Thursday, 30 June 2011

Moths steal the show

Heysham Obs
Barred Red was a very scarce highlight in the office trap this morning - most of the conifer feeders have been recorded at some time or another but they are predictably scarce. Also another Blackneck (the 5th in total and 4th this year)

Ocean Edge incoming tide
Med Gull - 3CY on Red Nab

Middleton NR

Black-tailed Skimmers showed well today.  Thanks Janet

No sign of any red darters of any species, but conditions a little cool and windy

109 Red-necked Footman in daytime search along Thrushgill main forestry track, mostly resting half-way up rush or Tufted Hair grass stems .  NO access here but worth checking alongside other mature conifers?

Wednesday, 29 June 2011

The Gatekeeper saves the day

Heysham Obs
A Gatekeeper was the first of the year

Tuesday June 28th early Curlew influx

Heysham Obs
Sorry for the late posting - sorting pics out and distracted by something else cropping up!

Ocean Edge/Red Nab high tide
A high tide roost saw the largest number of Curlew I can remember seeing on Red Nab in June.  Apparently this coincides with larger than usual number on the recent June WeBS count from several sites, both local and national.  The implication seems to be early-returning adults, either failed breeders or an early start to the season in the April weather.  In this resepct, there seemed to be two moult categories; non-breeders in advanced wing moult and presumed adults which had just started.

Curlew - 206 Red Nab
Whimbrel - 1 (first of 'autumn')
Bar-tailed Godwit - 1
Med Gull - adult
Common Gull - just 82
Black-headed Gull - 230

Broad-barred White highlighted a reduced catch

Middleton NR
No obvious sign of Red-veined Darter; just a few teneral Common Darter, Black-tailed Skimmer, 4-spotted Chaser and Emperor.

 Thanks for these, Janet

Monday, 27 June 2011

Red-veined reincarnation

Heysham Obs
Heysham NR Obs Tower pond area
Reed Warbler - singing male on and off during the morning was most unexpected from this reedless location - late arrival or early departee?

Middleton model boat pond
Red-veined Darter - almost mature male showing very well mid-afternoon, then disappeared in duller light - seen at rest and over the water to the east of the spit
Darter spp - one, probably an early Common, along the western shoreline
Black-tailed Skimmer - c5
Emperor - 2 males
4-spotted Chaser - 2

Large catch with the highlight being the third & fourth Blackneck for here along with a load of "year-ticks" including Grass Emerald

A migrant Silver Y, one of two seen today, along with a 'barbiehopper'?  Thanks Janet

Hedgehog - 1 dead by Alder Copse boardwalk.

Common Toad - Huge numbers of minute toadlets swarming on the paths below the Obs Tower area.  Great-crested Newt by Middleton model boat pond

Heysham CES
Not particularly brilliant as regards local productivity with the full CES nets and two of the three next to the office producing two juvenile Whitethroat, two juvenile Chiffchaff, one juvenile Willow Warbler and a handful of tits, Robins, Wrens and Dunnock.  Also adult Lesser Whitethroat and the surprise in the form of a juvenile Coal Tit

Ocean Edge
Very quick check on the dropping tide saw an adult Med Gull  

Sunday, 26 June 2011

Autumnal signs

Heysham Obs
The Middleton CES was like a session in mid-July rather than the beginning of the last week of June.  Young Sedge Warblers, usually still in their nappies in late June, were ready to get their passports stamped, young Blackcaps had started to wander into the wetland area and the capture of half a dozen moulting adult Willow Warbler was also  unexpected.  Then you remember that everything arrived rather earlier than usual in April.............

Middleton NR
Siskin - one south at 0840 was the only evidence of 'vis'
CES ringing produced: Blue Tit (4 juv), Willow Warbler (1 juv, 6 adult), Chiffchaff (1 juv), Whitethroat (2 juv, 2 adult), Blackcap (3 juv), Reed Warbler (3 adult), Sedge Warbler (5 juv, 4 adult), Grasshopper Warbler (2 juv)

Ocean Edge/Red Nab
Very distant flock of waders included:
Grey Plover - 30, mainly in full summer plumage
Dunlin - c25
small wader spp - another 30 or so
Med Gull - adult and 3CY, but too late in the (dropping) tide cycle 

Saturday, 25 June 2011

First Little Egret for ages

Heysham Obs
Outfalls/Red Nab
The dropping tide, not the best time, saw:
Kittiwake - 2CY
Med Gull - one adult and the 3CY
Little Egret - one OE saltmarsh channel

Two photographed in the field by Janet yesterday.  The C. perlella info can be seen at the excellent UK Moths site:

Celypha striana and a variant of Crambus perlella (see link)

Friday, 24 June 2011

Four Meds and a moth

Heysham Obs
Outfalls/Red Nab
Med Gull - 3 adults and the usual 3CY

Anyone any idea whether this will be Narrow-bordered 5-spot burnet or 6-spot burnet!  Thanks Janet
Broad-barred White made its second appearance in the trap this year.  Otherwise the first Smoky Wainscot of the year and a rather unseasonal Common Marbled Carpet

Thursday, 23 June 2011

Thistle ermine reappears at last

Heysham Obs
Thistle Ermine has spread beyond its range as described in the excellent Goater Pyralid book, but a perusal of the VC60 MapMate database suggests, unless I'm missing some records, that there have been few records since a flurry in the early/mid 'naughties'...........until this year.  I was surprised to see that today's was the first record for here since 2000 and even more surprised to find an absence at the regular trap run from Hazel Morbay's residence at Sunderland Point until this year, presumably because recording started there in the downturn period about four years ago

Thistle Ermine HNR this morning (thanks Steve)
Described in recent days as a 'plague' at nearby Walney, the locally abundant White Satin also made its first of what are usually just a few annual records here

Please can we have some dragonfly weather, even if it does bring out the clegs!

Outfalls as viewed at long range from Ocean Edge
Arctic Tern - one adult briefly
Med Gull - Usual 3CY and a more distant view of what was probably an adult
A distant bird wheeling out of the bay was probably a Fulmar, but the heat haze was again problematic

See above, also Light Arches and three worn Shaded Pug - surely the end of the season for this local speciality.  We have been wondering where all the Shoulder-striped Wainscots were this year, usually our commonest wainscot species and the answer appears to be that they are emerging late with 20 this morning, many fresh

Wednesday, 22 June 2011

Jellyfish twitch ends in abject failure

Heysham Obs did the moth trap as the conscientious person who switched the light off yesterday forgot to put it on again

Ocean Edge/Red Nab
No sign of Lion's Mane
Med Gull - 3CY & Ad on sands south of Ocean Edge, the former asleep, the latter feeding

Tuesday, 21 June 2011

Orchid day

Heysham Obs
The second ever Blackneck (moth) for the reserve, following last year's first, was a rather predictable repeat, given the amount of Tufted Vetch.  A jellyfish reported by an Ocean Edge resident appears to be Lion's Mane - the first ever mention of jellyfish on this blogsite?  It's washed up near the slipway at the south end of Ocean Edhe foreshoer, by the saltmarsh creek.  Tides are dropping, so its going nowhere.

Various combinations of spotted & marsh orchid were on show at Middleton and Heysham today.  Also a single Twayblade and quite a good showing of Bee Orchid

Birds included just a single Ad Med Gull on a brief, rather heat-hazy visit to the outfalls

The final moth on yesterdays posting is causing some problems.  Any more ideas, any more pics of it, please Janet?

A Great Tit was doing an unusual distraction display as its young remained in a bush behind the photographer.  Thanks for the pics Janet.

Monday, 20 June 2011

The 'nice' day this week?

Heysham Obs
As tends to be the case on 'nice' days at this time of year, the heat-haze during the dailyish outfalls seagull check was horrendous.

Outfalls/Red Nab
Med Gull - adult and 3CY seen

Heysham Nature Reserve
Juvenile Sedge Warblers in four different areas in the wetland
At least two broods of juvenile Whitethroat
Two juvenile Lesser Whitethroat seen


Nothing dramatic in the hut trap but the 'nice' day served up some of the usual dayflying/day-disturbed moths for Janet.  Thanks for these pics which comprise Common Carpet, Straw Dot, Latticed Heath, Timothy Tortrix and Coleophora albicosta (thanks Nick and another reason for getting a proper computer screen at home!)

Sunday, 19 June 2011

More not quite worth a seawatch wind

Heysham Obs
Outfalls/Red Nab
Kittiwake - 2CY 'reappeared'
Med Gull - adult and 3CY
Both Common and Black-headed Gull topped 300

Peach Blossom opened its account

Saturday, 18 June 2011

Larophilic WeBs

Heysham Obs
Ocean Edge/Red Nab area
Med Gull - adult, 3CY and 2CY - all unringed
Black-headed Gull - leucistic bird with 'blackish' head a pitfall in flight at long-range, c270.  Early juv with rather unsteady flight on the outfalls.
Common Gull - c280
Little Gull - 2CY on end of outfalls briefly, then couldnt be found

Friday, 17 June 2011

Marsh Pug tracked down at last

Heysham Obs
The elusive day-flying Marsh Pug has been subject to the usual searches on two days this year but was not located until this afternoon.....and then wouldn't keep still!  Thanks Janet - you are on a 'roll' with quality day-flying moths!

Also YESTERDAY afternoon, a Burnet Companion moth was located at Middleton NR on a bank near the boundary with Ocean Edge - almost 1/2 mile from the location of the 2001 moth (thanks Steve).

Burnet moths are in various stages of development at the moment, with a adults already having emerged, yet this larva is only just ready to pupate today:

Outfalls/Ocean Edge incoming tide
Med Gull - unringed adult
Common Gull - c220
Black-headed Guill - c150

Thursday, 16 June 2011

Maps and numbers day

Bee Orchid, Silver Ground Carpet and Common Whitethroat photographed today.  Thanks Janet
Heysham Obs
Work-wise at the computer and also in the form of today's rather modest novelties, two Map-winged Swift in the moth trap and, in the field, the long-winded Narrow-bordered Five-spot Burnet moth, along with the more marketable Six-spot burnet

Red Nab/Ocean Edge
A mistimed visit saw most of the gulls having disappeared due to the high tide but a 3CY Med was still sitting on the sea

Ringing recovery
The French ringing scheme seems to have got its act together with today's receipt of a load of Sand Martin controls ringed on the Lune and also this from Middleton showing how early adult Sedge Warblers depart the country:

Sedge Warbler
Ringed:  Middleton NR      Ad male        16/7/09
Caught:  Tour aux Moutons, Donges, Loire Atlantique, France  31/7/09    

Wednesday, 15 June 2011

Burnet Companion surprise

Heysham Obs
Janet Packham photographed a Burnet Companion moth between the office and the classroom today in association with Mother Shipton.  The level of observation in this area is reasonably good (& Mother Shipton regularly recorded), so must be occuring in very low density (one at Middleton NR several years ago was not repeated................but they are not known to disperse).  Photo later.

Outfalls/Red Nab
Med Gull - the first returning birds with a single adult and 3CY
Common Gull - 170
Black-headed Gull - increase to 157
Ringed Plover - the single chick has now fledged & is on the foreshore (PS non-op land pair)

Burnet Companion (top), Mother Shipton and Chrysoteuchia culmella taken by Janet on a quick browse on the 'plateau', between the classroom and the office.  The only other record of Burnet Companion in this area was by the 'no swimming pond' at Middleton NR in 2001

Moth trap
This wasnt bad either, highlighted by the first Broad-barred White, Double Dart (common here), Small Clouded Brindle, Barred Straw & Single-dotted Wave of the year............and a different Obscure Wainscot (3rd record)

Tuesday, 14 June 2011

Eilat origin for Lesser Whitethroat ring

Heysham Obs
Thanks to Pete Kinsella for checking out to find that this bird was ringed at Eilat on spring passage on 10/3/09

This was not expected.  The iris was very 'muddy' - "typical" of a 2CY and the outer tail pattern/state of tail feathers were also suggestive of that age.  Furthermore the ring looked like it was put on last week - how on earth did it stay so 'new-looking' for so long in a wide variety of climatic conditions.  I wonder where it was nesting in 2009/10?

Not so good today on the western side at Middleton NR with very poor capture rate in fairly good conditions.  No juvenile Grasshopper or Sedge Warbler was especially disappointing, although it is a little early for the latter and only a handful of odds and ends were caught in a four-hour session

Sedge warbler pics from Middleton by Janet.  Thanks for these:

Obscure Wainscot was a welcome repeat after the first record from both Middleton and Heysham in 2010.  Surely an actinic in the reedbed in the next few days will reveal more as the hut trap is a reasonable distance away from the wetland habitats?

Monday, 13 June 2011

Little Ringed Plovers pay a visit

Heysham Obs
Outfalls/Red Nab area 0830-0900
Common Gull - 210
Black-headed Gull - 39
Manx Shearwater - 4 together out and across (skimming the mouth of the bay at long range)
Gannet - one as above
No sign of any Kittiwake or Med Gull

Middleton NR evening visit (Janet)

Large Yellow Underwing was warmly welcomed into the trap for the first time this year

Recent site visits
If the recent Israel contacts (see 'visitors') are indeed ringers, would be grateful for the ringing details of the Lesser Whitethroat, please, as I have a newspaper article to do for Thursday morning at the latest & would like to include this.  Thanks - please email to

Sunday, 12 June 2011

Israeli-ringed Lesser Whitethroat

Heysham Obs
Both Middleton and Heysham CES were carried out this morning and both produced major surprises

Middleton CES saw a (probably 2CY) male Lesser Whitethroat loosely accompanying a brood of 'independent' young and therefore presumably a local breeding bird.  This possessed a rather new-looking Israeli ring (Y60214).  This appears to be the 7th Israeli-ringed Lesser Whitethroat to be found in the British Isles, with 9 British-ringed birds in Israel.   These are ringed/caught on spring passage in Israel as the species takes a more easterly route on its spring migration (thanks Richard)  

Heysham CES saw the first Swallow of the year..............bearing a British ring which is definitely not from the local group.  Anyone who rings Swallows will appreciate the chances of this happening are quite small.

"Better than perhaps could be expected" as regards numbers of juvenile birds, given that Middleton has been rather wet and windswept this last month or so.  A few Lesser Whitethroat, Whitethroat and Sedge Warbler plus a single rather "old" juvenile Grasshopper Warbler were caught, with a few juvenile Lesser Whitethroat also caught on the Heysham CES

Saturday, 11 June 2011

Mediterranean jelly

Heysham Obs
Ocean Edge/outfalls
After the lowest post-sunset temperatures I can remember in June - 1.5 C at Botton Head/Cross of Greet as early as 2215hrs -  the morning check of the outfalls was ironically greeted by the worst heat haze for some time.  A flight view finally confirmed that a 'wobbling' 2CY Med Gull was along the tideline.  Nothing else of note

Amazing there were any - just TWO in the usually superb Millhouses trap last night - but the only mild surprise was an unseasonal Common Marbled Carpet

Friday, 10 June 2011

Big gulls and mini-moths

any guesses?

Med Gull - 2CY with quite a bit of black on the head briefly on the seaward end of Heysham 2

Gull roof-nesting census
Lesser Black-backed Gull - 69 visible nests/broods in the Heysham area with a majority on the old Fishers building (24 pairs).  This includes 3 on Ocean Edge reception!  17 visible nests/broods on Middleton Industrial Estate but several roofs difficult to observe here & needs re-censusing from the high point between MIE and the caravan site.  An unknown, but probably small, due to deterrants, on Power Station roofs which were not visible
Herring Gull - 34 visible nests in the Heysham area with half of these on the old Fishers roof.  Includes one pair on Ocean Edge reception and the same comment as above applies to some of the Power Station.  Just 4 visible nests on Middleton IE (but see above)
Great Black-backed Gull - certainly on territory on the top of the Fisher's building early in the season but no sign today of adults or hatched young

These exposed roofs have been 'hammered' by strong winds +/- rain during especially the last week of May and the numbers (as exemplified by the apparent GBBG failure) appear to be lower than expected, although all previous years have seen part-censuses 

Now is the time to look for Large Skipper before they are 'swamped' by and 'lost' amongst the huge Small Skipper numbers at this site.  Then an easier to identify shot of Crambus lathoniellus (I think that is the correct "grass moth"!!).  Thanks Janet.

Thursday, 9 June 2011

Marsh pugless

Heysham Obs
A thorough search by pug expert Brian Hancock failed to find any Marsh Pug this lunchtime.  Maybe they emerged early this year and have been finished off by the recent unsettled weather

The only bird observations were:
Common Whitethroat feeding young by the office
2CY Kittiwake - single on Heysham 2 outfall
Arctic Tern - single on the seaward end of Heysham one outfall

Moth trap
Middle-barred Minor, Eudonia mercurella and Hedya nubiferana were all, I think, new for the year

Wednesday, 8 June 2011

More Visitors than Moths

The final nestbox brood of young birds ringed today.  A fair season with successful broods of 4 Blue Tit and 9 Great Tit.
Wren - family party of parents and young - south end of  Landscape Strip.
Common Whitethroat - family party by east end of Nature Park.

Moth Trap
4 individuals only this morning were indicative of the cool clear night with easterly wind which deters moths from entering the hut trap.

Tuesday, 7 June 2011

Outfalls routines

Heysham Obs
Low tide on the outfalls was not a complete blank

Med Gull - 2CY on the tideline
Arctic Tern - one seaward end of Heysham One
Kittiwake - 2CY on the mudflats
Black-headed Gull - c40
Common Gull - c120
Canada Goose - flock of 14 approached from the south and headed NE over the reserve

Lychnis was new for the year and, perhaps surprisingly, not annual here

Monday, 6 June 2011

Check the pager before you head in the opposite direction to Heysham!!!

Heysham Obs
Oblivious to the breaking news to the north-east of my house, a 2CY Kittiwake was observed on the outfalls

21 Dunlin, 33 Curlew on Red Nab (no Sanderling today with the Dunlin)

Pair of Ringed Plover with 1+ chick just inside the power station fence at Red Nab (nested on the non-op land about 300m inland from the seawall)

The visit to the north-east was memorable for the twenty seven (or eight?) year exorcism of the Calf of Man (I was supposed to have been on there visiting John Calladine when the 'had to be there on the day' bird turned up) and especially for the hospitality of the people on Hartlepool Headland.  OK, they are probably used to birders wandering around the various nooks and crannies, but the response to the doctor's garden impasse in late afternoon, where initially only the nimble managed to scale the wall or climb on to the back of transit vans, in the form of "ladders for all-comers" was brilliant and should surely be captured in tomorrows papers.  I used to visit this site regularly when petrol was cheaper and have always enjoyed this perhaps unique 'urban' birding and the good humour of the locals.   The only problem was the "Mr Whirl" van which hovered temptingly for much of the afternoon.  Eventually succumbed mid-afternoon - the first genuine junk food for 18 months!


Sunday, 5 June 2011

Rarity search unearths a Water Rail

Heysham Obs
Nothing eastern had drifted within earshot this morning, although HNR is not an easy place to find mute skulkers.  However, a careful search of HNR was definitely rewarded atlas-wise

Heysham Nature reserve circuit - all in SD46A section
Water Rail - judging by the noise, a breeding pair in the reedbed - perhaps with small young
Reed Warbler - two singing males, one perhaps just that but the other  was then seen carrying food
Reed Bunting - singing male and female with food (an upgrade to confirmed for 46A)
Mallard - female with 2+ young

Beware a runt 2CY Black-headed Gull
Black-headed Gull - influx of 2CY with at least 37
Common Gull - 153, mostly 2CY
Kittiwake - the usual 2CY

Grass Rivelet flushed from the northern boundary of HNR amongst Yellow Rattle 

Saturday, 4 June 2011

Sanderling surprise

Heysham Obs
A quick visit to the office was necessary, coinciding with high tide

Outfalls/Red Nab
Sanderling 16-17 in a tight flock on the rocks
Dunlin - one with above
Ringed Plover - 5
Common Gull - 46
Black-headed Gull - 7
Mallard - one male

Overnight trapping at Middleton confirmed that Silver Hook is resident there.  The office trap was highlighted by the first Mottled Beauty, Eyed Hawk-moth, Figure of Eighty and the "usual" Shaded Pugs.  A Mother Shipton was flying about next to the office

The Emperors patrol

Heysham Obs
Creepy-crawlies to the fore today as the weather allowed decent flight periods by dragonflies, but the May weather must surely have put paid to some of the early emergers in the balmy April weather.  In this respect, 4-spotted Chasers were much scarcer than they should be at this time of year with a morning maximum of just 6 at Middleton.  At least 2, probably 3 Emperors were on the wing there

Middleton NR
Reed Warbler - at least 5 singing males
Lesser Redpoll - the bird record of the day was a male in song flight over the model boat pond area.  This is a good atlas addition for the rich and varied SD45E!
Long-tailed Tit - party of recently fledged young ringed

Kittiwake - 2CY

Thursday, 2 June 2011

Mist net poles and mini-yurts

Heysham Obs
Its quite a challenge to your temperament getting up at some horrendous hour in the morning to find your mist net poles have been commissioned to construct a yurt.  This involves cutting them in half..........Fortunately enough poles were located to carry out the Heysham CES.  The "problem" at the Middleton CES was the usual one - wind a bit stronger than forecasted.  However, we 'got away with it' and the catches at both sites were reasonable as the sun was firmly kept in its place by some low cloud

There were no newly-fledged summer visitors, but a few territorial males were caught of  Sedge Warbler, Blackcap, Lesser Whitethroat and Whitethroat, so hopefully the nests themselves have not been washed or blown away.  The recently fledged tit/Dunnock/Robin season was, however, in full swing!

A quick check revealed one Arctic Tern and the 2CY Kittiwake

Decentish catch included Figure of 80, Dog's Tooth and 3 Shaded Pug

Some pics from two days ago (thanks Janet)

Wednesday, 1 June 2011

Slightly windy fare

Heysham Obs
Ad & 2CY Kittiwake
Arctic Tern - 2
Common Tern - 1

Offshore 0845-0915
Gannet - 2
Manx Shearwater - 1