Tuesday 31 March 2015

Bit too north-westerly

Heysham Obs
Strong winds today but not very productive ones other than a couple of flocks earlyish morning

Offshore various times
Little Gull - at least six in a gang lifting up then dropping down on the water - all adults (c0840)
Kittiwake - flock of 21 'in' whilst watching the above
Absolute zero else of interest despite regular grillings of the large gulls soaring around the power station/on outfalls

1 Common Quaker

Monday 30 March 2015

Kittiwakes and Tufted Ducks

Heysham Obs
Influx of both today in completely different fashions - the Kittiwakes on early morning seawatching and the Tufted Ducks doubling the recent Middleton counts

Sea early morning
Kittiwake - flock of 55+3+1
Common Scoter - 1
Med Gull - 2CY on end of Heysham one outfall lunchtime - spent most of time on water
Large Gulls - 120+ outfalls and harbour area
other bits to be added

Middleton NR
Cetti's Warbler - gave two burst of song just before 1000hrs along bank next to reedbed western marsh
Little Grebe - one on no swimming pond
Tufted Duck - 17
Gadwall - 4
Water Rail - one screaming
Teal - 2

Goldcrest - one Middleton , 2 Heysham NR

Ocean Edge
Ringed plover - 5
Wheatear -1

3 Common Quaker

Sunday 29 March 2015

Cetti's singing in the rain

Heysham Obs
.................but not a lot else this morning other than a Rock Pipit by the 'slipway' on Ocean Edge and a couple of Red-throats offshore

Red-throated Diver - 2 'in'

Ocean Edge
Rock Pipit - one by slipway - flew towards saltmarsh
Pied Wagtail - 10 grounded OE foreshore
Meadow Pipit - 4 as above

Cetti's Warbler - 4 bursts of song in about 5 minutes 0840ish edge of main reedbed western marsh
Tufted Duck - 7 model boat pond
Gadwall - 2 model boat pond
Shelduck - singleton briefly model boat pond
Mute Swan - 6 imm as above

Common Quaker (7), Hebrew Character (1)

Saturday 28 March 2015

Ocean Edge foreshore coverage

Heysham Obs
A Reed Warbler 1CY ringed at Middleton at the end of July was caught by a ringer at Setubal. Portugal, in mid-October, perhaps rather later than might be expected to still be in Iberia.  A Greenfinch ringed in late autumn was found dead a few days later at Arnside, a rather odd direction

OE salt marsh (thanks Malcolm)
3 snipe
1 rock pipit (same location as
2 wheatear

At least 200 large gulls hanging about in the updraughts above the outfalls but nothing unusual in the area

Friday 27 March 2015

A decent selection but minimal migration

Heysham Obs
The best bird today was the continuing presence of our singing male Cetti's Warbler on Middleton where it was quite vocal early on, then shut up after 0900hrs.  Also on Middleton, a vocal Water Rail in the main reed-bed was welcome, a trilling Little Grebe on the fence pond even more so,  but half a dozen pheasants did not bode well for the forthcoming mist netting season.

Vis mig
Meadow Pipit - 30 per hour first half of morning dropping to 15 per hour
Redpoll - at least 5
alba Wagtail - 15
Reed Bunting - 1
Carrion Crow - 3 north

Middleton NR  (Malcolm/Pete/Justine)
Water Rail - one squealing
Mute Swan - 2 pr + 6 2CY
4 coot
4 moorhen
5 mallard
10 tufted
7 gadwall
2 teal
1 little grebe on fence pond 
1 lapwing on peninsula  
6 pheasant
1 male Cetti's Warbler  (heard only)
1 chiffchaff
3 meadow pipit (1 parachuting)
1 reed bunting
1 small tortoiseshell
Ocean Edge   
1 rock pipit
4 meadow pipit
1 wheatear
Red Nab  
1 little egret
Red Nab bushes  
2 goldcrest
2 long tailed tit
1 bullfinch (m)
60+ turnstone on rocky foreshore in front of south wall roundhead.

Thursday 26 March 2015

More blocking weather

Heysham obs
Lots of large gulls on or around the outfalls in wind and temperature looking a decent recipe for a white-wingers rather than summer migrants.

Kittiwake - 3 plus 2

Gadwall - 7
Mute swan - 6 juv mod b pond, pair usual nest site
Tufted duck - 4 mod b pond
No song from Cetti's warbler in poor weather and little else singing, similarly no water rail calling

Early grey, common Quaker, Hebrew character

Wednesday 25 March 2015

Bullfinch mystery

Heysham obs
Bullfinches are surprisingly unpredictable here with quite a bit of perceived migration and scattering of unringed birds even in the breeding season . Today's events were however unprecedented at this time of year

Bullfinch - three unringed 2cy caught together (one male)
Wheatear - male ocean edge
No other evidence of migration reported

Tuesday 24 March 2015

Kittiwake flock

Heysham obs
Seawatch am for one hour
Kittiwake - 25 on sea
Pink footed goose - 11 north
Eider - 173 on

Comma Middleton

Monday 23 March 2015

Whooper on the challenge list at last

Heysham Obs
First of all a correction - the type of netting which trapped yesterdays Wheatear was garden 'pea netting' type stuff - the mesh was too small for a monofilamant net and therefore part of the spoil used to create the small bund aloing the edge of the caravan site

Sea 0915-1015
Whooper Swan - 4+2 NW
Carrion crow - flock of 7 north
Thanks Janet

Pied Wagtail - 15 N
Meadow Pipit - 13 N
Common Gull - 92 on outfalls/harbour mouth

2 x Hebrew Character

Late news yesterday
Pink-footed Goose - c100+200+100 N
Whooper Swan -  32 N (flock)

Sunday 22 March 2015

The perils of monofilament nets

Heysham Obs
Ringed a new species for the year today (Wheatear) - the circumstances were not great, but fortunately the bird was found by Malcolm, not the local mutt/carrion crow.  It was tangled up in discarded monofilament (fishing) net - 'discarded' presumably means 'net which has been set then trashed by stormy weather and left to drift'.  So these nets can be a bit of a menace for tideline foragers and a very good reason to support your local beach clean and emphasise to them that, given a choice, its best to leave a big and obvious plastic bottle than "invisible" monofilament netting

The day was highlighted by two separate north-east-bound Common Buzzard - definitely migrants - and the continuing vocal performance by the Cetti's Warbler at Middleton

Meadow Pipit - c30 north
Stonechat - female Middleton NR
Wheatear - 2 Ocean Edge
Goldcrest - at least 5 on Heysham NR and two by Gate 38
Common Buzzard - singles NE at c1110 and 1125
Cetti's Warbler - in song regularly this morning and favouring the  vegetation around the western end of the 'fence' pond and can be easily heard from the road to sewage works near the end
Reed Bunting - flock of 7 feeding on reed mace heads at Middleton
Water Rail - 3 squealing Middleton
Teal - pair model boat pond
Gadwall - 5 (3 males) model boat pond
Tufted Duck - 4 model boat pond
Mute Swan - 2 ad & 6 2CY model boat pond
Song Thrush - 2 migrants Middleton - flew inland
Redwing - singleton Middleton flew inland


Saturday 21 March 2015

Sandwich Tern

Heysham Obs
A nice early record for here of Sandwich Tern comprising a flock of eight which flew from the Barrow direction and did a circuit before flying out

North wall and area 0800-0930 (Ian Walker)
Sandwich Tern - flock of 8 as above
Pink-footed Goose - flock of 6 NW
alba Wagtail - 60 N
Meadow Pipit - 30 N
Robin - 4 probable migrants

Middleton NR (Ian, Malcolm, Pete)
Cetti's Warbler - singing again at Middleton along bank along north end of western marsh reed-bed, then next to nearby 'fence' pond where it showed well until late morning
Water Rail - two in big reedbed
Mute Swan - two pairs + 6 2 CY
Mallard - 6
Gadwall - 2 pr
Tufted Duck - 8
Teal - 3
Moorhen - 7
Coot - 1
Little Grebe - at least one
Chiffchaff - one non-singing bird

Ocean Edge area
Wheatear - 3
Snipe - 1

Small Tortoiseshell Ocean Edge, Peacock Middleton

 (particularly tatty) peacock.

Friday 20 March 2015

Partial eclipse partially visible

Just at the eclipse's maximum the clouds rolled back to enable a brilliant view of the partial eclipse.  A few seconds later the clouds rolled back again over the crescent sun.  It was so quick that there wasn't time to grab a camera and take a photo, unfortunately.  It went as dark as it does when thunder clouds are over, Robins began ticking and Blackbirds made a lot of clucking noises like they do when they are about to roost, 8 Magpies gathered together and other birds went a lot quieter.

The female Stonechat at Red Nab stood still long enough for a photo though.  Sorry about the quality but the photo was taken on full zoom. 

Middleton NR
Cetti's Warbler - singing male along the bank between the reed bed and western marsh - two bursts of song in quick succession then shut up - hopefully its on territory there
Water Rail - at least one western marsh reed-bed and one central marsh
Little Grebe - now TWO on the no swimming pond
North Harbour Wall 0750-0855
Meadow Pipit - 19 N and NE
Redpoll sp - 1 N
alba Wagtail - 7NE
Chaffinch - 2 N
Carrion Crow - 1 NE
Greenfinch - 2NE
Linnet - 1 NE
Reed Bunting - 1N
Wheatear - 1 male

At the feeder
Linnet - 2

Ocean Edge grounded
Stonechat - female
Wheatear - 2 males
Heysham NR
The only semblance of night migrants caught were two Song Thrush and a Robin - no Goldcrests seen/heard

Bog standard 'nuisance fly' in the office for the second day - very early for these

Thursday 19 March 2015


Migration went up another notch today with a flyover Osprey over Middleton and Torrisholme 1040-1050hrs

Heysham Nature Reserve and environs
Visible migration 0725 - 1000hrs
Meadow Pipit 37 with undoubtedly other non-visible birds in the misty conditions
Pink-footed Goose 47 north 0655 and 70 north at 0815hrs
Jackdaw - 6 north
Carrion crow  - 4 north with the above
Lesser redpoll - 2 north

Also moving through
Flock of 6 Goldcrest first thing plus 3 unringed ones flitting about in the same tree in the SE corner of the reserve plus two other singles ringed

Female Stonechat at Red Nab
Wheatear - 2 males near Red Nab
Redwing - 2 on the reserve
Song Thrush - 3 on the reserve
Blackbirds - about 10 on the reserve

Middleton Nature Reserve
No swans on the Model Boat Pond. 4 of the young ones were in Heysham Harbour.
Singing Chiffchaff.
5-6 Reed Bunting singing (conspicuous by their absence until today).
The big news was a Little Grebe at last, tittering away on the No Swimming Pond.

Hebrew character at last ! Small tortoiseshell and peacock Middleton nr

Wednesday 18 March 2015

Migration up half a notch

Heysham Obs
The only coverage today was a small amount of ringing around the office

Office area 0800 onwards
Meadow pipit - at least 20
Goldcrest - 15ish with 7 newly ringed
Robin - migrant ringed
Sparrow hawk - 1cy male ringed

Mark Breaks "managed to locate one of our Grey Wagtails at last!" at Lostock Hall yesterday, just south of Preston.  A difficult one to categorise as the spring passage is in full flow at the moment and it may have been a temporary location.  Ringed as a 1CY at Middleton NR on 27/8/14.

Also note in the right sidebar that the Heysham Bird Observatory report is now available, but only a limited number of copies have been printed so far, so please grab one quickly to avoid delay

Two unringed Goldcrest (at least) caught this morning - possibly more to add when I finally get there!

Tuesday 17 March 2015

Slow migration

Heysham obs
Not lot happening today with:
Skylark - 3 north
Meadow pipit - 25 north
Redpoll - one north
Wheatear - male ocean edge

Possibly more to come when observers send in records

Monday 16 March 2015

Slow trickle

Heysham Obs

Goldcrest - 2 unringed birds
Wheatear - male Ocean Edge
Rock Pipit - Red Nab area
Grey wagtail - 2 north
A few new finches ringed at the feeder and a couple of unringed Dunnock

Thanks Janet

Sunday 15 March 2015

No migration records

Hopefully some late reports - nearby sites produced a fair number of wheatear and overhead meadow pipits

Saturday 14 March 2015


Heysham Obs
Highlights were a single male Wheatear on Ocean Edge, an in-off migrant Kestrel and a couple of extra Red-throated Diver

North wall
Eider - 540
Red-throated Diver - 1+2 on
Dunnock - one in mound gorse - migrant?

Vis 0710-0910 (poor!)
alba Wagtail - 9
Meadow Pipit - 8
Kestrel - 'in-off' heading east
Greenfinch - 2

Middleton NR
2 + 6 2CY mute
1 coot
3 moorhen
7 gadwall
10 tufted
6 mallard
10 teal
1 heron
1 pheasant

Ocean Edge
1 snipe (salt marsh)
1 male wheatear

Red Nab
1 little egret
56 shelduck

129 wigeon between

Friday 13 March 2015

Barn owl plural

Heysham obs
Woodcock on Heysham nr and two Barn owl hunting Middleton nr in the evening the too sightings today

Others included red-throated diver and 10 twite seen from/on the north wall

More tomorrow

Thursday 12 March 2015

Tasty gull influx

Heysham Obs
Good coverage this morning but quite a strong wind impeded searching.  A good number of immature gulls on and around the outfalls area - good magnet - worth keeping tabs on or seeing what comes and goes over an hour or so, as per todays 3CY Med.  Usual overhead trickle went up a notch and a Chiffchaff in the brambles along the sheltered west harbour wall was a definite migrant

Thanks Janet - all taken at Middleton

Vis mig 0810-0930
Meadow Pipit - 128
Pied Wagtail - 24
Grey Wagtail - 1
Whooper Swan - flock of 5

Kittiwake - two adults still
Med Gull - 3CY for about 15 minutes, then south
Wigeon - 107
Common Gull - 71
see above

Chiffchaff - west quay in brambles, then flew into power station grounds (IOY migrant)
Redwing - flock of 6 Middleton
Stonechat - male and female together along west side of recycling centre road

Ducks etc
Coot - pair Tim Butler pond, singleton no swimming pond - back from the brink!
Little Grebe - another blank
Tufted Duck - just 7
Gadwall - 5 (3 males)
Mallard - 6
Water Rail - 2

Barn Owl quartering Middleton last Monday at dusk (thanks Paul)

Wednesday 11 March 2015

Bits and bobs from the south of the area

Heysham Obs
Sean Sweeney, Jean Roberts and Justine Patton:

Kittiwake - 3 ad following ferry in
Meadow Pipit - 18 N pre-rain
Redpoll - one north pre-rain
Pied Wagtail - 8 N pre-rain
Wigeon - 92
Peregrine headed from shore with a wader in its talons and landed on the power station.

Middleton NR
Stonechat - female
Fieldfare - 5 - mega in spring!
Tufted Duck - 13
Gadwall - 5 (3 males)

Squashed hedgehog Middleton

Tuesday 10 March 2015

A nice day with a few birds

Heysham Obs

** Cetti's Warbler (relocated?) along northern boundary of the wetland area.  Gave the dry rapid 'rattle' plus 3 sharp calls - very brief view showed unringed right leg at least

** Purple Sandpiper resurfaces along with a

** Guillemot - first healthy one of the year (both per Mark Nightingale)

**  Eider - record count of 777 off the north harbour wall at low tide

** Tawny Owl new for the year list at Middleton NR (calling just after dark)

Low single figures of Meadow Pipit and Pied Wagtail north during the morning in very clear conditions

Kittiwake - 2 adults still Heysham one outfall
Red-throated Diver - single offshore
Goldcrest.  One - probably an early migrant:

Thanks Janet

Red-tailed Bumble bee and Peacock along northern boundary of the Hey nat reserve.  17 Agonopterix heracliana at Middleton NR and area at dusk

Two fresh sets of Roe Deer prints HNR northern boundary

Monday 9 March 2015

Migration in full trickle

Heysham Obs
Pre-frontal thrash this morning shamed by the Stonechat count to the south of here yesterday and theoretically decent weather for a bit of movement.  The best in terms of clear cut migration was five Song Thrushes in sparse vegetation in SD35Z - three together in the grotty bramble by the steps leading over the seawall by Heysham one outfall (!) and two on the approach route.  All dark olivy continental-types.  At least one, probably two further wary high-flyers were seen on a Middleton circuit, but no evidence of any other thrush species on the go - hardly a perceived major feature here in spring

The other landmark was the Eider count passing the National Importance threshold (550) for the first time I am aware of in this area of the Bay.  580 were counted in one sweep from the north harbour wall and surely King is a possibility in the new reduced Lancashire, having had to remove it from my county list when we lost Furness

Vis mig 0700 to 0930
Meadow Pipit - 17 N
alba Wagtail - 17 N
Grey Wagtail - 2 N
Carrion Crow - flock of three north
Redpoll spp - 2 together N (IOY)

Song Thrush - at least 6 migrants (see above)
Stonechat - males on the north wall mound (flew inland) and by the bottle dump at Middleton (IOY - no wintering birds)

Kittiwake - 2 adult still on outfalls
Little Egret - one Middleton
Gadwall - 6 mbp
Tufted Duck - 13 fence/mbp
Mute Swan - ads chasing off 6 young from mbp (time to stop feeding them)
Wigeon - pair mbp  unusual, possibly unprecedented!
Jackdaw - 2
Med gull - fsp ad red nab at ht
Whooper swan - one on sea by saltmarsh

Today's motley crew at the feeding station

Sunday 8 March 2015

Eider fest and nearby migrants

Heysham obs

Coastal stuff
Eider 507
Kittiwake - 2 adults Heysham one outfall
Twite - 6 - 3 white ringed, two dark blue over pale blue, one dark blue over red
Chaffinch - 1
Linnet- 5
Goldfinch - 10

Model boat pond
Pochard - 1
Tufted - 7

7 migrant stonechat Potts corner to Sunderland

Grey seal n h wall

Saturday 7 March 2015

Pelagic trickle

Heysham Obs
No seawatching as such today but still Little Gull and Kittiwake noted in short time periods so probably some Kittiwake flocks at least missed in the wind

BEWARE: There is still about 100m of road cones on the bypass and as a result they have kept the whole stretch from the Overton roundabout to the recycling centre roundabout on 30mph.  Apparently loads of people were done either today or yesterday thinking the limit had been lifted as no obvious hazard for the vast majority of this stretch and the signs at the Overton roundabout end look a bit dumped to one side and 'derelict'.  Every respect for their job in necessary 30 mph  limits, but covering the whole of this stretch is taking the xxxx, presumably because they cannot be bothered to move the 30mph signs to a relevant/reasonable distance either side of the cones

Outfalls area (thanks Malcolm)
Wigeon - 67
Cormorant - 14 feeding on Heysham 2
Kittiwake - 3 adults Heysham one
Snipe - 8 Ocean Edge
Reed Bunting - 1 Ocean Edge

Offshore etc north wall very briefly
Little Gull - two adults on sea, both lifting off briefly
Black-headed Gull - 110 Fishers roof
Herring Gull - 72 Fishers roof
LBBG - 29 Fishers roof
Finches - about 25 - at least 3 Twite

Seriously disturbed over the high tide according to angler
Peel Energy have promised to get the fencing sorted over the summer at latest as a planning condition of their single turbine application which has been passed.

Friday 6 March 2015

Small brown moth time

Heysham Observatory
Agonopterix heracliana appeared in the moth trap this morning along with a Dotted Border - the first moths for a bit in what has been a rather slow spring with too much wind and unremarkable temperatures

Thanks to Anne for another Grey Wagtail sighting on 4th March along the Bridgewater Canal at Worsley, Manchester.  Ringed on 11/9/13 at Heysham NR.   The number of reports have quadrupled since we started using red/metal combinations for the left leg as opposed to a mixture of pale blue or white over metal.

Thursday 5 March 2015

Nothing of individual note

Heysham Obs
Counting again today - nothing individual worth noting

Heliport - birds included
Knot - 2250
Ringed Plover - 20

South of harbour
More monoculture on the outfalls - i.e. Black-headed Gulls - never known a winter with so much westerly wind and so little variety
Wigeon - 72 ish
Snipe - one flushed out of OE saltmarsh

4 unringed Linnet and 2 unringed Twite were caught

Wednesday 4 March 2015

More coffee-coloured year-ticking

Heysham Obs
A Barn Owl hunting the western and central marsh areas late morning - must be hungry.  Not an obviously common bird here - reported occasionally by dog walkers but not a feature of recent consultancy vigils, or evening swallow roost ringing here.  Interestingly it came from the direction of the proposed gas fired power station...................further emphasising the incomplete nature of the ecological survey which seemed to borrow far too heavily from a previous wind turbine survey which, of course, was weighted towards vantage point flight registrations, not habitat removal

Definitely no Med Gull along north wall/Fishers roof

Excellent show on the heliport this morning with 3k Knot, 4k Oystercatcher, 19 Ringed Plover and a 'heap' of Redshank etc at the far end I didn't have time to check

Tuesday 3 March 2015

Unproductive onshore winds

Heysham Obs
Just a Red-throat to show for about 40 mins staring at the sea this morning on the incoming tide.  Better news on the finch front.  Absolutely no sign of the Czech Med Gull despite careful searching through the Fisher's roof stuff ie BHG cluster at HT.  Gone?

North wall
Red-throated Diver - one flew out
Finches - 45 in total with about 20 each of Twite and Linnet

Knot - 3500
Ringed Plover - 11
Rest n/c - no time to go to café end

Monday 2 March 2015

Wader quiz

How many Knot do you think there are in this photo?

In fact there are 450.  Now have a guess at how many there are in the photo below:

I haven't counted these individually so your guess is as good as mine!  This isn't the whole flock that were roosting on the heliport as another the same size was swirling about over the sea.  There were probably in the region of 3000 today plus 2000 or so Oystercatcher. 
Nothing much else to report at the moment.

Sunday 1 March 2015

A decent bird at last

Heysham Obs
............with apologies to the Cettis Warbler

North wall 0930ish onwards
Iceland Gull - At c0945, 2CY headed south just inside the yellow buoy with 2 x 2CY Herring Gull then headed for the shipping lane where it may have landed.  No sign from 'the other side' however
Kittiwake - tight flock of 11 on sea
Eider - 250+ but rough sea
Finches - 35ish on seed but very flighty

Model boat pond
Pochard - 3 males
Gadwall - 5 (3 males)
Tufted Duck - 7
Mute Swan - imms only

South of wooden jetty
Dead with just 92 Wigeon of note, despite thorough check of outfalls, harbour and wooden jetty