Monday, 31 January 2011

Chilly Grey Morning

North Harbour Wall
Twite - 25 trapped (7 unringed, 18 retraps)
Med Gull - 1 Adult only seen

No Moths

Sunday, 30 January 2011

More To Come??


North Harbour Wall
Twite: up to 38 on seed. Only two unringed.

Red Fox: 1 large animal on Reserve 12.00hr

Saturday, 29 January 2011

Winter Greenshank surprise

Heysham Obs
Ocean Edge area (low tide)
Greenshank - 1
Teal - 13
2 Bar-tailed Godwit, 1 Snipe, 41 Linnet/Twite

Kingfisher - 1

Middleton IE/NR
Teal - 3
Pink-footed Goose - 89 north
Coot - 7
Mute Swan - 2

Heysham office feeders
Brambling - one male

North harbour wall
Twite - 27 (4 unringed)
Linnet - 1

Friday, 28 January 2011

Piledriving Twite

Heysham Obs
The 'sun in face' views of the Twite on the nyger seed revealed just how vicious the feeding activity is with sand and seed visibly scattered at least 30cm around each bird.  'You've flicked sand in my face' might therefore have been the instigator of several squabbles amongst todays hordes

Twite - 105-110, with 85-90 of these flying off behind the sandworks.  Ring colours could not be discerned, given the light conditions, but there were at least 10 unringed birds
Med Gull - Czech-ringed adult on the railings

Thursday, 27 January 2011

Twite tonnage

Heysham Obs
North harbour wall
Twite - 103 - the highest count this winter.  At least 16 unringed, at least 10 red/white from winter 2009/10, one Machrihanish-ringed bird but only 7(/21) could be found of those ringed yesterday.  Very unusual to see so many at low tide as a proportion often utilise Ocean Edge saltmarsh - maybe there is no food left there?
Mistle Thrush - one in SD36V, then by the Twite feeder on the 46A side

Middleton NR
Pochard - 7 (one female) on the model boat pond
Teal - pair model boat pond
Wren - at least 3 in the wetland areas
Pink-footed Goose - skeins of 61 & 47 high to the NW, 450 or so blogging to the east over the bypass fields

Ringing recoveries
Another wadge received by NLRG yesterday & these are the most interesting involving Heysham, although the Twite locality is the equivalent of a Sedge Warbler at Icklesham!   Remember the Lesser Redpoll passage was very early this last spring and therefore the date is not "too early" for rapid transit passage:

Lesser Redpoll

X438172   4     13.04.10    Heysham Obs
Caught by Ringer  23.11.10 Queen Mary Reservoir (Surrey) 334 km

V240409  4M  08.03.10 Heysham north harbour wall
Caught by Ringer 20.07.10 Sanda Island (Argyll & Bute) 220 km

The first of the 'new 2011' moths, as opposed to last year's 'leftovers'/hibernators, in the form of a single Dotted Border

Wednesday, 26 January 2011

Red-throated Dot and more auklessness

Heysham Obs
A 20 minute perusal of the incoming tide early afternoon revealed a Red-throated Diver absolutely miles out, fortunately in very good light/visibility. Absolutely nothing else!

North harbour wall
Twite - a nice catch this morning of 37 birds which included a really surprising 21 unringed!  However, the unringed birds tend to be the first down on the food when a net is set but we had no idea there were so many.  Perhaps the same number were present watching the operation but a second catch was abandoned due to increasingly blustery rather cold conditions.  Most of the retraps were from autumn 2010 (2 from March 2010), perhaps surprising none of the several red/white-ringed birds from 2009/10 were in the catch.   This suggest the same 76 +/- 1-2 birds seen the other day.
Red-throated Diver - one far offshore early pm

Tuesday, 25 January 2011

Twite in the Rain

Heysham Obs
North  Harbour Wall early morning
Twite - 50 including 8 unringed.  Seen in unexpectedly heavy rain.
Linnet - 3 (1 ringed bird).


...............and a few more this afternoon (68+, assuming all Twite)

thanks Janet

Ocean Edge shingle beach high tide
Really nice selection of close waders including:
Ringed Plover (21), Grey Plover (10), Bar-tailed Godwit (2), Black-tailed Godwit (1) plus a load of Dunlin, Knot and Redshank........and two Skylark

Monday, 24 January 2011

Good numbers of twite

Heysham Obs
North harbour wall
Twite - a good count of 76 with at least 16 unringed, possibly many more, but flew off to the back of the sandworks before I could go through them all
Med Gull - one adult late pm

Heysham nature reserve
Brambling - at least three, possibly all five finches which flew off high to the south whilst 'topping up' were this species & no other calls heard

Ocean Edge south shore
Tide not far enough in for Jack Snipe
Ringed Plover - 22
Grey Plover - 7
Teal - male

Sunday, 23 January 2011

Brilliant Jack Snipe!

Heysham Obs
Whilst scoping some Linnets on the high tide shingle beach at Ocean Edge, a bouncing Jack Snipe was noted walking slowly up the beach towards the only sizeable rock.  As it neared this rock, a second sleeping bird was seen to be already there!

Ocean edge foreshore
Jack Snipe - two as above
Linnet - 13
Grey Plover - 3
Skylark - 3 together on shingle beach

North harbour wall/wooden jetty
Purple Sandpiper - at least one, possibly two but very mobile
Med Gull - the usual two adults (one Czech-ringed) by the anglers
Twite - c40

No sign of the Shorelark but has anyone checked the shingle beach at Crag Bank on the other side of the Keer?  Yellowhammer Hutton Roof Crag

Saturday, 22 January 2011

Innumerate foggy geese

Heysham Obs
Skylark - at least two SE over reserve but couldnt see them
Pink-footed Goose - either hundreds, thousands or tens over the reserve but couldnt see whether the same ones were going round in circles, or work out the direction!
Twite - 46 early morning, 45 later
Brambling - two office feeders early morning but flew off
Med Gull - two adults (including Czech bird) hanging around the anglers
Rock Pipit - one flew over the heliport towards Heysham Head c1230hrs

Cannon-netting at the heliport
This was an extremely well-organised operation by Richard du Feu and included many local ringers, including the Fylde Ringing Group.

207 Oystercatchers cannon-netted on the heliport late morning.  The weights generally appear to be very good and the number that had not completed their primary moult was very low. This ties in with the low numbers of birds found dead in the bay this winter which are normally birds that have failed to complete their moult (c/p 15 in just 4.5km of shoreline checked following a later spell of severe weather in early 2010).  The lack of a national increase in wader ringing recoveries (BTO pers comm) and a detailed intertidal study off Ocean Edge just prior to Christmas suggested that the waders were able to cope with frozen inner shore (or indeed snow-covered on the (neap tide) morning of 18th Dec).  There was some obvious displacement to (at the very least) nearby intertidal areas which were further from the shore and subject to longer 'defrosting' by tidal incursion  (similar 'evacuation' also noted by the observers in the Glasson area of the Lune estuary), but neither large-scale mortality, nor observation of excessively tame, 'arthritic' waders.  The obvious logic is that early winter severe weather, when birds are theoretically 'stronger and fitter', does not impact as greatly as post-New year spells.

Back to the Oystercatchers:
Out of ten birds already bearing rings, one was a Grampian bird. Ringed as an adult on 27/3/10 at an inland spring roost near Tarland and, as the date suggests, this is inconclusive as to whether it was a prospective local breeder or a migrant heading further north (presumably not an overshoot from a more southerly breeding site!).  Thanks to Richard & Raymond Duncan for this info.

Other retraps were ringed at Heysham as follows
2x 01/02/2006

4x 01/02/2010
3x 12/12/2008

The 207 birds were made up of:  181 were full adults, 9 hatched in 2009, 17 hatched in 2010

Short ringing session by the office (whilst finishing off the abovementioned intertidal report!) produced very little other than two unringed Robins and a very active welcome retrap Wren

Other sightings.
Pinkfoot were constantly calling from just above the mist between 9am & 1pm above Middleton Nature Reserve and Harbour South Wall area. The impression was that this was largely the same flocks trying to find a suitable place to land. Caught a few glimpses through the gloom, the largest flock seen was c250. There were c150 on the mud off Ocean Edge calling to the overhead birds.
Also on Ocean edge:
14 teal (come here when ponds are frozen)
2 bar tailed godwit
2 black tailed godwit
Stoat – This appeared to be moving young to safe ground (rocks on foreshore) ahead of the rising tide. But it seems too early in the year, it could have being moving an earlier kill (rat?).
Middleton Nature Reserve (only small pockets of open water and limited visibility due to fog)
2 mute
5 coot
2 moorhen
4 mallard
18 redwing

Friday, 21 January 2011

The rites of spring

Heysham Obs
This was going on at Middleton NR today!  Thanks Janet

North harbour wall area
Twite - c30 at dawn, 42 later
Med Gull - two adults
Purple Sandpiper - just one during lengthy vigil (thanks Sean)
Black-tailed Godwit - one off the north wall - very unusual north of the wooden jetty

Thursday, 20 January 2011

Apologies for another blank day

The only ornithological titbit from Heysham today was the fact that the calm sea kept the Oystercatcher roost on the seawall instead of the heliport grass!

Wednesday, 19 January 2011

Where have all the Moorhen gone?

Please could anyone visiting the Heysham area tomorrow either post on here, e-mail me the stuff or put on LDBWS site.  Thanks.

Heysham Obs
Malcolm had a nil Moorhen return on Middleton at the w/e, despite a previous week of wet, soggy and warm weather and a significant return by other wildfowl and Heysham NR was similarly devoid of any waterbird (of any sort) action this afternoon

Hey Nat Res Office area
Coal Tit - two unringed birds caught - most surprising at this time of year
Brambling - one at the feeder earlyish morning only
Siskin - 9 south at midday and one south mid pm
A walk around the reserve mid-pm included the following: 2 Wren, 5 Blackbird, 3 Song Thrush, 4 singing Great Tit, 2 singing Dunnock, 3 singing Robin, 3 Bullfinch

North harbour wall
Just 5 Twite seen on a morning visit but the mound was not walked.  No other observations

Tuesday, 18 January 2011

Update tomorrow

Sorry no postings today so far

Monday, 17 January 2011

Winter gnats have a ball

Heysham Obs
A quick walk round the reserve saw loads of 'winter gnat' type things but a paucity of non-tit insectivores to eat them with just 4 singing Robin, one Wren and three (non-singing) Dunnock.  Best was a Reed Bunting which then flew over to the golf course

North harbour wall first thing
Twite - 36 on the seed and a further 24 nearer the harbour mouth
Linnet - just one
Med Gull - Czech-ringed adult

No sign of Purple Sandpipers or anything offshore on the fairly calm sea, but visibility not so good after 3/4 mile

No moths

Pink-footed Geese 36  flew north in two flocks (16 + 20)

Sunday, 16 January 2011

Monsoon part two

Heysham Obs
The forecasted clearance didnt happen!

Teal - two in the Heysham nature reserve marsh where the reeds have just been cut/cleared
Twite - at least 32 north wall
Linnet - low single figures north wall (39 birds in total in mixed flock, but mobile)

No Little Gull or any sign of Purple Sandpiper or Meds

Saturday, 15 January 2011

Lovely weather for ducks to reappear

Heysham Obs
No temptation to go London weekend rubbish tipping, the key word being 'weekend'.  Amazing that as soon as the work in north Kent finishes, this=Slaty-backed Gull happens and knocks on the head a possible fuel-free-trip.  Plan B was a pre-work very wet weather trawl around the north and south of the harbour and only one of the 'usual candidates' played ball and a second one during a short afternoon excursion:

Twite - 47 at the feeder, then flew to the harbour side of the sandworks
Little Gull - adult stage 2 outfall pm, but not morning

Middleton NR
Quite a few wildfowl back, indeed, a very good count of Teal for this time of year:  46 Teal, 8 Tufted Duck, 3 Pochard, 1 Goldeneye, 17 Mallard, 2 Mute Swan, 3 Coot but no Moorhen seen (thanks Malcolm)

A walk from Gate 38 to the wheel and back saw nothing at all in the harbour other than 2 Cormorant & nothing in the 'outer mouth' of the harbour. Wet!

Friday, 14 January 2011

Pink-feet head north

Heysham Obs
After the shame of yesterday's moth-only post, despite being at HNR all day, a brief visit to Ocean Edge foreshore was in order:   No sign of the ad Little Gull on the outfalls

Pink-footed Goose - c160+c70+about 100 or so indiscernable 'grey geese' in the mist = all heading north over the sea/mudflats about 0955hrs
Black-tailed Godwit - 2
Twite - 45 morning only
Coot - 2 back on Middleton
Goldeneye - female Middleton
Mute Swan - 2 Middleton

No moths!

Thursday, 13 January 2011

Creepy-crawling out of hibernation

Heysham Obs
A Chestnut was in the Heysham moth trap this morning.  Interestingly a trap put out last night at a very sheltered woodland site at Millhouses held "leftovers" from early winter with 44 Mottled Umber, a single (late) December Moth and 3 Winter Moth.  No hibernators there and no 'new' 2011 moths like Early Moth or Dotted Border.  The numbers of late emerging Mottled Umber (and indeed the December Moth) are presumably a continuation of the 'knock-on' effect of the early unusually severe freezing weather (which included two short milder interludes which also led to mass belated emergence) since mid/late November.  This looks like being a longer period of mild weather and it will be interesting to see what the next few nights produces, surely starting with a lot of Chestnut/Satellite coming out of hibernation.   IF (and its a bit 'if') you have shelter, worth running your trap at least the next two nights before it gets a bit wild and woolly

Apologies to any birding purists for this posting

Wednesday, 12 January 2011

Disappearing acts

Click the BTO ringing blog link for some amazing Little Egret recoveries from Britain & Ireland ringing in e.g. Canary Isles & Azores!

Heysham Obs
A short north wall trawl included a dose of stale Mother's Pride type stuff in the direction of a few seagulls.  Not a single Med responded - not the first time this has happened in damp conditions!   Similarly well-attended outfalls (BHGs) were devoid of Monday's Little Gull

Purple Sandpiper - 2 on the wooden jetty
Black-tailed Godwit - 2 Ocean Edge (along with 2 Bar-tailed and 3 Grey Plover)
Twite - 20 on the seed in the morning
Pink-footed Goose - 45 (f) south

Tuesday, 11 January 2011

Britains most birdless sea area?!

The latest addition to the Heysham year list - 2010 was a good year, perhaps surprisingly after the 2009/10 winter, but history suggests you should never take this species for granted here, although the maturing woodland has seemingly recently given it 'guaranted annual' status.  Thanks Janet

Heysham Obs
15 minutes of repeated scans covering almost 180 degrees, in perfect visibility and at high tide on a 'millpond' produced............not even a seagull.  Then a Red-throated Diver was seen miles out way to the north.  It'll be better after a few days of gales have churned things up this coming weekend.  Much better inshore, but the Twite seem to have disappeared (see below).

Purple Sandpiper - 2 outer section of wooden jetty, presumably one of these earlier on the Near Naze
Med Gull - 2 adults on the railings next to the anglers & presumably the 1CY recorded in autumn 2010 was a surprise package during a bread-feeding session there early afternoon (thanks Pete)
Red-throated Diver - one far offshore

Heysham Nature Reserve 
Treecreeper - one photographed by Janet
Robin - 5 singing/ticking late pm
Wren - 2 calling late pm
Woodcock - one 'flushed' from the alder woodland late pm

Twite - prolonged disturbance of the usual feeding area on Sunday may have contributed to the lack of birds there since

Monday, 10 January 2011

Little Gull and Kittiwake under the belt in fresh onshore-ish winds

Heysham Obs
The usual 8 species of gull which are found in wet & windy south/westerlies

Little Gull - adult Heysham 2 outfall lunchtime
Kittiwake - adult behind IOM ferry until No 8 buoy, then flew out
Med Gull - adult in the harbour
Twite - is someone feeding them by the centrica offices?  c33 there mid-morning
Red-breasted Merganser - 2 in SD35Z
Purple Sandpiper - one seen briefly on the outer section of the wooden jetty 

No moths!

Sunday, 9 January 2011

Black-tailed Godwit return and the usual stuff

Heysham Obs
This received today (thanks Richard)
Black-tailed Godwit - colour-ringed/flagged bird
Ringed 16.07.08 Knappsstadir, Fljot, SW of Siglufjordur, N Iceland
Seen subsequently:
20.08.08 Thurstaston Shore, Dee Estuary, Cheshire
28.08.08-8/10/08 Gilroy Nature Park, West Kirby, Merseyside
19-21.01.09 Gilroy Nature Park, West Kirby, Merseyside
also on 21.01.09 Thurstaston Shore, Dee Estuary, Cheshire
06.02.09-24.02.09 Gilroy Nature Park, West Kirby, Merseyside
27.02.09 Thurstaston Shore, Dee Estuary, Cheshire
01.03.09 Gilroy Nature Park, West Kirby, Merseyside
07.03.09 Thurstaston Shore, Dee Estuary, Cheshire
11-12.03.09 Gilroy Nature Park, West Kirby, Merseyside
29.04.09 Inner Marsh Farm, Dee Estuary, Cheshire
07.05.09 Inner Marsh Farm, Dee Estuary, Cheshire
22.05.09 Inner Marsh Farm, Dee Estuary, Cheshire
13.11.09-14.01.10 Thurstaston Shore, Dee Estuary, Cheshire
01.02.10 Heysham Ocean Edge foreshore, Lancashire
18.02.10 Cockersands, Lancashire

This species regularly commutes between the Dee and Morecambe Bay

North harbour wall
Twite - 26 (7 unringed)
Med Gull - one adult
No additional reports from any of the birders present

Saturday, 8 January 2011

Slow thaw, returning wildfowl and a Kingfisher

Heysham Obs
Middleton NR
2  Mute Swan, 3  Moorhen, 3  Mallard, 7  Teal, 1  Goldeneye, 1  Woodcock, 1  Pheasant, 26 Fieldfare, 1 Redwing, 1 Pink-footed Goose, 4 Bullfinch

Ocean Edge
4-6 Black-tailed Godwit, 1 Bar-tailed Godwit, 2 Grey Plover, 1 Snipe, c36 Twite, c6 Linnet, 1 Reed Bunting and 3 (grounded) Skylark 

Red Nab
41 Turnstone

South harbour wall area
Kingfisher - 1

The first Parsnip Moth of the year was the sole occupant

Friday, 7 January 2011

A grey miserable day

Heysham Obs
Teal - 12 Ocean Edge saltmarsh
Black-tailed Godwit - 12 Ocean Edge saltmarsh
Med Gull - 2 adults north wall (one Czech-ringed)
Twite - 26 north wall
Twite/Linnet - 16 Ocean Edge saltmarsh

No sign of any Purple Sandpiper or the GND at high tide

Thursday, 6 January 2011

Great Northern Diver!

Barn Owl by the new roundabout on the bypass - right on the eastern edge of the recording area - about 1730hrs

Heysham Obs
Great Northern Diver
What appeared to be a winter adult was showing very well around the outfalls/wooden jetty for just over 30 minutes around midday, before swimming 'out to sea' (thanks Sean)
Rock Pipit - one south harbour wall
Mistle Thrush - one south harbour wall
Twite - 68 north wall/south wall, 13 Ocean Edge saltmarsh edge
Purple Sandpiper - TWO again on the wooden jetty this morning.  The 2011 appearance of the Stone jetty individual could just have been a reflection of poor coverage in that area, but this is emphatically not the case at Heysham with lengthy EIAs as well as plenty of casual coverage.  At least one additional bird also took up residence in late 2009.  Interesting mid-winter movements but where from?
Teal - male OE saltmarsh edge
Linnet - 2 OE saltmarsh edge

Wednesday, 5 January 2011

Routine stuff

Heysham Obs
Brambling - one at office feeder
Raven - one over office
Med Gull - 2 adults harbour
Twite - c50 on seed
Cormorant - another high winter count of 57 on wooden jetty
Woodcock - single below Obs Tower (45E) and one NE corner (46A)

Tuesday, 4 January 2011

Fairly birdless off the path nature ramble

........around Heysham Nature reserve produced two Woodcock, but an absolute dearth of small birds with e.g. no Wren (including circumnavigating the whole reedbed area=prime winter habitat), Robin or Dunnock

Heysham Nature reserve circuit away from the feeders, including all round the wetland area 
Woodcock - 2
Blackbird - 3
Song Thrush - 1
Moorhen - 1
That seriously was it!!

North harbour wall
Twite - 47
Med Gull - ad in the harbour, another ad roosting on the old Fisher's roof - both at high tide
Meadow Pipit - one sandworks
Pied Wagtail - 1

One Winter Moth in the trap

Monday, 3 January 2011

Red-jacketed mutt produces the goods

Heysham Obs flushing a Jack Snipe from Ocean Edge saltmarsh........"the only thing they are any good for" was the opinion of a colleague this morning, who was trying to do a wader high tide survey on a dog-infested Barrovian beach!

The other thing this morning was a very quirky year list order with Med Gull before ANY large gulls (I've been inland until today) and the wader sequence from New Year's day being:  Lapwing: Woodcock: Snipe (SD66), then Turnstone at exactly the same time as Purple Sandpiper (& before anything else like Curlew/Oystercatcher!).  This was a product of concentrating on the road/avoiding anglers on the way to the Twite feeder, then driving & scanning the wooden jetty

Ocean Edge area
Jack Snipe - one as above
Black-tailed Godwit - 8 Ocean Edge saltmarsh
Mallard - 4 Ocean Edge saltmarsh
Wigeon - 88
Grey Plover - 8 Red Nab
Bar-tailed Godwit - 6 Red Nab
Linnet - 2(+?) saltmarsh
Twite - 16+ saltmarsh

Harbour area
Twite - 20 (4 unringed, 6 with red/white, rest from last autumn)
Med Gull - adult following ferry
Purple Sandpiper - 1 on wooden jetty
Red-breasted Merganser - female harbour mouth

The first moths of the year comprised a Mottled Umber and a Winter Moth

Just to the north of the Obs area, a large rowan tree in Westfield Grove, off Albany Road, Morecambe west end held 11 Waxwing (following earlier sightings of up to 4 this week) - plenty of berries left

Sunday, 2 January 2011


For the first time, a blank day just after New Year - without having time to trawl all the personal blogs, it seems all the year listers came yesterday, as we were hoping for further reports of the usual targets.  We've either been getting the our usual 10km Square January surveys out of the way [plus in the process adding valuable Atlas Roving Records] or getting work on high moorland tops out of the way after rumblings of a minor repeat of December's weather coming up!

Back to the usual input tomorrow.  Apologies for a wasted journey to the site 

Saturday, 1 January 2011

Thanks to New Years day listers

Heysham Obs
Happy new year to all

Tom Walkington kindly relayed the following sightings:
Purple Sandpiper - single showing well and two reported by at least one observer
Twite - at least 30
Med Gull - 2 adults
Red-throated Diver - one offshore