Thursday, 31 December 2015

Cettis doubleton

Heysham Obs
The bad news for year listers is that I couldnt find any Guillemot.  The good news is that there were two Cetti's Warblers in Middleton central marsh this morning but very elusive.

Harbour area
Med Gull - Czech adult north harbour wall
Cormorant - 6 in harbour
Red-breasted merganser - male by waterfall

Middleton (thanks Malcolm)
Cetti's Warbler - 2
Tufted Duck - 9
Teal - 28
Water Rail - 2+
Coot - 1
Mute Swan - 2 pairs & 2 young
Pink-footed Goose - 20 S

Wednesday, 30 December 2015


Heysham obs
No coverage yesterday

Harbour area late pm
Pintail - 6 out
Mallard - 4 out (unusual)
Guillemot - 1
Dark-toned common gull - 2cy south (only seen briefly)

Tuesday, 29 December 2015

Monday 28th December

Heysham Obs
Med Gull fest!

Harbour area (thanks also to Malcolm)
Med Gull - three adults appeared behind the IOM ferry - two smaller ones together, including the NHW Czech bird, starting to get a bit of summer plumage and a very large bird in full winter plumage
Kittiwake - one adult very briefly behind IOM ferry
Guillemot - one near waterfall
Linnet - 8
Goldfinch - c30

Sunday, 27 December 2015

Quiet warblers

Heysham Obs
A day for a long careful grilling of wetland nooks and crannies in perfect conditions

Loud and aggressive multiple dog (including Staffies and Alsatian) walkers set the agenda at Middleton with a polite request to keep their dogs to themselves met with abuse (especially the words 'old man'!!) and at least two other dog walkers seeing/hearing them and turning round and heading in the opposite direction.   Lots of minor complaints about this lot, especially from Red-veined Darter photographers, but most people seem to just head in the other direction for a bit of peace and quiet.

Middleton NR
Redwing - one
Cetti's Warbler - one called twice in central marsh
Wren - loads including six singing males!
Water Rail - 2+

Heysham NR wetland area
Chiffchaff - one seen a few times and called once alder woodland boardwalk area (collybita)
Goldcrest - just two - no crests at all by entrance gate
Woodcock - one
Water Rail - 1
Coal Tit - singing!!
As certain as can be no wintering Cetti's here

Boxing day haul

Heysham Obs
A few bits and bobs in the rain courtesy of Malcolm's efforts

Ocean Edge/Red Nab/harbour
1 common snipe
1 skylark (saltmarsh)
5 reed bunting
8 linnet
12 ringed plover
1 kingfisher (Red nab)
3 Great-crested Grebe
1 guillemot (harbour mouth)

Friday, 25 December 2015


Heysham Obs
Very poor today with absolutely nothing, other than an adult Med Gull to attract any year listers!  We are about 6 key species down on 'normal', especially if the Guillemots have in fact gone and not having a session in the underground reservoir (no 'resident' Rock Pipit, Purple Sand, Shag, Guillemot, Kittiwake, Twite)

What we do have are a new habit - Cormorants roosting on top of the platforms by the waterfall - watch this space for being able to read ring numbers and storm-sheltering Great-crested Grebe with up to 5 inshore (thanks Janet)

 3,000 oystercatcher 500 knot 150 redshank 20 turnstone heliport roost today

Ad Med Gull on railings north wall.  Up to 9 Linnet and double-figures of Goldfinch on seed

No moths! (we do check)

Up to 40 teal, 5 Snipe and 7 Tufted Duck Middleton yesterday (thanks Malcolm)

Thursday, 24 December 2015

Czech Med

Heysham Obs
Just the Czech Med along the north wall on the morning run; nothing obvious on the sea in 15 mins and common seagulls on Fishers roof.   Ferry not very productive - closely followed by Seatruck which then moored offshore and presumably 'held' most of the birds!  Just checked a few long range forecasts and its going to be mild and wildish right through until severe blizzards on 27th March!  Sandbags against the door if you are away this Christmas?

The IOM ferry link by the way is under 'Ben my Chree'

Sea 1200-1220
Pintail - 10 out (flock)
Kittiwake - 19 in very distant and 5 in probably associated with ferries
Great-crested Grebe - 5
Guillemot - 2

North wall
Czech-ringed Med Gull early morning
c25 'finches' but flighty

Wednesday, 23 December 2015

What is a high tide roost?

Heysham Obs
Please note the link to the midday IOM ferry details - sometimes the wake of this is quite productive, especially if wind/sea conditions are verging on cancellation, providing it hasn't passed an outbound ferry shortly beforehand!  Today produced 5 x adult Kittiwake and an adult Little Gull.   The map will also give general info on eg any incoming freight ferries but I think these are currently in darkness

Heysham Heliport wader roost.  Feedback from others would be good here.  It suddenly struck me this morning that a nice pleasant couple who flushed all the birds from the heliport, "hadn't noticed them" and were "not aware what a high tide roost was" were almost certainly from an inland location down south (certainly not local).   So the stuff we take for granted re-high tide roosts and low tide feeding areas will presumably have been very unfamiliar territory.  Still does not explain how they didn't notice 4,000 Knot and 4,500 Oystercatcher swirling about!  Or they were simply and very convincingly flat-batting what was a very conciliatory approach from me, allowing me to waste my breath carefully explaining the tidal cycle for these birds?  Most of the birds departed and the rest were soon given the heave ho by a jogger, but we don't expect joggers to notice anything, do we?

Come on Peel Energy, please get your act together re-fencing proposals - every time the roost starts to build up after a few days of grotty weather, it is seriously disturbed on the next "nice" day and the birds have nowhere else to go on the higher high tides nearer than Middleton saltmarsh or (if not wave-lashed) the Sunny slopes groyne.

Sea 0915-0945
Red-throated Diver - one out distantly
Kittiwake - tightly packed flock of five adults lifted off sea then re-landed
Guillemot - one in harbour

Ferry 1220ish
A lot of birds, some quite a way out
Kittiwake - at least 5 adults carried on into the Bay
Little Gull - adult slowly making its way out, perhaps not even associated with ferry

Tuesday, 22 December 2015

Bonxie but a kitless ferry

Heysham obs
A short break from the computer screen was surprisingly productive but a targeted break for the IOM ferry only saw common seagulls

North wall 1000-1030/lunchtime check
Pintail - 6 s
Bonxie - one south c1008 yellow buoy range
Great crested grebe - four in or in mouth of harbour
Guillemot - one harbour
No shag

Monday, 21 December 2015

Harbour fare

Heysham obs

A rather nervous 1cy shag was new in in the harbour wandering all over and last seen heading for the inner harbour

Harbour late pm
Guillemot - one
Shag - 1cy
Cormorant - 3
Great crested grebe - 1
Med gull - ad

Sunday, 20 December 2015

Guillemot calculations and Red Admiral report

Heysham Obs
Still a few problems with my eyes, especially staring through tanalised (tantalised?) fences.  Images of six Guillemot through three adjoining gaps in the fence, where previously there were three.  So there were two birds!

Harbour area
Great-crested Grebe - two (definitely!) in outer harbour
Med Gull - adult harbour mouth briefly
Guillemot - two together by waterfall

Tufted Duck - 11 model boat pond

Report of a Red Admiral (correctly described not dogwalker-speak for small tortoiseshell) down the dog track this morning (Brown House Moth in moth trap)


One winter moth in trap!

Friday, 18 December 2015


Heysham Obs
A 2CY sinensis Cormorant was on the island at Middleton model boat pond

Vicious Mute Swan behaviour on Middleton including a report of one adult being killed by one of the two territorial males.  At least two others being chased about.  I would have thought that flying off was a decent option given the amount of suitable water to land on locally

Otherwise unremarkable (per Malcolm, thanks for the effort)
No sign of barn owl at twilight.

Middleton NR
5 mallard, 7 tufted, 8 teal

Ocean Edge
2 little egret 32 linnet 1 common snipe

Red Nab
52 wigeon on Red Nab

Nothing of note on outflows or in harbour.

North wall feeder
 held 15 Goldfinch and 3 Linnet

No moths!

Thursday, 17 December 2015

Two bits

Heysham obs
Barn owl flying about at Middleton pm and dark chestnut moth in the trap

Tuesday, 15 December 2015


Guillemot and med gull adult harbour area mid pm

Monday, 14 December 2015

Calm weather activity

Heysham obs
Gave Heysham nr a good grilling this morning but ce up short as regards real interest eg no warblers

Heysham nr
Goldcrest - 4
Blackbird - 20
Goldfinch - 15
Water rail - 1
Coal tit - 2

North wall
Goldfinch - 18 13 caught 9 of these unringed
Med gull - adult but not certain whether czech bird

Single mottled umber and winter moth

Sunday, 13 December 2015

WeBs and short walkies

Heysham Obs
To add to yesterday, a Cormorant was seen to eat a Rockling by the waterfall.  Today an imm Cormorant attacked a 1CY Great Black-backed Gull in its 'space' and the gull backed-off!

Guillemot 1

Wooden jetty
Shag - 1 imm - the presumed 2CY, then disappeared

Red nab (thanks jenny)
Kingfisher - 1

North wall
Med Gull - Czech-ringed adult
Feeding site
Goldfinch - 18

Fishers roof
Runt Black-headed Gull - gave me a bit of a shock as couldn't see bill and nape on initial views - barely 2/3 size of adjoining birds at same angle

Middleton NR
Cetti's Warbler - one central marsh but very elusive even in perfect conditions
Water Rail - at least five
Tufted Duck - 7
Mallard - 7 model boat pond
Grey wagtail - colour ringed bird seen late afternoon on bottle dump ponds (orange over white with 2014 ring on left leg)

Waterproof birding

SATURDAY - thanks Malcolm - the rest of us were wimps

Nothing unpredictable, but not uninteresting. No sign of Cetti's.

MIddleton Nature reserve
adults + 2 juv mute swan
31 teal
7 tufted
3 mallard

Ocean Edge high tide
1 jack snipe
4 common snipe
9 linnet
1 reed bunting
1 meadow pipit
3 mallard

Red Nab
1 Kingfisher

1 Guilemot

Friday, 11 December 2015

Midday ferry and extras

Heysham Obs

Harbour area
Kittiwake - 6 ad, 2 1CY behind ferry
Little Gull - ad behind ferry
Shag - imm prob 2CY harbour
Guillemot - 2 harbour - one very wary new arrival
Pintail - 7 in
Med Gull - adult harbour mouth and it/another earlier coming to garden bread in NE recording area

Feeding Site:
Linnet - 9
Goldfinch - 15

Wednesday, 9 December 2015

Ferry fare

Heysham Obs
Went to check the IOM passenger ferry from the 'gap' by gate 38 where you have no idea where it is until it looms into view round the wooden jetty......but you do get a good view of the 'whirlpool gulls' as it turns the corner.   A predicted headline on the Waiting for Godot theme (it was late) proved unjustified as time could be spent scrutinising a presumed 2CY Shag which was new in in the harbour mouth.  Nearly all records from here are obvious brown 1CY.

Harbour mouth area 1150-1220
Med Gull -  definitely two adults, one of which was earlier on Fisher's roof
Kittiwake - adult with damaged outer primaries on left wing - behind ferry
Shag - 2CY (presumed) in harbour mouth throughout
Red-breasted Merganser - male harbour
Great-crested Grebe - one harbour
Guillemot - one by waterfall as usual

Tuesday, 8 December 2015

Cettis and Merlin top the bill

Heysham Obs

Middleton NR (thanks Malcolm)
Cetti's Warbler - as yesterday in central marsh but similarly elusive
Grey geese - 80 S (distant and silent)
Merlin - male
Sparrowhawk - 2 female
Teal - 81 and others still in reeds
Tufted Duck - 6
Mute Swan - 4 ad & 2 juv grounded - 2 ad S
Long-tailed Tit - 20+
Snipe - 2


Monday, 7 December 2015

Fairish weather fare

Heysham Obs

Middleton NR
Cetti's Warbler - one calling in central marsh just NW of overgrown central pond
Meadow Pipit - 1
Gadwall - pair but flew off
Grey Wagtail - one dropped into sewage works - legs not seen for rings
Mute Swan - pair plus two young MBP
Tufted Duck - 3 MBP
No Water Rail heard - water levels very high

Heysham NR
Mottled Umber in trap

Sunday, 6 December 2015

Ferry fare

Heysham Obs
Going through the motions with a powerwalk to the south harbour mouth to check an incoming ferry was rather better than expected but would probably have been even better staying at the car with the scope to sort a distant skua.  Apologies for not putting this out at the time - no reception at the time or indeed until I reached home at 1600ish

Gate 38/south harbour 1135-1155
Great Skua - one behind freight ferry, then sat on sea
Skua spp - probably juv Pom - one flying out rather slowly - quite distant, then appeared top head across towards south Walney
Guillemot - usual bird
No Kittiwakes behind the ferry
Note this gate is locked

North wall
Goldfinch - 16 on seed

Dark Chestnut but this may have gone into the trap on the previous night

Friday, 4 December 2015

Angle shades of unknown origin

Heysham obs
A battered looking angle shades was in the moth trap along with single winter moth and mottled umber.   Is this migrant ?

Bird wise - quick check of the harbour and just offshore produced a cancelled IOM ferry and the usual guillemot

Thursday, 3 December 2015

Pre-empting nothing else to say!

Heysham Obs
Desperate times when the 'highlight' is checking whether a Guillemot is still in the harbour - may not have time today so the only posting might be:

Moth trap
Unseasonal Daddy Long Legs, Dark Chestnut, 3 x Winter Moth and Mottled Umber

Not quite a birding blank - a break in the weather as the IOM ferry came in
Kittiwake - adult
Guillemot -1
Pink footed goose - 20 se

Wednesday, 2 December 2015

Dull and wet rut

Heysham obs
Nothing much happening

Guillemot in harbour the last two days

Ad med gull harbour entrance this am

Three mottled umber in trap two nights ago, one mottled umber and one light brown apple moth last night

Monday, 30 November 2015

Not a lot

Heysham obs

Guillemot in harbour

Sunday, 29 November 2015

Too wild and woolly with poor visibility

Heysham obs
Meagre fare as far as I am aware

Guillemot in harbour
Ad little gull in surf s of ocean edge
11 ringed plover oe

Saturday, 28 November 2015

The start of more wind driven odds and ends

Heysham obs
Sea on and off for one hour mid am
Little gull - Gang of 4 adults lifted off sea then lost in poor visibility
Pintail - 2 south

Ocean edge/outfalls
Shag - juvenile close inshore
Ringed plover - 11
Snipe - 4
Linnet - c20

Friday, 27 November 2015

Moths pulling above their weight

Heysham Obs
The trap, usually useless at this time of year, held two Mottled Umber, three Winter Moth and a Light Brown Apple Moth.  Don't think tonight will be too good but some 'warm' nights coming up with this site sheltered from south-westerlies

The only notable bird was an adult Med Gull on Fishers roof at high tide


Heysham Obs
A surprisingly unproductive visit to Middleton (no Cettis) followed a short ringing session by the office which included a huge male Chaffinch (92mm wing, 25.7g weight) and another two unringed female Bullfinch.  At least two other Bullfinch were seen and at least another further two on Middleton

A Mottled Umber graced the trap

Wednesday, 25 November 2015

Late migration

Heysham obs
Middleton nr central and western marshes
Cetti's warbler - either one calling intermittently in both marshes or it sneaked across the road without me seeing it!   No simultaneous calls
Kingfisher - one
Water rail - at least three in western marsh reed bed
Long tailed tit - flock of 17
Goldcrest - one with above
Skylark - 2 se
Meadow pipit - 1 plus 1 se
Pink footed goose - 56 se
Grey wagtail - one sewage works legs not seen

Guillemot - 1

Two winter moth and one mottled umber

Tuesday, 24 November 2015

Whistle stop

Heysham Obs
Med Gull - ad Fishers roof HT
Rock Pipit - one north wall near naze area

Single December Moth and Mottled Umber in moth trap

Monday, 23 November 2015

THE cold frosty morning of the winter according to some forecasts!

Heysham Obs
Just drawing in the sightings for this year and doing a bit of preliminary "analysis"   What an odd year!   Some of it you couldn't make up like the only tern record after 2nd September was a moulting adult White-winged Black!!

Just to reaffirm what was posted the other day.  A conversation today indicated that vehicles parked in unexpected locations and unfamiliar people will be subject to more comprehensive security checks than has hitherto been the case.

Middleton NR am (Jean and Malcolm)
Chiffchaff - recording sounds interesting but views limited to 'greyish glimpse' - couldn't be found (by me) later - interacting with Cetti's Warbler for short period in same bushes along south end of Western Marsh
Cetti's Warbler - seen and recorded as per yesterday
Water Rail - absolute minimum of 6 (3+ in western marsh reedbed) during abortive warbler search by Pete at lunchtime
Song Thrush - two olive-coloured migrants - flew inland
Mute Swan - dead unringed imm central marsh
plus 6 tufted 4 mallard 70+ teal 9 moorhen 5 common snipe

Red-breasted Merganser - male by waterfall
Cormorant - 7 by waterfall
Guillemot - one by waterfall

Bullfinch - two unringed females caught

Ringing by office
Chaffinch (1), Bullfinch (2), Goldfinch (3), Greenfinch (5) plus a few retraps

Mottled Umber

Sunday, 22 November 2015

New Cetti's located as the weather calms down

Heysham Obs
So there have been "46ish Goldfinches on the seed all month".  So why were 29 out of 39 un-ringed this morning, despite two 'comprehensive' catches earlier in the month!   The answer can be found in e.g. the vis mig data from Portland (and e.g. Gibraltar Point) - November is still a major passage month for this species, even if it is not so discernable vis mig-wise on the west coast

North wall
Med Gull - Czech-ringed adult
Twite - one heard and seen in flight
Goldfinch - 45ish
Linnet - at least 8
Pink-footed Goose - 46 SE
Meadow Pipit - 1+
Guillemot - still in harbour - thanks Janet - taken today, hence sunlight!!

Cetti's Warbler - one calling all the time, including the little churr, (but no song) in the willows along the southern bank of the western marsh - near the sewage works.  Didn't appear to be ringed but views of esp left leg very brief
Reed Bunting - 2
Tufted Duck - 6

Heysham NR
Siskin - one heard

Goldfinch - 29 new and 10 retraps, Linnet - 3 new

Moths (Justine)
Stigmella alnetella/glutinosae on Alder at Middleton NR today. These two species need breeding through to be certain of which one it is.

Phyllonorycter rajella from MNR today. Alder is about the only species with leaves on now.

Saturday, 21 November 2015

Wrong kind of cold

Heysham Obs
Not cold enough or cold long enough for here as north winds are pretty hopeless unless they encourage use of a migratory corridor (e.g. Whoopers) which has been closed for a bit or old weather movements.  Shame for the visiting birding group which seemed to disappear elsewhere in record time!   Locked gates for security and safety reasons, however, stay that way for visiting birding groups unless some form of  advance notice and a bit of negotiation is possible.  Therefore the only available bird of remote interest was an hour away rather than one minute.  Just to remind people that whilst birders are very welcome here, one of the duties of the harbour and power station police is to take details of any visitors they do not recognise, especially perhaps those with cameras. This especially applies to unsettled winter weather when the odd seabird might be tucked into a corner of the harbour or a gull of interest on Fisher's roof,  'necessitating' scopes being directed towards more sensitive areas than out to sea.  If you don't like this, simply please stay away (see sidebar).  Thanks to Malcolm for Middleton stuff

Publishable stuff of interest today
Guillemot - one in harbour by waterfall
Goldeneye - male far offshore off Heysham skeers
Woodcock - one Middleton NR
[Two 'dark geese' at extreme range in flight "along" the Barrow coast road!]

Also ran
Goldcrest - one by office
Meadow Pipit - one flew over office
Goldfinch - 20 ish north wall
Linnet - 5 ish north wall
Teal - 5 Middleton
Eider - only 8 could be found offshore around the skeers 

Friday, 20 November 2015

Plummeting early afternoon temperatures

Heysham obs
A few bits today

Kittiwake - flock of 31 am
Little gull - ad seaward end outfalls early am
Guillemot - one still in harbour - dead r/g on sea
Fulmar - one observed flying out of Heysham airspace from stone jetty
Shag - 1cy in harbour pm only (and 8 cormorant)
Pink-footed goose - 62 s pm

First gadwall since the summer - very skittish male
Two redwing
Teal - 18 plus

Thursday, 19 November 2015

Storm blown Gannet

Heysham Obs

The tired windblown Gannet
(photo taken with I-phone through the scope hence poor quality)
Guillemot in the harbour

Adult Gannet on the shore between Red Nab and the outfalls (it has been seen flying)

Adult Kittiwake Stage 2 outfall, 6 behind 1OM ferry

Whooper swan - 4 south

Goldeneye - two males by skeer off Heysham head

46 Goldfinch and 9 Linnet on seed but no Twite

No moths in trap - not even a mossie!

Poor visibility and rain

Heysham Obs
Wednesday 18th November
The search for the cutting edge involved a low point of waiting to see how many diving Tufted Duck there were on the model boat pond sitting in a warm car (8)

More credibility getting soaked and finding two storm-blown 1CY Shag sitting it out in the harbour but not feeding - by all accounts they didnt stay long

The Guillemot was also present in the harbour by the waterfall

Tuesday, 17 November 2015

Calm down dear!

The wind abated slightly this morning and so did the birds.
A Guillemot was still in he harbour
60 finches were on the North Harbour Wall, about 40 Goldfinches and 20 Linnet. No Twite.
Just 6 Tufted Duck on the model boat pond at Middleton NR (3M, 3F)

Monday, 16 November 2015

Nice selection over a very long time!

Heysham Obs
A little frustrating today with a male Snow Bunting heading south towards the area not located within and the Grey Phalarope's not quite clinched as the 'on the sea' views were just glimpses before being lost in the rather distant heavy seas.  One the plus side, the 'what's that' as viewed out of window by Reuben was also then seen by Steve and myself and proved to be the first 'from the office' skua spp in the form of a westbound Bonxie with a few trailing gulls warily keeping their distance,  Thanks to Bill, Andrew, Jean and Malcolm for coverage 
Sea on and off 1000 onwards to just before dusk
Whooper Swan - 9+7+2 south in the afternoon
Pintail - 19+3 south
Shag - 1CY afternoon
Grey Phalarope - "two very probable grey phalarope - long way out (beyond the red buoy) but they settled on the sea and then I lost them in the waves"
Leach's Petrel - one yellow buoy area late afternoon then lost in rough seas further south 
Skua spp - one very distant bird in Cumbria
Kittiwake - 15 or so behind the IOM ferry, one out
Med Gull - 2 adult
Guillemot - one in the waterfall area of harbour
Linnet - 7
Twite - 1
Goldfinch - c15
Office area
Bonxie (Great Skua) - one flew west at 1200hrs, almost certainly then headed south
Middleton NR
Chiffchaff - 1

Sunday, 15 November 2015

Very fortunate

Heysham obs
The Heysham equivalent of sitting in a hide paid dividends this morning.   The maritime inaction was tempered by listening to the radio and reading the paper whilst regularly carrying out 180 degree scans.  Then at 1012hrs, a little black thing with a white rump sheared through the optics before turning and trying to fly out before the process was repeated.   Then it all happened as a flock of 16 Pintail flew out. Didn't expect this in the conditions which seemed a fraction too far to the south and certainly were an hour or two later .  Tried to intercept it at the stone jetty to give some inner bay watchers am idea of where to look but this coincided with some poor visibility.

Inshore sightings
Leach's petrel - one in 1012 hrs about 150m beyond the buoys
Guillemot - one by waterfall at low tide
Pintail- flock of 16 out
Cormorant - 5 waterfall
Med gull -  adult fishers h.t.
Wren - one near south Roundhead!

Dead hedgehog by reserve entrance

Saturday, 14 November 2015

Making the most of useless conditions

Heysham Obs
As suspected, checking the synoptic charts, daylight hours today saw slack winds and heavy drizzle for the most part.  Watching the sea would be like watching paint dry.  So a bit of a low tide check, followed by a date with MapMate, whilst Malcolm did the full rounds before the heavy rain started.

Middleton NR
No Cetti's Warbler heard at 1030 0r 1315 and no sign of yesterdays 1CY male Goldeneye
6 mute swan
10 tufted duck
28 teal
2 moorhen
1 grey heron
2 little egret
5 snipe over to South (1 flock 12.45)

Ocean edge
1 Jack snipe
6 common snipe
2 little egret
23 turnstone
1 ringed plover
c30 linnet
6 mallard

Red Nab
32 wigeon
1 kingfisher

SW Round Head
1 juvenile shag

Nothing on or
over water

Low tide check north wall early am
Eider - 47
Med Gull - adult 

Friday, 13 November 2015

A varied mix but missing the key species

Heysham obs
Should have implemented the previous experience of the best time for Leach's Petrel being one to three hours after high tide.  We missed the critical time for the Preesall sands sighting, assuming it came past and the later afternoon stone jetty bird was forced further out by lbbg attention and was presumably behind distant wave troughs or eaten by the time it should have reached Heysham . Fingers crossed for the next few days but unfortunately not a straightforward pattern of strong onshore winds and this is very bad news for any hoped for leach's. Worth checking the low tide channel first thing tomorrow?

Sea on and off 0930 onwards
Great skua - two sightings which suggested the two knott end birds having split up, the second of these also presumably the lighthouse cottage bird at long range off ocean edge.
Sanderling - flock of nine out unprecedented at this time of year
Golden plover - flock of nine out - unusual
Pintail- 13, 4, 32 out
Common scoter - 2 separate males in
Little gull - adult
Kittiwake - 14, 20, 16 in early on, one out, 3 in then out again behind the ferry, 11 out mid-afternoon and 4 in
Razorbill - flock of five out
Pink-footed goose - 21 se
Red-throated Diver - 1 heading out then landed on the sea
adult Med Gull floating along the north wall

Middleton NR
Goldeneye - 1CY male
Tufted duck - 11

Thursday, 12 November 2015

Finch blitz

Heysham Obs
The only remotely suitable ringing weather (but not for mist nets) at the moment led to all or most of the north harbour wall finches being caught.  Unfortunately no Twite.  31 new Goldfinch and 6 new Linnets were ringed plus another 25 retrap Goldfinch

Med Gull - adult following freight ferry and 2CY roosting on Red Nab
Wigeon - 44 Red Nab
Mallard - 4 Red Nab
Shelduck - 178 off Ocean Edge
Little Egret - 2 Ocean Edge

Vis mig by office for two 15 min stretches
Chaffinch - 23 SW
Mistle Thrush - 3 SW
Woodpigeon - flock of 35 S
Goldfinch - 3 S

The first (and perhaps the only on previous form here) December Moth of the year

Grey Seal - 1 close under the north harbour wall on the incoming tide.

Tuesday, 10 November 2015

Bits and pieces

Four Pintail were mentioned by the person who was going to post them!

TUESDAY Heysham obs

Kittiwake - five ad behind IOM ferry
Auk spp on sea then out
Pintail - 16 plus 4 put
Wigeon - flock of 29 out

No moths!

Monday, 9 November 2015

Thats more like it!

Heysham Obs
Some decent horrible weather for a change and some things which have been scarce/non-existent this year

Sea 0810-0940 Heysham north wall
Great Northern Diver - on the water 0845, then flew after about 30 seconds and disappeared around the wooden jetty remains - lost in the poor visibility.  Almost certainly a juv - faint impressions of dull edgings to mantle.  Big feet!
Red-throated Diver - 1+1+2 out
Guillemot - one on water close in
Pintail - flock of 13 out
Shelduck - 5+23+18+14 out
Great-crested Grebe - juv on water
Rock Pipit - one windblown bird

Grey Seal close inshore

All singletons of species with Red plus a hyphen, the latter pretty scarce here!  Red-line Quaker, Red-green Carpet, Red Sword-grass

Sunday, 8 November 2015

A Lone Fisherman

Heysham North Harbour Wall
Conditions so poor this morning that only one fisherman was present, and this a Sunday morning!
High wind and very heavy rain discouraged me from leaving the car and visibility through the windows was awful. A group of  about 60 finches briefly on the seed were so tightly packed in the wind that it was impossible to count them.

They comprised approximately equal numbers of Goldfinch and Linnet.

Heysham NR
No moths in the trap - lamp failed during night.

No other reports


Late afternoon:   north wall feeding station completely flooded by a raging torrent
Adult Med Gull on the sea
Absolutely soaked between office and the car!

Saturday, 7 November 2015

The A Team's Away

Heysham North Harbour Wall
At the feeding site this morning were:
Goldfinch - 32
Linnet - 8

from jm

Middleton NR
Sightings received from Malcolm, thanks very much:

Mute Swan - 7
Coot - 2
Moorhen - 3
Teal - 28
Tufted duck - 10
Grey Heron - 1
Cettis Warbler - male singing at 11.15 just after rain stopped.  No sign at 13.15.
Redwing - 54 minimum
Fieldfare - at least 4 feeding in hawthorns

Ocean Edge
Little Egret - 2
Linnet -c25
Meadow Pipit - 2

Just three moths in the Hut Trap:  Silver Y (2), Feathered Thorn (1)

Red Admiral - 1 Middleton NR


Friday, 6 November 2015

Minimum Coverage

Heysham North Harbour Wall

Feeding Area:
Goldfinch - 30+
Linnet - 20+
Robin - 1
Magpie - 1

No Twite in the area.

Hut Moth Trap
This morning the trap held: Silver Y (3), Feathered Thorn (2) and Mottled Umber (1)

Thursday, 5 November 2015

North wall on form

Heysham Obs
Visited the north wall in some murky but dry weather early morning and was surprised to see three Brambling and two Chaffinch amongst the Goldfinch/Linnet hordes on the seed.  Meadow Pipit were heard and there were about half a dozen scattered around.  Clearly further investigation needed in the absence of dog walkers and anglers.  Many of the birds were really awkward, feeding in mayweed on top of the bank and there was no easy way to get close and observe.  A rather short hard call was heard and then two brief silhouettes of something different which eventually gave itself up as an imm Yellowhammer - nice!   Unfortunately my left leg decided to give up as well and proposed visits to check the south harbour were abandoned.  Don't recommend sciatica.

Returned to the car and feeding station and gingerly staggered down with a new supply of nyger seed which inevitably flushed everything and the five larger finches headed off SE

North harbour wall mound/feeder
Brambling - male and two females
Chaffinch - two males
Goldcrest - 1
Yellowhammer - one immature
Linnet - 21
Twite - one
Goldfinch - 30+
Rock Pipit - 3 (two together)
Meadow Pipit - 6 grounded and joined by a flock of 17 which seemed to come in-off
Wren - 2
Pied Wagtail - 2
Starling - 13
Robin - 3
Dunnock - 2
Song Thrush - 1

Heysham Head - Stuart and Dan
Goldcrest - 10
Lesser Redpoll - 1
southbound vis:
Brambling - 5
Chaffinch - 3
Rock Pipit - 2
Redpoll - 2
Meadow Pipit - 5

Ocean Edge from car
Rock Pipit - 1
Meadow Pipit - 1
surprisingly dead

Feathered Thorn and a late Common Marbled Carpet

Wednesday, 4 November 2015

Lacking detail!

Heysham obs
Bit of an end of season feel about today. Blackbirds and chaffinches in small numbers but very little else. Unfortunately the exact figures in the ringing book - will be sorted tomorrow

Heysham nr
Brambling - 2 sw
Chaffinch - 50 plus sw
Blackbird - c50 grounded
Mistle thrush - 3 se
Pink footed goose - 6 s
Chiffchaff - one
Goldcrest - three unringed
Jay - one sw
A few goldfinch and greenfinch

Goldcrest (3), greenfinch (2), chaffinch (1), goldfinch (1), blue tit (1)

Just a parsnip moth!

Tuesday, 3 November 2015

First Whoosh of the Season

Heysham North Harbour Wall
Much less misty this morning. A whoosh netting session was curtailed by noisy fabrication work close by in the Centrica compound, however not before two catches were made with a total of:

Goldfinch - 29 unringed plus 5 local retraps
Linnet - 3 unringed

There were more finches around before being displaced by the fabrication,  but apparently no Twite.  Apart from a local Robin and a pair of Pied Wagtails little else was seen by the ringers.


Meanwhile those not ringing went scouting round for odds and ends. JR found a few odds and ends while DH found some odds and ends worth reporting, including this superb Shortie):

Moneyclose Lane:
Brambling 1
Goldcrest 14
Chiffchaff 2
Blackcap 1
Redwing 15
Mistle Thrush 2
Coal Tit 5
Bullfinch 6
Red Nab:
Grey Wagtail 1
Twite 1
South Harbour Wall
Grey Wagtail 2
Meadow Pipit 3
Linnet 10
Goldfinch 1, Dunnock 1, Wren 1, Pied Wagtail 1
Sandplant and the Mound (North Harbour Wall)
Skylark - 1 grounded (very unusual here)
Song Thrush - 2 (the sea buckthorn has its uses)
Pied Wagtail 2, Robin 1, Goldfinch 2, Linnet 1, Wren 1, Carrion Crow 4, Starling 4
Heysham Nature Reserve
Of note - 15 Blackbirds, 1 Redwing plus 5 others over, 1 Brambling over, 1+Siskin over, 2 Goldcrests
Then saving the best till last:
Heysham Head:
Crossbill 2 - in sycamores by the Barrows, then flew east
Short-eared Owl 1 - sat on top of the cliffs, then was flushed by man's best friend and flew out over the water, then looped back and seemed to land on the rocks below the cliffs.
Brambling 1
Chiffchaff 1
Blackcap 1
Goldcrest 4
Redwing 3
Skylark 1

Monday, 2 November 2015


Heysham Obs
Amazing difference between Heysham NR and Middleton this am - the former clear at dawn and the latter fogbound all morning.  Arrived far too late at Heysham with Long-tailed Tits already calling and entering the nets as I was setting up and one of the biggest grounding of thrushes I have known here with upwards of 100 Redwing and 50 Fieldfare was disturbed from the thin line of bushes alongside the mist net ride!   What a shame they were not up pre-dawn.  A decent catch at Heysham of the sort conspicuously absent this autumn i.e. dominated by finches, especially Greenfinch.  Middleton on the other hand was virtually thrushless with the only capture being the first Fieldfare to be ringed this millenium and the small catch was dominated by Goldcrest.  After a virtual absence of Blackcap in the second half of October, six have been ringed in the last two days in the SE winds - are these central European origin prospective winterers? 

Cetti's Warbler - singing male central marsh early on
Lesser Redpoll - 2 ringed
Brambling - 2 over
Blackcap - 2 ringed
Vis mig not possible due to fog but plenty of e.g. Pink-feet heard

Heysham NR
A good two hours of clearish conditions saw some vis mig
Redpoll - 1 S
Fieldfare - 50 at dawn, then inland + 25 SW
Redwing - 100 at dawn then inland plus a further 220 either SW or rising from bushes and heading inland.  Then it went pear-shaped about 0900 and many subsequently heard in the fog
Blackbird - at least 48 migrants
Chaffinch - at least 40 S
Song Thrush - at least 4 migrants
Carrion Crow - 6 S
Goldfinch - 25 S
Pink-footed Goose - 350 north then 5 lots heard after 0900hrs
Bullfinch - 2+2+1 S
Skylark - 15 SE and 4 subseuqnt registrations in the fog
Meadow Pipit - 2 S
Reed Bunting - 1 S
Collared Dove - 1 E
Short-eared Owl - one "found" by a gang of Magpies on the plateau and flew, chased by 7 Magpie towards the golf course
Chiffchaff - at least two new arrivals and one ringed yesterday at Middleton
Blackcap - female ringed
Greenfinch - some movement as evidenced by ringing total
Dunnock - two lightweight unringed birds unexpected so late in the season
Long-tailed Tit - at least three flocks at or just after dawn with the only ones caught being unringed 

Ringing Heysham and Middleton new birds
Fieldfare (1), Blackcap (3), Chiffchaff (1), Lesser Redpoll (2), Goldcrest (19), Chaffinch (5), Goldfinch (3), Greenfinch (16 - equalling the grand total for October!), Song Thrush (1), Blackbird (1), Dunnock (2), Long-tailed Tit (5), Blue Tit (2)

Angle Shades x 2, Silver Y x 1, LBAM x 1

Sunday, 1 November 2015

What we used to call abietinus

Heysham Obs
The deal these days, as per Dutch DNA samples, seems to be if it doesn't look like a collybita and  looks like our former perception of abietinus, it is now a Siberian Chiffchaff (along with the more obvious 'classic tristis') .  HPY579 is the third Goldcrest ringed by someone else this autumn

Heysham NR (thanks also to Ian and Gavin)
Siberian-type Chiffchaff - one ringed
Chiffchaff - 4 (2 ringed)
Woodcock - 1
Goldcrest - c12
Wren - one unringed
Robin - one unringed
Blackbird - c20
Song Thrush - c5
Redwing - 250 early on SW, then very difficult to keep tabs on a significant dribble
Bullfinch - 1 S
Chaffinch - several calling from bushes early on and 4 x females caught
Whooper Swan - 2 S

Middleton NR
Cettis not heard
Blackcap - 3 ringed
Chiffchaff - one ringed
Lesser Redpoll - one ringed
Goldcrest - 6 unringed and one 'control'
Robin - pale lightweight unringed bird

Monthly ringing totals for October (=715)
A very odd month with some species doing very well, yet others, notably Chaffinch and Greenfinch in very low numbers in relation to effort
Above average:
Yellow-browed Warbler (4), Goldcrest (166), Chiffchaff (85), Redwing (67), Lesser Redpoll (109), Coal Tit (34), Blackcap (45 - but only four after mid-month - passage ceased when winds went NE)
Below average
Greenfinch (16), Chaffinch (9), Blackbird (6), Dunnock (9), Blue Tit (28), Great Tit (9), Reed Bunting (27 - lot of effort for little reward here)
Goldfinch (4 - not targeted), Kestrel (1), Wren (27), Long-tailed Tit (21), Bullfinch (7), Robin (25), Song Thrush (4), Tree Sparrow (3), Treecreeper (3), Cetti's Warbler (1), Garden Warbler (1), Grey Wagtail (4)

After the little flurry of late warblers this morning, a reminder that winter is around the corner - sat on Justine's trap this morning in the Obs recording area.  The office toilet trap was quite good with 3 x Silver Y, 2 x Red-line Quaker, Large Wainscot and Pink-barred Sallow

Saturday, 31 October 2015

Bit of vis mig and a few odds and ends plus belated Black Red

Heysham Obs
Did an hours vis mig at home, then a bit at Sunderland, Middleton and finally Heysham NR.  Relevant to the obs recording area were:

Reed Bunting  2 S
Meadow Pipit - 2 S
Redwing - 35 SW
Chaffinch - 38 SW (180 S over my house High Tatham  0705-0805)

Other bits (thanks Malcolm for some of these)
Wheatear - rather large juv Northern Ocean Edge
Black Redstart - one seen by a dog walker yesterday morning at the eastern end of Half Moon Bay - female/imm - described as 'uniformly sooty' (with red tail).  No sign this afternoon
Woodcock - one flushed from mist net ride whilst topping up HNr feeder
Goldfinch - 46 NHW feeder
Linnet - 20 NHW feeder
Twite - heard (just one bird?) in sea buckthorn area NHW
Chiffchaff - one Middleton
Cetti's Warbler - again singing and calling Middleton but no views of legs yet to see if ringed

At least one Migrant Hawker and one Common Darter Middleton.  Tomorrow looks very good for insects.  Large Wainscot, Turnip Moth highlights of the moth trap.  Two Red Admiral seen

Friday, 30 October 2015

Ready and waiting but few birds

Heysham Obs
The rain alarm said clearance again at c0930, so swung into action.  The problem was that the large numbers of Goldcrests had melted away/migrated on during the clear early part of last night and three hours with a mist net "only" produced five individuals (all unringed).  Significant numbers of thrushes heading south over my house 0830ish were also not replicated here.  Should have stayed at home and monitored the vis.  Thanks to Malcolm for Middleton/OE details

Heysham NR
Goldcrest - only about 10 seen (5 ringed)
Chiffchaff -one collybita-type
Redwing - 60 dropped in in dribs and drabs from the east
Mistle Thrush - 2 SW
Starling and Fieldfare - zero

Cetti's Warbler -singing male from same location as the other day (per Malcolm) - NE central marsh
Woodcock - one near solrec
Mute Swan - 4
Coot - 4
Moorhen - 15
Tufted Duck - 13
Teal - 16+
Snipe - 1
Pheasant - 1
Blackcap - male

Ocean Edge
Mallard - the usual three
Linnet - 35
Greenfinch - 10
House Sparrow - c20
Snipe - 4

Here is a pic of what could easily be lurking somewhere on HN reserve - a presumed north European Woodcock which landed in White Lund estate yesterday morning and remained between the plant pots most of the day.   Thanks to Paul Cocker

Get a grip!

Heysham Obs
Posted 30 seconds too late for it to register as 'Thursday' which of course this was:

Messed it up big-style today as the lone observer.  Comments that you see nothing sitting in hides during the passerine migration seasons represent minor fieldcraft errors compared to retreating into the office in driving rain and SE wind which started at dawn after a clear night.  It then clears up and the wind drops but you don't go outside again until three hours later to top up the feeder! Immediately became aware of "Goldcrests in every bush"!

I had one hour to rectify the situation before I had to go:
Goldcrest - c50 on a quick reserve circuit
Blackbird - c30 ditto
Song Thrush - 3 ditto
Starling - 700 S
Fieldfare - 130 SW
Skylark - 14 SE

The one mist net set for one round produced 4 x Goldcrest, 2 x Goldfinch and 1 x Greenfinch

Wednesday, 28 October 2015

Hooked beaks and claws day

Heysham Obs
A very short post-rain ringing session at the feeders produced a juvenile male Kestrel in the net - perhaps targeting a rat!

Earlier a Short-eared Owl flew south over the office area mid-morning but was chased away by crows, when it seemed to want to land in the tank farm, and carried on south.  Hopefully I can retrieve this species for the Patchwork Challenge having missed two this week

Middleton NR
Goldcrest - 5+
Couldn't hear any Cetti's Warbler but not there very long

North harbour wall
Goldfinch - 26
Linnet - 20
Meadow Pipit - 1 grounded

1 Silver Y the only inhabitant of the trap

Tuesday, 27 October 2015

Promising start then mediocre

Heysham Obs
Immobilised by a trapped nerve in the left leg is not a good recipe in an east wind, but a flurry of early stuff was followed by a very poor period with no sign of the anticipated Fieldfare wave (or later at High Tatham watching the Aire/Wenning flightline) and the more mobile members of the team also had rather meagre fare. 

The next three mornings look pretty wet for the first three hours or so but the recipe for dropping a few late odds and ends is certainly there.  However, this has been a most peculiar autumn with the awful 'in house' breeding season (notably, based on Heysham ringing totals in relation to effort, for Chaffinch, Meadow Pipit, Sedge Warbler, Greenfinch, Blackbird and even to a lesser extent e.g. Robin and Wren) compensated for by good numbers of presumed north European/west Siberian migrants inflating the ringing totals of e.g. Blackcap, Chiffchaff, Goldcrest and contributing about 33% of the all time grand total for Yellow-browed Warbler.

However, there still seems to be a lot of unfinished business with continental Chaffinch/Brambling as well as the anticipated Fieldfare arrival.  Sunday onwards looks good for vis mig.

Some more interesting ringing recoveries:
Grey Wagtail
Z835237          3          16.09.15          Middleton NR
Sighted            0          28.09.15          Blacon Chester (Cheshire) 91 km S  in 12 days

Z297587     Ist CY.   6/9/15         Heysham  NR, Lancs 
Read in field:         26/10/15        Etherow country park, SJ973911, Greater  Manchester 
Dare one say "typical" sightings of this species, but they are part of a growing cluster along/near the M56 corridor
CXK886         5M       27.01.15          Langport Sewage Works (Somerset)
Recaptured      4M       04.10.15          Heysham         334 km N in 250 days
This, of course, has not only flown north from Somerset but south from an unknown breeding site.  The second adult bird ringed to the south of here caught this autumn
Lesser Redpoll
D519978         5          01.05.13          Humshaugh (Northumberland)
Recaptured      4M       12.10.15          Middleton 124 km SSW in 894 days
Heysham NR today
Long-tailed Tit - mainly unringed flock of about 17 (5 caught and ringed)
Coal Tit - one unringed bird and at least one south
Fieldfare - just 26
Redwing - just 43
Chaffinch - 45
Meadow Pipit - 8
Starling - 32
Pink-footed Goose - 175
Linnet - 2
Skylark - 5
alba Wagtail - 1
Grounded Heysham office area & tank farm
Song Thrush - 8
Blackbird - 10
Goldcrest - 5
Redwing - 1
Lesser Redpoll - 2 ringed
Chiffchaff - 1 ringed
Goldcrest - 7 unringed birds caught
Redwing - 'a few' but just one ringed

North wall late morning
Linnet 19-21
Goldfinch 13-15
Twite 1
Robin 1
Reed Bunting  1
mostly on the seed, but not the Twite which was unringed and the gcs suggested 1CY
Red Admiral - 2 south very purposefully
Silver Y - one in trap


Monday, 26 October 2015

Nice little selection

Heysham Obs
Considering general migration was at a very low level this morning, if lack of thrushes was anything to go by, quite a decent haul, but couldn't get any views of a possible Siberian Chiffchaff on Heysham Head with 3-4 mobile Blue Tit other than call x 3, brief pale underparts and a long tail. Binned as could not be relocated.  Ironically the calling collybita-type with LTTs gave excellent views!.

Middleton Nature reserve (thanks Malcolm)
Mute Swan - 2 pairs + 2 cygnets
Moorhen - 7
Coot - 2
Mallard - 3 (no Gadwall recently)
Teal - 52 (very flighty)
Cetti's Warbler - singing male NE corner of central marsh

Ocean Edge/Red NabShort eared owl - one rose from the high tide line on saltmarsh and headed north over caravans
Kestrel - 1
Common snipe - 3
Little Egret - 3
Rock Pipit - 1
Med Gull - 2CY

Heysham Nature reserve vis mig 0715-0915ish
Chaffinch - 79 SW
Brambling - 1-2 (two birds, one definite Brambling calling) SW
Linnet - flock of 6 SE
Meadow Pipit - 1+1+1 S
Starling - 284 in 6 flocks S/SW
Lapwing - flock of 9 high to SE
Woodpigeon - 9 SE
Greenfinch - 1 SW!
Swallow - juvenile blogging, then S (very late for here)
alba Wagtail - 1 SE
Bullfinch - 2 S

Grounded migrants HNR
Very little
Blackbird - 8
Goldcrest - 5

North Harbour Wall
Linnet - 17 around the feeding area and Sea Buckthorn bushes
Goldfinch - 2 with Linnets
Robin - 1 feeding area

Heysham Head
see above
Chiffchaff - 1
Treecreeper - 2
Redpoll - 2 S
Starling - 11 SW

Middleton NR
Red Admiral - 1
Common Darter - 6 including ovipositing pair

Heysham Head
Silver Y

Heysham NR - all in NE corner
Comma - three on ivy bloom
Red Admiral - 3 on ivy bloom
Speckled Wood - one very geriatric one
Migrant Hawker - 1
Common Darter - 1

(Comma - 1 below obs tower site
Small Tortoiseshell - 2 apparently setting off across bay north-westwards from NHW)

Moth trap
Singles of Large Wainscot and Angle Shades

1 red admiral
6 common darter, including pair depositing eggs in a soon to
be dried up puddle

Sunday, 25 October 2015

Yellow-browed Warbler summary for LDBWS recording area

Heysham Obs
Apart from c40 Blackbird and 11 Song Thrush, not a lot happening this morning other than a grounded Reed Bunting and (with apologies to Floyd) another Brick in the toilet

Some waffle here refers to pics which I have removed.  They are already either on this site or can be seen on the linked Dan Haywood site (along with sound recordings) or Fylde bird club site.  Please excuse the reverse order! 

25) 19/10/15
Ringed at Leighton Moss by the spring (John Wilson et al)

24) 17/10/15
Heysham NR – seen and heard by JR & PJM working its way inland along north side of reserve – unringed

23) 15/10/15 
Fluke Hall with a tit flock (?multi observed)

22) 14/10/15
Heysham Nature reserve.  Seen in field by Pete Marsh then caught in mist net by office  with LTT flock.  Photo Emma Garston – the only other observer

21) 14/10/15
One heard calling several times by the Middleton NR Tim Butler pond but bird could not be seen in dense willows  (Malcolm Downham).  Didn’t get chance to follow this one up

20) 14/10/15
Seen well with Long-tailed Tits and Chiffchaff in north Heysham garden (just in SD45A) c0915.  Not photographed.  Pete Cook

19) 11/10/15 Field record
Jean Roberts located a calling individual in the willows by the alder woodland.     Pete Crooks turned up just after it was located and started to wander across.  In the meantime, the next mist net round at the office produced another, so PC returned to the office to see the ‘in hand’ bird then went back to the alder woodland and also heard the original bird calling.  However, it was really difficult to get to grips with in dense willow and no definitive plumage details were seen – just a shape in the bushes.  It then disappeared as the captured bird was perhaps erroneously released at the same location 

18) 11/10/15 
Heysham Nature reserve.  Found in mist net by the office at the same time another was calling in the alder woodland at the other end of the reserve (see above).   Seen by Pete Marsh, Jean Roberts and Pete Crooks

17) 11/10/15
Leighton Moss spring area – one ringed & photographed John Wilson et al

16) 10/10/15
Trees and scrub surrounding Glasson boatyard – Ian Hartley  

15) 10/10/15
The first of three reports from the Griesdale Hide at Leighton Moss although at least one claim on 11/10 was a Chiffchaff but (after a gap without any reports) the sighting on 16/10/15 was by three experienced birders

14) 09/10/15
This was giving almost manically multiple calls from the north side of the reserve when found by Jean Roberts – typical, in my experience, of a new arrival.   Unfortunately it then flew towards the north-east corner of the reserve – this leads to an obvious ‘departure corridor’ down the woodland edged railway line and this bird was not seen again despite extensive coverage of the reserve on both remainder of 9/10 and during 10/10 (this I suggest rules out the 9/10 and 11/10 field records being the same bird).  Pete Marsh and Jean Roberts – plumage features seen briefly.

13) 09/10/15
Heysham Nature reserve.  One had just been found at the far end of the reserve, flying towards the NE corner bushes (the usual exit route for inland) then 15 minutes after observers left the scene this appeared in the net by the office from the tank farm (opposite) side.  In my opinion no chance of being one and the same.  Note this is not a trophy shot – no teeth showing!

12) 08/10/15
Galgate – centre of village – Stuart Piner garden – multi-observed & photos

11) 4/10/15 
Field record.  This was located on call by Jean Roberts below the old observation tower site.  Phoned Pete Marsh who was at the ringing base by the office and the bird then flew into the isolated willow above the office allowing PM to see and hear it calling three times.  At the same time an irruptive Coal Tit flock flew high from the north-east over the office and the YBW stuck its head out of the bush and headed south over the top of the mist nets perhaps encouraged to do so by the calling Coal Tits.  Clear view of the head and bits and pieces of wingbars etc in the bush,  plus multiple calls.   Not seen again despite a tank farm visit.  

10) 04/10/15
Fluke Hall/Fluke Hall Lane – multi-observed

9) 3/10/15 
Middleton Nature Reserve.  Found in mist net by Jean Roberts also seen by John Mason (see field records).  Released 0850hrs and flew south towards the sewage works and not seen again
8) 3/10/15 
Field record Middleton Nature reserve.   A calling YBW was located by Jean Roberts at c1150 heading fairly rapidly south through the bushes alongside the road at Middleton just after the nets had been taken down.  John Mason also heard it calling.   The behaviour and timing suggests this is a different bird from that released at 0850 but it was unfortunately not possible to see the legs

[3/10 Heysham NR – single call of what was considered to be a YBW heard along the top pylon path by Pete Marsh from the ringing base.  No further sight/sound.  Not good enough to claim]

7) 3/10/15
Sunderland Point by the Anchorage (Dan Haywood)  (presumably the same seen very briefly on 5/10?)

6) 1/10/15
Field record Heysham Nature reserve.   The one which got away ringing-wise  due to sun on the mist nets.  Heard calling then hovered against the sun-drenched mist net and landed on the tip of a dead bramble nearby.  Clearly seen to be unringed and quite a ‘bright’ bird with a strikingly white rather than fully yellow-suffused supercilium and wing-bars, similar to that caught on 11/10 (see above).  Lost interest in the mist net and disappeared into the tank farm to which there is no easy access from the reserve (lengthy drive around to PS plus security clearance) and therefore not possible to leave mist nets and go and search.  Pete Marsh only

5) 1/10/15
Sunderland Brows Farm photographed (Dan Haywood – present at same time as the other bird!)

4) 1/10/15
Tom Smiths garden, Sunderland, by toilet block.  Found by Tom Wilmer – multi-observed & photos

3) 30/09/15
Heard calling on Heysham Head (Rectory Wood)by Jean Roberts – could not be relocated two hours later (but Firecrest found!).  Not seen.

2)  29/9/15
Heysham Nature Reserve found in mist net by office.  Seen by Pete Marsh and Jean Roberts

1)   22/9/15
Field record.  Whilst in the middle of ringing a few birds, one called clearly from the bushes at the start of the top path and then gave a second  call a little further along the path.  Unfortunately by the time the ringer had finished with the catch about 6 minutes later, there was no further sign. Pete Marsh only.    

Saturday, 24 October 2015

slim pickings in unhelpful weather

Heysham Obs
Nothing better than a new for year Brick in the moth trap.  Coastal coverage my Malcolm and Pete served up a Rock Pipit on Ocean Edge foreshore with 59 Wigeon and two Little Egret Red Nab.  Later a 2CY Med Gull was on Red Nab

Friday, 23 October 2015


Heysham Obs
The ringer in charge this morning reported a trickle of Chaffinch but no other vis mig apart from 30 Pink-footed Geese

Grounded included three new Goldcrest in the nets but nothing else of migratory status

Outfalls: 2CY Med Gull

Definitely no Twite as yet on the north harbour wall (7 Linnet)

Moths included a late Setaceous Hebrew Chracter

Thursday, 22 October 2015


Heysham Obs

Bit of north harbour walling this morning 0825-0900 then an outfalls check.  Best sighting of the day, though, was a Yellow-line Quaker in the moth trap - mega rare on the coast here but the commonest moth in woodland back home (no accidental transports!)

The Czech-ringed veteran Med was patrolling the north wall

Two recognisable Razorbill flew out and 4 whirring dots further out presumed same or similar

Chiffchaff calling by the office

The lunchtime IOM ferry saw a following 1CY Kittiwake and adult Little Gull milling around.  Two things far offshore looked like 1CY Shag but that is as far as it went at that range

Just added Dan's blog link - not before time - one of a handful of people in this area who know how to work a site and winkle out the elusive migrants

Moths included Yellow-line Quaker and Parsnip moth

Wednesday, 21 October 2015

A bit of a downturn in effort

Tuesday 20th October
This should have been covered despite the light north-westerly airflow.  On the other hand, Dan was recording very little at Sunderland

At Heysham c300 Redwing descended about 1145hrs before heading SW and there were c20 Chaffinch moving south in a 20 minute mid-morning vis sample, but nothing else

Wednesday 21st October
Rock Pipit - singles Red Nab and by OE slipway
Little Gull - adult in boating channel feeding in Heysham one outfall flow
Lapwing - 260
Little Egret - 3

Blackbird - c15 around office

Monday, 19 October 2015

Perfect conditions, routine birds

Heysham Obs
Martin Cade summed up the feeling perfectly on the Portland Obs website - just about had enough of these E/NE winds producing slowly diminishing levels of interest as they stubbornly refuse to include poor offshore visibility in the agenda - need a break - learn how to get wet and windswept again - maybe even see something which qualifies as a seabird!

Vis mig office area
Goldfinch - 5
Redwing - just 43
Blackbird - 8
Song Thrush - 3
Chaffinch - strong movement in first half hour of daylight then stopped dead as cloud cam in from NW - 86 S
Bullfinch - 2+3 high to S
Pink-footed Goose - 120N + 93 NE + 520 N
Kestrel - 1+1 high to south
alba Wagtail - 8 S
Grey Wagtail - 1 SE
Sparrowhawk - 1 high to S
Reed Bunting - 2
Mistle Thrush - 3

Grounded Heysham NR
Blackcap - 1m
Goldcrest - c15
Chiffchaff - 4
Blackbird - 30
Song Thrush - 19 (highest nos so far this autumn)
Redwing - just 7
[Treecreeper - one retrap]

Vis mig Middleton (thanks Andrew)
Woodpigeon - 55 S
Reed Bunting - 2 S
Chaffinch - just 7 S
Redpoll spp - 2 S
Siskin - 2
Grey Wagtail - 2
Mistle Thrush - 2
Blackbird - 6
Jay - 2
Meadow Pipit - 2
Redwing - 302
Pink-footed Goose - same as HNR plus 200 S (way to east)
Snipe - 1
Goldfinch - 18

Teal - 10 Middleton

Ringing - combined new birds
Goldcrest (14), Blackbird (1), Song Thrush (2), Redwing (9), Coal Tit (1), Great Tit (1), Chiffchaff (1), Reed Bunting (5), Dunnock (1)

Sunday, 18 October 2015

Fits and starts

Heysham Obs
No consistent interest retainers this morning although it always seemed 'something might happen' with variable, often quite heavy cloud and a wind which oscillated between light and moderate E/NE.  In the end there was nothing of real interest for the large visiting group from Macclesfield

Heysham NR grounded
Ring Ouzel - a noisy scaly imm first thing which headed inland as did the other thrushes about 0730hrs
Blackbird - c30
Redwing - c150
Song Thrush - 7
Goldcrest - 7-10 new in
Chiffchaff - only one new in
Robin - one unringed lightweight

Vis mig all morning
Redwing - the grounded birds flew inland c0730 plus another 171
Fieldfare - 3+87
Song Thrush - 5
Blackbird - 10
Grey Wagtail - 1
Lesser Redpoll - 4
Goldfinch - 8
alba Wagtail - c10
Meadow Pipit - 4
Reed Bunting - 1
Chaffinch - 14 (!)
Brambling - one with 5 Chaffinch
Pink-footed Goose - 65+100 but a lot more over Middleton
Jay - 3
Raven - 1

Tree Sparrow - one ringed Middleton
Blackcap - one ringed Middleton and an unidentified 'tac' at HNR was almost certainly this species
Chiffchaff - just one ringed Middleton
Med Gull - 2CY Red Nab

Ringing Middleton/Heysham (new birds)
Goldcrest (11), Chiffchaff (2), Coal Tit (4), Lesser Redpoll (5), Robin (1), Blackcap (1), Redwing (2), Wren (2), Chaffinch (2), Tree Sparrow (1), Long-tailed Tit (1).

Saturday, 17 October 2015

Yet another Yellow-browed Warbler passes through and calling Cetti's Warbler

Heysham Obs
Jean Roberts located a calling YBW along the north end of the reserve at about 0815hrs and it appeared to move inland along northern edge and was located in the large sycamore about an hour later (unringed as expected)

Another landmark, where we never thought we would get anywhere near last year's record catch, was our 200th Chiffchaff of the year - the vast majority in the last month or so and all but the odd one or two in rapid transit, based on retrap data and field sightings of unringed birds  - rather like the Yellow browed Warblers

Interesting to compare the fortunes of Willow Warbler and Chiffchaff over the years:
1986     Willow Warbler   440 (mainly due to tremendous spring passage during the Chernobyl weather) (grand total 1980-6 = 1425)
              Chiffchaff  33   (grand total 1980-6 = 85)

1996       Willow Warbler  260  (grand total 1980-1996 = 3459)
               Chiffchaff   35 (grand total 1980-1996 = 440)

2006       Willow Warbler  83 (grand total 1980-2006 = 4927)
               Chiffchaff     45  (grand total 1980-2006 = 870)

2014       Willow Warbler   180 (grand total 1980-2014 = 6144)
               Chiffchaff            227 (grand total 1980-2014 =  1648)

2015       Willow Warbler   125 (grand total 1980-2015 = 6269)   
(to date)  Chiffchaff            202 (grand total 1980-2015 = 1850)

Grounded Heysham NR
Goldcrest - c25-30, mostly NE corner
Chiffchaff - 6-7
Yellow-browed Warbler - 1
Redwing - c85
Blackbird - c20
Song thrush - 5
Cetti's Warbler - one calling in the middle of the marsh as heard from the boardwalk but not possible to see it in low dense vegetation (about 50 m north of end of boardwalk)

Vis mig over Heysham NR
Not a lot until the weather started clearing a bit late morning, then several large Redwing flocks
Redwing - c570, mainly west
Lesser Redpoll - 6
Pink-footed Goose - 13 north but bigger flock to the east
Raven - 2
Grey Wagtail - 1
alba Wagtail - 5
Chaffinch - only 3!!!
Goldfinch - 6
Meadow Pipit - 1

Ringing Middleton/Heysham
Coal Tit (1), Chiffchaff (12), Lesser Redpoll (8), Redwing (25), Reed Bunting (1), Wren (3), Robin (1), Blue Tit (1), Long-tailed Tit (1), Goldcrest (8)

Friday, 16 October 2015

Windier and trickier

Heysham Obs
The mist nets were not very effective this morning due to a bit of minor blowing about in the stronger NE wind,  Impression was that quite a few migrants sneaked through but all the migrant insectivores that were located were just two species:  Chiffchaff and Goldcrest other than a skinny unringed Robin in the nets.  A probably distant singing Cetti's Warbler on Middleton did not vocally last long and warrants further investigation.  Thanks to Ian for helping out with training

Ringing recoveries
The first Reed Warbler from Northumberland for our area (including Leighton Moss) and an interesting Goldcrest

Reed Warbler
Z152165          3          02.08.15          East Chevington (Northumberland)
Recaptured      3          18.09.15          Middleton NR 163km SSW

EPT845           5F        04.04.15          Heysham
Recaptured      4F        09.10.15          Kilnsea (East Yorks) 206 km ESE in 188 days

Surely not a Scandinavian bird?

Heysham NR vis mig
Not very conscientious - cold and a late night playing in a 'sesh'
Chaffinch - again conspicuous by absence - 5 S
alba Wagtail - 8 SE
Meadow Pipit - 2 SE
Redwing - about 380 (including flock of c300)
Coal Tit - 4

Blackbird - 13
Goldcrest - c20
Chiffchaff - 10 (6 NE side reserve, 2 tank farm, 2 dog walk pond area)
Song thrush - 5

Middleton NR
Reed Bunting - 1
Goldfinch - 37
Chiffchaff - 1
Goldcrest - 2
Lesser Redpoll - 4
Cetti's Warbler - needs confirming
Fieldfare - 1
Grey Wagtail - 2 blogging

Robin (1), Lesser Redpoll (4), Redwing (1), Song Thrush (1), Goldcrest (8), Chiffchaff (1)