Sunday 30 September 2012

An unexpected weather window of quality

Heysham Obs
Apologies, but there was no way I could predict the clear slot and swing to SW between about 1000 and 1115hrs before it closed in again.  This would have been a superb mini-event (c/f the cancellation of the migration event schedule for today) watching in the latter stages of the incoming tide on the outfalls

Outfalls area via Gate 38 and Red Nab (two observers) 1000-1115hrs
Leach's Petrel - Re-assessing the situation, it appears that there may just have been two, possibly three birds this morning (not 3-4), including two fairly close together flying out off the end of the outfalls at about 1045hrs.  No further sightings as the wind swung back to just S of SW and the visibility seriously reduced in heavy rain
Black Tern - Juvenile on outfalls (definitely not American, but prompting the walk out there to check!)
Common Tern - juvenile outfalls
Little Gull - adult outfalls
Med Gull - 12 on outfalls (commonest gull near high tide!) - 7 1CY, 2 2CY and 2 adult-types, one probably a 3CY - also two 1CY north harbour wall
Pale-bellied Brent Goose - one on the sea by the wooden jetty, then 'disappeared' - probably flying low to the south whilst scanning for Leach's
Pink-footed Goose - 15 south
Shag - juvenile in the harbour mouth - appeared to fly out to sea, certainly round the wooden jetty, not landing on it
Unlike more sheltered sites, there was no Meadow Pipit movement during 1000-1115hrs

North harbour wall
Just occasional visits from the wide ranging Black Tern and 8 Pintail out, the vast majority of the observations unfortunately after the weather had closed in again 1115hrs onwards
One man and his dog flushed all the Oystercatchers off the heliport at high tide, apart from about 300 re-settling at the cafe end

Outfalls late afternoon
Ringed Plover - 27 on shore by Red Nab
Black Tern - still present on Heysham 2 outfalls 1550hrs

One each of Black Rustic, Pink-barred Sallow, Green-brindled Crescent and Red-line Quaker

Saturday 29 September 2012

Sampling mediocrity

Heysham Obs
Playing catch-up with work today so, unless the exercise tick-box produces the goods with a walk round the reserve in a minute, the day's fare comprised 30 mins of vis & 30 mins of sea/outfalls in the early morning.  No other visitors reported anything of note:

Walk round Hey NR reserve late pm it didn't with a singing Chiffchaff in the NE corner being an 'interest' straw-clutcher

Vis over the office 0815-0845
Meadow Pipit - 15
alba Wagtail - 7
Chaffinch - 9

Outfalls area & short seawatch
Pintail - flock of 11 south
Shelduck - flock of 4 south
Auk spp - two flying dots looked like razorbill
Med Gull - 3 1CY, one adult
Little Gull - adult
Common Tern - at least two juvs around

A few odds and ends including 5 Pink-barred Sallow and a Silver Y

Friday 28 September 2012

Bonxie provides a second-rate 'b'-word

Heysham Obs
Nothing to compete with nearby Fleetwood's Blyth's Reed Warbler although I don't think anyone has really searched for any passerines after yesterday's unproductive blitz and this morning's stiff westerly.

Office area early on
Meadow Pipit - c50 SE
No other vis noted other than 2 alba wagtail SE on the walk round early pm

Sea early morning
Pintail - 6 out (first of autumn)
Greylag - 3 out

Sea mid-morning at high tide
Great Skua - one flew into the Bay and across towards Ulverston
Common Tern - now three juvs on the outfalls
Med Gull - 2 1CY outfalls, 2 Ads also around
Little Gull - sat on the sea off Ocean Edge saltmarsh

Thanks Janet - will add the rest tomorrow

Heysham NR
3 Goldcrest and a Chiffchaff the best which could be eaked out of rather windswept cover

Moths & other insects
Red-line Quaker new for the year.  8 Speckled Wood and a Peacock on the butterfly census route also 1 Migrant Hawker and one Common Darter

Sunday migration event cancelled
The worst conditions here for nothing happening in atrocious conditions are a southerly gale (to the south of south-west) and driving rain.  This is well-forecasted for Sunday covering the whole time-period of the proposed event.  Therefore there is no point even attempting to run it as it is an outdoor field event with no indoor contingency.  Anyone who was intending to come and contact me during today, please leave your details and I'll suggest a better day to come along and experience the routine coverage we try and give the area every morning during migration periods.  Please indicate whether you are available weekdays or weekends only. 

Thursday 27 September 2012

What migrant window?

Heysham Obs
The only reliable weather forecast was the "red sky in the morning..............." as the atlantic weather pushed in much earlier than originally forecasted, including a huge splodge of cloud at dawn over the whole of Morecambe Bay punctuated by darker patches producing rain.  Unfortunately this little lot was materialising from the west-north-west and did not appear to either be holding nor dropping any gems from the east and it certainly blocked the vis mig over Heysham with huge numbers of birds heading south-east around the northern fringe (e.g. Caton Moor vis mig data).  The vis belatedly kicked in in fits and starts after about 1000hrs as the skies cleared.  So the last chance of anything decent grounded-passerine-wise in what has been an awful month - a lot of effort for relatively little reward - as the "not strong enough for any sustained seawatching westerlies" kick in again for the foreseeable future

Vis mig and grounded birds dawn to 1200hrs Heysham NR
Chiffchaff - 2
Goldcrest - c8
Blackcap - 3
Coal Tit - notable numbers by this autumn's standards with at least 19 passing through in 6 flocks
Robin - 4 unringed birds caught early on
Blue Tit - one unringed bird
Wren - 3 unringed birds
Thrushes - no evidence c/f yesterday
Chaffinch - 149 SW, most early on
alba Wagtail - 39 SE
Pink-footed Goose - 31+77 SE
Meadow Pipit - 234 SE, almost all after 1000hrs, plus trickle after 1200hrs
Carrion Crow - one high to south
Redpoll spp - 2 SW
Grey Wagtail - 4 SE
Swallow - 23 SE, 12 seen late afternoon flying S together
Reed Bunting - 1 SE
Goldfinch - 19 SE
Siskin - heard once & one seen
Skylark - 1 SE

Outfalls area
Common Tern - juv
Med Gull - at least 2 1CY
Little Gull - Ad seen yesterday

A Herald (of not a lot!) was located in the trap first thing along with 4 Pink-barred Sallow, 2 Silver Y and a Green-brindled Crescent.  Drinker larva found by Linda & friend

Wednesday 26 September 2012

Lapland Bunting leads a mainly vis morning

Heysham Obs
After a predictable start with migrant Song Thrushes prominent, the rest of the morning was slightly disappointing as other night migrants proved to be thin on the ground and it was left to the overhead stuff to provide the quality bird with the exception of three separate scattered Treecreeper in the mist nets - the highest daily ringing total for this species!

Vis mig dawn to 1030hrs
Skylark - 7 SE
Meadow Pipit - 349 SE (a steady trickle afterwards up to at least 1530hrs)
Lapland Bunting - one quite low to the SE at 0735 accompanying a flurry of Meadow Pipit
Goldfinch - 47 S
Mistle Thrush - 2 SW
Swallow - 69 mainly north!  A number of small parties observed flying northwards still during the  afternoon over Torrisholme.
Cormorant - flock of 3 high to south
Grey Wagtail - 4 S
alba Wagtail - 21 SE
Kestrel - 2 singletons high and purposefully SE
Chaffinch - 49 SW, almost all early on
Woodpigeon - 2 SE
Siskin - at least 14 S (two "lots" heard only and counted as one bird)
Carrion Crow - 2 S
Linnet - 1 S
No perceptible movement by Greenfinch

2 Wheatear, 3 Chiffchaff, at least 3 Blackcap, 7 Goldcrest, one unringed Robin & Dunnock, at least 8 Song Thrush first thing which flew inland.  Three Treecreeper ringed.

At least 5 Migrant Hawker around (SD45E & 46A) but only one Common Darter seen.  Small Copper NE reserve, 3 Comma, Peacock, 2 Red Admiral and 3+ Small Tortoiseshell, at least 2 Speckled Wood.   Common Marbled Carpet NE reserve (SD46A) and c5 Nettle Tap seen in each of SD45E & 46A areas

Tuesday 25 September 2012

Silver Y weather

Heysham Obs
Silver Y moths seem to be thriving in this weather with 9 in the trap this morning.  Otherwise some birding from the car was the only sensible option:

Little Gull - ad outfalls
Arctic tern - adult outfalls
Tufted Duck - 17 model boat pond Middleton

Migrant search lunchtime
A west-north-west wind unfortunately decided to get up during a very short break in the rain (surely a very local phenomenon relating to being near the centre of this low) and what would have been sheltered sites off north-easterlies, harbouring migrants, were suddenly windswept! About 45 mins possible.
Goldcrest - at least 5
Chiffchaff - 2
Blackcap - one

Silver Y (9), Pink-barred Sallow and 3 Treble Bar in the trap

Monday 24 September 2012


Heysham Obs
Missed a clear slot 0700-0800 and that was the chance to post some vis to add to routine stuff observed in wet weather from a car.  Re-the national show-stopper: extracted lots of Magnolia Warblers from mist nets at Long Point in 1985 - superb birds, but not worth a charter.  Surprised it wasn't there this morning, but just don't understand meteorologically how this and the Swainson's Thrush arrived on Shetland accompanying a huge Yellow-browed invasion?  Redirecting from Iceland or Norway having been brought in by the remnants of Isaac's northerly track?

Ocean Edge
Wheatear - 1
Med Gull - 3 1CY, 2 2CY, 1 ad
Little Gull - ad

Middleton model boat pond
Tufted Duck - 18

A late Square Spot Rustic was unexpected; 5 Silver Y, Parsnip Moth, Pink-barred Sallow, Black Rustic

Sunday 23 September 2012

Weather falls between two stools

Heysham Obs
Not quite the cloud cover anticipated at dawn this morning and it was obviously too clear for any numbers of night migrants.  On the other hand, after a reasonable start, the SE wind 'kicked in' and knocked the vis mig on the head after about 0915hrs, especially Meadow Pipit.  However, the forecast certainly does look interesting this week, albeit hard to be certain of detail.  At the moment, it looks like 'game on' on Wednesday for the advice given yesterday, including finding the stuff which will be grounded in the bad weather the next two days!  A Red-breasted Flycatcher in one of the Sunderland Point gardens would be very nice!

Vis mig mainly by the office dawn to about 1000hrs
Tree Sparrow - one south
Grey Wagtail - just two south and another grounded on the NHW mound
Meadow Pipit - 411 SE (nearly all pre-0930hrs)
Chaffinch - 132 S
Goldfinch - 36 S
Sparrowhawk - 1+1 high to south
Pink-footed Goose - flock of 28 S
alba Wagtail - 44 SE
Linnet - 3 S
Redpoll spp 1+1 SE
Swallow - 36 SE
Greylag - 6 NW
Cormorant - one high to south
Coal Tit - flock of 4 moved through
Greenfinch - just 6 southbound highflyers counted as vis
Carrion Crow - 3+13 S
Grey Heron - 1 S

Meagre fare
Willow Warbler - one by office early on soon moved inland
Chiffchaff - c10 located with some obviously in situ, including an old retrap.  Some migrants however with 4 ringed
Blackcap - Two unringed birds and a retrap from two days ago
Wheatear - 2
Dunnock - 3 ringed
Robin - little obvious evidence of migrants but 4 new birds ringed
Goldcrest - just the four migrants located

New birds:  4 Robin, 3 Dunnock, 4 Chiffchaff, 2 Blackcap, 10 Meadow Pipit, 7 Chaffinch, 1 Long-tailed Tit, 1 Blue Tit, 1 Greenfinch, 1 Grey Wagtail, 1 Goldcrest, 1 Wren

Med Gull - 2 Ad, 1 2CY, 1 juv

Saturday 22 September 2012

A nice sunny day improves with time

Heysham Obs
Today was a simple case of how you cannot mix coverage of 'high blue sky vis' with trying to do a multitude of other things, especially at a lowland site with quite a bit of background noise.  Basically my vis coverage was awful with an element of self-delusion that multi-tasking was possible in these conditions.  For example, the number of (albeit high flying and 'purposeful') Swallows passing unrecorded was in the region of 99% judging by results from people who were really concentrating on vis at nearby sites (and the number attracted by a short spell of tape playing!).  They were still moving in the 'hundreds', along with Meadow Pipit, over Thrushgill in the late evening.   Tomorrow looks tasty for something easternish - a day for grilling coastal trees and the like with a significant influx of Yellow-brows on the east coast and northern isles today (e.g. 24+ on Foula)  - Monday possibly if the rain is later than forecast.  Date-wise, the first record of Yellow-brow here involved three birds on 22nd September 1985 in minimal pre-work coverage, albeit in rather special weather conditions which also produced multiple Red-breasted Flycatcher at nearby Walney (narrow band of 'grounding' drizzle within an easterly airflow round a high pressure).  Wanted:  a decent birder used to bush searching for the next two mornings!  Sites which could do with some coverage include the gardens at Sunderland, Potts corner woodland, Heysham Head, Heysham Smithy Lane, North harbour wall mound, Jenny Brown's Point and basically anywhere along the paths at Leighton Moss providing you dont cut yourself off from the migrant activity by spending time in a hide.

Vis mig dawn to about 0930hrs
The original unedited comment was: "A bit tricky with the blue sky and multitasking" - this was before the extent of the movements at other nearby sites was known!
Meadow Pipit - c350 SE - "probable underestimate"
Grey Wagtail - 7 SE (probably accurate c/f tape playing)
Goldfinch - 20 S
Chaffinch - 38 SW
Swallow - 13 SE (more at Middleton but chronically underestimated)
Siskin - flock of 3 W
Sparrowhawk - high-flying male south
surprised no corvid passage
Reed Bunting - none over HNR but 7 migrants ringed at Middleton

Mostly a net loss from yesterday, especially Goldcrest
Goldcrest - no more than 5 around
Chiffchaff - 4 HNR, 2 Middleton
Sedge Warbler - lightweight juv trapped first thing
Robin - not many with just 5 new ones ringed at Midd/Hey and not much ticking and chasing
no 'sylvia' warblers seen/heard

Coastal coverage 
Wheatear - two on the mound
Med Gull - 2 1CY, 2 Ad
Arctic Tern - ad
Common Tern - juv
Thanks Janet
Little Gull - ad
Little Egret - one in the saltmarsh creek in the morning (scarce this year!)
Thanks to Sandra and John

Waders - the numbers off Ocean Edge on the afternoon tide were unbelievable - almost like someone had flattened a wood ants nest with Knot & "presumed Dunlin" scurrying all over the place interpersed with more 'stately' Grey Plover, Bar-tailed Godwit, Curlew and Oystercatcher.  Light was awful and counting/identification of small stuff (good job there were no obvious 'peeps'!) very difficult so I just sat back and enjoyed the spectacle

Ringing at Heysham and Middleton
A lot of effort but, take away the Meadow Pipits, fairly poor fare for full coverage of HNR and Middleton:  Grey Wagtail (3), Meadow Pipit (34), Swallow (4), Reed Bunting (7), Goldcrest (4), Chiffchaff (4), Robin (5), Wren (2), Blue Tit (2), Greenfinch (4), Chaffinch (2), Great Tit (1), Dunnock (2), Sedge Warbler (1)

Red Admiral office buddliea for third day & one in the nature park, c6 Small Tortoiseshell, Comma
A circuit of the reserve mid-afternoon just added Speckled Wood but the main feature was not a single dragonfly seen!
Red Admiral nature park this afternoon - one of at least two around in what has been a scarce year for this migrant.  Thanks to Sandra and John

Friday 21 September 2012

Mipit fest

An early morning burst of Meadow Pipits was curtailed by rain but once the rain stopped the mipits poured through again.

Heysham NR
Meadow Pipit 721 - obviously a highly accurate count!
Swallow 89
Chaffinch 48+
Pink-footed Goose 22 - in one flock
alba wagtail 21
Siskin 15
Grey Wagtail 9
Goldfinch 7
House Martin 6
Reed Bunting 2

Goldcrest 10
Chiffchaff 2
Blackcap 1
Whitethroat 1

Mediterranean Gull - 4 juvs, 1 ad (unringed)
Little Gull - ad
Common Tern - juv

Ocean Edge
Eider 2 females
Shelduck 60

Middleton NR
Reed Warbler - juv
Goldcrest 10
Chiffchaff 5

Thursday 20 September 2012

What is Nadine going to do?

Heysham Obs
Wonderful weather this morning, no need to get out of bed other than normal work-related activities.  The next few days, however, are a bit of a forecaster's nightmare.  A 'dartboard' called Nadine is sat near the Azores and may end up over us by Sunday evening........or may not.  Tomorrow morning now has some possibilities with rain ceasing/very much easing off at dawn and a decent NE wind.  There is high confidence that Saturday will be a rare example this autumn of a calm clear good vis mig day with hopefully a few grounded bits and bobs, then Sunday morning may or may not produce the goods off a strengthening easterly

Ocean Edge etc (too late in the tide cycle for waders)
Med Gull - 4 1CY, 1 2CY, 1 Ad
Arctic Tern - one adult
Common Tern - one adult
Wheatear - 1

Thanks Janet

Office area
Goldcrest - 2

Not too bad.  Acleris emargana, a worn Ypsophola which has not yet been identifed, Eudonia angustea, Graden Rose Tortrix, a few Treble Bar & Common Marbled Carpet and single Silver Y & Pink-barred Sallow

Wednesday 19 September 2012

Vis mig dominated by a high decibel active harbour

Heysham Obs
Heysham Harbour, with the exception of the IOM passenger ferry, is all about freight boats and associated lorries coming and going.  The associated racket, like a tuneless Motorhead track, propelled towards us by a wind which was still a fresh north-westerly, put the lid on any awareness of all but the most obvious migration this morning.  No doubt loads of Meadow Pipit and Chaffinch were missed, judging by the immediate response from height when a Meadow Pipit tape was played from 0945hrs

Office area dawn to 1000hrs
Pink-footed Goose - 130+79 S
Sparrowhawk - 2+1 S
Cormorant - flock of 6 high to the south (definitely not tidal displacement)
Grey Heron - 1CY high to the west
Carrion Crow - 5 south, then east
Chaffinch - 30+ S
Meadow Pipit - 50+ SE, c90 by 1200hrs
Grey Wagtail - 4 SE
alba Wagtail - 20+ SE
Goldfinch - 4 SE
Swallow - 5 SE
Goldcrest - at least 15 grounded first thing
Chiffchaff - one grounded
Coal Tit - 1+1 south

Ocean Edge and area
Arctic tern - adult outfalls
Little Gull - adult Red Nab
Med Gull - at least 4 1CY, 1 2CY and 1 ad
Wheatear - 3

The less said about the ringing effort the better with the emphasis being on wasted & sleep-deprived effort.  The only Grey Wagtail opportunity involved at least one bird on a pole, negating firing, and what was supposed to be the 'last shower on the radar' mysteriously re-materialised, notably at 0920 when all seemed to be clear.  A Chiffchaff, Goldcrest, Coal Tit, Blue Tit (rare this year!), Robin and a few finches & Meadow Pipit were ringed.

Two Pink-barred Sallow and a Treble Bar

Tuesday 18 September 2012

A few terns and an overdue first Red-throated Diver of the autumn

Heysham Obs
No-one could make it first thing this morning and nearby vis suggested we missed a similar effort to yesterday as also suggested by the trickle of Meadow Pipit after 0900hrs

A couple of satellite- tracked Ospreys retrospectively graced "our" airspace:
'Rothiemurchus' flew south just to the east of/over the reserve late am on 30/8 on a long migration which saw northern France being reached by evening
'Fiddich' flew across Morecambe bay on an approximate line from Ulverston to Cockersands, well within our seawatching range (!), late afternoon on 11/9
See the Roy Dennis site on the links for further information

Ocean Edge/outfalls pre-tide
Common Tern - juv and ad on outfalls and area
Arctic Tern - ad outfalls
Little Gull - ad outfalls
Med Gull - 3 1CY, 2 2CY, 1 3CY, 1 Ad outfalls/Red Nab

Sea 1115-1315 (thanks Ian)
Guillemot - 1
Red-throated Diver - 1 (IOA)
Pink-footed Goose - 110 SE
Med Gull - about 6 1CY around the harbour/outfalls at high tide, also at least one 2CY and the Czech-ringed adult

All change as wintry showers with hailstones peppered the night.  Far from the expected 'zilch' as no Treble Bars graced the wall, the egg packing revealed two new species for the year in the form of Black Rustic (2) and Green Brindled Crescent and one new for the autumn, Parsnip Moth.  The only other moth was a worn Rosy Rustic.  A bit of a memo to moth trappers who select their nights based on "nice conditions" - the two "worst" nights this week have been the most interesting!   This kind of weather certainly seems to produce the odd hour or two of suitable flying conditions during the lengthening night

Monday 17 September 2012

Clear gaps in the weather produce the vis mig

Heysham Obs
Vis mig 0700-0815
"Rolling" vis mig this morning - a mixture of checking the outfalls and listening, north wall and listening and outside the office produce the following obvious underestimate:

Meadow Pipit - 72 SE
Grey Wagtail - 2 SE
Chaffinch - c25 SE or temporarily grounded (all office area)
Linnet - 3 SE
alba Wagtail - 7 SE
Goldfinch - 6 SE (flock)
Swallow - 2 SE

Goldcrest - at least 2 by office
a few 'ticking' Robins

Pale-bellied Brent Goose - 3 together SW at about 1100hrs as seen from the north wall - couldn't subsequently find them on the mudflats south of Ocean Edge
Shelduck - flock of 8 SW
Med Gull - ad & 1CY north wall, 3 1CY, 2 2CY, 2 Ad outfalls/Red Nab and area
Little Gull - ad stage 2 outfall
Common Tern - juv stage 2 outfall, later in the bay by Ocean Edge saltmarsh
Fulmar - one out mid-pm
Whimbrel - late bird over nhw mid-pm
Wheatear - one heliport
Ringed Plover - 54 heliport (one cr bird read & sent in) and 23 Ocean Edge at high tide
Redshank - 410 Ocean Edge beach at high tide

A major surprise in the form of Toadflax Pug - very late in the context of the recent weather.   This is one of the few regular sites in the north-west and it seems to have become rather scarce here in recent years.  Other insects included a Common Darter and Meadow Brown by the dipping pond.  Acleris emargana by the dipping pond mid pm along with at least one Nettle-tap moth

Sunday 16 September 2012

A gap in the rain reveals a leachs

Heysham Obs
A short gap in the rain allowed better visibility from the north harbour wall and a Leach's Petrel was picked up slowly making its way out of the Bay at 1320ish.  Not without precedent, this was the only seabird seen.  Two cars bearing birders appeared, but left after about 5 minutes as the bird had moved on.  Clearly, despite all the efforts in the birding press with respect to seawatching and vis mig, there is still a long way to go on the educational front.........or a significant number of people are just not interested in birding which requires "speculative effort" after the known target has left.  I'll give the north wall another go in about 30 minutes time.

Ocean Edge/Red Nab pre-tide
Med Gull - 2 1CY, 2 2CY, 1 3CY, 2 Ad, plus adult Fisher's roof
Little Gull - ad
Wheatear - 1
Linnet - 46

Webs 'highlights' (most of the stuff displaced by high tide/wave action)
Cormorant - 64 wooden jetty and area
Turnstone - 261 wooden jetty, 31 Ocean Edge beach
Ringed Plover - 22 heliport itself, 15 Ocean Edge beach
Redshank - 260 heliport seawall, 21 Ocean Edge beach
Oystercatcher - 560 heliport seawall, 160 Ocean Edge

Very little: 10 Treble Bar, Silver Y, 2 Square Spot Rustic, Rhomboid Tortrix, Garden Carpet (= the most 'unusual'!) and Common Marbled Carpet.

Saturday 15 September 2012

Another little vis window

Heysham Obs
Calmer than forecast this morning and mist nets would have been an option.  The whoosh net, however, did the trick with 4 Grey Wagtail colour-ringed and four Meadow Pipit as we were packing up

Outfalls/Ocean Edge quick check prior to the tide
Med Gull - 5 1CY, 3 2CY and 2 Ad (4 of the 1CY on Heysham 2 outfall)
Little Gull - ad
No terns seen

Office vis mig approximates/gross underestimates (other than Grey Wag) 0700-0930
Meadow Pipit - 60+
Chaffinch - 25+
Grey Wagtail - 5 (4 ringed)
Swallow - 5
Pink-footed Goose - 45

22 Tufted Duck on model boat pond

An excellent catch considering the overnight conditions with 30+ including 12 Treble Bar, 7 Silver Y and Rhomboid Tortrix

Friday 14 September 2012

Pinkfeet but little else

Heysham Obs
A marginal-strength wind with a tiny fraction of north of west in it was predictably, on the first day of the blow, a bit of a waste of time for seawatching.  This was somewhat as expected but we all felt we needed to go through the motions of a bit of coverage

North wall 0700-1100ish
Auk spp - 2 out, one in
Skua spp - 1 very distantly out coinciding with definite Arctic at Rossall
Pink-footed Goose - 60+25+65+63+37+20+25+8 SE (303)
Wheatear - one
Med Gull - Czech-ringed bird plus a 1CY

Outfalls/Red Nab
Common Tern - one juv for second day
Arctic Tern - one with the above briefly
Little Gull - adult
Med Gull - 2 2CY, 2 1CY, 2 ad

Two Red Admirals on the buddliea, the highest count of the year!

Thursday 13 September 2012

A short vis mig window

Heysham Obs
A short window of calm before another few days of wind and rain saw a smattering of the usual suspects on vis mig and three Grey Wagtail colour-ringed.  A couple of low weight/fatless Robin were ringed but no other evidence of night migrants.  As I post this, the wind is getting up and time to take the nets down looming.

Office area dawn to 0900 (intermittent vis mig coverage)
Pink-footed Goose - flocks of c150+118+31+45SE
Swallow - 1 SE
Chaffinch - 31 S/SW
Meadow Pipit - 29 SE
Linnet - 2 S
alba Wagtail - 17 SE
Grey Wagtail - 5 SE (3 ringed)
Carrion Crow - 2 perceived migrants S
Robin - two ringed
Goldcrest - group of four passed through next to the office mid-morning
Chiffchaff - 3 with LTT flock by dipping pond mid-pm

Ocean Edge area
Quick pre-tide check saw 2 x 1CY Med Gull, ad Little Gull, c3,400 Knot and 240 Grey Plover.
Sanderling - 12
Common Tern - adult outfalls

Wednesday 12 September 2012

Tufted Ducks continue to increase

Heysham Obs
Due to some blip with my (very slow) home computer, it is not possible to upload pics or e.g. italicise text as the task bar will not appear until I get into work the following day! Anyone any suggestions as to why this might be and how to resolve it?

A very quick check off Ocean Edge saw 6 Med Gulls (3 2CY, 2 ad, 1 juv) and the usual adult Little Gull in the morning

The Tufted Duck on the Middleton model boat pond comprised 7 from 2/9 on wards, increasing to 11 on 10/9 and now 12 this morning.  Thanks for the pics Janet.

Tuesday 11 September 2012

Bits and bobs slip through in fresh north-westerly

Heysham Obs
An early morning wader count, a tiny bit of seawatching and a bit of net-ride maintenance all suggested things were did the surprisingly good moth catch

Ocean Edge/outfalls area
Med Gull - 5 2CY, 3 ad and one juv at high tide, but many gulls too far away to the south
Little Gull - ad
Knot - increase to 3,600
Dunlin - seemingly as yesterday - about 2,500 but distant and some may have been e.g. Sanderling as they were the other day!
Bar-tailed Godwit - 270
Grey Plover - 230
Shelduck - increase to 52

Arctic Skua - juv blogging quite distantly but enough to rule out Long-tailed
Late on yesterday during the last sample count, 4 Common Scoter flew out of the Bay

Office area 1050-1120
Goldcrest - 2
Chiffchaff - 2
Lesser Whitethroat - one
Meadow Pipit - 11 SE
alba Wagtail - 5 SE
Pink-footed Goose - flock heard to the west of the power station

A reasonable catch was maybe partly a function of the new 160watt blended bulb after the old one gave up the ghost yesterday.  Apparently these lose their ultra-violet potency over time and certainly go 'yellower', suggesting this.  What appeared to be a less than mind-boggling night actually produced 19 Treble Bar, 9 Silver Y and a late (for here) Diamond-back Moth amongst small numbers of the usual Square Spot/Flounced Rustic dross and the likes of Eudonia angustea and what we record as 'com/lat' - two Acleris which need genitalia determination but, as they have both been proven for here, we don't bother any more.  Incidentally, along the same lines, I have just received the latest MapMate synch comprising highly experienced Lancashire moth-ers results for the last few weeks and all have been recording Copper Underwings as aggregates.  Are we really back to square one without gen det?

Monday 10 September 2012

Equinoxial weather day one

Heysham Obs
A good working (as opposed to distractions) week coming up, I suspect.

Ocean Edge incoming tide afternoon
Med Gull - 2 juv, 7 2CY, 1 3CY, 6 ad
Little Gull - ad
Sandwich Tern - two early morning only
Waders included 2,700 Dunlin, 1750 Knot
Wheatear - 1
Linnet - 47

Highlight the first Pink-barred Sallow of the year

Thanks to Sandra and John Truran for the following selection taken around Ocean Edge/Middleton & Heysham NRs

Sunday 9 September 2012

Vis mig to the fore in clear conditions

Heysham Obs
The first decent movement by Grey Wagtail and Meadow Pipit was unfortunately not reflected in the ringing effort where sun on the nets was a major problem.  Finch passage was also noticeable, but very few hrundines by 1000hrs other than a 'wadge' of House Martins.  The vis was almost certainly underestimated as multi-tasking was the order of the day (plus a late start!).  Grounded birds amounted to a rather surprising Redstart but very little else.

Walney are individually colour-ringing Goldfinches.  Please could you keep a lookout and make sure you record the single colour ring on the left leg (with metal) and the two single-colour rings on the right leg.  A bit easier than Twite where we have had to use split two-colour rings.  Please email any sightings (even if you don't manage to decipher all the colour-rings) to

Office vis mig 0645-1000hrs onwards
Meadow Pipit - 145 SE
Grey Wagtail - 22 SE
House Martin - 16 S
Swallow - 7 S
Chaffinch - 29 S
Tree Pipit - 1 SE
alba Wagtail - 4 SE
Starling - flock of 6 high to S
Jay - 1 possibly 2 thought to be passage birds
Goldfinch - 18 SE

Raven - 11+2 moving south.

5 Grey Wagtail colour-ringed was a pretty poor return from a major migration morning - there were more birds sitting on top of the nets than in them!  Very little else but did include a Sedge Warbler and four Reed Bunting

Mainly Treble Bar and Square-spot Rustic with nothing of note other than perhaps Agriphila geniculea

A late Gatekeeper by the office, also 2 male Common Blue

Saturday 8 September 2012

Crossbill but no cross bay vis

Heysham Obs
A murky morning with lowish cloud saw all the movement from the direction of Heysham Head and it contained two conspicuous absences which normally feature more regularly in 'cross bay vis' (Meadow Pipit and Grey Wagtail).  The poor visibility led to nothing from that direction unless it went south of the power station

Late news
The Swallow roost at Middleton contained at least 350-400 birds but seemingly very few Sand Martin this evening.  70 juvenile Swallow and one juvenile Sand Martin were ringed during a carefully controlled operation which saw the net closed before dusk and catch dealt with by 2025hrs.  You have to be so careful not to overstretch when roost-ringing this species.  Thanks to Jean and Louise for help.
Pink-footed Goose - smallish flock flew south after dark (2030hrs ish) as heard from Heysham NR carpark

Office area 0700-0930
Crossbill - two together SW at 0830hrs - both 'greenish'
Chaffinch - 22 SW
Swallow - c45 south - started moving quite early
House Martin - 9 south
Goldfinch - 6 SW
Siskin - 2 SW
Linnet - one SW

Grounded: at least one Willow Warbler, Lesser Whitethroat, two Goldcrest and at least one 'new' Chiffchaff.  Ringing produced very little in the 1.5hrs available, not helped by the feeders being empty all day yesterday! (single Goldcrest & Chiffchaff the highlights)

One that got away
Here is a record shot from Phil Slade of a Marsh harrier heading for our recording area on 3rd September. Does it count?!  Thanks Phil

July Highflyer and Dun-Bar were late, otherwise mainly Treble Bar, Silver Y and Common Marbled Carpet with low double-figures of each.  Two Light-brown Apple Moth were my first of the autumn

Here are some excellent pics taken by Janet yesterday.  Don't forget to vote for one of Janet's pics in the local newspaper (Guardian and Visitor) photo competition!  Thanks Janet

Friday 7 September 2012

A week is a long time in weather forecasting

Heysham Obs
As soon as I write a load of rubbish in my local newspaper column about how useless indian summers in September are for 'proper' migrant birding, at least XC Weather suggests that the high will now be collapsing and the result will be sending a load of fresh-gale westerlies our way next week.  The trouble is that they dont look vicious enough for a decent Leach's influx but we will see (Thursday being the flagged -up day).  Make the most of this weekend if you are a fan of late butterflies, dragonflies and other creepy-crawlies.

Ocean Edge and area
Little Gull - adult showing well - seems to have completed its primary moult
Med Gull - 4-5 juvs, 2 adults
Waders - "a lot", Dunlin and Barwits both over 300.  Didnt have time to study due to appointment at the opticians to discuss post cataract op 'floaters' - a real pain when trying to do a vis mig session during blue skies!  A proper wader count will take place on Sunday or Monday afternoon

6 Treble Bar, single Silver Y and Agriphila geniculea highlighted

Thursday 6 September 2012

One of those days

Heysham Obs
Ringers will be familiar, hopefully not very often, with the sort of morning where the early start is negated by two of the loops being wrong way round in the middle of three nets, the one Tree Pipit caught escaping just as it was about to be extracted and about nine rather later than usual Grey Wagtail easily avoiding the sun-drenched nets.  We need another strategy on sunny mornings as this was a potentially decent morning for the Grey Wag colour-ringing project completely wasted.  Were 12 Greenfinch and a Dunnock or two worth a 0530am start?

Office buddliea
Painted Lady late afternoon - looking quite pale and worn and 'primary migrant'

Moth trap
Spruce Carpet is not common here, the rest of the catch was

No time for any coastal coverage

Wednesday 5 September 2012

Second Centre-barred Sallow

Heysham Obs
Centre-barred Sallow is a late year moth which is common enough in my home area of SD66 but scarce on this part of the coast in the absence of long-established ash trees.  This morning saw just the second record for the Heysham trap which has been operating pretty continuously since 1989, the first was in 2006.  The rest of the catch was very poor in numbers with just 3 Silver Y and a small influx of Garden Rose Tortrix of minor note

Office vis mig early morning
Too windy for any mist-netting first thing and very little on the move with just 5 Grey Wagtail, 4 alba Wagtail, 5 Chaffinch and 6 Swallow noted between 0630 and 0930hrs.  One Grey Wagtail was colour-ringed as a vaguely sheltered mist net was belatedly set as the wind dropped

Ocean Edge area high tide mid pm
Med Gull - 5 juvs, 4 ads and a 2CY
Little Gull - ad
waders mainly too far away

Still about 6 Common Blue next to the office mist net ride and c15 Small Tortoiseshell around the buddlieas

Tuesday 4 September 2012

Reed Bunting moves sideways

Heysham Obs
Not a lot of activity today other than work and this resulted in no checks being made of the coastal sites.  Rhomboid Tortrix in the moth trap was about the best on offer until a late afternoon Painted Lady graced the remains of the office buddleia flowers.  A Scarce Bordered Straw was in a trap just a few metres north of the recording area at Heysham village last night

Ringing recovery
A Reed Bunting ringed as a young male at Middleton on 1/10/11, was rather surprisingly caught by another ringer at Ripon Park North Yorkshire, 91 kilometres to the east.  Most movements of Reed Bunting, both visually and in the form of ringing recoveries, show north to south or vice-versa movements, not across the Pennines.  This is presumably a wintering bird but could just have been an early passage migrant in the context of the mild winter and the usual early spring passage of this species

Yesterday's 'leftovers'
Med Gull - two juvs joined the older birds anting above the office late afternoon
Swallow roost:  c600 in the roost including a 'significant number' of Sand Martin.  A sample of 79 Swallow, 4 Sand Martin (all juvs) (and a Goldfinch!) were ringed but the net had to be rapidly closed just before dusk as per personnel available

Monday 3 September 2012

Brilliant wader spectacle

Heysham Obs
The day started well soon after dawn with 5 Grey Wagtails colour-ringed on the first round.  Then the sun followed by a niggling wind led to the remaining 5 passage birds which were noted sitting on the net, hovering in front of it etc etc before departing.  Grey Wagtails are a bit 'all or nothing' - either you seem to catch most of them if the weather is a little dull and calm or none if there is any hint of sun on the nets.  Unfortunately the latter cannot be avoided on clear days during the early morning by the office.

Office area (vis very intermittent due to multitasking!)
Grey Wagtail - 11 SE (5 ringed)
Tree Pipit - 2 SE
Meadow Pipit - c6 SE, possibly more
Swallow - c20 SE
Chiffchaff - c5
Sedge Warbler - one ringed
Whitethroat - one ringed
Goldcrest - just the one around which was ringed
Med Gull - ad and 3CY anting over the office late afternoon

Ocean Edge-Potts Corner waders
In my opinion, this is the best wader spectacle at (at least) this time of year on the east side of Morecambe Bay and grossly neglected by birders apart from our long-range scans from Ocean Edge foreshore.  Today's fare included:
Grey Plover - 525, many in full summer plumage
Sanderling - 14
Dunlin - 370
Knot - 480 - several in full summer plumage
Bar-tailed Godwit - 320 - several in full summer plumage
Black-tailed Godwit - 1 (rare here)
Ringed Plover - 37

Mute swan - 2 flew in as seen from the north harbour wall
Grey Heron - one off north wall
Wheatear - 3 north wall, two Ocean Edge, one by Pontins
Eider - 18 off north wall

21 Small Tortoiseshell and 4 Peacock & one Red Admiral round the office buddlieas
2 Migrant Hawker in the mist net at the same time - spooking a Grey Wagtail!
Bulrush Wainscot was the star of the moth trap

Sunday 2 September 2012

A red theme

Heysham Obs
Red arrows and red butterflies were the order of the day plus a few Wheatear and the usual fare on Red Nab/outfalls.  Three jet-skiers went around the outfalls along the shipping lane and headed towards Morecambe.  A Spotted Flycatcher was by the Heysham NR office early on but no other sign of new arrivals

Red Nab/outfalls
Med Gull - 4 juv and one adult
Little Gull - adult
Sandwich tern - adult
Wheatear - 2

Office buddlieas
Small Tortoiseshell - 16
Peacock - 1

North wall SD36V
Small Tortoiseshell - 5
Small White - 1
Wheatear - 2
Ringed Plover - 45 flew towards half-moon bay

Swallow roost Middleton 1900-2045hrs
Greenshank - one flew SE just after dusk
c450-500 in roost with 'good numbers' of Sand Martin - at least 20.  81 Swallow and 2 Sand Martin ringed along with a Sedge Warbler

An unusual autumn record of Turnip moth but nothing else of real interest

Saturday 1 September 2012

Working weather

Heysham Obs
Do not think a great deal of the weather synopses coming up.  Too windy for ringing, too westerly for migrants, not windy enough for seabirds.  Good for getting on with some work!  Little evidence of anything new around this morning save the odd coastal Wheatear

Outfalls early morning
Med Gull - 9 juvs with 8 together seaward end Heysham one, at least 2 adults and at least one 2CY
Little Gull - adult

High tide
Cormorant - 55 on wooden jetty and surrounds

2 Red Nab, one mound, one heliport seawall

Ringing in August
We put as lot of effort in during August and perhaps the most telling statistic (other than the Swallow/Sand Martin roost) is the capture of just 13 Blue Tit   and just a single flock of Long-tailed Tit.  None of us have recorded a Blue Tit flock as such this autumn at either Middleton or Heysham - quite extraordinary. The other species which is dramatically below par is Blackbird with just 5 ringed during the month.  The tit numbers contrast with an excellent total of 98 Willow Warbler - a species at this time of year you normally associate with tit flocks.  Other warbler species were  below par in relation to effort, although Whitethroat was not as bad as thought due to 13 being ringed on a Middleton date I was not involved in.  Totals for August: Chaffinch 11, Song Thrush 2, Greenfinch 100, Willow Warbler 98, Blackcap 18, Garden Warbler 2, Robin 18, Dunnock 4, Chiffchaff 14, Sedge Warbler 20, Whitethroat 34, Reed Bunting 5, Reed Warbler 9, Grasshopper Warbler 2, Great Tit 15, Blackbird 5, Long-tailed Tit 10, Wren 10, Blue Tit 13, Bullfinch 2, Lesser Whitethroat 9, Swallow 518, Goldfinch 11, Coal Tit 2, Linnet 2, Sand Martin 17

A bit more variety than of late with an influx of 9 Silver Y, late Yellow Shell and four rather late pristine Common Rustic.