusual for June but have been odd recent records from Walney

North harbour wall
Shag - 1st summer on the sea, then flew round the wooden jetty at about 1005hrs
Fulmar - 2 out and across
Black Guillemot - one flew offshore from the harbour entrance

Outfalls area
Med Gull - 2CY
Little Gull - 2CY

Spoonbill EM Pool early morning at least. 3 skuas, thought to be Poms. but not completely certain, off JBP heading towards Grange at c0945-0950hrs

Thursday, 18 June 2009

Missed most of the boat?

Heysham Obs
Jon's Pomarine Skua was just missed (flying out at the Stone Jetty at 0840hrs after circling around for a bit wondering what to do). It was a light morph with broken/half-grown blunt-ended tail projections - typical of late spring passage birds and presumably a "sub-adult". Quite a bit of stuff on the early dropping tide off Heysham but it was mostly rather distant "across the mouth" of the bay.

Seawatch 0900-1010hrs, mostly from Ocean Edge foreshore
Manx Shearwater - 27 out, including a straggling line of 18
Fulmar - 2 out
Gannet - 5 out (one 'flock')

Outfalls/Red Nab
Little Gull - a 3CY was new-in and unusual at this time of year (Leighton Moss bird?) and was accompanied by presumably the long-staying 2CY (but could have been one of the Leighton 2CY?)
Med Gull - few gulls on red nab but included one 2CY Med
Black Guillemot - one offshore from the north harbour wall

Pom Skua off the Stone Jetty 0840hrs

Wednesday, 17 June 2009

Nothing seen, nothing heard, nothing caught

Heysham Obs
.............and no moths prior to a concerted effort to find a postable item at 1600hrs. 'Alleluia' in the form of an adult Med Gull on the mudflats off Ocean Edge

Spotted Flycatcher calling outside the window at High Tatham as I am typing this. No young Long-eared Owls calling on Leck Fell whilst returning from moth trapping at about 0015hrs. Dead elsewhere.

Tuesday, 16 June 2009

Criticism accepted

Heysham Obs enough detail for visiting dragonfly enthusiasts on how to 'connect with' Red-veined Darter.

Here goes on the darters:
The model boat pond is the first on the right after driving into Middleton Industrial Estate/Heysham Business Park. Park in the small car park after going under the height restriction barrier. cSD418590

The western edge of the pond has a small inlet about half way along, just beyond where a line of rushes extends out into the water (rushes, not Reed Mace). Stand on the corner by these rushes and wait and watch the open water and/or check waterside stones for basking individuals. Also check the rippled water in the centre of the pond - these insects can spend quite a lot of time 'in the middle'.

This is where a lot of people go pear-shaped! The best time is not during the late afternoon high temperatures when the species can be very hard, if not impossible, to locate. Time your visit on a sunny day for about 1130-1330hrs. Avoid wind speeds of more than F2 and beware of sunny but chilly north/north-westerly airstreams which may only lead to a temperature high of about 15 C. This is often not enough and 17-18 C minimum seems to be necessary to guarantee this species' activity at this site. Therefore you have about one hour as the conditions in the next few days are not suitable!

Obviously the usual pale-centred pterostigma plus red venations (best seen when insect facing in flight - see photos from two days ago taken by Chris Adams) & all the other stuff as per text (eyes etc). However many people may need to sort out the odd Red-veined from a few additional Common and this is where flight/jizz awareness comes in. These are based on many hours of watching this species at this site:

a) They do not gain height whilst hovering (Common usually do)
b) Whilst patrolling the water invariably keep to the same low height (Common vary)
c) Often change direction far more acutely than Common Darter and this again is done at the same low height (Common vary their height regularly, especially when changing direction)
d) Spend longer over the water than Common

Obviously, jizz is not 100% foolproof, but it may help to get on to likely candidates which can then be carefully checked for "plumage features"

Apologies for the sea buckthorn along the western edge - problems with clearance due to Great-crested Newt legislation

Middleton IE 1120-1145
Red-veined Darter - three on the model boat pond, one very active
Black-tailed Skimmer - 4+ on the model boat pond

Great White Egret still hiding in the main dyke at Leighton Moss. Single Osprey seen at Leighton. ?Returning fsp Spotted Redshank Conder Green. Ad Med Gull Kent Estuary.

Monday, 15 June 2009

More dragonfly weather

Heysham Obs
Quick visit to the model boat pond & short walk by Malcolm on the IE

Middleton IE model boat pond
Red-veined Darter - 2 probably 3 males - one 'on territory' along the western edge, the other 1-2 wide-ranging over the rippled water
Black-tailed Skimmer - 3 males and ovipositing female
Emperor - five on other ponds
Small Heath - 5

2 singing male Grasshopper Warbler Middleton IE. Stay on the concrete roads, please.

Grey Squirrel - one along Moneyclose lane near the traffic lights
Red-eared Terrapin - showing well on the model boat pond

Couple of Quails in the area - worth trying to find your own I guess in upland hayfields as well as any cereal which still exists in this area

Sunday, 14 June 2009

Creepy crawlies start to emerge

Thanks to Colin Adams for these excellent pictures.
Heysham Obs
Middleton IE
Coverage by Colin & Colin revealed a rather belated emergence of Black-tailed Skimmer & Emperor
Black-tailed Skimmer - 4 males, 2 females and 5 tenerals
Red-veined Darter - at least 2 males and one of these attempted to mate with a teneral Common Darter
Common Darter - 2+ teneral, 2 imm males
Emperor - 4-5 males
Large Skipper out
The first really decent moth night this year included the first Freyer's Pug for here, 2 Shaded Pug and the increasingly local Double Dart. Heart and Dart & Shoulder-striped Wainscot dominated

Very unproductive early morning (dropping tide) birding saw just one Black Guillemot in the harbour mouth

A couple of Quail just south of the recording area this afternoon - a good evening to check any cereal fields in the area - ARE there any?!

Saturday, 13 June 2009

Arctic Tern now a "surprise"

Heysham Obs
The demise of the Lune colony has led to a dearth of Common/Arctic Terns after the spring passage has finished

Outfalls area
Arctic Tern 1 S2 outfall
Med Gull 2 adults + 3 2CY but not including the black hood/white forehead & crown bird. All between S1&2 or end S1 outfall.
Black Guillemot 1 harbour mouth

Friday, 12 June 2009

Where are they?

Heysham Obs
Maybe the recent Painted Lady/Clouded Yellow influx has given a false impression of high summer, when in fact we are still in early June, but to visit Middleton in temperatures hovering around 19C and NOT see Black-tailed Skimmer or Emperor dragonfly is very odd. The Black-tailed Skimmer crash is the most dramatic; maybe the Red-eared Terrapin has had a field day with the larvae, maybe the edge has become a bit overgrown, but perhaps more likely has been the "permanent" patrol of the favoured western edge by 12 Jackdaws plus a few Pied Wagtail scoffing emergent/teneral/torpid dragonflies. Emperors might just be a bit late

Ocean Edge/outfalls
Med Gull - adult summer and 2nd CY but very heat-hazy and difficult

Middleton IE assorted insects
Red-veined Darter - one mature male showing very well over the 'rippled' water in the eastern sector of the model boat pond 1115-1130hrs but not again by 1200hrs
Darter spp - a (very) teneral specimen by the fence pond
4-spotted Chaser - 85 counted on the new scrape, fence pond, no swimming pond but forgot to check the favoured central marsh!
Mother Shipton - 2 seen by Brian Hancock
Clouded Yellow - one flew west across the model boat pond at 1145ish hrs

Heysham NR moths
Shaded Pug - one in actinic in SD45E, one in the hut trap

Hobby - secondhand report of a reliable observer seeing one at close range near Slyne flying in the general direction of Warton Crag mid-morning

Thursday, 11 June 2009

Itsy bitsy coverage

.......all the work-related incoming calls were when I slipped out to check the gulls! I'm usually the only observer on Thursday.

North wall
Black Guillemot - not sure what is going on. One bird on the water & flew up to the hole twice "sticking its head in" then flying back down again. Definitely not feeding another bird therein. I suspect the second bird has gone but would obviously like to be proved wrong - if it hasnt gone, it is presumably sitting on an egg.
Great Black-backed Gull - still sitting on the nest on top of the old Fisher's building (some of the LBB and HG have tiny young but most also still sitting)
Manx Shearwater - flock of 3 across the mouth of the bay in 10 minutes seawatching.....before a phone call!
Gannet - 2 across the mouth

Ocean Edge/outfalls/Red Nab
Med Gull - adult summer (unringed) plus at least 2 x 2CY

Shaded Pug headed a reasonably varied catch as the wind (at last) stopped blowing into the trap window (always very poor catches during easterlies)

Red Kite east over Salt Ayre tip at 1050hrs. Was this a missed "seen from" the Obs?! Great White Egret still in the Leighton main dyke as visible from the Griesdale Hide to 1045 at least but NNEW since (to 1600hrs)

Wednesday, 10 June 2009

Welcome pager messages!

Heysham Obs
North wall/outfalls/Ocean Edge
Med Gull - 3 x 2CY plus one adult summer off Ocean Edge
Little Gull - 1 x 2CY
Black Guillemot - one in harbour

Small Clouded Brindle in trap

Great White Egret Leighton Moss Lower hide area. (2 x Grey Scalloped-bar trapped on Trough (of Bowland) road last night - first in Lancs since 2004 and new for SD65. Just the sort of species which could be flushed by moorland birders, especially in rocky areas or areas of recent heather burn).

Tuesday, 9 June 2009

Gulls take a nosedive

Heysham Obs
........sileage cutting?

Ocean Edge/Red Nab incoming tide
Black-headed Gull - 280 only
Common Gull - 137
Little Gull - 1 2CY
Med Gull - 2 2cY (including the distinctive 'red-billed' bird)
Gannet - one distant 'across the mouth' - no systematic seawatching

North harbour wall 0930-1030
Black Guillemot 1 on wooden jetty
Med Gull 2cy black hood apart from crown & forehead

Painted Lady 1

Mother Shipton found after 'two minutes' by visiting entomologist today near the office!

2CY Hobby near Furnessford bridge late afternoon

Monday, 8 June 2009

Black Guillemot pair visit the hole in the jetty!

Heysham Obs
North harbour wall/outfalls
Black Guillemot - Obvious pair of adults visiting the hole on the wooden jetty. All previous female records have been 2CY (i.e. pre-breeding age)
Med Gull - TWO adults and at least one 2CY but check made a little too late in tide cycle

First Emperor of the year for Middleton plus just one Bk T Skimmer in very marginal conditions

NNEW on waders on EM Pool (even by 1145hrs)!

Sunday, 7 June 2009

TWO Black Guillemot!

Heysham Obs
........and we havent checked that area for three days.

Coastal areas
Black Guillemot - male trying to call a second bird of unknown sex, but almost certainly an adult, on to the 'nest' site on the wooden jetty
Med Gull - probably the same three 2CY as yesterday plus what appeared to be an additional bird. Also adult in the afternoon
Little Gull - 2CY
Common Tern - 2-3

A Mother Shipton twitcher finally found one after a few hours in breezy cool conditions (northern end of nature reserve)!

Red Kite over Dolphinholme area heading for Harris End Fell mid morning. Uncertain whether same bird as in Roeburndale East as upperwings, therefore wing-tag presence, not discernable. Temminck's Stint and mobile Pectoral Sandpiper on the Eric Morecambe Pool this late afternoon/evening

Saturday, 6 June 2009

More gull grilling

Heysham Obs
Yesterday was amazing. Entered the office from the great outdoors about 12oohrs, but did not leave until 1600hrs. The temperature difference reminded me of the same time last year boarding a plane at Oslo and disembarking into an icy blast at Kirkenes. The current air is surely from similar arctic climes. Today it was simply 'cool' and the lack of heathaze very welcome

Red Nab/outfalls/Ocean Edge foreshore
Med Gull - a careful look revealed 3 x 2CY: one with a 'basic 1st W' mask, one with an extensive black covering the mask area & the sides of the head but neither joining round the rear nor extending on to the crown and the 'virtually black-headed' bird seen previously (but the most difficult to pick out today). The middle one of these three had quite a red bill for a 2CY and not a bird I had previously seen. None of them were ringed
Black-headed Gull - 1,540 - amazing for so early in June and 95% 2CY
Common Gull - 226, including the adult summer
NO tern species at all - very sad as it reflects the demise of the Lune colony

Presume the Bk Guille still in residence but havent checked that side. has anyone else?

Osprey lingering Leighton Moss

Friday, 5 June 2009

Hazy juxtaposed moulting gulls

Heysham Obs
An 'awkward' morning, weather-wise; bright sunlight for the gull check therefore loads of heat haze but clouding over at optimum dragonfly time!

Red Nab/Ocean Edge foreshore
Med Gull - just the one 2CY located but difficult to observe
Common Gull - adult summer unusual at this time of year

Report out

The 2008 report is available at the office (£2) or Leighton Moss (a bit more). Essential reading for all birders interested in migration. Insect section and an article on Twite plus the "how we found" etc. on the White-throated Sparrow

Thursday, 4 June 2009

Very early gull bonanza

Heysham Obs
After a few days of creepy-crawly recording, the neglected outfalls/Red Nab area had presumably been transforming from the usual "breeding season" 200-300 small gulls to a veritable end of June/early July level. There has got to be a rare gull with this lot soon!

Outfalls/Red Nab early dropping tide
Med Gull - three 1st summers (but others could have been missed), including what was presumably the long-staying black-headed bird. None ringed
Black-headed Gull - 1,300 - unprecedented so early
Common Gull - 171 - par for the late spring course
Whimbrel - one

a shimmering white blob way in the distance on the edge of Middleton saltmarsh could have been a swan, white goose, Little Egret, the recent Spoonbill or plastic box with a neck(ish). No time to check from Potts Corner.

Middleton IE model boat pond
Sun too intermittent and temperature too low for RVD , but a single Black-tailed Skimmer and transient Clouded Yellow late morning. Unfortunately:
The only Jackdaws in this recording area have now increased to 12 and seem to be systematically scouring thbe ground along the western shore of the model boat pond. Presumably teneral dragonflies, or even torpid adults are amongst and perhaps the sole targets?

Single Red-veined Darter early afternoon

South-eastern boundary of recording area
Spotted Flycatcher - by the old ICI huge "nissan hut-shaped" building
Stock Dove - presumably nesting in the above building

Wednesday, 3 June 2009

Puss moth surprise and first Black-tailed Skimmer of the year

Heysham Obs
Middleton IE
Two Red-veined Darter males and a Black-tailed Skimmer

A reasonable catch including Brown Silver line, Shoulder striped Wainscot, 5 small Square spot and a Puss Moth (not annual at this site).

Red Kite with wing tag from Stirling on left wing, but no obvious equivalent year code tag on the other wing, over Alcock's Farm, Roeburndale east this lunchtime

Tuesday, 2 June 2009

Odd dragonfly scenario

Heysham Obs

Middleton model boat pond 1045-1115hrs
STILL no Black-tailed Skimmer but a load=c8 of mature COMMON Darter amongst which, and getting some stick, were two male Red-veined Darter

The long-staying Red-eared terrapin showing well (full of Bk tailed Skimmer nymphs??)

Excitement in the moth trap as Marbled Minor aggregate made its first appearance

Monday, 1 June 2009

The return of the Red-veined Darters

Heysham Obs
A bit too windy yesterday on the model boat pond and we needed to be alerted by findings yesterday at Fleetwood Marsh nature reserve to check in this morning's calmer conditions

Middleton IE model boat pond
Red-veined Darter - The first was located at 1030hrs and by 1130 there were definitely 3 males and probably four in view, scattered all over the model boat pond. 3 were seen in the afternoon with instructive comparison with Common, including a perched individual showing pale centred pterostigma (dark in Common, visible through 'scope at 50 metres!)
Common Darter - Up to 5 in the afternoon, including two very red males. Be careful before you jump to conclusions re-Red-veined. I think these are the earliest ever mature Common Darter for here and are surely migrants (which need checking for Vagrant???)

One of the easiest ways to start the process of separating Common from Red-veined (hundreds of hours put in observing the latter over water) is that Red-veined
1) dont gain height whilst hovering and usually stay close to the water surface in flight
2) change direction very suddenly and acutely, again without gaining height
3) usually spend longer over the water than Common

The red venations are often only clearly visible when the insect is hovering and facing the observer with the sun behind the observer = fortunately most of the day in the model boat pond lower car park

The vexing question is the origin of these insects. The smart money was on no further sightings of locally-born individuals after last year's single observation...but there was hardly any suitable flying weather last year! Therefore we need to wait and both Fleetwood and Middleton IE have breeding history and if there are none reported anywhere else in the north............ The Painted Lady influx obviously does suggest suitable arrival conditions from southern Europe and the following was 'lifted' from the BDS site:

"There has been a significant influx of Red-veined Darter into southern England during the last week of May, with records currently from at least seven sites (no doubt they have been accompanying the Painted Lady butterflies!). Observers are encouraged to be on the lookout for the species".

Surprisingly, no sign of any Black-tailed Skimmer yet

Remainder of Middleton IE ponds
A quick search in the afternoon again revealed no Emperor or Black-tailed Skimmer
Clouded Yellow - one sauntering around 'off passage' between the model boat and no swimming ponds
4-spotted Chaser - c80

North wall
Black Guillemot reported in the harbourmouth

Heysham NR
First Emperor dragonfly of the year by the gate

As there were Red-veined Darters on the Fleetwood marsh nature reserve pond yesterday (including an ovipositing female), worth checking any shallow pools with bare edges e.g. Freeman's Pool (but beware early mature Common).