Sunday 31 August 2014

Early morning bonus

Heysham Obs
Almost forgot about the best bird - it seems so long ago - Grasshopper Warbler singing for about a minute in the Middleton central marsh at first light.  It did appear as though there might be a small session of light winds early morning before the NW kicked in and in fact this spell did materialise but did not produce quite what was expected (far more grounded warblers than expected and much less vis)!

Just 3 nets were set at Middleton NR and the nets by the office were similarly geared up to ring a few vis mig birds, notably Grey Wagtail

Heysham produced two Grey Wagtail (out of four seen) and the first Goldcrest to be ringed (and second overall) this autumn

Middleton saw quite a flurry of newly-arrived warblers all entering the nets from the 'seaward end' and a conspicuous absence of much vis mig......until it became too windy to catch Grey Wagtail.

Middleton ringing (2.5 hrs) included 5 Chiffchaff, 2 Willow Warbler, 2 Blackcap, 4 Whitethroat, one Lesser Whitethroat, one Sedge Warbler........and just one Grey Wagtail

Vis mig Heysham/Middleton
Tree Pipit - 1
Grey Wagtail - at least 6, possibly 9, mostly after the wind got up
Meadow Pipit - no sign of this mystifying massive passage on the north Wales coast yesterday with just 10 SE
Raven - 2
Swallow - c100 ex-roost, c20 S
Sand Martin - on noise alone, "a lot" ex-roost
House Martin - 11 SE
Reed Bunting - 2 SE
Pheasant - at least 3 with one narrowly missing a mist net!

Outfalls/Red Nab/Ocean Edge foreshore near (a lowish) high tide
Sorry for late posting - couldn't access site last night
Med Gull - 31 outfalls/Red Nab/Ocean Edge south mudflats, 23 1CY, 6 2CY and 2 adult
Little Gull - ad Ocean Edge mudflats pm

Saturday 30th August

Heysham Obs
Spent most of the day putting moth records on MapMate and nothing has been recived from elsewhere

There was a juv Whinchat on the 'hill' at Middleton NR late afternoon

Friday 29 August 2014

Rough weather titbits

Heysham Obs
A couple of outfalls checks, one coinciding with IOM ferry:

Med Gull - 23 (11 1CY)
Little Gull - ad
Common Tern - ad
Sandwich Tern - 3 ads and a juv
Gannet - ad offshore
Kittiwake - juv offshore

A Silver Y in trap

Thursday 28 August 2014

Morning window

Heysham Obs
A bit of blind faith in the forecast this morning as set off in cloudy drizzle for a bit of early morning coverage.  Quite the opposite at Heysham where the sun was a bit of a nuisance with respect to mist-netting.  Didn't seem to be a great deal of grounded stuff and just one Willow Warbler and one Robin were ringed on the night migrant front, but there was a decent number of unringed finches and a flock of 3 Grey Wagtail

Vis mig 0630-0830
Grey Wagtail - 4-5 (3 ringed)
flava Wagtail -  one south at 0830hrs
Meadow Pipit - 11 SE
alba Wagtail - 8 SE
Swallow - 13 SE
Tree Pipit - one SE

Med Gull - 4 x 1CY (one metal-ringed with '90' in sequence), 1 x 3CY
Little Gull - moulting adult
Sandwich Tern - heard in the mass!
Black-headed Gull - c1500

Wednesday 27 August 2014


Heysham Obs
A couple of early morning sessions splitting resources at Middleton and Heysham did not quite go as planned.  There was nowhere near as much Grey Wagtail passage as anticipated but a helicopter going backwards and forwards overhead did not help.   At least the catching was fairly efficient with 2/3 at Middleton and 3/4 at Heysham finding the nets with the third bird missed at Middleton due to being spooked by that dreadful creature, a retrap juvenile Blackbird.   More an odds and ends morning with Grasshopper Warbler and Tree Pipit among the species ringed

With some rubbishy weather likely to see out August, it might be time to provisionally reflect on a few ringing totals so far and some of them are quite impressive for here:

Record numbers (already):
Chiffchaff - 94
Whitethroat - 205
Reed Warbler - 33

Well above average (given the stage of the autumn)
Lesser Whitethroat - 48
Blackcap -101

Better than expected, given a poor spring passage (or failure to connect with the passage)
Willow Warbler -  145

Below par possibly due to rapid departure of adults and young in warm still weather
Sedge Warbler - 104
Grasshopper Warbler - 8

Another dreadful year compared to last century but on a par with last ten years
Garden Warbler - 4

Heading towards a record total after an excellent breeding season (expensive now they have to take B rings!)
Dunnock - 73

Good numbers so far with a majority of captures usually on autumn passage (September and early October respectively)
Robin - 75
Wren - 51

Middleton NR
Tree Pipit - 5 SE
Grey Wagtail - 3 SE
Meadow Pipit - 3 SE
House Martin - 15 SE
Swallow - c53 SE
Grasshopper Warbler - migrant juvenile caught (local birds long gone)
Collared Dove - flock of four north
Raven -1
Gadwall - flock of 8 with a smaller duck with them which was quite possibly a Garganey, but flight views inconclusive - the birds left the site high to SE
Parrot-type-thing - one again seen in silhouette and therefore unidentified -  from the racket could easily have been Ring-necked Parakeet

Tuesday 26 August 2014

Bits of coverage

Heysham Obs
A bit unsatisfactory today as there were clearly things on the move, notably and obviously Swallows, but the coverage was too late.  Thanks to Steven Feasey for some pics taken here and Middleton in recent weeks (see below)

Middleton NR 0830-0930
No ringing
Grey Wagtail - 3 SE together
Meadow Pipit - at least 5 singletons SE
Swallow - 27 SE
House Martin - 6 SE
Whinchat - 1
Blackcap - 5+
Whitethroat - at least 2
Willow Warbler - 2
Chiffchaff - 3

HNR office area
Chiffchaff - 3
Blackcap - 2

Outfalls/Red Nab at high tide
Family parked on the end of the rocks with 3 dogs - thee first time there have been any problems this year that I am aware of - these were not from Ocean Edge and therefore had not seen the notice

Med Gull - at least 14 on the saltmarsh (3 2CY, 10 1CY, one adult) and 2 1CY on outfalls = 16 minimum
Swallow - 17 south
Nothing else of interest

Middleton pm
Grey Wagtail - 2 SE appeared to be migrants!
Swallow - at least 120 in the roost with 60 ringed (just 4 adults) - birds not flock-cohesive as in previous weeks - presume migrants unfamiliar with site?
House Martin - at least one with the swallows

Moth trap
Another Rusty Dot Pearl

Wheatear at Red Nab

Peacock and Red Admiral Heysham NR

Red Darter HNR

Red Darter HNR near Ocean Edge

Clouded Yellow MNR

Clouded Yellow MNR

Small Copper MNR

Monday 25 August 2014

Incoming tide watch

Heysham Obs
Thousands of gulls seemed to be strewn all over Red Nab/outfalls and area on the incoming tide, despite Heysham one outfall seemingly out of action.  A fairly lengthy watch showed that stuff is easily missed as it passes through/is displaced by the tide

Heysham outfalls 0900-1130 on and off
Black Tern - highly mobile juvenile seemed to disappear as the tide started to come in
Sandwich Tern - at least 8, possibly 9 - flew south as tide came in
Med Gull -  c17 x 1CY, 1 x 2CY, 4 x 3CY/Ad
Little Gull - moulting adult which also disappeared on the incoming tide!
Whimbrel - 1
Wheatear - 4

Heysham NR
A Long-tailed Tit flock was accompanied by 5 Blackcap, 2 Willow Warbler, one Chiffchaff and a Garden Warbler

Two Rusty Dot Pearl disturbed from tall vegetation on a tramp round the outer rim of the reserve.  Trap useless in easterlies. 

Sunday 24 August 2014

Ye of little faith

Heysham Obs
After what appeared, leaving a slightly windy High Tatham at 0515hrs, to be going through the final CES (& supplementary nets) motions on a slightly breezy sunny westerly morning turned out to be rather better than expected.  A large slow-moving area of cloud sat to the north-west and spilled over covering the sun and produced a couple of tiny spells of drizzle.  Most importantly, it knocked the wind on the head.

Middleton NR CES etc
Grey Wagtail - 10 SE (7 of these ringed)
House Martin - group of 4 SE he only other noticeable 'vis'!
Redstart - 1CY male ringed
Other migrants ringed comprised: 7 Whitethroat, 7 Blackcap, 3 Willow Warbler, 2 Chiffchaff, 2 Robin and singles of Lesser Whitethroat, Reed and Sedge Warblers.  None of these were a result of a tit flock entourage (in contrast to the last visit) - there were no tit flocks heard or seen this morning.
34 juvenile Goldfinch were also ringed!

Common Buzzard - one over Middleton NR pm

Saturday 23 August 2014

Very septembery

Heysham Obs
The final CES at both sites tomorrow and preparations this evening included a small Swallow catch in conditions which were less than perfect.  The morning saw a cold start followed by Grey Wagtails, Robins and Blackcaps in the mist nets.

Heysham NR early am
Grey wagtail - 6 ringed, at least another 3 missed
Robin - 4 ringed
Blackcap - 6 ringed
A few odds and ends included single Chiffchaff and Willow Warbler and two Whitethroat

Middleton pm
Really devoid of warblers in a fresh north-westerly - looks like a 'duff' morning tomorrow for the CES unless the tit flocks do their stuff and drag a few birds on to the site
Swallow roost - c60 with 19 ringed including about 5 adults using the only sheltered net site which was a bit enclosed

Wheatear - two south end of Middleton NR near old pontins site pm

Friday 22 August 2014

What was missed?

Heysham Obs
A real struggle this morning as under the weather and didn't arrive until 0900hrs to be greeted by Willow warbler contact calls and later two Tree Pipit taking off from around the pond and heading inland over the gold course.  What was here earlier?

A couple of hastily erected mist nets confirmed what seemed to be happening, the remnants of an early morning arrival in the process of disappearing inland.  Four unringed Whitethroat and two migrant Robins were caught immediately, then nothing migrant-wise for the next hour and the nets were brought in

Office area 0900-1030
Tree Pipit - two together headed ESE, having been grounded, at 0915hrs
Grey Wagtail - one SE
Swallow - c10 SE
Willow  warbler - at least five calling at 0900hrs, soon melted away
Whitethroat - 4 unringed and one ringed bird caught - no others seen/heard
Dunnock - unringed bird caught
Robin -  two unringed birds caught

Not bad with Yellow-barred Brindle notable for here, with other stuff including Bordered Beauty, Agriphila latistria and Rusty Dot Pearl,

Thursday 21 August 2014

Wet and windy seagulls

Heysham Obs
Outfalls and area
Med Gull - 10 x 1CY, one x each of 2CY, 3CY and Ad
Little Egret  1

Middleton NR
Goldfinch - flock of 80

Much better including White-line Dart again, two Lime-speck Pug, 3 Agriphila latistria, Rusty Dot Pearl, Treble Bar, Agriphila geniculea, Ypsophola sequella and Oidematophorus lithodactyla

Wednesday 20 August 2014

Early morning Middleton coverage

Heysham Obs
The calm weather windows at Middleton may have been few and far between recently but they have provided high quality mist-netting conditions, with bits of cloud knocking the sun on the head and no sea breezes kicking in.  Not exactly fall conditions (too clear) but a fair number of warblers ringed

Middleton NR 0545 to late morning
Lesser Redpoll - one SE (very unseasonal)
Meadow Pipit - 3 SE and a  juvenile, perhaps local, ringed
House Martin - 2 SE
Grey Wagtail - 4 SE (one ringed)
Willow Warbler - 9 ringed
Whitethroat - 17 ringed 
Lesser Whitethroat - three ringed
Blackcap- 6 ringed
Chiffchaff - no new ones
Reed Warbler - none
Grasshopper Warbler - as above
Sedge Warbler - the only ones seen/heard/caught were a family party of at least four birds (ringed adult and one young caught) which appeared on site late morning
Swallow - also scarce with just 3-4 casual sightings of at least one adult

The remainder of the newly ringed birds comprised 2 Blue Tit, one Reed Bunting, 2 Linnet, 4 Goldfinch, one Greenfinch, one Bullfinch, 2 Robin, 4 Dunnock, 2 Blackbird, 2 Long-tailed Tit

Another Agriphila latistria in the moth trap along with two late White-line Dart.  Single Clouded Yellow & Panted Lady casually noted at Middleton

Tuesday 19 August 2014

More odds and ends of migrants

Heysham Obs
Clear this morning and cool with a touch more northerly in the wind.  The autumnal feel was enhanced by a calling Goldcrest by the office - early for this 'migrant only' species here

The dead animal at Middleton model boat pond has been variously identified as a horse, a colt, a goat and a deer - the latter seems about right and presumably a Roe.  Thanks to all for reporting this unfortunate beastie.  It was a foal!

Office area
Whitethroat - 10+ (just one ringed in rather windy conditions, most of them feeding in tank farm)
Willow Warbler - one ringed
Blackcap - 6-10 office/tank farm (four ringed)
Goldcrest - one (IOA)
Robin - seemed to be quite a few ticking birds (5+) early on
Chiffchaff - at least two
Swallow - 16 purposefully south

Red Nab/Ocean Edge
Wheatear - 4

Decent number of butterflies around, including a single Painted Lady - thanks to Janet for the pics which will appear soon

The localised Agriphila latistria made its autumnal debut in the trap

Monday 18 August 2014

Small fall

Heysham Obs
A late start revealed the wind was far less than forecasted, a few warblers were about and it seemed worth putting up a belated net or two (until it became too windy).  Then almost immediately visited by a couple of contractors who indicated our main ringing area was going to be out of commission due to fence replacement and vegetation removal................starting in September.  I don't think a plea to leave it until the end of October will be possible but we'll see. Unfortunate after just spending a considerable amount of time doing the kind of gardening familiar to many people operating mist-net rides

Office area
Whitethroat - at least 10-15 (8 ringed)
Blackcap - one ringed
Chiffchaff - 2
Robin - 1 migrant ringed

Little Gull - 2 adult type
Med Gull - at least 15 around, probably many more - a Catherine Tate attitude to windswept gulls all facing away in a slight 'heat' haze as of 4pm

A late Straw Underwing and Grey Chi were the best of a meagre moth catch

Manx Shearwater caught up in line..

Sunday 17 August 2014

Sunday 17th August

Med Gull - c10 juv, at least one adult but conditions awful!

Absolutely nothing on the sea other than 6 Sandwich Terns at low tide just to the north of Heysham Head

1cy med fest 16th August

Heysham obs
Large numbers of Meds around today including 21 1cy and about 10 of older age classes.

Moths included agriphila geniculea

Friday 15 August 2014

Bits and bobs of early autumnal migration

Heysham Obs

Middleton NR
Bird Fair or CES?  Had to be the CES as there isn't any more suitable weather during the 10 day period for the likes of Middleton on the horizon - no shelter from north-westerlies which are often spiced up over and above the forecasted strength as they come straight in off the sea.  Conditions were well-nigh perfect for mist-netting with no sun until after the CES period and no wind

Mainly due to being dragged around by tit flocks, a fair chunk of the warbler presence at Middleton seemed to end up in the mist nets.  This vast majority of the captures comprised three 'collections', including tits, in a single net on three separate occasions.  The nets were otherwise empty with virtually no resident warblers and implicitly very few 'acros'.  New-ringed birds at Middleton included the following:

Sedge Warbler - only two seen/heard/caught
Reed Warbler - conspicuous by absence - a juv ringed near the end of the session the only evidence
Garden Warbler - one ringed (do not breed here)
Blackcap - 7 ringed
Whitethroat - 6 ringed
Lesser Whitethroat - one ringed
Willow Warbler - 10 ringed
Chiffchaff - 4 ringed
Robin - one post-moult 1CY and one late brood speckled bird

Heysham NR
The Heysham Nature reserve CES produced the star bird of the morning - a Grasshopper Warbler in probably the driest habitat in the area and obviously a migrant

Also notable there was a newly fledged brood of Chiffchaff still in the '1J' stage and four presumed migrant post-juv-moult Robin

Outfalls/Red Nab
Wheatear - 4
Med Gull - 16, mainly 1CY
Little Gull - one adult

Vis mig
Meadow Pipit - one
Grey Wagtail - 3 very early on

Middleton actinic produced very little but included Brown China Mark and the Heysham NR trap saw a lot of Flounced Ructic and a couple of t.b.i.micros which night be of interest!

Gulls at high tide on the outfalls

Med Gull late afternoon on the outfalls

Thursday 14 August 2014

Outfalls minima

Heysham Obs

Med Gull - 7 juvs, 3 ad, 1 2CY, 2 3CY
Little Gull - one ad
Whimbrel - 1

Moth trap
Rusty Dot Pearl x 1

Wednesday 13 August 2014

No distractions in a strong north-westerly

Heysham Obs
A cursory glance at the outfalls early on before the useless sunny north-westerly kicked in produced:

Common Tern - ad
Little Gull - at least one, prob two ads
Tern spp - briefly seen very distantly in the main channel, almost certainly juv Arctic but not sure (NOT yesterdays Little without a size c/p)
Med Gull - at least 8 casually noted

Moth trap
An invasion of Agriphila tristella but a bit more interesting was the first Grey Chi of the year.  Amazingly up to date with MapMate records and synches with Graham, our county 'hub', despite running into the thousands of records so far this year.  Don't leave it too late - too much to do all at once at the end of the year if you are an active moth-er, then Christmas intervenes and the wheels come off the documentation - been there done it in previous years.  This would be a shame during the current three year Macro Moth Atlas (2014= year one)

Tuesday 12 August 2014

A windswept outfalls visit produces a Little Tern

Heysham Obs
A visit to the outfalls was in order today after a scan revealed a very distant Little Tern -a very rare bird in these parts in especially autumn and a lingerer on the outfalls unprecedented

Outfalls and harbour area 0900-1030
Little Tern - juv on Heysham one outfall throughout
Common Tern - At least one moulting adult and an imm (not juv) Heysham one outfall
Sandwich Tern - ad Heysham 2 outfall
Little Gull - just the one today - the non-obviously moulting ad
Med Gull - 30 - minimum of 19 1CY and minimum of 11 of other ages (2 x 3CY, 2 x 2CY, rest adult or 3CY)

Clouded Yellow at Middleton NR

Clouded Yellow in flight. MNR

Brimstone. MNR

Moth at MNR

Monday 11 August 2014

Bits and bobs on the sea

Heysham Obs

Red Nab/outfalls at various times mainly incoming tide
Med Gull - 26 (19 1CY, 2 3CY, 5 adult, no 2CY)
Little Gull - 3CY and two adults, one as yesterday, the other with 'no obvious wing moult' at long range
Arctic Tern - juv am
Sandwich Tern - moulting ad pm

Sea 0830-1000
Great Skua - one out
Whimbrel - 4 out
Gannet - 3
Curlew - 650 out

Sunday 10 August 2014

Mist netting in the eye!

Heysham Obs
After a very wet morning in a lightish easterly,  from 1315hrs it was flat calm, high cloud and no sign of any incoming rain.  Put a mist net up for about an hour as there were quite a few warblers around.  The eye must have been very slow moving as we didn't get the westerly hooley on the south flank until about 1700hrs.  Bizarre!

Seawatching tomorrow am?

Outfalls/Red Nab area am
Black Tern - moulting adult flew in and landed on the rocks then sneaked off on the incoming tide whilst I was watching elsewhere
Little Gull - adult outfalls/Red Nab with about half the primary feathers moulted i.e. about 5 old primaries
Med Gull - 9 x 1CY, 2 x adult
Whimbrel - 1

Heysham NR
Whitethroat - low double figures and none seen appeared to be ringed
Lesser Whitethroat - at least two
Chiffchaff - new one ringed

Clouded Yellow this afternoon in the balmy weather in the "eye" - on fleabane NE corner of reserve

11 birds in an hour, mainly unringed finches (2 Bullfinch)

Saturday 9th August

Heysham Obs
Scraping the barrel a bit for interest on a clear blustery day and top spot fell to Homeosoma sinuella, the second record for the reserve

11 juv and two adult Med Gulls around the outfalls after at or just after high tide - not the best time!

In contrast to yesterday, not a single warbler was heard during the 10 minutes or so topping up the feeder. 

Friday 8 August 2014

Quality vis mig and record numbers of Common Whitethroat

Heysham Obs
Sacrificed the latter part of a very crowded music session at the Hill Inn for some early morning coverage of what looks like the last of these sorts of morning for a bit (but some possible sea-watching coming up or at least some weather which might spice up the variety on the outfalls).  THREE birds obviously on vis - see below!

Vis mig
Wood Sandpiper - one high to SE at 0615hrs
Flava Wagtail - one (not an adult male) fairly low to the SE at 0820hrs
Grey Wagtail - one high to SE

Unremarkable in the relatively clear conditions apart from one species - Common Whitethroat where record numbers were present and 56 ringed between Middleton and Heysham in a very limited number of nets (4 x Midd, one line of  3 x Hey).   Other fare included five Lesser Whitethroat but very few Phylloscs or Acros.   Just over 100 birds ringed in total.

Thursday 7 August 2014

Predictably clear and fairly birdless

Heysham Obs
Clear overnight with a westerly wind seemed to shift a high proportion of the warblers from around the office although two new Whitethroat, a Lesser Whitethroat and a Blackcap were ringed.  The highlight again was hearing Tree Sparrow, seemingly grounded but out of sight and involving at least two birds from the noise

22 Med Gulls seen on a scan from Ocean Edge, including 16 juveniles.  Once again, no ringed birds seen

Moth interest was limited to Ypsophola scabrella, but the sun beat me to the trap this morning!

Wednesday 6 August 2014

Mid-morning retrieval of sorts

Heysham Obs
Wasn't on the ball this morning - the small print (detailed perusal of rainfall movement) suggested the heavy rain forecast was a bit dodgy and so it proved yet the conditions were sufficiently cloudy and humid with little pulses of rain to produce a decent number of migrants. Problems was, no birders until 0900hrs and immediately the presence of contact calling Willow Warblers was obvious!

A couple of nets were set in slightly breezy conditions which then became sunny and breezy, yet a mixture of warblers found their way in.

Around office:  c20 Willow Warbler (which soon melted away), 4 Chiffchaff, 6-8 Whitethroat, 2 Lesser Whitethroat, at least one Blackcap and the highlight a flock of 5 Tree Sparrow which headed south having had a look at the feeders

The evening Swallow roost was again a little windy and only 50 or so birds seemed to attend the roost, yet 32 were ringed

The moth trap saw the first Sallow of the autumn

Tuesday 5 August 2014

Clouded Yellow alert

Heysham Obs
Three male Clouded Yellow on Middleton midday and also a female Wall Brown along the concrete road between the western and central marsh at about 0830hrs

1320 update - 6-8 Clouded Yellow around Middleton model boat pond area

Thanks to Dave Talbot

Toadflax Pug in actinic on the north harbour wall (new for SD36!)

Middleton CES saw reasonable numbers of Whitethroat but the only obvious migratory activity was two Sand Martin south and a bizarre tide displacement-unrelated flock of 23 Oystercatcher which tried to land on the model boat pond edge - very odd at this time of year.  c30 Swallows headed purposefully NE over Heysham NR

There were nine species of dragonfly seen today with the rarest for here being Southern Hawker - still less than ten records but most of them recently.  Thanks to Arnside Natural History Society for info.

Thanks to Dave Talbot

Monday 4th August

Heysham Obs
Of note were a juvenile Reed Warbler 'out of habitat' by the office and c200 Swallow in the Middleton roost (51 ringed)

Sunday 3 August 2014

August 1st to 3rd

Heysham Obs

Not a great deal new to report this last three days other than a few decent moths along the southern fringe with Mullein Wave and Grass Emerald on 1/8 plus 4 x Bordered Beauty in the office trap.  Meds have been in variable numbers but the main feature has been a large early influx of unringed juvs with many of the Ads and other older age classes from early July having moved on

1st August
Med Gull - 27, including 19 Juv, 4 adult, 3 2CY and a 3CY
Little Egret - 2

2nd August
Late in the tide cycle and just 11 juv and one adult Med

3rd August (thanks Gav & Ian)
Whimbrel - 1
Med Gull - 15 juv, 3CY, Ad