Thursday, 26 November 2009

Bad cloud morning

Heysham Obs
Clouds are important features of birding. Good clouds cover up the sun when its in your face, drop masses of Black Terns on inland waters and lead to otherwise stratospheric rare birds hitting the deck in front of your eyes. A few years ago, when the observatory ringing effort was concentrated in a few straggling bushes which now form the lorry park, three fruitless net rounds in crystal clear conditions were followed by the appearance of big black cloud, two drops of rain and a Wryneck (& Chiffchaff) in the nets. This morning was the turn of unhelpful clouds. These form orange expanses in the sky, in completely the opposite direction to the sun, and lead to dreadful light for observing seabirds. Hence this morning, even though the viewing direction was a sun-behind north-west, the sea area north of Barrow was hopeless, exacerbated by the rough sea and 'broken' background. A straggling flock of c40 Kittiwake was invisible in this sector and only seen when it appeared heading out to the south.

Previous comment on Leach's Petrel deleted - there was a little cluster in the NW with 3 off Blackpool 26th and one off Walney 27th plus a possible or two

North wall offshore passage 0900-0930
Kittiwake - c40 out in one straggling flock, 50% 1CY & one in during very brief mid pm seawatch
Red-throated Diver - one out

Behind freight ferry (would have been more but some birds joined outgoing ferry whilst still out of identifiable range)
Med Gull - 2 ads
Kittiwake - 7
Little Gull - 3 adult, 1 1CY

Behind IOM ferry (thanks to visiting birders)
Gannet - one adult - very scarce at this time of year
Kittiwake - c20
Little Gull - single figures, probably some of those already recorded

Outfalls area
Little Gull - c6 adult, c6 1CY, a majority of these on the inner 2/3 of Heysham 2 outfall [about 16 Little Gull in total for today]

Twite - 26 north harbour wall
Guillemot - two inner harbour, the only 'inshore' seabird

Swallow Leighton Moss (one Levens Moss yesterday)