Saturday, 31 July 2010

Whimbrel & more moths

Heysham Obs
The moth trap is perfectly designed to receive hordes on cloudy westerly-wind nights and that is just about what has been happening this last fortnight!  It consists of an east-facing prison-barred window with a blended 160W MV hanging from the ceiling and loads of egg packing on the floor.  Winner of the 'most unusual trap' on the inaugural National Moth Night about 10 years ago.  This waffle disguises the fact that this was not the best day ornithologically, especially as two top-notch birders were on the coastal prowl

North wall
Whimbrel - 4

Sallow new for the year and notable were: 2 Dingy Footman, Pediasia aridella, 2 Barred Rivulet, Rush Veneer, Chilo phragmitella & Phoenix

Friday, 30 July 2010

Run of the mill plus a blood vein

Meadow Brown and Gatekeeper taken today for comparison.  Thanks Janet.  I dont think I saw a single butterfly!

Heysham Obs
Med Gull - two adults following a freight ferry out of port

Middleton NR 0600-0930hrs
Not a great deal this morning although:
Grasshopper Warbler - two singing males but no juvs ringed
Reed Warbler - three singing males, including one in the central marsh still
Meadow Pipit - one SE
House Martin - 2 SE
Swallow - just 7 SE
Ringing produced 5 new Sedge Warbler, 3 new Willow Warbler, 3 new Swallow and single new Reed Warbler, Whitethroat, Reed Bunting & Chiffchaff plus a few odds and ends of sedentary species & retraps.

Another reasonable catch in the optimum westerly airflow saw the first ever Blood Vein allowing itself to be identified before disappearing out of the window.  Orange Swift & Agriphila latistria were new for the year and the catch included Dingy Footman & Barred Rivulet

Thursday, 29 July 2010

A Gothical morning

Heysham Obs
Very brief visit & short of material........the 'highlight' was a Gothic in the moth trap, about 25 previous records, and the first Flounced Rustic of the year.  Catch much reduced, especially the weaker fliers

Great-spotted Woodpecker on the peanuts

Outfalls area
Arctic Tern - juv
Med Gull - 1-2 adults

Wednesday, 28 July 2010

Interesting news from last Friday

Shaded Broad-bar moth this evening.  Thanks Janet

Heysham Obs
Friday sightings from Sean's vigil
Black Guillemot - one in non-breeding plumage around the end of the wooden jetty for about 30 minutes.  Only the second day this species has been seen this year
Arctic Tern - adult
Sandwich Tern - 2 out
Med Gull - three different adults seen between Half-moon bay and the harbour mouth but not possible to see whether the Czech bird was one of them

Todays stuff
Ocean Edge/Red Nab/outfalls
Arctic Tern - juv
Whimbrel - one

One of the unfortunate things recently has been a number of birders calling in at the office for info but not reciprocating by calling back in with their sightings, despite a polite request.  Sign of the times?

Lots, but nothing special, with the best being Dingy Shears, Dingy Footman, Bordered Beauty, White Satin, Slender Pug (2), Golden-rod Pug (4) and (scarce here) Sandy Carpet.  Common Rustic takes over from Straw Underwing as the top dog.  Note that Golden-rod Pug larvae feed on ragwort.

Tuesday, 27 July 2010

Old Lady tops the bill

Lesser Whitethroat in the pines near Ocean Edge this evening. Thanks Janet

Heysham Obs
Hardly the forecasted wash-out, but just too risky to mist net the Sedge Warblers etc at Middleton NR this am.  One Common Sandpiper on the model boat pond edge.  Red Nab dead at high tide.

Predictably, after a cloudy night, the moth trap was rather full, but the excellent variety on the walls was followed by a rather disappointing procession of the usual culprits on the egg cases.  New for the year/autumn were: Barred Rivulet, Old Lady, Canary-shouldered Thorn, Six-striped Rustic, Agonopterix arenella,  Ruby Tiger and Dark-barred Twin-spot Carpet.  The more notable species included Bordered Beauty, 5 Dingy Footman, Grass Emerald, Slender Pug, 2 Golden-rod Pug, and 2 Dingy Shears.  Straw Underwing was the most common species at 28, with the high trap entrance, as usual, rationing the Large Yellow Underwing catch, with just 16 of them!

Monday, 26 July 2010

One for sorrow, two for joy

A couple of mobile phone pics this morning followed by a juvenile Willow Warbler taken by Janet at Ocean Edge.  Note the distance between the tip of the under tail coverts and the tail tip in the Wood and Willow Warblers as well as the more obvious stuff 

Heysham Obs
A bit of ringing training using two nets next to the office hoping for some tits and Greenfinches didnt go as planned.  Quite a few migrant warbler species ended up in the nets and they were highlighted by a Wood Warbler - an excellent record for the BTO challenge list amongst other things.  A juvenile Magpie extended the learning curve for the ringing trainee and then amazingly, after 46 years of trying, I managed to extract two Magpies from mist nets on the same morning as another juvenile was caught as the nets were being taken down!

Red Nab/outfalls
Arctic tern - juv
juvenile Arctic or Common Tern - one perched on Red Nab at an 'awkward angle' at high tide, perhaps the above but looked a bit too 'ginger'
Med Gull - adult
Whimbrel - 2

Dun Bar & Least Yellow Underwing new for the year, Straw Underwing topping the bill at 34 and Southern Wainscot best of the rest

Sunday, 25 July 2010

They dont think its all over

Heysham Obs
.......referring to the Grasshopper Warbler breeding season.  There were FOUR singing males on Middleton NR this morning!  A short ringing session there was curtailed by gusty winds where, although the nets appeared to be alright for 60-70% of the time, the other 30% was unacceptable as regards the welfare of the birds.  So down came the nets after catching 5 new Sedge Warbler, 2 new Reed Warbler, one juv Reed Bunting, one juv Grasshopper Warbler, one juv Whitethroat and a Great Tit.  Other stuff:

Green Sandpiper - one Middleton appeared to land in the central marsh briefly before disappearing
Swift - 10 south
Arctic Tern - juvenile outfalls
Med Gull - adult in almost winter plumage Red Nab
Common Sandpiper - at least one Ocean Edge/Red Nab
Whimbrel - one Red Nab

Nothing of any great note but a further Dingy Footman

Saturday, 24 July 2010

Should have been here yesterday

Heysham Obs
Middleton NR CES
The wind was a bit of a problem with one of the CES nets this morning and the catch was rather poor in relation to the number of birds around.  Yesterday would have been much better!   The catch included an unringed adult Grasshopper Warbler, probably a female without a brood patch anymore and implicitly a migrant, 7 Sedge Warbler, 2 each of Blackcap/Willow Warbler/Whitethroat, the first Reed Bunting for quite some time, a young Great Tit from Box 15 on the nearby Heysham NR and a single juvenile Song Thrush-public-relations-exercise

Vis Middleton NR
Racing Pigeon - huge flock of c75-80 SE
Swift - steady southerly passage of 41 birds
Sand Martin - 2 south
Meadow Pipit - very early high southbound migrant

Diamond-back Moth was the only capture of interest other than yet another Dingy Footman

Friday, 23 July 2010

Small Tortoiseshells back to form and Hummingbird Hawk-moth

Heysham Obs
Hummingbird Hawk-moth in the NE of the recording area in suburban Heysham at Mossgate park (per H Dickson via LDBWS insects)

Saw about 50 Small Tortoiseshell today, over the twice the number than in the last two years put together.  6 of these were on/around the emerging office buddleias (with 35 others up Roeburndale east).  On the down side there appears to have been a dramatic population crash of midges this year with none in the usual Roeburn/Hindburn hotspots, even after the monsoon.  Clegs, on the other hand have been very bad, with a mass synchronised emergence after the start of the rainy season, notably Middleton NR

CES Heysham office area
A much better morning for ringing, but no obvious migratory movements yet with the 30 or so birds largely reflecting a reasonably good breeding season including a small Long-tailed Tit flock.  The only summer migrants were 2 Whitethroat, 4 Willow Warbler and a Blackcap.  Unexpectedly, for this site, no new Lesser Whitethroat.  There were TWO Moorhen chicks wandering around the office this morning!

Med Gull - adult off Ocean Edge early am

Nothing dramatic other than a small black and white thing which might be new to science given absence of an obvious match on UK Moths!   Two Dingy Footman and the first Shuttle-shaped Dart of the second brood

Thursday, 22 July 2010

First 'autumnal' Garden Warbler

Clouded Border moth at Heysham NR this evening. Thanks Janet

Heysham Obs
Useful when species do not breed anywhere near here as is the case with Garden Warbler - you can identify any movements over and above the local.  This was the first bird caught on an attempted Middleton CES, but the operation soon fell foul of a NE wind which started blowing the nets around to an unacceptable degree as regards the welfare of the birds.

Middleton NR very early morning
Garden Warbler - one ringed
Grasshopper Warbler - one singing regularly, another intermittently
Reed Warbler - 3 singing males
Kingfisher - heard once

A large catch devoid of really interesting macro captures, apart from four Dingy Footman and an (increasingly scarce) Garden Tiger.  However, the micros included a new species for Heysham: Argyresthia curvella and two scarce Heysham area specialities Phtheochroa inopiana and Coleophora trifolii

Wednesday, 21 July 2010

2441 influx & seabird array

Heysham Obs
Time to get a little geeky as the huge backlog of hut trap moth records are put on MapMate.  The easiest way is to remember the individual (Bradley and Fletcher)numbers, so 2441 refers to Silver Y, a migrant moth of which there was a small influx in the overnight torrential rain.  This sort of weather often produces a few migrant moths, especially if the wind is southwesterlyish

North wall early morning (Mike Baron)
Arctic Skua - dark morph chasing juv Common Gull (both quite early for here in 'autumn'
Sandwich tern - 1
Razorbill - one - scarce in July
Gannet - 1

Thanks for these Mike

Middleton NR
Kingfisher - hovering over the central marsh pond, caught something or other, then flew towards the fence pond
Reed Warbler - 3 singing males

Tuesday, 20 July 2010

Singing in the rain

Heysham Obs
Middleton NR
Singing male Grasshopper and Reed (2) Warblers

Drinker an appropriate new species for the year.  Just 13 Straw Underwing and 20 other moths in total

Monday, 19 July 2010

St. Swithin's day if thou dost rain..............................

..............for forty days it will remain

Heysham outfalls/Red Nab
Common Tern - adult
Arctic Tern - adult
Med Gull - adult
Dunlin - adult

Moth trap
Not too bad with Grass Emerald, Southern Wainscot, Dingy Shears and (scarce here) Rivulet highlighting & Straw Underwing & Large Yellow Underwing tying for the lead with 10 apiece

Sunday, 18 July 2010

Frontal wave drenching

Heysham Obs
Early check off Ocean Edge
Med Gull - adult
Little Egret - adult in creek

Midday check of outfalls/Red Nab (with Stuart Piner)
Arctic Tern - ad & juv Stage one
Common Tern - ad Stage two

Watch this space as I'll do another check nearer high tide.  Nothing new - adult Common Tern 'glued' to Stage 2 outfall & Ad Arctic tern on Red Nab

Middleton NR
Common Sandpiper - 2

Catoptria margaritella wandered down from the hills/upper valleys (not accidentally transported in my car!).  I think this is the second record for here

Saturday, 17 July 2010

Three Manx, three Meds and a probable juvenile Yellow-legged Gull

Heysham Obs
Early morning coverage in grottier weather than forecast saw three Manx Shearwaters flying out during a short period of offshore clarity and an adult Med Gull next to Heysham 2 outfall.  No sign of any terns, but a poor stage of the tide for the outfalls

Afternoon coverage (& Tom Walkington)
Med Gull - 2 adults & presumably the same 2CY although the legs were not seen for rings
Arctic Tern - 3 adults Heysham 2 outfall
Common Tern - one adult off north harbour wall

Last minute check of the outfalls area near high tide
This produced a 1CY large gull which flew in off the sea, then circled around Heysham outfalls, but unfortunately did not land on the remains of Red Nab, but headed north over the wooden jetty.  It looked a very good candidate for juvenile Yellow-legged Gull, quite a pale-headed individual but the level of individual feather detail required was not possible

More than expected, but no great surprises with the best (for this site) being Plain Golden Y, Latticed Heath, Dingy Shears and Southern Wainscot and a local speciality, Straw Underwing, reaching double-figures

Dead Harbour Porpoise photographed at Half-moon Bay

Friday, 16 July 2010


Heysham Obs
Very variable weather today! 

Ocean Edge/outfalls/offshore
Sandwich tern - a single flying out far offshore
Common Tern - adult outfalls & also one in non-breeding plumage for a short time
Arctic Tern - 2 adult outfalls
Whimbrel - 1
Great-crested Grebe - unseasonal bird offshore
Med Gull - 2 adults Red Nab, one almost in winter head plumage

Heysham N Reserve circuit
Very good for butterflies early afternoon, despite the wind.  15+ Gatekeeper, c80 Small Skipper, 3 Comma, 20 Common Blue, 15 Meadow Brown, 2 Large White, 3 Green-veined White, 2 Small Copper, 20 Speckled Wood, 1 Large Skipper plus a Silver Y moth

Thursday, 15 July 2010


Heysham Obs
Report time and despite arrival at just ofter 0600hrs, the only sightings today were two Moorhen running about on the grass outside the office window, three Lesser Whitethroats in the nearby bushes and an adult Med Gull on Red Nab on the incoming tide

Wednesday, 14 July 2010

Gross incompetence!

Heysham Obs
A quick post-tide check saw a 2CY Med Gull bearing a green left leg colour ring and an above-tarsus right leg metal ring still on Red Nab.  The Dong compound for the windfarm cable meant I couldnt get as close as I would have liked and..............aaaargh, no 50 x lens in the car, so the critical digits on the colour ring remained unread.  This bird has quite a distinctive 'peppered' head with no obvious mask & no flight-feather moult discernable other than greater coverts

An attempt to retrieve the situation with a scope & zoom from another car by the office was rewarded with superb views of the bird as it flew off to the south towards the Fylde where much more competent ring-readers lurk......... 

Also one adult Med Gull on Red Nab

"Lots" of Sedge Warblers on Middleton IE

The third Elephant Hawk-moth of the year was just about it in the interest stakes due to a strong SE wind blowing into the window

Tuesday, 13 July 2010

Sun and wind and mist nets

Heysham Obs
...........are not a good combination.  The short early-morning weather window was accompanied  by full sunlight and this neutralised the best of the Middleton net sites with zero birds caught in it compared to about 40 yesterday.  A short ringing session at Middleton and the Heysham NR CES were highlighted by another juv Grasshopper Warbler (Middleton) and the first Treecreeper of the year (& perhaps the last?) at Heysham NR.  Most Treecreeper records at Heysham involve wandering July juveniles or birds with tit flocks in autumn.  A few years ago, it appeared to be joining Jay as a maturing-tree-related coloniser of Heysham NR with at least one ringed bird in residence, but the last two years have seen a return to former (scarce) status

Coastal stuff
Whimbrel - one north harbour wall
Med Gull - 3 x adults/3CY Red Nab & area (wingtips not seen on two of these)
Redshank - 65 Red Nab/Ocean Edge
The rare micro Phtheochroa inopiana made an appearance in the hut trap.  About half a dozen previous from here/Middleton plus one from Stanah, Wyre Estuary = the VC60 status.  Other notables/new for the year were:  Garden Tiger, Bordered Beauty, 5 x Double Dart, Ph. coronata, U. lutealis and Limnacaecia phragmitella

Quite a bit to post from this last few days - this will happen soon, including Janet's pics!

Monday, 12 July 2010

Good week for the Spanish (or Basque)

Heysham Obs
Middleton IE CES & additional nets
Quite a good number of birds on the move this morning and the catch thankfully retrieved the situation with the foreign-ringed Reed Warbler which escaped as I was fiddling about with new reading glasses on the last visit.  This was the second consecutive ringing effort involving a Spanish-ringed bird, with the nesting female Sand Martin bearing a Madrid ring being retrapped at Crossdale, upper Hindburn on Saturday evening

The Reed Warbler was a breeding female (with a significant stage 3 brood patch) and the ring was from the San Sebastian Ringing Scheme (ESA), S.C. Aranzadi, Alto de Zorroaga 11, E-20014 Donostia-San Sebastian Basque Country.  About 100 birds were caught in total and these included 6 each of Grasshopper Warbler and Lesser Whitethroat and  two young Great Tits from the Heysham Nature reserve (2010) nestbox scheme.  11 unringed & two previously ringed Willow Warbler was a good  total for this site.  The most significant thing, however, was negative.  NO Reed Bunting, despite a large breeding population and two singing males within earshot this morning.  There must have been a complete first brood failure as a catch of this size at this site should have included 10-15 Reed Bunting.  Other sightings:

Kingfisher - one around (first of the autumn)
Swift - c30 south
Reed Warbler - probably four breeding pairs this year
Grasshopper Warbler -  two singing males still and an unringed adult female trapped in the central marsh along with two ringed adults and three juveniles in the western marsh

Male Black-tailed Skimmer in a mist net in Middleton IE central marsh!
Straw Underwing new for the year in the moth trap with the second Dingy Footman of the year

Sunday, 11 July 2010

Wheeling dots

Heysham Obs
A seriously guillotined seawatch produced the following in 15 minutes off Ocean Edge
Manx Shearwater - 3
Fulmar - 1
also a "possible Gannet" broke the horizon for a millisecond

Late stages of incoming tide
Med Gull - 2 (separate) adults Ocean Edge saltmarsh then displaced south, one of them losing summer plumage on head
Redshank - 16
Dunlin - 5 adults

Med Gull adult Bank End, nr Cockersands

Saturday, 10 July 2010

Go away, see you next spring

Heysham Obs
Red Nab/Ocean Edge incoming tide
Med Gull - 3 adults:  Mobile pair with the noticeably smaller female following the male, which immediately flew as soon as she approached and eventually headed off high to the south into the drizzle with the female trailing some distance behind.  Another adult losing its summer plumage on the head roosted on Red Nab
Common Sandpiper - one heard
Mallard - two female/imms Red Nab (unusual!)

A very poor catch included a Plain Golden Y (surprisingly rare here!) and one of the occasional visits from the fairly common saltmarsh 'grass moth' Pediasia aridella

Friday, 9 July 2010

Mysterious food source

Heysham Obs
Ocean Edge/Red Nab
Med Gull - 2 adults with c300 Black-headed Gulls dip-feeding on a smooth area of shallow water off Ocean Edge - possibly a concentrated emission from one of the outfalls
Greenshank - adult in Ocean Edge saltmarsh creek - the only wader!
Whimbrel - one Red Nab
Swift - 5 south in 15 minutes

Rather a lot of worn Uncertain & Rustic to sort out & nothing obviously new for the year, although Herald is quite unusual in July

Thursday, 8 July 2010

Good ratio of Meds

Heysham Obs
Red Nab/Ocean Edge
Med Gull - first juvenile of the "autumn" along with an adult and an adult/3CY (wing-tips not visible) amongst ONLY 18 gulls!
Whimbrel - one

White Satin new for the year continuing the theme of irregularly recorded species of presumed coastal origin in the south-westerly winds (commonest moth in the Walney Obs trap at the moment)

Wednesday, 7 July 2010

More Manx

Heysham Obs
Ocean Edge 0900-0930
A 20 minute scan for Storm Petrel around the 'red buoy area' & off the end of the outfalls revealed 5 or 6 distant Manx Shearwater flying "in and across", perhaps not visible from the north wall

Med Gull - adult on the receding tideline; not ringed below the tarsus, but couldnt rule out Czech bird

A White-line Dart was the first (and perhaps the last - not common here) of the year

Baby Wrens

Heysham Obs
The first belated baby Wrens of the year were ringed by the office along with single Lesser Whitethroat and Whitethroat juveniles

Whimbrel - one north wall (thanks Lou)

Moths were numerous but without any highlights; Marbled Beauty appeared to be new for the year and there were the 'routine' four Double Darts

Monday, 5 July 2010

Target seawatching and a blast from the past

Todays Archer's Dart - thanks John

Heysham Obs
Seawatch 0815-0844
Manx Shearwater - two distantly out at 0844 - the target met

Red Nab area dropping tide
Arctic Tern - one (ad)
Med Gull - one Ad

The fourth Archers Dart for the hut trap (two 1980s, one 1997) was presumably a result of a strong wind traversing the bay from known regular haunts in the Walney area?

Sunday, 4 July 2010

First Manx Shearwater of the year

Heysham Obs
A 1.5 hour seawatch by Tom Walkington just before midday saw:
Manx Shearwater - 1
Arctic Tern - 1

Arctic tern - two Red Nab
Common Tern - one Red Nab
Med Gull - adult Stage 2 outfall, two adults Red Nab

Saturday, 3 July 2010

The colourful and the dowdy

Heysham Obs
As is also the case on the Walney Obs site (see links), daily postings are currently thriving on a diet of rather good moth catches.  Todays stars were a Lime Hawk-moth (3rd record), two Elephant Hawk-moth (surprisingly the first in the hut trap since 2006), Barred Yellow (again perhaps surprisingly scarce in the hut trap)..............and Dingy Shears (a local dull brown moth) & five Double Dart (a seriously declining dull brown moth where this appears to be the best remaining site in northern Britain).  A map showing Double Dart decline has been published in the latest Butterfly Conservation moth newsletter.

Friday, 2 July 2010

CES disaster but an anticipated new moth species

Heysham Obs
Middleton IE CES
A Reed Warbler bearing a foreign-type ring inscription, almost certainly French, escaped before it had been read due to fiddling about with new glasses which allowed me to see about 6 inches in front of my eyes (i.e. read ring numbers) but not the process of getting the bird out of the bag!!!  Hopefully it will be a local breeding bird, not a very early dispersing adult and will be caught again.  The remainder of the catch was lower than it should have been due to a combination of sun and wind (I was hoping for cloud cover for the whole three hours) for the last 1.5 of the 3 hour session (7 Sedge warbler, one Reed Warbler plus the above).  Loads of Sedge Warblers around but not very mobile until it became too windy/sunny to net efficiently & most of them seemed to be in the net-free western marsh

Green Sandpiper - the inviting muddy edge of the central marsh attracted one in until accidentally flushed at some unearthly hour (0550ish!) whence it flew off NE
Med Gull - adult flew over towards the coast at about 0830hrs

No time/chance to check the outfalls gulls

A fairly decent catch, as the rain did not also involve a wind blowing into the window as happened during the great thunderstorm night earlier in the week.  The highlight being the first Blackneck for this site.

Thursday, 1 July 2010

Time to check gulls on a daily basis!

Heysham Obs
Ocean Edge high tide
Not the best time but still three full Med Gulls on view

Middleton IE
A mist net ride trimming session saw singing male Reed Warblers in the central and western marsh reedbeds and one singing Grasshopper Warbler in the western marsh.  Best was the first Common Sandpiper of the autumn on the central marsh pond

The Yellow (male = Channel) Wagtail family party seems to have dispersed from the Wenning Foot area with no sign this evening