Monday 31 August 2015

Effort at either end of the day

Heysham Obs

Office area dawn onwards
Grey Wagtail - at least 4 SE
Tree Pipit - at least one SE
Sedge Warbler - three ringed including adult
Reed Warbler - one juvenile caught
A sprinkling of other migrants including Robin

Ocean Edge foreshore/REd Nab high tide
Sanderling - 1
Dunlin - 3
Ringed Plover - 25
Swallow - 47 south in 20 minutes

Middleton pm
Swallow - c250 (58 ringed)
Sedge Warbler - at least 6
Willow Warbler - at least three
Sand Martin - 1 ringed

Nothing special but a nice selection including Bordered Beauty and 7 Treble Bar

Sunday 30 August 2015

Little vis

Heysham Obs 0600-1230hrs

SSE2, 14C - 18C, 5/8 cloud, occasional light shower in the first hour.

Selection of birds on or over the reserve:
Starling - 600 came out of the roost
Goldcrest - 1
House Sparrow - 8 (unusual for the reserve)
Song Thrush 1 >NE
Jay - 1
Linnet - 6 >W

Grey Wagtail - 5
Pied Wagtail - 1
House Martin - 4
Swallow - 10
Siskin - 3 lots heard but not seen
Meadow Pipit - 2

27 new birds (Reed Warbler -1, Sedge Warbler - 1, Whitethroat - 1, Chiffchaff - 3, Blackcap - 1, Great Tit - 2, Blue Tit 1, Greenfinch - 13, Chaffinch - 1, Wren - 1, Robin - 1, Blackbird - 1)

10 retraps (Chiffchaff - 2, Great Tit - 2, Blue Tit - 1, Greenfinch - 2, Goldfinch - 2, Wren - 1)

Saturday 29 August 2015

Outfalls, moths and out

Heysham obs
Little gull and two adult, two 2cy and one juv Meds .  117 redshank, 2250 oystercatcher

Moths included Setaceous Hebrew character and the first treble bar of the autumn

Friday 28 August 2015

A Gannet!

Heysham Obs

SSW F5,  4/8 cloud, occasional heavy shower. High tide: 10:53hrs 9.1m

North Harbour Wall  0845hrs
Gannet - 1 well offshore, feeding.
Wheatear - 1
Pied Wagtail - 4
Linnet - 8

Wooden jetty
Cormorant - 57
Turnstone - 72

Red Nab 0925 hrs
Mediterranean Gull - 2 ads, unringed.
Ringed Plover - 14
Oystercatcher - didn't count, but 2000+
and the usual Curlew, Redshank, Herring and Lesser Black-backed Gulls.

Ocean Edge
Linnet - flock of 70 feeding on weeds
Starling - flock of 35
Pied Wagtail - 2

Fresh Painted Lady on office buddleia

An otherwise poor catch held five Agriphila latistria and (unusual for here) two Gold Spot

Thursday 27 August 2015

More high tide coverage

Heysham Obs
Moth trapping at various VC60 sites is still taking precedent over early morning migration coverage but that will be changing this weekend as the night temperatures take a dip.  In the meantime, the only Heysham activity was work, a high tide check and a rather poor moth catch

Red Nab just before high tide
As you were:
Little Gull - ad
Sandwich Tern - 2 ad, one fishing offshore
Med Gull - 4 x 2CY, 1 x juv, 4 x adult
Redshank - 110
Curlew - 62
Oystercatcher - 2550
Black-headed Gull - 485

Didn't have time to check down the tideline towards Middleton

The only one of note was a Copper Underwing

Wednesday 26 August 2015

Minibeast from the east

Heysham Obs
What started as a routine count of Red Nab from 0645 onwards changed tack slightly as a small wader flew over my head i.e. from inland and spiralled down to join five Dunlin on the remaining bit of mudflat - a juvenile Little Stint and an incentive to update the Patchwork challenge

Red Nab 0645-1045
Sandwich Tern - one adult
Little Gull - usual moulting adult
Med Gull - 4 x 2CY, 2 x 1CY, 2 x Ad
Little Stint - one juvenile as above
Gannet - two adults far offshore but not really seawatching

Tuesday 25 August 2015

Quick coastal check

Heysham obs

A second brood holly blue in the north east corner was an unusual record from here - most of the sparse sightings are spring brood

The outfalls held the moulting adult little gull but nothing else of note other than a couple of Meds (ad and 2cy) but way before high tide and gulls were strewn all over the mudflats

Monday 24 August 2015

Migratory bits and bobs

Heysham obs
An early morning ringing session next to the office saw five willow warbler, two garden warbler, two Whitethroat, and the first grey wagtail in the nets this autumn

The moulting adult little gull was on the outfalls late afternoon with five adult and one 2cy med gull on red nab

The evening saw about 130 swallow in the roost of which a high proportion (55) were ringed.  A water rail squealed from the western marsh reed bed

24 common blue by office, painted lady Middleton and five peacock and brimstone on the office buddleia


Heysham Obs
Wheatear - three Half Moon Bay, one Ocean Ede

Included two Agriphila latistria


Heysham Obs

Middleton NR
150 Swallow in the overnight roost plus  56 south in two main gangs
Raven - one flew over - scarce this year

Friday 21 August 2015

Tidal vigil

Heysham obs
The tidal vigil mainly concentrated on red nab but checks were also made along the tide line towards Potts  corner. No disturbance down there this time.

Outfalls to Potts corner
Sanderling - one with Dunlin
Dunlin - 168
Grey plover - 230
Common sandpiper - 1
Med gull - 5 adult, 4 1cy. No 2cy

Thursday 20 August 2015

A quiet rather wet day

Thanks Janet

Middleton NR pre-dog
Warer Rail - 1
Teal - 5

Wednesday 19 August 2015

Toadflax pug new for the year

Heysham obs
The most sensational news was a white-letter hairstreak photographed below the classroom nectaring on water mint last Sunday afternoon about 4pm. More details tomorrow

A pre high tide check of red nab and ocean edge produced:

Greenshank - one juv
Med gull - just two adult
Little egret - 1
Oystercatcher - 2100
Curlew - 278
Redshank - 156

Toadflax pug highlighted a nice mixed catch which also included 3 white-line dart and ypsophola scabrella

Tuesday 18 August 2015

More wader coverage

Heysham Obs
Had to google this site in order to access from this computer and it was preceded by a heading advert for "".  I've no idea whether this is a virus, spoof or serious and not really interested.............but some of you might be!

Red Nab/Ocean Edge 1.75hrs pre-high tide
Once again absolutely no disturbance of the intertidal area around and on Red Nab during at least the incoming tide
Sandwich Tern - 2 adults on mudflats with BHG just south of OE slipway
Med Gull - 4 x adult, 3 x 2CY and just the one juv all on Red Nab
Curlew - 360 Red Nab
Redshank - 142 Red Nab, then dribbled towards OE saltmarsh
Oystercatcher - 1950 Red Nab, c1700 on mudflats in scattered groups
Grey Plover - 121 tideline off Ocean Edge nearly all in full summer - nice!
Little Gull - moulting ad Red Nab, now 5 old primaries

A candidate for Cnephasia conspersana.  We'll see

Monday 17 August 2015

Good coverage

Heysham obs

Red nab area two hours pre HT
Grey plover - 89
Med gull - 10 (5 x ad, 3 x 1CY, 2 x 2CY)
Little Gull - adult
Oystercatcher - 2200
Curlew - 340

Common Hawker - males dog walk pond and community woodland pond
Southern Hawker - male near bridge between Central and western marshes
Black tailed Skimmer - one male still on the go
Brown Hawker - 3 ovipositing females together Middleton and about 10 others seen Middleton and Heysham NR

Two different Painted Lady visited the office buddleia as did a Brimstone.  Thanks for the pics Janet

Sunday 16 August 2015

Heysham Heliport roost RIP

Heysham Obs
More research on the heliport roost this morning.  The usual roosting Oystercatcher flew straight from the skeers off Heysham Head, as they were being covered from about 0915, straight to a sub-roost off Red Nab.  This is despite an increasing degree of rockiness at Half-moon Bay deterring any beach incursions by dog walkers.  Therefore they were definitely not being disturbed from any sub-roosting off the heliport.

The foremost Planning Condition for the permission to erect a turbine along the seawall was fencing off the heliport from casual access and thus non-disturbance of the roost at or just before high tide.   Nothing has happened - in the hands of two arms of Peel Holdings - Peel Ports and Peel Energy - other than a brand new padlock on the gate at the Near Naze end.  This of course simply makes things worse as it "directs" people along the seawall to the side of this gate via a gap which would e.g. qualify as disabled access, on both width and surface quality, so it looks like a path!  As word has got round that the old notices are defunct,  more and more people are encroaching on the heliport area, mainly using the seawall as a dog-walking route with the increasingly long grass becoming the 'dog toilet' and therefore not a pleasant alternative walking surface other than along the well-trodden desire line to the broken-down fence near the eastern end. 

So a change in behaviour over the last two weeks with the Oystercatchers presumably reacting to displacement on every high tide by roosting further away from the feeding area at Red Nab (lower tides) or Middleton saltmarsh (as today on a higher tide).  Today 1200 Oystercatchers arrived to sub-roost off Red Nab from 0917-0930hrs and a further 1300 together at 0935.  This, of course is way before HT (a 9.03 metre at 1304hrs) but reflects the lower beach skeers being covered during the early stages of the incoming tide.   They were then displaced by the incoming tide from 1130hrs and flew towards Middleton with no exposed roosting area left at Red Nab by 1300hrs.   Red Nab is an adequate roost up to about 8.5 metres, providing no strong wave action surging the tide.  However, both Red Nab (twice the distance) and Middleton (four times the distance) represent a significant extra energy expenditure by birds which would otherwise have sub-roosted off the heliport and used the seawall there at all heights of tide   

It will be interesting to see what happens when the Knot and the rest of the Oystercatcher and Redshank which formerly used this roost do when they arrive back for the 'winter' in about a months time.   Unfortunately the disturbance is by LOCAL people walking their dogs - this is habitual and 24/7 and not going to decrease during the key winter months - and one can only assume that they are supremely indifferent as to whether they have a spectacular high tide roost on their doorstep as their chosen dog desire line takes precedence over all.  Polite conversation with the protagonists also suggests we have reached the stage of habitual behaviour where anything less than a robust fence will last five minutes - "hell hath no fury like a blocked desire line"

Red Nab/Ocean Edge
Little Gull - adult feeding on the seaward end of Heysham 2 outfall at low tide
Med Gull - 4 x juveniles, mainly the seaward end of the outfalls at low tide with just the one remaining there on the high tide WeBS.  No adults located on the WeBS! 
Cormorant - 107 on the wooden jetty a high count for August and there may have been another 5-6 hidden behind structures
Redshank - 119 Ocean Edge saltmarsh, 42 on the Near Naze
Lapwing - 5 Near Naze

Passerine and other migrants
Swallow - 16 south in 20 minutes
Willow Warbler - one north wall sandworks
Wheatear - ditto
Sedge Warbler - one ringed by office

More to come from the early morning watchers here?

Barred Red, Old Lady and Rush Veneer were the pick of the bunch

Thanks to Janet for these great pics


14th-15th August

No coverage from me other than 3 x juv Med Gulls at high tide on 15th

Thursday 13 August 2015


Heysham obs
Missed the incoming tide today and shamefully no coverage of an easterly morning in August.

The moth trap was heaving with nothing show stopping but a few less common species like gothic, white-line dart, bordered beauty and barred rivulet

Wednesday 12 August 2015

Another Hummer

Heysham Obs
What a good year it is for Humming-bird Hawk moth.  They have been all over the place recently and its been a case of checking buddleias etc to see if you can find one, not just the 'once a year at best jam-in'

Middleton NR
Decent ringing session by this year's standards with double-figures totals of Willow Warbler and Whitethroat and a trickle of other things, notably a single Grasshopper Warbler
Common Buzzard - two circling overhead in mid-afternoon (no vis mig in the morning)

Heysham NR and area
Humming-bird Hawk-moth - one on buddleia near Ocean Edge in the Nature park
Comma - at least four with the above - a good total for here
Red Admiral - one nature park, one NR on transect

Another decent catch including 3 x Bordered Beauty, a very late Dingy Shears, Barred Rivulet, Campion (rare here) and a less welcome first Square spot Rustic of the year

TUESDAY 11th August

Heysham Obs

A Red Nab session early morning saw the elusive Little Gull being exactly that and only seen very briefly during four hours of observation - I'm sure its heading for the Lune estuary for quite a chunk of time around high tide along with some of the Meds

Red Nab
Whimbrel - 2
Bar-tailed Godwit - 1
Med Gull - 4-5 adult, 2 x 2CY
Little Gull - adult

Ringing next to the office saw a steady number of birds, mainly a mixture of warblers and Greenfinches

Thanks to Janet for these pics.  Please note that Janet also specialises in photos of pets, especially dogs.  Contact:


Monday 10 August 2015


The Heysham toilet trap was full this morning with what might be referred to by some as dross.  In amongst the hordes were a record 21 dingy footman, a welcome sandy carpet ( very scarce all over north lancs this year), a couple of golden rod pug and the first canary shouldered thorn of the year.

Juv med outfalls, ad med red nab
Swallow - 8 flew south in 15 min early pm

Some excellent pics from Janet will be uploaded tomorrow when on proper computer. Thanks for these.

Sunday 9 August 2015

Poor coverage

Heysham Obs

Office area
Willow Warbler - 5+
Swift - 16 south in 20 mins

Outfalls area
Med Gull - just 2 x 2CY but birds sat on mud between H2 and H1 outfalls not checked
Little Egret - 1
Whimbrel - 2

Time-consuming mass of brown noctuids topped by 33 Flounced Rustic.  Single White-line Dart the only one of 'note'

Saturday 8 August 2015

Warblers creep and Swifts sweep through

Heysham Obs
Weather: clear, calm to start with then light southerly and a few clouds building up. c16C

Middleton NR
More Willow Warblers, Sedge Warbler, Blackcaps, Lesser Whitethroats and Whitethroat were ringed at Middleton NR again but fewer than yesterday (only 21 birds in 4.5 hours with 6 nets).  The clear night was probably to blame!
Diurnal migration was happening but not much went through 07:00-11:30:
Swallow - 30
Swift - 13
Sand Martin - 1
House Martin - 1

Heysham NR vis 1335-1415
Swift - 74
Swallow - 10
House Martin - 1

Short circuit round reserve yielded:
Reed Warbler - 1 singing (in reedbed, funnily enough)
Chiffhaff - 1 calling from alder copse
Sparrowhawk - 3 juvs calling and flying about
Small Copper - 1
Red Admiral - 1
Common Blue - 4 male, 2 female
Small White - 2
Brown Hawker in car park

Friday 7 August 2015

Aerial bombardment of the SPA

Heysham Obs
A real contrast this evening.  Loads of people and dog walkers on Ocean Edge caravan site and not one scrap of encroachment and disturbance of the high tide roost at Red Nab with many people reading the informative notices scattered along the seaward edge of the caravan site and coming to have a chat about Oystercatchers etc.

Contrast that with events further south at Potts Corner.  For the first time I can remember, Curlew and Oystercatcher were actually being displaced from the incoming tidal mudflats and flying back to join the Red Nab roost.  The movement on the incoming tide is invariably in the other direction.  Why?  An aerial "barrier" of two Paramotors and, further out on the mudflats (so they "don't disturb the residents of the caravan site") model aircraft which seemed to have a range of almost 1km were 'blocking' the flightline to Middleton saltmarsh.  The model aircraft area provided a focal point for numerous off-lead dogs as people wandered out there to have a look, leaving the mutts to charge all over the mudflats.   Why did they all remain over the high tide period when they were occupying a significant section if shoreline used at this time by waders - no sign of any of the usual Grey Plover/Knot/Dunlin etc which start to appear at this time?

As I have said before, there is absolutely no will on the part of the people who can influence access here - they have just turned up and paid lip service to meetings relating to the recent recreational disturbance study.   Twelve month licence conditions are also not being met (see below)

I've also mentioned before that I spent quite a bit of time changing the "car crash" prescriptive wording on informative notices on wildfowl and waders which been commissioned as a condition of  a 12 month licence for the caravan site.  I made them relevant to the area in general  and, in some cases,  the proposed location of the individual notice  along the shoreline.  Where are they?  Gathering dust because "it was decided to put them "all together" (!) by the Potts corner access.................but we cant do that because the wind-farm will be using it as their cable-laying base".   No need for me to comment again on this, but what a contrast between the attitudes of Ocean Edge and the Potts corner area, reflected in the respectful behaviour at Red Nab  

Red Nab circa high tide
Oystercatcher - 2500
Curlew - 350 (usually all gone towards Middleton by this stage of the tide)
Redshank - 160
Med Gull - 4 x ad, 2 x 2CY, 1 x juv
Little Gull - moulting ad briefly - seemed to fly over towards the Lune

Thursday 6 August 2015

Middleton evening fare

Heysham Obs

Middleton NR late pm
Water Rail still present and presumed to have bred
Singing male Grasshopper Warbler
Hardly any Swallows in the roost with 6 ringed and perhaps just another 6 roosting!

At least three recently fledged Sparrowhawk Heysham NR

Small Copper and second brood Common Blue seen Heysham NR

Udea lutealis in SD35 but the overnight actinics unfortunately chose this evening not to work properly!

Thanks to Janet for the following excellent pics taken today at Heysham and Middleton

Wednesday 5 August 2015


Heysham Obs
What seemed to be a going through the motions check of Red Nab, on recent form, was surprisingly good with e.g. a really high Med ration amongst the Black-headed Gulls.  On the downside, it doesn't appear that there is any food coming out of Heysham one outfall.  Anyone able to check the swallow roost numbers at Middleton tonight please (c2050 ish)?  Thanks.

Outfalls/Red Nab
Little Gull - moulting adult Red Nab
Med Gull - 6 x ad, 2 x 2CY and 3 x juv
Greenshank - one adult with Redshank OE saltmarsh
Redshank - 119
Swallow - loose flock of 16 heading south purposefully towards Potts corner
Whimbrel - at least 2 prob 3

Two traps checked, one the toilet, produced a heap of typical August noctuid dross with absolutely nothing worthy of mention (I find January more interesting than August for moths unless specialised habitat is targeted)

Tuesday 4 August 2015

The last few days

Heysham Obs
Sorry for the lack of updates, been more involved with moth recording than specifically at Heysham.  The latest county moth Newsletter can be viewed on the Lancashire Moths website.  Trying to beat the midnight date deadline!

Tuesday 4th August
Med Gull - adult and two juvs outfalls

Monday 3rd August
Stock Dove - one Middleton
Female Southern Hawker dragonfly HNR top path

Sunday 2nd August
Northern Spinach in the moth trap

Ringing by the office produced a wandering young Reed Warbler and 3 Lesser Whitethroat but no numbers of migrants - this is heading towards being an almost unbelievably bad year for ringing with the exception of one quality day in spring at HNR with Firecrest and Ring Ouzel and one at Middleton this spring with e.g. Redstart ringed at Portland Bill

Sunday 2 August 2015

1st august

Heysham Obs
The only action today was to check the Red Nab/Ocean Edge high tide roost and this produced 117 Redshank and two Whimbrel - the seagulls had flown off on the spring tide height.  Moths included nothing more interesting than a mass break-out (for here) of eight Scalloped Oak.