Tuesday, 31 May 2011

In with Arctic terns, out with Canada Geese!

Heysham Obs
So May draws to a rather quiet close after arriving with a significant Arctic Tern passage.  There are two hours of daylight to complete the last of the first (of two) breeding season TTVs!  Thanks to Pete and Janet for preventing a blank entry and the theme was some wandering Canada Geese, more evidence that the strong winds this last week have left a bit of a trail of weakened Gannets and the increasingly ubiquitous 2CY Kittiwake

North harbour wall 0945-1045
Canada Goose - 10 floated in, followed by 9 flying in
Gannet - 3CY

Outfalls area
Gannet - two birds
Kittiwake - the usual 2CY below

Sorry my computer will not allow me to upload the pics - something to do with Google.

Monday, 30 May 2011

Long on moths, short on birds

Heysham Obs
Ocean Edge/Red Nab/outfalls 0905-0930
Gannet - one across and out
Manx Shearwater - 2 across and out - all very distant
Kittiwake - single 2CY outfalls (usual bird)
Common Gull - 237
Black-headed Gull - 1(!)
Curlew - 34 on Red Nab

The second site record of Pale Tussock highlighted a reasonable catch which included new for the year:  Epiblema cynosbatella, Dark Arches & Crambus perlella.  3 Shaded Pug at this well-established northern outpost for this species

Sunday, 29 May 2011

Whoops - not a good time to check the moth trap!

Heysham Obs
Another morning of strong winds, initially a bit too southerly for a decent seawatch, especially given the poor visibility much of the time.  JBP is better in this wind and was graced with 'one man and his persistence', as opposed to the Heysham scenario where a decent sea was left at the crucial time to check a moth trap!  Later, after the front/trough which the Long-tailed Skua was flying 'in' ahead of had passed, the wind went a bit more westerly and produced a few odds and ends, mostly Manxies

North harbour wall 0730-0900, 1135-1315
Gannet - 8
Manx Shearwater - 30 'in' & 24 'out', all but 3 of these 1200-1230hrs
Arctic Skua - dm out c1150hrs
Fulmar - one out
Whimbrel - late one 'in'

Outfalls/Red Nab
Arctic Tern - one
Med Gull - 2CY
Common Cull - c250
Kittiwake - TWO 2CY & adult

A decent catch with the following new for the year:  Shaded Pug, Scoparia ambigualis, Treble Bar, Garden Carpet, Swallow Prominent (scarce here), Marbled Minor agg, Mottled Rustic

Long-tailed Skua - at least one inner bay with presumably the same bird flying up the Keer, then appearing again off JBP (but see Solway count re-presumptions)

Saturday, 28 May 2011

Routine grotty weather seawatch

Heysham Obs
Some time during the last week, the eager anticipation of early morning seawatching went out of the window - the Long-tailed Skua possibilities dimmed to a highly unlikely straggler and with the majority of the "exciting rapid northbound seabird migrants" having "gone through", you are left with the more mundane adrenalin-deficient routine of looking at wandering 'Irish sea seabirds'............& too early for Storm Petrel possibilities.   At least one other person gave up after the Arctic Tern passage having better things to do than wait for one skua an hour.

North harbour wall 0740ish to 0900ish
Gannet - 23 out
Manx Shearwater - 2 out
Arctic Skua - dm 'in' at 0755 - distant

Red Nab/outfalls
Med Gull - 2CY
Kittiwake - adult and 2CY
Common Gull - 223

Friday, 27 May 2011

Now Blue Tits also shun the nestboxes!

Heysham Obs
North wall/south harbour pre-lunch
Gannet - 5 out, distantly
Kittiwake - 2CY outfalls
Sanderling - 5 'in' with about 10 Dunlin and at least one Ringed Plover

Heysham Nature Reserve
A pair of Blue Tits is nesting in another vertical 'pipe' near the classroom (thanks Janet)

One of two Silver Ground Carpet found by Janet:

Thursday, 26 May 2011


Heysham Obs
A wind window of sorts led to me taking a chance with the rain this morning.  The result was, after thinking I had got away with it, a prolonged period of heavy rain "forming" overhead, rather like relief rain half way up a mountain.  Managed to get three hours in which included a very wet net furl for the best part of an hour, with the second change of clothes needed after another torrential downpour as the nets were being taken down.............However, it wasnt windy!!

Middleton CES
'Highlights' were a ringed singing male Reed Warbler from ?last year and unringed wandering singing male Lesser Whitethroat and Willow Warbler.  There was an increase to four singing male Reed Warbler - typically late arrivals at this site

The 2CY Kittiwake still in residence

Thanks Janet

Included Ingrailed Clay

Wednesday, 25 May 2011

Great Tits shun the nestboxes

Heysham Obs
An adventurous Great Tit has seemingly managed to get away with an 'open-top' nestbox.  Lets hope the young don't get too wet in the next few days.  Thanks for the pics, Janet.

(I've been monitoring this nest and the young look pretty healthy and strong so far.  Both parents feeding at full tilt this morning.  They are close to fledging and hopefully will be successful (ajd).)
Not a lot of coverage today other than a 'routine' CES & moth catch

Blackcap - 2 unringed males caught amongst the small number of other breeding species and juveniles.

Fox - 1 crossing the Reserve entrance road early this morning. Fairly regular sighting - probably on a food gathering run for young.

Tuesday, 24 May 2011

More squall-free seawatching

Heysham Obs
A few bits seen entering the bay from JBP in the morning and Heysham on the early stages of the incoming tide, but the conditions then rapidly ameliorated and led to nothing on the evening tide

JBP/centre of Bay 0700-0900
Great Skua - singles reached JBP after being picked up 'central bay' at 0735 & 0745, the first went up the Keer, the last 'up and over' JBP & Silverdale
Gannet - 3-4

Heysham north wall/south wall 1500-1600
Arctic Skua - dark morph flew in and across c1530hrs
Gannet - 4
Manx Shearwater - group of 4-5 distantly across the bay
Kittiwake - single ad off north wall

Kittiwake - adult and 2CY in residence

Shoulder-striped Wainscot opens its account

Monday, 23 May 2011

Where were the heavy showers?

Heysham Obs
The lunchtime clear-out saw 8/8 cloud & driving rain & 'nil' visibility turn to 0/8 in the form of a well-defined line and blazing blue skies for the whole of the rest of the afternoon tide!  The seawatching started reasonably well, then went downhill with great rapidity, despite a decent wind.  Its no good without the squalls!

North harbour wall 1230 to 1400, then a brief visit late afternoon in awful light
Pomarine Skua - light adult blogging about 1245hrs, then flew 'in' quite close, then may have landed on the sea
Arctic Skua - dark morph in/across at 1325 (up to 7 dark-morph off JBP later in the afternoon)
Gannet - 2
Manx Shearwater - 3

Arctic Tern - 5
Common Tern - 2
Kittiwake - 2CY

Sunday, 22 May 2011

Instant reward for better timing

Heysham Obs
Too many early morning sandbank-fests have recently sapped the enthusiasm of seawatchers here, not helped by some of them being useless Plan B's after a failed CES attempt.  This morning was much better after timing with the early incoming tide as it covered the sandbanks.  However, a slightly earlier start might have been better as the weather then proceeded to clear up, wind drop and the only sightings after the first 40 minutes or so were a few Manx Shearwater

North wall 1135-1550hrs
Pomarine Skua - 3 light-morph in together - quite high in the sky & quite close in 1145hrs
Arctic Skua - 2 dark-morph in together, then landed briefly on sandbank before continuing in 1152hrs
Manx Shearwater - at least 15
Gannet - at least 11
Arctic Tern - up to 4 of the end of Heysham one outfall, at least one out
Razorbill - 2
Sandwich Tern - 2

Outfalls side
Kittiwake - 2CY Heysham 2

Saturday, 21 May 2011

Time warp and last-ditch CES visit two

Heysham Obs
The final chance of doing the CES Visit 2 suggested that it 'might' be ok from about first light for 3 hours, then it would be too windy.  What a nightmare CES Visit 2 has been wind-wise.  The attempt at first light was a miserable failure and in the end we managed 0530-0830 (thanks for your help, John; invaluable when you have multiple guy snaps!).  The morning was not without interest.

Heysham Nature reserve
Cuckoo - very brief visit to the office for more mist net guys produced one which seemed to fly out of the screening planting past the car park, then into the trees along the top path.  No calls. I think this is the first record this millenium from here of what used to be an almost annual visitor in the 1980s

Middleton NR 0530-0845
Spotted Flycatcher - on the same "used to be commoner" theme - one bounced out of a mist net and this is the nearest we have come to ringing one this millenium!
Redpoll spp - one northbound migrant at 0730hrs - late in the context of this year
Swift - 6 north
House Martin - 4 north
Swallow - 8 north
Grasshopper Warbler - two caught during the CES with one of these the first returning bird we have had from previous years (ringed as a juv on 12/7/10)

Outfalls early incoming tide
Kittiwake - 2CY
Med Gull - 2CY - same bird as last few days?
Common Gull - 288
Black-headed Gull - 5
No terns, but they have only recently been 'available' at low tide

Good!   Not many, but a new species for here in the form of Pale Tussock, a scarcity in Sallow Kitten and two routine year ticks; Clouded Bordered Brindle and Grey Pug

Friday, 20 May 2011

"Peaked" too early

Heysham Obs
Two probable Poms headed up the Keer and a single Arctic Skua up the Kent later in the afternoon, but the incoming tide watch around lunchtime was stunningly poor, as has been the norm recently.  However, there was a little flurry of stuff earlier in the morning in the more unsettled weather

North harbour wall 0800-0845ish
Arctic Skua - one dark morph 'in'
Gannet - 5 out
Manx Shearwater - 2 out and across
Whimbrel - 1

Outfalls area
Arctic Tern - 8 (seaward end Heysham one at low tide)
Common Tern - 1 with above
Med Gull - 2CY with above

However, an outfalls check on the later stages of the incoming tide was as unproductive as the lunchtime seawatch with nothing found other than c140 Common Gull.  The terns, Med and the Kittiwakes from recent days were not on view

Thursday, 19 May 2011

Outfalls variety

Heysham Obs
North wall 0600-0630
Gannet - flock of 7 out in second low-tide channel

Outfalls mid-morning incoming tide
Arctic Tern - four seaward end of Heysham 2, then sat on railings/rocks
Arctic/Common Tern - two seen very briefly with above
Med Gull - presumably yesterdays 2CY distantly and briefly on the outfalls
Kittiwake - yesterdays scruffy adult-type Heysham 2 outfall & also the 2CY

Ocean Edge foreshore
Dunlin - 1!

Wednesday, 18 May 2011

Seagulls and Whimbrels save the morning

Heysham Obs
A late start (anyone seawatching earlier on the incoming tide?) saw absolutely nothing over the sea 0945-1030, despite a bit of wind and white horses.

North harbour wall 0945-1030
Whimbrel - 8 flew north close inshore

Red Nab/Ocean Edge/outfalls 1035-1100
Med Gull - 2CY new in - this one has a well defined mask, black-tipped orange bill and a grey 'cast' over the crown between the masks.  Legs not seen (c/f rings).  First for a bit in a below-par passage
Kittiwake - the 2CY still on Heysham 2 outfalls, joined by a 'new in' rather scruffy adult-type
Common Gull - 287, one adult, c5 3CY, rest 2CY
Black-headed Gull - 9
Whimbrel - 18 on  Red Nab flew south towards the Lune estuary

Tuesday, 17 May 2011


Heysham Obs
However, I have just heard about 3,500 Dunlin & 400 Ringed Plover which need detailed scrutiny at Sunderland.....before some work is done!  Worth checking fresh wader habitat as well in the next day or so.  Wind dropped this morning, flattened out the sea but didnt drop quite enough for a Middleton CES effort.  The sea was mind-numbingly poor, especially the early incoming tide (often a good time for skuas) which scored zero on the 'notable' bird front, not even a passing Swallow

North harbour wall 0500-0545 & 0630ish to 0830
Arctic Skua - dark morph in at 0520hrs
Carrion Crow - two having a serious fight on the mudflats
[40 Kittiwake later at JBP]

Red Nab/Ocean Edge incoming tide
Kittiwake - 2CY stage 2 outfall
Whimbrel - 6
Common Gull - 247 (1 adult, 5 3CY, rest 2CY)
Surprisingly no small waders

Middleton NR mist net ride gardening
Reed Warbler - at least 2 singing males
Grasshopper Warbler - ditto

Monday, 16 May 2011

Waders and wheelers in the mist

Heysham Obs
Hopeless first thing with dreadful visibility but, as often happens in these conditions, a few birds flying 'out' came within visual range (just about) nearer & over high tide.  Peering into the mist undoubtedly favoured noticing the more obvious species i.e. Gannet and the single Bonxie, but I really dont think there was anything else!

North wall very intermittently to 0700-1100hrs
Gannet - 47 out, mostly 1030 onwards
Great Skua - one out 1037ish
Fulmar - one out 0730ish and probably another in the mist later
Whimbrel - 3 out
another wheeling thing in the mist may have been a Manx

Red Nab
2CY Kittiwake feeding in the surf at high tide

Ocean Edge foreshore
Sanderling - 2 in situ, joined very briefly by a flock of 5 which then flew towards Red Nab
Ringed Plover - 16
Dunlin - 18
Whimbrel - 9

Sunday, 15 May 2011

Some rewards in a marginal wind

Heysham Obs
Mike B and Pete C flew the flag for the early morning seawatching today and it was mainly a bit distant with intermittent spells of poor visibility and low, rather too uniform cloud

North harbour wall 0700ish (?)-1030, 1900-1935
Arctic Skua - 5, with all but one before 0910hrs, LM in evening chasing terns
skua spp - one, thought to be a probable Pomarine, but too distant
Sandwich Tern - 2
Gannet - absolute minimum of 25 individuals
Common Scoter - 4
Red-throated Diver - 1
Arctic Tern - at least one of 4 in the evening being chased by the Arctic Skua was this spccies, the others remained unidentified as only briefly glimpsed 

Saturday, 14 May 2011

Northwesterly lie-in

Heysham Obs
The original posting was grossly unfair to the JBP seawatch team who were in place this morning before some of us had crawled out of bed.  It was, I'm afraid, one of those "one hour of tedium and 10 seconds of excitement" routines, which characterises most inner Morecambe Bay seawatching once the Arctic terns have gone through and the less numerate and far more erratic skuas are the 'sole' order of the day.  JBP produced two distant skuas prior to any Heysham coverage and these were thought to be Poms.  However, they would not come closer into the bay and were lost in the direction of Morecambe.  Much later in the morning (c1115hrs), dark and light Arctic Skuas were blogging together in the inner bay
Heysham north wall 0815-0845
A bit too north-westerly, as was forecast.  However, should have been here a bit earlier, but assumed others would be in place here or JBP!  Needed to leave to do the WeBS count & keep half an eye on the sea but nothing else of note was seen pre-1000hrs
Arctic Skua - dark morph in and across towards Ulverston direction
Gannet - distant adult in
Auk spp - 3 together out, probably Razorbill

Ocean Edge foreshore
Wheatear - biggish female

Heysham head
Wheatear - one

Friday, 13 May 2011


Heysham Obs
Another Plan A or Plan B morning was much more clear-cut decision-wise than last Wednesday and it doesnt look good for getting the second CES visit in at Middleton, even this early in the time-period.........as its going to get even windier & this includes some north-westerly rubbish (= 'lie-in!').

North harbour wall 0600-0715
Pomarine Skua - lm picked up on a 'sweep' and had probably lifted off the sea as it didn't pass through the optics earlier trained on the outer bay.  It then flew into the bay and landed rather distantly next to two other skuas which had also been missed!  They looked identical in size to the Pom, but one bird appeared to be a dark morph, very much the minority amongst Pom Skuas and not a morph I have seen in the bay, although fairly regular on the Solway.  So best to leave as unidentified as they floated even further out of sight at an awkward rear-on angle.  Anyone at JBP? [c0617hrs]
Arctic Skua - dm in 0608hrs, much closer inshore than the other skuas
Arctic Tern - one out (a surprise as there have not been any in recent days)
Red-throated Diver - one in very high
Gannet - flock of 5 out
Common Scoter - a typically anarchic straggle of c15 heading out far offshore was the only 'notable' sighting after 0625hrs

Office area
Spotted Flycatcher - one on the fence between reserve and non-op land, then flew strongly towards the classroom

Thursday, 12 May 2011

Struggle over the sea

Heysham Obs
Unless there was a massive overland skua passage in the first hour after dawn (we were a bit late), it was predictably poor this morning with a combination of fairly useless uniform low/medium cloud with little in the way of precipitation.  In these conditions with a fresh WSW, you need a mixture of squalls and clear slots to produce the goods

North harbour wall 0610-0840
Arctic Skua - 2 dm 'in' 0615, presumably the same two out at 0648.  lm 'out' at 0620.  Conditions not encouraging for overland migration with fairly low uniform cloud level
Gannet - 12 out
Red-throated Diver - 2 out
Swallow - 3 'in'

Ocean Edge/Red Nab
Mallard - one male
Whimbrel - 2

Wednesday, 11 May 2011

Early morning skywatch rewards

Heysham Obs
Tricky seawatching this morning in a light/mod south-westerly.  Conventional 1/2 horizon scope-watching would have produced one scoter, one red-throat, one Gannet and the Mute Swans!  All the rest of the stuff was along the top margin of the viewing field and probably just out of range.  Fortunately alerted to this quickly by the flock of Arctic Skuas which determined the binocular-scan-dominated strategy   This was Plan B if it was too windy for the Middleton CES. which it was.

North harbour wall 0540-0710
Arctic Skua - flock of 3 in at 0550 (2 dm, one lm), dm in very high at 0640
Red-throated Diver - 5 out, then circled up and headed towards Barrow, at 0555, one out, one out
Kittiwake - flock of 34 flew in high at 0558
Common Scoter - 6 in, one out, one out
Gannet - one out and across
Sandwich Tern - one in (the ONLY tern spp seen, including outfalls check)
Razorbill - one out (high!)
Mute Swan - 5 imms flew NNW across the bay towards Ulverston 
Swallow - 3 north-east

Tuesday, 10 May 2011

Compare and contrast

Heysham Obs
Stephen Grimshaw has seen one of our Twite on Iona in the last few days, a new island tick for 'our' birds (one previously on Staffa).  It was ringed at Heysham in either October or November last year.  Thanks Stephen.

Yesterday east coast's Spurn had Swallows moving throuh at a rate of about 370 per hour, recorded 5306 birds of 60 species including Spoonbill, Montagu's Harrier, Red-rumped Swallow etc etc etc (see http://www.trektellen.nl/ for full details).

Today west coast's Heysham had Swallows moving through at a rate of about 30 per hour, recorded 40 birds of 6 species (slightly more than yesterday!!) including such exotics as Gannet and Whimbrel.  Mind you the observers at Spurn were there for over 12 hours whereas both yesterday and today the Heysham counts were only for about a 24th of that time.  So who knows what was missed????? (I think I can guess).

0730-0850 Wind S F5 & early afternoon, wind SSW, no cloud
Red-throated Diver 2 in then on
Whimbrel 4
Swallow 32
Gannet 2 in early, 1 across afternoon
Common Tern - 1 on Heysham 1 outfall
Arctic Tern - 8 on Heysham 2 outfall
Eider 3 on and 1 out
Arctic Skua - dark morph blogging outer bay on incoming tide

Pied Wagtail (female) gathering nest material and taking it to the Centrica area.

Mother Shipton x 3 sheltered bits of dog track/nature park

Hey ho, that's the way it goes..... Jean.

Monday, 9 May 2011

Most of the terns move on

Heysham Obs
Only time for two quick tern counts today.  Below is a pic of that local rarity, a Common Tern, on the outfalls recently.  Small numbers of Common Terns have been on the outfalls for several days now, giving instructive comparison with the more numerous Arctic:

Taken just after the afternoon cloudburst (thanks Janet)

Outfalls area & north harbour wall
Arctic Tern - 15 in the morning, just 10 mid-afternoon on the tide
Common Tern - one in the morning, not seen near high tide
Swallow - 9 north in the only 9 minutes of morning observation!
Whimbrel - 2 at high tide, Red Nab

** With a bit of luck and more SW in the wind and a few nice heavy showers, we could have a few skuas this week but the tide times are currently awful!

Sunday, 8 May 2011

Any landbirds slipping through?

Heysham Obs
Another morning where you had the feeling that something was being/had been missed.  A female Whinchat on the north wall mound was the only definite landbird migrant encountered as ringing was knocked on the head by early morning rain and Ocean Edge foreshore lacked any Wheatears until later in the day

Outfalls & area
Arctic tern - c85, much reduced numbers by the late afternoon (21)
Black Tern - 3 throughout
Common Tern - c5
Whimbrel - 7
Wheatear - 2
Dunlin - 10
Middleton NR model boat pond
Common Sandpiper - 1
Tufted Duck - 2 pairs
YESTERDAY: 4 Common Sandpipers and what appears to have been a sub-adult male Red-breasted Merganser

NB The suggested answer to the title post from nearby Walney was 'yes' [male Golden Oriole]

Saturday, 7 May 2011

Spanish plume brings a bit of a damp squib

Yesterdays Reeve's Pheasant (no news either way today!).  Thanks Brian

Heysham Obs
The sort of morning where the amount of vegetation at this site mitigates against the possibility of just one decent bird being found somewhere (as does the usual Saturday lack of observers!).  We await the reports from the more vegetation-friendly likes of Hilbre, the Calf, Bardsey and possibly Walney to see if they have a Subalpine Warbler each nestling in a Heligoland trap (or Rossall?!)

North harbour wall 0710-0730
Arctic Tern - 22 'in'
Black Tern - one 'in' (with above)
Swallow - 47 'in'
Whimbrel - 2 'in'

Outfalls/Ocean Edge
Arctic Tern - 84
Common Tern - 4
Black Tern - 2
Dunlin - 36
Ringed Plover - 9
Whimbrel - 7

Belated ringing by office
Got what it deserved with a start as late as 0730 with new-ringed birds amounting to two Whitethroat and a Lesser Whitethroat plus a Whitethroat male first ringed in 2007.  Then the wind got up.

Great White Egret Griesdale Hide Leighton Moss

Friday, 6 May 2011

A tale of two supercilia and a Reeve's Pheasant twitch

A couple of pics from yesterday at high tide (thanks Janet).  The photo ops were flagged up on the LDBWS site and apparently there was quite a turn-out of long lenses, but havn't seen any pics from anyone else.   Any photo blogs with any on, please?

Heysham Obs
Donald Sutherland's 'negative waves' utterances came to mind as Plan 'B' was set in motion on the north harbour wall in the (unforecasted??) rain.  No chance of any ringing and nothing on/passing over the 'offshore' sea.   To pass the time, I wondered how the RSPB would brand this morning and during the struggle with my limited vocabulary, it all started to 'go positive' closer inshore.  Must try this strategy again!

North harbour wall & area 0555-0655 & 0900-0930
Swallow - 27 north in first hour, 241 0900-0930, mainly 'in-off(ish)' over the red buoy, then along the harbour
Sand Martin - 6 north in second period (5 together)
House Martin - 3 north plus 3 north in second period
Sedge Warbler - on 'in-off', landed on the railings, then on to the mound
Whinchat - male by the twite feeding station - excellent bird to brighten up the morning!
Wheatear - 2 heliport area
Blackbird - male with food alongside the mound - the ONLY confirmed breeding species in SD36!!! (its somewhere in the gorse clump)
Black Tern - 5 on the seaward end of Heysham one outfall, 4 (of these) on Heysham 2 outfall early afternoon
Common Tern - 3 as above, at least one Heysham 2 early afternoon
Arctic Tern - c65 on Heysham one & two outfalls, assuming none are out of sight on the beach

Ocean Edge foreshore (low tide)
23 Dunlin and 6 Ringed Plover.  Memo: check the high tide for displaced Kentish - think positive!
Whimbrel - minimum of 7

Below the Obs Tower
Reeve's Pheasant - one roadside along with ordinary Pheasant for comparison.  Apparently a "pheasant release" on the nearby golfcourse recently

Non-operational land
Nesting Ringed Plover plus 2+ eggs

This seemed to be the first 'big' day' for gull nest-building with material being gathered over a wide area by the whole roof-nesting population!

Thursday, 5 May 2011

Large Swallow movement and terns in situ

Heysham Obs
Outfalls/north harbour wall
Arctic Tern - just 12 heading off NE but a gradual build-up on the outfalls from 55 first thing to 272 at 1000hrs
Black Tern - as above; just one first thing building up to 9 by 1000hrs
Common Tern - 4 on outfalls
White Wagtail - one
Swallow - sample counts gave 170 0700-0730, then 41 in just 5 minutes c0900hrs
House Martin - 2 north-east
Gannet - one distantly

Heysham NR
Two mist nets were only set for two rounds to see what was happening.  Seemingly not a lot, with the only migrant capture being a Lesser Whitehtroat.  No evidence of Wheatears at any of the coastal sites - usually a good indicator of passerine 'action' 

Wednesday, 4 May 2011

By no means running out of steam

Heysham Obs
...........unlike Heysham One Power Station during a big chunk of the early morning!!  Another good day today, but suffered numerically in comparison with yesterday, although the species range was pretty good!

Heysham north wall 0530-1030, then intermittent to midday +/- outfalls side
Little Gull - flock of 4 2CY flew in-off at c1050hrs, then fed on outfalls
Bonxie - one 'in' pre-0630
Arctic Skua - dm 'in' 0730, d(ish)m in 0757hrs
Arctic Tern - 466 'in'/NE with 156 still on the outfalls (1050hrs) & similar numbers mid-afternoon
Black Tern - just the one seen migrating, with a maximum of 11 still on the outfalls late morning, still 10 mid-afternoon
Common Tern - 3 on the outfalls and area late morning, 8 in afternoon
Little Tern - one 'in' very early on
Redpoll spp - 2 north
Swallow - 55 north
White Wagtail - 3 north (also 3 Pied of unknown status seen)
Blackbird - female seen gathering food alongside the mound
Common Sandpiper - 2
Wheatear - 1

Middleton NR
Marsh Harrier - probably a 2CY male flew high to the north on a line east of Middleton NR at about 0935hrs
Tree Pipit - one north
Shoveler - male flushed from the 'fence' pond - flew east
Reed Warbler - 2 singing
CES ringing revealed a few Willow Warbler moving through 0600ish as the nets were being set and a small influx of (still migrating) male Sedge Warblers (7 ringed), much to the annoyance of the established locals!

One, but a good one, by no means annual:  Male Muslin Moth

Grey Seal inshore

Tuesday, 3 May 2011

One of those great days..........

A really nice selection for Janet during the afternoon in the Red Nab area  Thanks Janet

Heysham Obs
North harbour wall and outfalls area, coordinated, almost exclusively 'inshore', watch 0600-1030
Arctic Tern - 8,153 seen in total, with all but 195 heading of north-east or east prior to 1030hrs.  About half of them headed off in situ, the rest flew in over the sea past the north wall.  c195 remained on the outfalls at 1030hrs as the tide dissipated the feeding area.  Arrival at 0600hrs saw an absolute minimum of 1,000 already in situ resting on the beach or feeding on the outfalls and observation from the south of the harbour suggested many birds either cascaded down out of the sky from the SE (including a flock of 7 Black Tern) or flew in along the tideline from the south
Black Tern - 50 recorded, mainly later in the morning as the wind went more round to the south-east:  4 'in' 0700hrs, one 'in' 0758, 5 'in' 0919, 6 'in' 0934, 7 inland 0938hrs, 4 'in' 0945, one 'in' 0955, 8 'in-off' then 'in' 1012hrs.  This left 11 on the outfalls at 1030hrs which seemed to just 'appear' in the latter half of the morning.  The number on the outfalls increased to 14 early afternoon
Little Tern - probably the same two blogging for at least an hour
Common Tern - about 13 seen, mainly blogging, but also 3 loosely attached to Arctic flocks flying 'in'
Sandwich Tern - 2
Little Gull - adult and 2CY tigether 'in' 0925
Arctic Skua - very little time to actually watch any offshore 'lines' and stuff may have been missed (e.g. Scoters and Gannets) - dm & lm 'in together 0613, dm 'in', then landed on the sea 0920.
Swallow - minimum of 84 north-east
alba Wagtail - 11 north-east (4+ White)
House Martin - 2 north-east

Heysham NR CES
No evidence of massive migration (c/f Hilbre yesterday) with 4 Willow Warblers caught

Red Nab high tide
As well as roosting terns, the following were seen:
Dunlin - 270
Ringed Plover - 25
Sanderling - 1
flava Wagtail - 1
Whimbrel - 6

Just the one, new for the year in the form of May Highflyer (the one the other day was confirmed as Ruddy)

Monday, 2 May 2011

Heysham one outfall soup kitchen pulls in the terns

Plenty of singing birds today (thank Janet)
Heysham Obs
Everyone's 'eggs were in the seawatching basket' this morning, when the much reduced wind did not get up as anticipated until after 0800hrs and landbird coverage might have been a better option for some of us, plus early morning mist nets.  Even more difficult than yesterday to count the terns and the figure of c500 could have been an underestimate by at least 200, based on perceived numbers on the outfalls which 'melted away' instead of flying north-east over the sea.  In this respect, one gang of 17 Arctic Terns flew inland over Ocean Edge during a brief visit; no chance of logging these from the north harbour wall

North harbour wall 0615 onwards
Arctic Tern - c500 during the morning stint with many flying inland and overland to the south of the harbour, therefore very difficult to keep tabs, especially as many were lingering on Heysham One outfalls which seemed to be churning out a lot of invertebrate soup! A further influx early afternoon involving about 200 birds and 110 were still on the outfalls when observers left mid-afternoon
Marsh Harrier - ad male-'type' (in the absence of close views and feather scrutiny) flew rather laboriously low over the sea NE at 0706hrs (just east of Clarke's wharf sandbank)
Med Gull - 2CY with 'blackish' head - surprisingly the first for a few days - didnt linger
Black Tern - one lingering on the outfalls and area for at least 2 hours and almost certainly another with a further influx of Arctic terns early afternoon
Common Tern - one-two Heysham one outfall
Common Scoter - 8+16 distantly
Gannet - one on/over horizon!
Whinchat - male by centrica
Swallow - c50 NE
House Martin - 1 NE
Sandwich Tern - just one offshore and 2-3 on a buoy
Greenfinch - one overhead was rather unexpected this late
Red-throated Diver - one in
Willow Warbler - one singing by Gate 38 in SD35Z!

Heysham Nature reserve
Wheatear - 2 by office & one north wall & 2 Ocean Edge
Garden Warbler - singing male by obs tower pond 0800hrs

Red nab
Dunlin - 670
Whimbrel - 12 (also 9 flying NE north harbour wall)

Sunday, 1 May 2011

Arctic Tern feeding station

Heysham Obs
Same weather, different behaviour by Arctic Terns this morning and a bit of a nightmare to count!  However, the plus side was excellent views had by all, as birds often fed very close to the north harbour wall, even in the harbour entrance.  Apologies if anyone turning up for an 'event' felt neglected (as per 0700-0900 LDBWS site advert) - there were so many birders around, it wasnt possible to be certain what 'category' people were in!  There was also very little 'instruction' required as it was a choice between very close Arctic Terns, even closer Swallows and not a lot else.

North harbour wall
Arctic Tern - at least 990 passed through, with counting stopped for over an hour whilst a "pool" of up to 500 birds fed in the channel between Heysham one outfalls and Heysham Head, with some backtracking.  Many of these birds headed overland above Heysham Barrows/Head, confirmed by Tony from a birdless JBP where the highlight was Mike Harding in a camper van!
Arctic Skua - l/im in at 0850hrs, dm out 0945
Gannet - 4
Sandwich Tern - c13 only
Common Scoter - c60 distant birds in at least two groups
auk spp - one
Red-throated Diver - one in, one out
Swift - 1 in - first of year for here
Swallow - minimum of 234 in by 0930hrs
House Martin - 4 out
Whimbrel - 1
Mute Swan - 3 in
Linnet - 3 in
alba Wagtail - 1 in

Red Nab
Dunlin - 790 - all in summer pluamge & a very high count for there
Ringed Plover - 22
Whimbrel - 14
Curlew - 7
Oystercatcher - c270