Monday 31 December 2012

No inshore seabird stickability

Heysham Obs
Year-listers are going to have to do some work tomorrow - nothing on a plate in the harbour like last year.  Tricky long-range views of Guillemot (on sea) and Red-throated Diver (probably in flight) if you give the sea half an hour.   The midday IOM ferry will probably produce Kittiwake and also guarantee Med Gull if they are being awkward and therefore probably the best time to visit and also  do your seawatch.  Twite/Linnet/Goldfinch available on/around the feeding station.  PLEASE DO NOT WALK DOWN THE FEEDING STATION 'CORRIDOR'.  This will disturb the birds and progressively make life difficult for everyone else if oft-repeated by different carloads as they might clear off for the day.  I can't find any Purple Sandpiper which is not unprecedented during unsettled midwinter weather.

North wall various times during the morning
Twite - c48
Linnet - 6-7
Goldfinch - c12
Med Gull - regular "pelagic" adult followed IOM ferry before flying 'out', the usual two adults along the north harbour wall mid-afternoon
Kittiwake - at least 7 adults behind IOM ferry, 3 followed it right into the harbour before flying 'out'
Guillemot - 3  on sea
Red-throated Diver - one 'out'
no pipits seen
perhaps surprisingly no Little Gulls seen on outfalls or offshore

Sunday 30 December 2012

Seawatching bits and bobs

Heysham Obs
Another 30 mins of seabird coverage produced a few rewards today

North harbour wall 1020-1050hrs
Guillemot - 2, possibly 3 on sea
Red-throated Diver - one 'out'
Little Gull - 2 adults slowly out very distantly
Kittiwake - adult 'in'
Finches - a flock of c50 in flight was the best on offer - impossible to  view the feeding station due to vehicle traffic
Med Gull - 2 adult

Saturday 29 December 2012

Unproductive scan

Heysham Obs
Spent the time today on a seawatch instead of 'power walking' around 36V and what a waste of time!

North wall 1030-1115hrs
Med Gull - just a single adult fisher's roof
Turnstone - 16 wooden jetty and no purps
Twite - c40 but not settled due to  people
Linnet -  at least 3
Goldfinch - c12
Offshore - absolutely zero in 20 mins continuous scanning

Friday 28 December 2012

One hour of warm and misty miscellany

Heysham Obs
Still have not felt the need to wear gloves or wear a coat since christmas, despite theoretical wind 'chill' doing the north harbour wall circuit. 

North harbour wall & seawatch 1015-1045hrs
Twite/Linnet/Goldfinch -  too much disturbance to spend time checking them - c50 mixed finches seen, possibly more
Rock Pipit - one along the seawall between the gate and harbour mouth
Med Gull -  THREE  adults, two in the harbour and one headed south during a seawatch.  Also presumably the 2CY on the old Fisher's roof but at a bad angle to see wingtips
Red-breasted Merganser - 3 south
Guillemot - 2  on sea - one close inshore
No sign of any Purple Sandpiper on wooden jetty nor any incoming ferries to check

Heysham Nature reserve
Whilst helping to search for a lost teenager (thankfully found), a single Siskin flew south.  Incidentally the missing dog posted the other day turned up just before dusk, having played a round of golf over the road

Thursday 27 December 2012

Seabirds starting to stir

Heysham Obs
Nothing out of the ordinary during a brief visit to the north harbour wall other than two Twite with metal rings on the right leg but no colour rings on the left leg.  Will be interesting to see where these are from - one was a 1CY on gc details.  Birds a bit restless due to centrica yard activity and not time to examine the whole flock on the ground.  However, an hours seawatching by Ian on the incoming tide revealed a Guillemot influx and some distant Common Scoter, the first of the latter since the spring!  Howling onshore gales now seem to be an option for the three days prior to New Year, so there might be some storm-driven seabirds after all for the year-listers

North wall circuit 0900-0945
Twite - at least 65, at least 7 unringed out of about 30 examined, two  with metal-only rings
Linnet - at least 6
Goldfinch - at least 9
Starling - 20 on seed
Pied Wagtail - one on seed
Robin - two
Med Gull - adult, 2 adults later
Red-throated Diver - one on the sea in a sweep

North wall seawatch 1000-1100hrs (thanks Ian)
Guillemot - 3 definite & two auk prob this spp, one very close inshore
Common Scoter - distant flock of 12
Pink-footed Goose - c80 SE
Red-throated Diver - one close inshore

Wednesday 26 December 2012

And then there were two

Heysham Obs
A rather belated visit coincided with a dog walker walking the 'twite corridor' and the (remaining?) birds were very restless. The first record of more than one Kittiwake for ages!

North harbour wall
Kittiwake - 2 adults behind a supply boat, just possibly a third
Med Gull - 2 adults
Twite - only 17 seen on seed, others heard but nowhere near yesterday's numbers (2 unringed)
Linnet - at least one
Goldfinch - 12 together on seed
Red-throated Diver - 2 offshore

Another Mottled Umber

Tuesday 25 December 2012

Shirt-sleaved christmas

Heysham Obs
Happy Christmas!

A nice mildish morning saw little need for coats or even jumpers whilst doing the circuit of SD36V after feeding the Twite.  Trouble is that this weather does not produce a great deal, but finch numbers reached a new height this morning with c90 down on the seed at once. Oddly, no Meds seen.

North harbour wall
Twite - 79-81, including Machrihanish-ringed bird with metal above green/white and a metal-only ringed bird of unknown origin (c11 unringed)
Linnet - 7 (2 unringed)
Goldfinch - 6+
Mistle Thrush - one spooking the finches
Pink-footed Goose - 52 NW
Red-throated Diver - 2 on sea offshore, one very distant
Robin - 2

Ocean Edge/Red Nab
Wigeon - 135
Lapwing - 330

Middleton NR circuit
Jack Snipe - one in mown wet area near Tim Butlers (NE corner) - the only snipe spp seen
Teal - at least 10 Tim Butler pond
Tufted Duck - 14 scattered around
Pochard - 2 males model boat pond
Goldeneye - female model bpat pond
Mute Swan - 4 juvs
Coot - just 4
Little Grebe - unusually none
Mallard - none
Grey Wagtail - 1 (unringed)

Mottled Umber - 1

Monday 24 December 2012

Trilling frustration

Heysham Obs
Did the usual bracing wake-up call of the mound north wall circuit this morning and I had just got back to the car when a familiar trilling noise was heard just the once, seemingly from up in the sky in the harbour direction.  However, just couldnt find anything so the record has been binned (there are a lot of extraneous noises around the harbour) and an opportunity to add to the iconic SD36V list missed

North harbour wall/mound area 0910-0940
Twite - 56-58 with 9 or 10 unringed - definitely no more, c/f the 15/60 reported the other day
Linnet - 5
Goldfinch - 2
Red-throated Diver - 2 flew 'out'
Pink-footed Goose - 320 NE
Med Gull - 2CY Fisher's roof roost
Bad news on Meadow Pipit - none seem to be left - sandworks searched

Sunday 23 December 2012

strong wind fails to deliver

Heysham Obs perhaps is usual on the first day.  I cannot see any sustained onshore winds likely to produce a variety of waifs like last back end for any new year's day listers.  Last year 100 species in this area was a 'doddle' - easily achieved on 1st Jan without even trying i.e. didnt do any of the north fylde, courtesy of shag, guillemot, kittiwake, little gull (missed glaucous but jammed in on rock pipit) bonuses at heysham and glossy ibis/great white egret/marsh harrier bonuses at the leighton roost. You only need 6-7 or so 'guaranteed extras' over and above the usual fare and the usual difficult stuff like treecreeper to easily make 100.  I cannot see where they are coming from this time round (although marsh harrier looks like being available again), so anyone havng a go will need some careful planning and luck. 

North harbour wall
Nothing offshore or inshore with a gang of turnstone below the north wall failing to 'deliver' any purple sandpiper and, as far as I know, there have been no december sightings to date

Twite - 13 (one unringed)
Goldfinch - 8
Linnet - 4 ringed birds

One winter moth (trap at Millhouses, nr Wray held pale brindled beauty, red-green carpeet, chestnut, satellite, 6 winter moth and 43 mottled umber)

Saturday 22 December 2012

Kittiwake famine is over

Heysham Obs
Very easy to take Kittiwakes for granted during the usual regular incidence of sustained periods of onshore winds.  Even though the winds may not always be strong enough to produce a motley collection of inshore storm-driven waifs, which usually find the 'waterfall' food supply in the harbour, they usually 'encourage' birds to follow boats to within visual range of onshore observers.  However, when these winds are absent or not quite sustained enough, as has been the case this autumn, Kittiwakes can be completely absent for lengthy periods.  This happened during the freezing weather in early 2010 (none between 1/1 and 12/3) and this autumn has been similar with none since 16/10

North wall brief car-based visit
Kittiwake - adult following an orange 'rescue boat' as far as the wooden jetty
Med Gull - adult as above
Twite - 10 on seed and others heard (2/10 unringed)
Goldfinch - 1+ heard

Awful weather!

Friday 21 December 2012

Friday fare

Heysham Obs
North harbour wall SD36V power walk
Song Thrush - 1 mound
Wren - 1 mound
Twite - 61 in a 'pure' flock, then probably 11 different birds mixed in with:
Goldfinch - 5
Linnet - 1
Wigeon - solitary female on the sea - nothing else of note on single 'sweep'

No chance to see Twite ring details (food put out 0900hrs)

Winter Moth in the trap - looks quite productive for moths if you have shelter this next few days!

stena underperformer

Heysham Obs
A miserable wet day saw 10 bedraggled twite on the seed and an outgoing ferry called Stena Performer producing the obvious blog title as there were no Meds following it out, most unusually - but they have been suspected of heading for wet fields on this kind of day before

Wednesday 19 December 2012

Twite return with extras

Heysham Obs

North harbour wall SD36V circuit
Med Gull - the usual three (2 ad & 1 2CY) following a departing ferry out as far as the wooden jetty before returning inshore
Twite - 67 all together on the seed allowing a quick check:  6 unringed (possibly 7-8) c/f yesterdays comment, one with metal-only on right leg (not a recent ring and not a Linnet!), rest all Heysham-ringed as far as could be seen
Linnet - 3 with above (2 ringed)
Goldfinch - 5 with above - not checked for rings
Song Thrush - 1 (but again no pipits)
Great-crested Grebe - 3 in a low-tide sweep

One Mottled Umber (the 42nd of the morning - 41 at Millhouses!)

Tuesday 18 December 2012

More successful Twite ringing

Heysham Obs
North harbour wall
Song Thrush - 1
Twite - 30 were caught of which 18 were already Heysham-ringed, including quite a few birds from previous years.  Perhaps surprisingly, there were 12 unringed birds, marginally more than have been seen in the field recently.  There was at least one small flock which was not caught and ringed, nor examined in the field for ringed/unringed ratios.  The wary behaviour of this flock and observations on previous days suggests that possibly all the current Twite have now been ringed.  Will be interesting to see if any more unringed birds materialise this winter
Goldfinch - one unringed bird caught plus a few retraps
Linnet - one retrap, possibly more around as light very bad for speciating Linnet/Twite in the field
Med Gull - 2CY
Nothing of any interest seen offshore and no Meadow or Rock Pipit sightings reported   

Monday 17 December 2012

Showery north wall

Heysham Obs
Perhaps predictably, the location of the particular anglers mentioned yesterday was strewn with newspaper, plastic bottles and discarded fishing line

North harbour wall
Twite - a brief scan of 77 finches on the seed before they flew produced 13 Goldfinch and 64 'twinnet'.  About 15 mins later, a smaller flock of pure Twite landed on the food and comprised 48 individuals with 10-11 unringed and the rest Heysham-ringed, mainly from this autumn
Linnet - minimum 4
Goldfinch - 13
Robin - 2

Heysham NR circuit
House Sparrow - one on NE pylon
Long-tailed Tit - flock of 17

Office area
Winter moth in trap and irritating bluebottle type fly (for 3rd day)

Sunday 16 December 2012

Twite hit the height

Heysham Obs
Usually a rant-free site but excuse the minor one today, please, after experience with a visiting angler this morning.  I was informed that scoping the Twite checking colour-ring details was 'in the way' as he had decided to park as close as possible to the narrow road.  Many of the anglers are good company, but there are certain non-local visitors who seem to think that their 4-wheel drive monstrosities blocking the single-track road is their 'right' and "someone" will remove all their rubbish if they either leave it strewn about or do that "someone" a favour by tying the bag of rubbish to a fence.  Who are these people?

Twite - 57-60, at least 8 unringed
Linnet - 5
Goldfinch - 4
Song Thrush - 1

Mottled Umber 

Saturday 15 December 2012

Red-line Quaker surprise

Heysham Obs

North harbour wall
Twite - 19
Linnet - 2
Goldfinch 4
Red-throated diver - one offshore
Med Gull - 2 adult and one 2CY on the old Fisher's roof at high tide

A Red-line Quaker found on egg packing which was definitely checked yesterday - just about alive - also one Winter Moth but could have been other things as Barn Owl boxes etc being stored in trap!

Friday 14 December 2012

Brief north wall visit

Heysham Obs
Twite - 20, including 4 unringed & probably the usual Machrihanish-ringed bird
Linnet - 6 - at least 2 unringed
Goldfinch - 5
Meadow Pipit - 1

Heysham NR
Meadow Pipit - one flew over car park

Thursday 13 December 2012

In-off finch surprise

Heysham Obs
Most surprising sighting this morning was 5 Goldfinches being picked up coming in-off from the direction of Barrow - first seen as tiny dots way out into the bay.  

North harbour wall SD36V area
Red-throated Diver - two on an incoming tide sweep
Goldfinch - see above plus about 8
Twite - absolute minimum of 53 and 11 "Twinnet", possibly/probably mostly this spp. Did some of the extra ones come from across the bay?  No chance of close examination due to centrica store forklift activity next to the feeding site.
Linnet - at least 2
Meadow Pipit - 1
Song Thrush - 1
Robin - 3

Late record
Need to add 290+76+45 Pink-footed Goose yesterday in the fog, heading south, then east

Wednesday 12 December 2012

Foggy frost

Heysham Obs
Peel Holdings missed a Christmas calendar opportunity this morning as the Heysham Harbour landmarks such as chain-link fences, barbed wire, sea-buckthorn and bits of leftover Oxford ragwort were all covered in a picturesque hoar frost.  The problem was that you could hardly see across the harbour, never mind a search out to sea.

North wall circuit
Song Thrush - 1
Robin - 3
Wren - 1
Rock Pipit - 1
Twite - 29, including at least 4 unringed and presumably the usual Machrihanish-ringed bird
Linnet - 5
Goldfinch - c8
Med Gull - adult and 2CY

The rest of the day seemed to be chained to MapMate as the long-overdue moths were all finally entered, with all the 'big days' in July (it was a pretty poor year otherwise), left to the time-consuming last.  Re-sorting on a Bradley and Fletcher A to Z really brough home how scarce some normally taken for granted species were this year, especially perhaps in May and June.  Others, on the other hand were thriving, notably the recent colonist, Blackneck 

Tuesday 11 December 2012

Dont write your species accounts until the end of the year!

Heysham Obs
Grandiose pronouncements like "no intertidal Teal this year" were in dire need of revision after today and there were quite a few other additions to already "completed" accounts

Red Nab/Ocean Edge
Wigeon -98
Red-breasted Merganser - 4
Little Egret - one roosting on Red Nab at high tide
Mallard - 4 off Ocean Edge saltmarsh
Teal - male and three females on sea off Ocean Edge saltmarsh
Shelduck - 68

North harbour wall
Skylark - 1 east
Twite -  29-31
Linnet - 1-3
Goldfinch - 6
Meadow Pipit - 1
Song Thrush - 1
Red-throated Diver - 4 offshore in one sweep mid-morning
Med Gull - ad & 2CY
Wren - 1
Robin - 4

Grey Seal off north harbour wall

Monday 10 December 2012

Red-throat influx

Heysham Obs

North harbour wall dropping tide spot check 1045hrs
Red-throated Diver - 7
Great-crested Grebe - 1
Eider - 1
Twite - at least 23
Linnet - at least 2
Goldfinch - 6
Song Thrush - 1
Robin - 2

Heysham N Reserve circuit (excluding obs tower path)
Blackbird - 14 scattered around
Song Thrush - 1

Sunday 9 December 2012

Walking the wind corridors and Goldeneye surprise

Heysham Obs
A blustery wind greeted a couple of circuits around the north and south harbours

North harbour wall
Twite - c15
Linnet - c6
Goldfinch - c9
Meadow Pipit - 2
Med Gull - 2 ads and 2CY
Goldeneye - a short watch offshore saw a male flying out - very scarce off here these days now the sewage outfalls have gone!

South harbour wall
Zero other than one of the Meds flying past - quite a contrast with this time last year

Saturday 8 December 2012

Birds still on the move in the pre-frontal calm

Heysham Obs
Two activity 'threads' to today; a lengthy Twite-ringing session and a power walk circuit from the office back to the office via the harbour/south wall/outfalls/dogwalk track

North harbour wall
Meadow Pipit - 2
Little Egret - on on the rocks below the wall - very rare between Red Nab and north Morecambe
Twite - 22 unringed birds caught, just 12 retraps and the regular Machrihanish-ringed bird.  All present during the morning were thought to have been caught.  A bit of a change of personnel from yesterday, based on ring or lack of details
Goldfinch - 9 unringed birds caught and just one retrap
Linnet - unringed bird caught
Robin - 4 different birds seen during the morning around the feeder
Wren - 1

Harbour circuit
No sign of the seal
Med Gull - 2CY on mudflats by wooden jetty
Waxwing - heard twice whilst negotiating the steps near where the Obs tower was - either in the tank farm or around the nearby power station security lodge.  No sign when reached the bottom of steps, but did not search this access-restricted area
Blackbird - c15 either side of the steps below the Obs tower site
Redwing - one with above
Meadow Pipit - two flew from the non-op land over the dog track towards the golf course - presumably part of/ the remaining birds from the small flock which has been around for a few weeks

Pink-footed Geese
112 - flying south-east
285 - north, then east
Two other 'large flocks' heading north offshore and perhaps yet another flock heard but not seen during the Twite ringing session

Two Winter Moth in trap

Friday 7 December 2012

Yet more on the north wall

Heysham Obs
Just the Twite feeding session spent outside today

Twite - 39, including 15 unringed, rest Heysham-ringed (no Machrihanish birds)
Goldfinch - 15 - about half ringed
Linnet - 7 (3 ringed)
Med Gull - 2 adults
Meadow Pipit - one in sandworks

Yet another Winter Moth

Thursday 6 December 2012

Finches, then it lashes down!

Heysham Obs
North harbour wall
Twite - 41
Linnet - 7
Goldfinch - c16
Meadow Pipit - 1
Robin - 2

These were all along the feeder corridor, no 'power walk' today and no search for the seal in worsening conditions

Med Gull - 2CY

One Winter Moth

Wednesday 5 December 2012

Mammalian mystery

Heysham Obs
Two brief views of a small seal in the harbour, hugging the edge and disappearing under the wooden columns appeared to indicate that it was a Common Seal, but it needs confirmation

North harbour wall
Twite - 29-30
Goldfinch - 11
Meadow Pipit - 1
Linnet - 1+

Heysham NR office area
Chiffchaff - called twice distantly in the 'tank farm' mid-pm
Goldcrest - 1

2 Winter Moth in trap

See above

Tuesday 4 December 2012

Finches galore, including some ringing recoveries

Heysham Obs
***Chiffchaff calling several times by the office at 1440hrs - sounded like collybita but not seen

Good numbers of finches on the north harbour wall today, courtesy of lack of any obvious disturbance prior to my arrival

North wall late morning
Twite - 34, at least 9 unringed (9/14 examined were unringed, this group also included Machrihanish-ringed bird with red/white right leg and metal over green/white left leg)
Linnet - 6 (3 ringed, 2 ll, one rl)
Goldfinch - 19, at least 7 unringed
Robin - ringed bird plus unringed 1CY briefly, another on mound
Song Thrush - usual bird
Wren - 1
Meadow Pipit - just the one located
Med Gull - adult and 2CY
Rock Pipit - one heard over the south side of harbour

Ringing recoveries
The most interesting feature here was the mode of recovery of the Greenfinch - very mid-20th century or earlier

Ringed:  Heysham Obs                3F                13/10/11
Dead in coal shed:  Thoralby, Leyburn, N Yorks  25/10/12  66km ENE

A typical origin for migrant Greenfinch ringed at Heysham in October

Ringed:     Port e vullen, Isle of Man       4F            16/10/12    1500hrs
Caught:     Heysham Obs                                          19/10/12   1200hrs  98km ESE

This could have made it from the IOM on vis mig setting off as late as early morning of 19/10, but is highly unlikely to have left there after ringing as late as 1500hrs on 16/10.  I suspect the bird moved to Cumbria on 17/10 or 18/10 and thence to Heysham.  It was caught there at the feeder, not tape-lured on vis mig.

Ringed:   Heysham Obs                          3M                1/10/12 (0800hrs)
Caught:  Embley Wood, Hants                                     13/10/12 (0800hrs)  354km SSE

Was it still on migration?   The last time we asked this question with respect to a Heysham-ringed Goldcrest caught later in the autumn (Doncaster), the bird was retrapped in midwinter, answering the question

Mottled Umber & Winter moth in trap, 2 Winter moths between res gate and traffic lights last night (one in SD45E, the other in SD46A)

Monday 3 December 2012

December windchill

Heysham Obs
North harbour wall
Chickened out of doing the circuit in a skinny jumper as a cold north-westerly blasted in from the sea
Twite - 33, at least 6 unringed
Goldfinch - 17
Linnet - 1
Meadow Pipit - 1
Med Gull - 2CY and adult

Ocean Edge/Red Nab
Wigeon - 99
Med gull - ad

Heysham NR circuit
Blackbird - 2
Very mid-wintry!

Sunday 2 December 2012

Twite Influx

Heysham Obs
A visit to Ocean Edge saltmarsh saw no small finches and the impression that a lot of the available food might have been frozen in.  This might explain the increase in birds on the north harbour wall, this despite the usual Sunday 'traffic', albeit without any anglers in residence actually by the feeding station

North harbour wall lunchtime
Med Gull - 2 adult, 2CY
Linnet - 1
Goldfinch - 9
Twite - 31 with 10 unringed, one Machrihanish-ringed bird and the rest seemingly Heysham-ringed
Meadow Pipit - 1
Dunnock - 1

Ocean Edge/Red Nab
Thousands of waders along the foreshore towards Potts Corner - THE best wader spectacle in the Bay
Wigeon - 101 Red Nab
Med Gull - ad Red Nab
Litle Egret - 1 Red Nab

Saturday 1 December 2012

More north wall forays

Heysham Obs
North harbour wall
Song Thrush - 1
Meadow Pipit - 1
Rock Pipit - 1
Twite - 24
Goldfinch - 9
Linnet - 1
Wren -1
Robin - 2
Starling - 16
Med Gull - 2 Ad and 2CY