Sunday, 28 February 2010

Shoveler adrenalin

Heysham Obs
Shoveler made their first appearance since 2008 to join a good selection of wildfowl on Middleton IE

Middleton IE (now named Middleton Nature Reserve (LWT))
Shoveler - pair, 8 Pochard, 11 Tufted Duck, 2 Little Grebe, 4 Mute Swan, 12 Coot, 9 Moorhen, 10 teal, 3 Goldeneye.
Pink-footed Goose - 43 NW

Ocean Edge a bit too late in high tide
Jack Snipe - 1
Snipe - 3
Wigeon - 78

North Harbour Wall 8am
4 Mute Swan (2 adult, 2 imms - from Middleton?) flew across the Bay towards Grange
3 Red-breasted Mergansers flew into the Bay
32 Twite - one unringed and the rest with Heysham rings.

.........dropping tide mid-pm
Med Gull - two adults, including Czech-ringed bird, on anglers scraps
Red-throated Diver - one in Kent channel in 5 minute scan
Of interest, what was almost certainly a Shag was also miles out in the Kent channel but it took flight and id confidence was not 100% (size, round wings & fast flap & not a lot else!!).  Several have been round Walney all winter but very scarce this last autumn/winter this side with no 'stickers'

20 Whooper Swan (4 juv) right next to the A683 road just south of Hornby (including the wintering darvic-ringed bird S53 - please dont create extra admin sending this to WWT yourself).  Two singing male Cetti's Warbler Leighton Moss causeway.  Egyptian Goose still Hillam Lane.   Common Sandpiper still Conder.

Saturday, 27 February 2010

A good vis day

............means Red-throated Diver within range

North harbour wall
Twite - 37, including Askam-ringed bird (yellow over dark blue/white); 1/15 examined was unringed
Purple Sandpiper - 2 on wooden jetty
Red-throated Diver - 5 seen offshore in 15 minutes of dropping tide (4 floating, 1 flying out) 1300-1315hrs (no GCG at this stage of the tide)
Med Gull - Czech-ringed adult on the railings

Ocean Edge/Red Nab
No obvious sign of any Blackwits or anything of specific interest
Wigeon - 92

Ringing by the office
Just single unringed Greenfinch & Blue Tit & retrap Greenfinch from last autumn.....before the niggling n-easterly got up

Middleton IE
Just a quick check of the first two ponds.  Looks like a mini Coot/swan/seagull feeding area is developing with about 20 lingering gulls. Looking good for a bit of ring-reading!
Pochard - 8 (7 males) on model boat pond
Goldeneye - 2 on model boat pond
Tufted Duck - at least 12 on no swimming pond

Redhead Smew still Freeman's Pool.  20 Whooper Swan just south of Hornby by side of A683 for at least 2nd day.  Egyptian Goose still Hillam Lane by pool

Friday, 26 February 2010

Pale Brindled Beauty

Heysham Obs
A creepy-crawly in pole position (so far) today with a single Pale-brindled Beauty moth in the toilet MV trap.  This was my 20th of the morning (19 at an oak woodland overnight MV trap), but it is rare here with about 12 previous records going back to 1989

Ocean Edge foreshore paper read
Black-tailed Godwit - 5
Rock Pipit - one by the saltmarsh

North harbour wall mid-pm
Purple Sandpiper - at least one in foul conditions on rocks by south harbour
Hyperactive spaniel around the Twite area
Lesser Black-backed Gull - increase e.g. 24 on the shore by north wall
No sign of any Meds for second day running

Thursday, 25 February 2010

Challenging Mallard

Heysham Obs
Mallard muscled their way on to the BTO Business challenge list in a pincer movement with two on the Obs Tower pond and an amazing FOUR at Red Nab

The only other interest so far today was the reappearance of the Icelandic-ringed Black-tailed Godwit (after a trip to Cockersands) as part of a small increase at Red Nab to 31 birds.  This species was virtually "unheard of" in the Heysham area just five years ago with one record/year if you were lucky.

Ad Med Gull on Red Nab (none seen north wall over the low tide)
TWO Purple Sandpiper again on the skeer below the red lighthouse at the south harbour mouth at low tide 

Ringing by the office was rapidly curtailed by an increasing wind and comprised an unringed Great Tit!

Middleton IE
Pochard - 4 males & one female model boat pond
Goldeneye - Male and female model boat pond
Tufted Duck - 7 (5 males) fence pond
Coot - 9 throughout

Redhead Smew still freeman's Pool and two Crossbill Knots Wood (no general access here)

Wednesday, 24 February 2010

Routine coverage

Heysham Obs
North harbour wall
Eider - 77 offshore at low tide
Red-throated Diver - one offshore at low tide
Purple Sandpiper - not looked for
Med Gull - one adult
Twite - 21+, including Askam-ringed bird
Linnet - 2

HN Reserve
Influx of Greenfinch with 15+ on the feeder

Egyptian Goose Jeremy Lane early am, then Hillam Lane pm. Common Sandpiper still Conder area in saltmarsh creek along with two Greenshank

Tuesday, 23 February 2010

South harbour wind chill

Heysham Obs
A 'power' walk along the south harbour wall (pre-weight-watchers-weigh-in day strategy) to the wooden jetty without a coat or gloves produced absolutely nothing, although there is some really good Snow Bunting habitat bulldozed next to the big wheel. Watching the same area from a heated car on the north wall was much more productive!

North harbour wall on dropping neap tide am
Purple Sandpiper - short-stay targeters are having problems with these this year and the best bet is to wait until the flat skeer just below the red lighthouse on the south harbour wall is uncovered. This happened at c1115hrs today and the two appeared 'from nowhere' with 31 Turnstone
Twite - c38, including an Askam-in-Furness ringed bird (yellow over split dark blue/white)
Med Gull - 2 adults
Red-throated Diver - one distant bird offshore
Redshank - one using the fish skips!
Eider - 35+

Ocean Edge late pm
Black-tailed Godwit - 18 by Red Nab, 2 in the saltmarsh creek
Med Gull - ad on mudflats
Wigeon - c96

Middleton IE
Mute Swan - 5, Coot - 7, Goldeneye - 2, Redshank - 2 on spit on model boat pond (odd?), Water Rail running across road between central & western marsh!

New species for the year was Egyptian Goose along Jeremy Lane a.m. Significant numbers of Bewick's Swan in north Fylde/LDBWS overlap - see FBC site

Monday, 22 February 2010

Low tide fare from the north wall

Heysham Obs
As has been published many times, but unfortunately not reciprocated by e.g. RSPB tidal advice at Leighton, LOW tide is often better than high tide off Heysham north wall and Morecambe Stone Jetty, especially in calm & clear conditions

North wall low tide
Purple Sandpiper - TWO together feeding on the skeer at the inner end of the wooden jetty with t least 26 Turnstone
Med Gull - one adult (these are easier at high tide!)
Red-throated Diver - two offshore
Eider - 50 offshore
Twite - 38 at the feeder

Ringing by the office
Stunningly unremarkable with an easterly wind soon curtailing the effort which was highlighted by an unringed Blue Tit which escaped before it was ringed and an unringed Great Tit which didnt.

Yesterday: At least two, probably three Tundra Bean Geese within our area in north Fylde - see LDBWS site

Sunday, 21 February 2010

Distant and murky seaduck

Heysham Obs
North harbour wall
A low tide check was not blessed with good light:
Scaup - 2 distant females
Eider - 86, mostly in 'second' channel
Red-breasted Merganser - 7
Twite - 28 at feeder in the afternoon
Med Gull - two adults in afternoon
Song Thrush - still on mound

Ocean Edge
Very large numbers of waders along the tideline towards Potts Corner but not a lot of time & a lot of silhoeuttes!
Knot - 3k+
Dunlin - 300+
Bar-tailed Godwit - pretty accurate 1,700
Black-tailed Godwit - 2

Med Gull adult still Skerton bridge

Saturday, 20 February 2010

Low-key ringing

Heysham Obs
What is the difference between a Dunnock and a Robin with respect to surviving a hard winter? OK, Robins are aggressive and do not like other birds at the feeder but others usually get a look in at some time or other and reasonable numbers are 'usually' caught in the single feeder net at Heysham. Indeed, there is usually very little difference between the numbers of Dunnock and Robin caught at the feeding station. Dunnocks do average up to 5 grams heavier, but the size and eating habits would seem basically similar.

Seven 2-3 hour mist net sessions at the feeder since the damagingly cold spell finished in mid-January has produced the following different individuals:
11 Dunnock
14 Long-tailed Tit
3 Robin
1 Wren

Breeding season data will undoubtedly determine whether Robins have really been clobbered or whether they have simply moved. In this respect, there is little evidence of any scattered around the nature reserve. The Long-tailed Tit survival and presumed relationship with regular attendance at the feeder is notable for here, but simply following the national trend

Ringing by the office
Back to today - a "record" six retrap Dunnock was the 'highlight' along with another unringed Long-tailed Tit

However, this was at the expense of a good look at the sea at low tide before the fog rolled in

Middleton IE
Iced up again: Pheasant, 4 Mute Swan, 14 Coot, 3 Moorhen, 2 Teal, 3 Goldeneye, 15 Mallard, 3 Pochard (2 males), one Little Grebe

North harbour wall
Med Gull - 2 adults on the railings - these birds have been very reliable of late at/near high tide - one Czech ringed (metal above the knee right leg)
Dead offshore at high tide, as it has been recently & no Twite (noisy anglers & several dogs)

The usual lack of sightings in this area in the public domain on Saturday!

Friday, 19 February 2010

Low tide for ducks, high tide for snipe

Heysham Obs
The Black-tailed Godwit with Icelandic colour-rings/flag seen recently here was at Cockersands today (per Pete Woodruff). Full details should be available soon (thanks Richard)

North harbour wall at low tide on flat calm sea, then over the tide
Scaup - male and three females in 'second' channel
Eider - 96 within view, more than usual directly offshore
Great-crested Grebe - 10
Purple Sandpiper - one under wooden jetty
Red-breasted Merganser - 6
Med Gull - 2 adults
Twite - 14 on seed pm

Ocean Edge/Red Nab area
Jack Snipe - 2-3 Ocean Edge saltmarsh
Common Snipe - an impressive 52 OE saltmarsh high tide
Grey Plover - 3 OE saltmarsh
Rock Pipit - one OE saltmarsh - uncommon in February
Wigeon - 60 outfalls

Grey Seal off north wall

Smew still at Freemans Pool

Thursday, 18 February 2010

Two dates for one

Wednesday 17th February 2009
Twite - at least 6 at the feeding station
Med Gull - 2 adults on the north wall railings

Thursday 18th February 2009
Med Gull - 2 on railings
Black-tailed Godwit - 4 Ocean Edge creek
Knot - 2100 Ocean Edge/Red Nab foreshore
Gadwall - male Middleton IE

Smew Freeman's Pool still

Tuesday, 16 February 2010

Mixed bags

Heysham Obs
Ringing by the office
Managed to dodge the showers and the following unringed birds were caught: 4 Greenfinch, Chaffinch, Blue Tit and, surprisingly, a female Bullfinch. A retrap Dunnock burst into song on release!

Ocean Edge
Jack Snipe - one showing really well HT
Snipe - at least 16 HT
Black-tailed Godwit - just four late pm
Bar-tailed Godwit - one late pm

Red Nab (all birds pushed off by dog)
Snipe - 3

North harbour wall
Med Gull - two adults on the railings, including Czech-ringed bird
Red-throated Diver - one far offshore late pm
Twite - 6 on food late pm, one with metal-only on right leg (i.e. no

Tundra Bean Goose Jeremy Lane

Monday, 15 February 2010

Quick Visit


North Harbour Wall
Adult Med Gull
6 Twite (all with rings)

Sunday, 14 February 2010

No twittering

North Harbour Wall
Sorry there were no Twite yesterday! There were none this morning either when I went to place feed.
Med Gull - 2 adults.

Much of the water surfaces frozen.
Pink footed Goose - 75 & c400 north (87 north on Saturday 13th)
Mute Swan - 4
Coot - 6
Moorhen - 1
Goldeneye- 2
Mallard - 18
Water Rail - 1 on ice
Snipe - 1
Woodcock - 1
Pheasant - 1
Reed Bunting - 2

Heysham Moth Trap
First logged moth for this year!
Dotted Border - 1

Saturday, 13 February 2010

Routine calm weather fare

Heysham Obs
....including a survey vessel in and around the Kent channel which prevented a thorough diver count

North harbour wall
Med Gull - 2 adults around the angler rubbish tip
Purple Sandpiper - one on a lower section of the wooden jetty - hard to see (& 36 Turnstone, most of which were 'missed' on yesterdays WeBS)
Twite - two targeters moaning that "no-one had fed them recently and there weren't any there" (per angler). 15 on the south side of the mound
Red-throated Diver - one close inshore and definitely floating through the British Energy high seas just off Heysham One outfall!! Just one seen further out.

Ocean Edge/Red Nab
Med Gull - adult Red Nab
Black-tailed Godwit - 3 on Ocean Edge saltmarsh included the colour-ringed bird, plus another 7 by Red Nab

Absolutely zero of specific interest today on the LDBWS website - a male Ruff during a WeBS count at Bank End was a good winter record

Friday, 12 February 2010

Potentially tricky species in the BTO bag

Heysham Obs
An early WeBS count was the order of the day this morning as weekend work looms. Any results from coverage of the Obs area on Sunday & Monday gratefully received. Thanks. Kingfisher has been on the 'guaranteed' year list for some time now, but doubts after this last winter whether it would indeed make the 2010 BTO Business Challenge. No worries! The Red-throat was given the benefit of any doubt c/f the rather arbitrary line in the sea which denotes "British Energy property" and therefore also a BTO challenge qualifier.

Ocean Edge/Red Nab high tide
Kingfisher - a welcome return after no sightings so far this year (BTO challenge qualifier as landed on a rock on Red Nab)
Black-tailed Godwit - 21 remained to roost on the edge of OE saltmarsh (plus one Bar-tailed Godwit). Late afternoon - flock increased to 24 and included the colour-ringed bird.
Med Gull
- adult roosting on Red Nab
Shelduck - 121 remaining by Red Nab at high tide
Wigeon - 89
Red-throated Diver - singleton off outfalls/Red Nab as close as they get here & just about(ish) within the requisite sea area re-BTO challenge. Three further birds miles out on the sea.

Diver in flight which appeared to show characters of Black-throated, but it was miles away & getting even further away, heading towards the "left hand side" of the windfarm at about 1005hrs. Not having checked the pager, I was informed a BTD was seen of Rossall yesterday after making a phone call, so hopefully, if it is off-passage, clinching views from here in the next few days as the tides are getting higher. Three RTD miles out (see above)

Wooden jetty
Purple Sandpiper - one eventually crept out from behind a cross-piece
Old Fisher's roof
Med Gull - single adult - light bad - possibly another bird half-hidden

North harbour wall
18 Twite

Unringed ad Med Skerton Weir.

Thursday, 11 February 2010

LImited birding provides good local patch rewards

Heysham Obs
Ocean Edge foreshore
A bit late in the tidal sequence for a decent total with the birds very distant and the sun creeping round. However, one valuable discovery - the first Black-tailed Godwit bearing colour rings from here - ringed as an Icelandic chick on the preliminary info.
Black-tailed Godwit - 48 in three feeding flocks Red Nab-OE saltmarsh creek
Bar-tailed Godwit - 1 by Red Nab - will do for the BTO challenge!

North harbour wall
Red-throated Diver - 7 on a fairly calm sea, all but one rather distant
Great-crested grebe - 5 distant birds on the sea
Med Gull - Czech-ringed adult - actually read the ring today!
Twite - c20 tail-ends heading away from the feeder

Ringing by the office
A couple of mist net rounds produced another Long-tailed Tit, this time an unringed bird along with a single unringed Blue Tit but the remander of the catch was just retrap Tits/Robin/Dunnock with no finches around
Pink-footed Goose - 41 NW at 0915hrs

4 Snow Geese near Leighton Moss

Wednesday, 10 February 2010

Red Nab and Ocean Edge return to form

Heysham Obs
A surprising amount of stuff off Ocean Edge/Red Nab on the dropping tide, now we have finished the survey which was becoming a bit of a 'jolly' during the rather birdless cold weather either side of New Year. Didnt have much time to check, due to only being at Heysham because a work folder had been left in the office! Thanks to Sean for records from the north side.

Off Ocean Edge/Red Nab
Med Gull - THREE adults on the mudflats and a further Ad or 2nd W following a ferry for a short period before peeling off and heading back out of the bay about 1/2 mile from port (no, it wasnt a Kittiwake!)
Black-tailed Godwit - 26 on the mudflats - possibly the first Feb record, but a continuation of last autumn's scenario
Sanderling - one with c96 Dunlin - great winter record!
Lapwing - 264 - very high count for here
Shelduck - 191
Ringed Plover - 27, including the Snettisham colour-ringed bird
Wigeon - 88 (the main motivation for the visit)

North wall
Meadow Pipit - one on beach at Half-moon bay - good winter record
Twite - c25
Med Gull - it seems that one adult remained on 'this side', making FIVE for the day - a good count for this time of year. None of these were the bird on Middleton IE model boat pond two days ago - that one was very well advanced into summer head plumage
Green Woodpecker calling from the scrub behind HM Bay car park

Med Gull adults Greyhound bridge Lancaster and by the posh hotels just south of the Town hall along Morecambe seafront. Smew redhead still Freeman's Pools but no sign of American Wigeon at Conder Est in reduced numbers of Wigeon since 8/2,

Tuesday, 9 February 2010


Heysham Obs
Office feeder
Reed Bunting - 1 - a BTO challenge year tick

Pink-footed Goose - 90 NW at 1415hrs

Scaup - one female in low tide channel off north Morecambe. Redhead Smew Freeman's Pool late afternoon

Monday, 8 February 2010

Red letter moment for a small pond

Heysham Obs
Middleton model boat pond
Usually notable for Red-veined Darter dragonflies and 'dormant' in winter, it "excelled" itself this morning as every patch worker (but few others) will relate to:
Gadwall - pair (first of the year for the Obs area)
Med Gull - adult coming into summer plumage bathing - flew off SSW towards Potts Corner
Pochard - 5 males
Tufted Duck - 16
Goldeneye - 3

Middleton IE east Giant Hogweed forest
No sign of female Stonechat present 11/1, but two Wrens!

Heysham NR
First singing Chaffinch of the year

Twite ringing
The birds did not really behave this morning and there was a lot of disturbance. Nevertheless, with persistence, 20 Twite and one Linnet were caught. Surprisingly, considering ratios in the field, six unringed Twite were caught (& unringed Linnet). The retraps comprised birds from throughout the 2009 autumnal ringing, not just the later birds

Ad drake American Wigeon present this afternoon at least with Eurasian Wigeon just north of the Conder/Lune confluence on the east side of the Lune. 41 Little Egret Ashton Hall roost (comprehensive count - last bird in at 1740hrs)

Sunday, 7 February 2010

More foggy geese

Heysham Obs
c250 Pink-footed Geese were just about visible heading north-west over the office at 1015hrs

Most of this is beginning to resemble self-generated set-aside (i.e. its not been mown for ages) and the four Reed Bunting were still present today along with two Snipe. A Raven was on nearby Heysham Head

Green Woodpecker still here & singing Song Thrush

Drake American Wigeon viewable from Glasson looking towards the Conder Estuary late afternoon (on the lowish tide?). NNEW on Smew at Freeman's Pool.

Saturday, 6 February 2010

Challenging Size E

Heysham Obs
Office area
Pink-footed Goose - huge flock heard in the fog, then receded towards Oxcliffe area - probably not actual migration

Ringing by the office
A vicious Magpie brought the size E rings out of a two-year hibernation. The last one ended up in a larsen trap along Heysham bypass. Other new birds comprised: 4 Greenfinch, 2 Chaffinch, a Dunnock, 3 Blue Tit and a Great Tit. Yet another Long-tailed Tit was retrapped for the first time since the freeze, making at least 12 post-freeze birds using the feeder.

Middleton IE
4 Mute Swan, 6 Coot, 4 Moorhen, 13 Teal, 16 Tufted Duck, 3 Goldeneye, 5 Pochard, 4 Snipe

Smew still on Freeman's Pool

Friday, 5 February 2010

Pinkfoot invasion..........

Heysham Obs the airspace over the NR office at dusk with 2,500-3,000 estimated, heading SW - surely the Heysham bypass birds taking a detour to the Lune Estuary roost (which doesn't take them over a certain

North wall
Song Thrush - still on the mound!
Twite - 34 - one unringed
Med Gull - 2 adults

Ocean Edge
Wigeon - 86
Med Gull - one adult on Red Nab near HT

The Smew is back on Freeman's Pool.

Thursday, 4 February 2010

Hormonal Twite

Heysham Obs
The temperature on the north harbour wall was a balmy 8.5 degrees C and the Twite were full of the 'joys' of spring. This included bickering and posturing over the food and a lot more racket than usual, including bursts of song

North harbour wall
Twite - 41, including 5 unringed birds
Med Gull - adult
Red-throated Diver - one offshore on the incoming tide

4 Barnacle Geese & hybrid plus indeterminate brief views of what might have been the Tundra Bean Goose along Heysham bypass but birds disturbed by shooting

Wednesday, 3 February 2010

Geese on the move

Heysham Obs
A nice Tundra Bean Goose was found with the Heysham bypass Pink-footed Geese this morning and was still there at 1400hrs - unfortunately outside the recording area (thanks Stuart & also for the record shot above)

Pink-footed Goose
Migratory flocks of 86 at 1125hrs, 136 at 1415hrs & 102 at 1420hrs - all heading high to the north-west in a very limited period of observation - so many could have been missed. Heading off ahead of the weather front was probably part of the strategy, but this is the usual time of year for major movements

Med Gull - two adults around the harbour
Jack Snipe - at least one Ocean Edge foreshore
Twite - 26 north wall feeder at 1415hrs

Turnstone were very scattered on the cross pieces on the wooden jetty (19+) & couldnt see any Purps but plenty of areas which couldnt be seen from the north wall

Ringing by the office
Highlighted by an unringed Wren - very unusual at this time of year. Otherwise the same Long-tailed Tits as the previous post-freeze ringing sessions and a couple of new Chaffinch and Greenfinch along with an ?eight-year old Blue Tit.

Tundra Bean Goose along Heysham bypass. Negative on Smew on Freeman's Pool. Ad Greenland White-fronted Goose with Greylags (& the Snows) by the Eric Morecambe Pool.

Tuesday, 2 February 2010

Spring tide check

Heysham Obs
North harbour wall area
Med Gull - three adults - two roosting on the old Fisher's roof and one patrolling the north wall
Purple Sandpiper - one on the wooden jetty with 31 Turnstone - very difficult to see now the structure is all bent and twisted
Twite - just five seen
Oystercatcher - 4,100ish roosting on the heliport - an immediate return after yesterdays cannon netting

Ocean Edge area
Knot - 1,500
Turnstone - 23 roosting OE foreshore
Ringed Plover - 16 roosting OE foreshore (no sign Snettisham-ringed bird)

Completely dead

Monday, 1 February 2010

Long-tailed tits survive well

Heysham Obs
Long-tailed Tit
Change your habits and hit the bird feeders. This is what Long-tailed Tits have done over the last few winters and it has really paid dividends with survival this winter. The January 10km square survey revealed a good number and the two ringing sessions next to the office (today and 13th January) have seen a total of 10 different local birds, all already bearing rings from here & most, as you would expect, from 2009.

Ocean Edge
The Snipe run was mistimed with just 11 Common remaining on a tide which was already well in
Linnet - one in Ocean Edge

As is usual this time of year, the start of the Greenfinch influx with 5 unringed birds trapped along with single unringed Blue Tit, Song Thrush, Great Tit, Chaffinch (an unringed Blue Tit escaped!)

The cannon-netting at the heliport (see photo - thanks Ian) was successful with 534 ringed and 35 already ringed, either at Heysham or elsewhere. The catch including an Icelandic colour-ringed bird. Provisional info on the catch as follows (thanks Richard):

One cannon-netted in 1982 Wrangle Tofts (Lincolnshire)
One similarly in 1993 Friskney Marsh (Lincolnshire)
One probably from Alftanes 64, 05N, 22, 00 W (Iceland)
One likely to have been ringed as a chick somewhere in the British Isles!One ringed as a chick on the Isle of Mull in June 1984 and caught at Heysham on 12/12/08.

Retraps from Heysham: 19 from the cannon net catch on 12/12/2008, 10 from 01/02/2006 (one also retrapped 12/12/2008), one from 17/10/2001 (which was reringed 12/12/2008)

The age structure was interesting with ONLY ONE of last year's young and only 12 2008 young. The remainder were born in or prior to 2007.

Less useful was the last two numbers of a Danish-ringed Black-headed Gull on Middleton model boat pond - birds dont walk around on ice, so you only get one side of the ring!