Saturday, 30 December 2017

Low key

Kingfisher red nab
Med gull ad harbour mouth

No reported sign of the chough and the Brent geese were not on the disturbed skeer area off the children’s play area

Friday, 29 December 2017

Chough returns to its old habits

A quick one-two or two-one with the Brents and Chough along Knowlys road this lunchtime, but it really felt "white wing" with a strong westerly and showers and snow on the hills.  Weather reminded of Ullapool in winter in the early 80s when there were proper communists and proper factory ships and Odessians trying to buy my Lada Riva with some obscure currency.  40 'white winged' gulls was not unusual.  Not so here: every nook and cranny, offshore sandbank and skeer, Eider 'attenders' and rooftop was checked with just the Czech Med to show for it

Brent Goose - two pale-bellied visible from Knowlys road on the skeer off the childrens play area
Chough - on the sheepfield at 1145 and then along the fence by the footpath in the SW corner of the horse paddocks at least 1200-1215 but not at 1415.
Med Gull - Czech adult along the north wall
Stonechat - female along cliff edge half moon bay
Eider - about 830 but sea rough
Great-crested Grebe - 2 offshore

Thursday, 28 December 2017

Brents relocated

Chough - no sign today despite extensive searching therefore the only two sightings in the last four days were on Christmas morning and late yesterday afternoon when it was below the tall cliffs being mobbed by two Carrion Crow.  If anyone did see it today, please make contact.  Thanks

Brent Goose - the two Pale-bellied on the shore off the children's play area visible from eg Knowlys road

Med Gull - Czech adult north wall and another adult at seaward end Heysham 2 outfall

Wednesday, 27 December 2017

Elusive Chough

Seen 3pm below the high cliffs (thanks John) but not earlier by people scouring the place

Med Gull - ad following IOM ferry
Eider - 810 offshore - scattered with four main concentrations
Great-crested Grebe - 2 offshore and one harbour mouth
Stonechat - female below low cliffs
Snipe - one flushed from Heysham barrows!
Jackdaw - at least 8 horse paddocks

Anyone year listing on NYD!!  The one time it might be worth hugging a hide or better still car potatoing eg afternoon seawatch?  Heysham (thanks XC):

Tuesday, 26 December 2017

Whooper in harbour!

Bit of a novelty, especially this time of year - usually a spring and autumn passage migrant.  No obvious sign of the Chough today in the southern section at least.  One of the adult male Eider which was almost certainly off here earlier was seen floating in the choppy water past the Stone Jetty and was flashing an orangy bill as it bobbed up and down whilst floating in but there was no evidence of any 'sails'.  Watch this space when it goes calm.

Whooper Swan - adult in the harbour mouth
 Stonechat - female still half moon bay
Meadow Pipit - one half moon bay
Thanks to Janet for the second and third, no prizes for guessing who took the first

Monday, 25 December 2017

Christmas Day aerobatics

The Chough was doing figure of eights and generally enjoying itself along its territory along Heysham Head this am

Female Stonechat also there

Thanks Malcolm for the info

Sunday, 24 December 2017

Shag reappears?

Either one very elusive 1cy shag around this last month or a scattered series of day trips from the 'pool' around walney

Chough - seen 0840 and 1230 above half moon bay
Shag - flew south close inshore past near naze at 1230

Saturday, 23 December 2017

Brents reappear

Another dull misty day

Med Gull - Czech-ringed adult on the NHW
Brent Goose - Presumably the missing two flew past Caroline and Nick at 1/2 Moon Bay and I located them on Red Nab - one definitely pale-bellied, the other a 'shampoo view'
No reports of Chough despite Malcolm doing a dawn undercliff walk to try and locate the roosting site

Friday, 22 December 2017

Frantic Fog

A few bits were seen as it cleared, including the Chough location below the tall cliffs

Snipe - possibly as many as 56 on the rocks between Near Naze and the café
Chough - located below the tall cliffs (see 16/12 posting) during the mid afternoon and it certainly did not visit the other more open sites prior to that
Stonechat - mobile female along the barrows/headland
The first (and last?) Magpie of the year was ringed by the office!

Thursday, 21 December 2017

Yaffling consolation

Wet and warm and misty again today and the Brent Geese seem to have been spirited away and the Chough presumably/hopefully having a day off from the spotlight 

Middleton NR
Green Woodpecker - calling
Cetti's Warbler - western marsh bird singing
Water Rail - 3+

North wall
Czech Med Gull - ring seen and confirmed

Heliport roost
Snipe - 15
Ringed Plover - a creditable 42
Turnstone - similar to the other day - 69
Little Egret - 2
Redshank - 390
Oystercatcher - 5500
Dunlin - 18

Red Nab and area
Redwing - lost bird on rocks below wooden jetty - misty confusion rather than a cold weather movement!
Wigeon - at least 250

Wednesday, 20 December 2017

Great White Egret adds to the mix

Birding not easy today especially when cloudy weather with fog changed to sunny weather with even denser fog around lunchtime!

Great White Egret - one flew low to the west over Middleton NR at 1053 hours but could not be relocated on the coast
Chough - on pager for midday in the fields above half moon bay and reported by dog walker mid afternoon below the cliffs
Stonechat - female below cliffs at half moon bay
Jack Snipe - one flushed whilst checking mist net rides Middleton western marsh
Pale-bellied Brent Goose - two alternating between Red Nab and Ocean Edge saltmarsh channel
Med Gull - Czech adult around anglers north harbour wall

NHWall feeding area - just 4 goldfinch and 2 linnet.

Tuesday, 19 December 2017

Chough and Brents still

Half Moon Bay
Chough - in the fields then at its hidey hole below the low cliffs
Stonechat - female

Ocean Edge/Red Nab
Pale-bellied Brent - two
No Stonechat
Snipe - 14

Monday, 18 December 2017

Decent mid-winter fare in the morning

Coverage from Malcolm - thanks
Just did two short circuits, first round Half Moon Bay:
Chough calling from Sheep field direction, but didn't see it. 10:10 (see in am by dog walker in same area)
1 Stonechat (female)
3 Red Breasted Merganser (2 males)
31 Pinkfoot (north)
Then Ocean Edge and Red Nab
Pale-bellied Brent Goose - oddly just two today
39 Common Snipe
1 Jack Snipe
1 Stonechat (female type - but darker than HMB bird) pic attached
c20 Linnet

Sunday, 17 December 2017

Car potato Chough and Brent surprise

A wet Sunday am and a short bit of mobile hide birding

Chough - in the field just to the north of half moon bay café at least 0945-0956
Turnstone - 67 heliport seawall
Med Gull - Czech adult around the nhw anglers

Ocean Edge and area (Malcolm)
Brent Goose - probably pale-bellied - 3 flew south from OE towards Potts Corner mid-am (per Malcolm)
Common Snipe - 23 OE saltmarsh
Jack Snipe - at least one OE saltmarsh (rather low high tide)
Skylark - one OE saltmarsh

Saturday, 16 December 2017

More Chough circuitary

Info from Malcolm this am               
I was out for two hours this morning and located the Chough three times.

Chough time line:
9:55 on Heysham Head cliff tops
10:00 - 10:15 feeding on under cliff of high cliffs at Heysham Head (more on this below)
10:25 "cavorting" over rooftops on Worborrow Road (seen from barrows wood)
No sign on horse paddocks
11:05 On fence on south end of Heysham Head sheep field
11:06 Flew into sheep field
11.49 Still in sheep field as scoped from south end of heliport seawall!
No further known observations

Other sightings
Under high steps Half Moon Bay
Rock Pipit 1 - not there at 9:15 but showing well by 11:00
Meadow Pipit -at least 1
Stonechat 1 (female)
PS this is a nice new years day collection of a tricky trio as well as the Chough!

61 Pinkfoot to SE (11:15)

Bit more information about feeding location on high undercliffs:
I thought these high under cliffs would be a good location. There are lots of feeding spots similar to the one at Half Moon Bay, but much more secluded. To this end, I went down to the shore to check from below. I had just got there when the Chough briefly flew over the cliff top then back to the Head. I waited a while but it didn't return. So I climbed out. The Chough was just on the grass above the cliffs. As soon as I got there, it flew to the under cliff. The implication is that it didn't fly there earlier, because I was at the base of the cliffs. This is not in line with my experience at HMB where it came into feed whilst I was much closer than I was today, but perhaps it was just more expectant of people at HMB. 
By the time I got to the point where I could see under cliffs again, I couldn't find chough. I went down to the shore again, but still couldn't locate (there are lots of nooks and crannies here than can only be viewed from certain angles. Presuming that I had missed it moving on, I climbed up to the Head again. It then flew out from under cliffs and headed over the Barrows. It would have been feeding for 15 minutes then, and presuming a similar success rate to HMB it would have a belly full of food to digest.
My advise to birders would be to check these cliffs out from the lower ground to the north of them. The image attached is a view from this point. The good news is that it is very vocal when flying in and out. If they do decide to watch from the shore, they should be aware of tide times. At current heights, there is not a danger of drowning, but easy access and egress can be cut off

Friday, 15 December 2017

Camera shy Chough

Plenty of people about today but no Chough seen today until it appeared along the horse paddock fence at about 1530hrs (thanks June)

Stonechat - the mobile female wandering up and down the low cliffs at half moon bay
Meadow Pipit - 2 in same place
Med Gull - unfamiliar ad with yellow-tipped bill by half moon bay café
Knot - 1200 heliport seawall

Otherwise not a lot - didn't cover the afternoon low tide

Thursday, 14 December 2017

Rapidly downhill

The coverage started well with a nice bowl of Jade's soup in HMB café accompanied by views of the Chough in the field just to the north.  Subsequently:

Seawatch - zilch apart from a/the 1CY Shag alongside the north wall.  Too rough to check seaduck

IOM ferry - followed in by common big seagulls

Outfalls - zilch

Middleton model boat pond - zilch

Wednesday, 13 December 2017

Chough hidy hole

The reason why birders this last couple of days have not been able to find the Chough by concentrating on the horse paddocks and the headland.  It has been feeding below the under'cliff' just to the south of the tall steps leading down to Half Moon Bay and accessible from the Half Moon Bay café end.  Thanks Malcolm for sorting this out (pics taken today).   Obviously please don't 'park the bus' on its feeding area if its not there when you arrive

Stonechat - one female same general area

Tuesday, 12 December 2017

Chough swops sides again

On Half Moon Bay foreshore and then up in the sheep field above H M Bay this am

Med Gull
Adult north wall (Czech bird)

Nothing obvious offshore with Eiders


Eider - lots!
RB Merganser - 5
Great crested Grebe - 3

North wall
Med Gull - TWO adults patrolling

Heysham Head
Stonechat - 2
Chough - only seen around paddocks at 1130 otherwise several people couldn't find it

Teal - 35
Water Rail - 2
Common Snipe - 2
Cettis singing western marsh
Goldcrest - 1

Sunday, 10 December 2017

Eider hit a new high but not a lot with them today

Along the footpath fence at SW corner of horse paddock at least just before 10am

North wall
Nothing doing on sandworks circuit (16 Linnet)
Eider - 1710
Common Scoter - 1 poss 2 female
Great-crested Grebe - 2

Outfalls area
Grey Seal - 1

Saturday, 9 December 2017

Nice selection on a quick trawl round

Nowt seen yesterday, with the reason being the tide was half way in and the Chough wasn't in easy to watch locations

Along the fence in the horse paddock about 1000hrs

North wall offshore
Eider - 1675
Scaup - ad m, 1CYm, 2 f
Goldeneye - 2f
Red-breasted Merganser - 6
Great-crested Grebe - 3
distant unidentified black things x 5 were probably Common Scoter

Red Nab
Med Gull - large bird - not the Czech ad

Office feeders
Brambling - at least one

Grey Seal - one offshore
Weasel - one shot across the nice smooth surface on Moneyclose Lane

Thursday, 7 December 2017

Chough back with the horses

Horse paddock knowlys road
Chough - about 1130 at least

Fishers Roof
Med Gull - one ad, prob Czech bird

Middleton NR
Jack Snipe - 1
Tufted duck - 1 male
Single Water Rail and Cetti's Warbler (central marsh)
Gate 38 area
Woodcock - one flushed from scrub by south quay!  First record for SD35Z
Song Thrush - as above

Wednesday, 6 December 2017

Coastal or near coastal
Chough - seen by dogwalker at horse paddock c0900, then flew towards church.  Seen distantly along the cliffs on south side of head about 0930
Shag - 1CY quite mobile (assuming just one!) around harbour mouth/wooden jetty/north wall

Middleton NR (thanks Malcolm)
Mute 2 pairs, 1 single adult & 1 1cy
Moorhen 9
Gadwall 1
Teal 18
Mallard 12
Water Rail 2
Common Snipe 2
Jack Snipe 1
Pheasant 2
Pinkfoot 112 east

Cetti's Warbler - two bursts of song from western scrape. A few contact calls from east of Fence pond
Quite a few were disturbed retrieving the hibernacula set up in the Forest School as these had been 'moved' by an unknown miscreant, including the only one identified, this Agonopterix arenella

Tuesday, 5 December 2017

A bit of culture on Heysham Head

Some nice diverse entertainment on Heysham Head today:  Thanks to Malcolm and Pete Cook for todays sightings.

This is not a foretaste of the post-Brexit return to the Stone Age, but some land art known as 'rock balancing'.  Looks pretty impressive with the singletons looking like they have been photo-shopped - but they managed to stay put even in a brisk wind

Next up was a juvenile Shag close inshore along the rocks

Next up a female Stonechat:

Finally the Chough was out of the stronger wind today spending more time around the horse paddocks on the north side, at least when it was reported during the mid-late morning.  NNEW this afternoon.

Monday, 4 December 2017

Chough changes sides

The Chough spent most of the day along the cliffs at Half-Moon Bay, including what seemed to be the whole of the afternoon

The Morecambe Bay Partnership Natural Ambassadors team was out in force today although some non-forecasted rain was a bit of a pain.  They have done exceptionally well raising awareness of eg the nearby heliport seawall wader roost, especially at the Half Moon Bay café area, a thriving hub of dog walker and visitor activity.  I didn't have time to ask what the counts were today but it certainly included the highest recent Knot gathering and what seemed to be a decent Redshank roost but fewer Oystercatcher than yesterday's five-figure mass (probably due to lack of anglers on Sunny Slopes groyne roost)

Chough - mainly along the cliffs at Half-Moon Bay
Med Gull - ad fisher's roof
Knot - 2000 at heliport seawall roost
Rock Pipit - by turbine on seawall   

Sunday, 3 December 2017

Green Woodpecker

The first sighting of Green Woodpecker for some time at lunchtime as it flew over the office from the tank farm towards the main reserve.  The Chough was very elusive for people searching in the usual horse fields area today with a sighting in the morning and a sighting at 1300hrs and other sightings later along the coast.  This does suggest that it is spending time on the Barrows to the south of the churchyard and accessible following the path past the churchyard and through the two arches.  Likely to be mobile over quite a large area.  Ian had it feeding along the cliff edge on this side of the Head yesterday afternoon
Thanks Jim Clift

Red-throated Diver - two together offshore towards Walney just after HT
Med Gull - Czech adult north wall railings
Chough - report from horse fields in am then another sighting there at 1300hrs and along the shore during afternoon. See above
Green Woodpecker - flew over reserve office at 1200hrs
Jack Snipe - two on tide OE saltmarsh (and 7 Snipe)
Oystercatcher - 11000 on the heliport sea wall

Heysham Head/seen from pm (thanks Gav)
Pink-footed Goose - c.100 south over Morecambe. 17 over the bay from south Cumbria towards Heysham.
Common Scoter - 1 with the Eiders.
Pintail - 1 drake south over the bay
Red-throated Diver - 2  (almost certainly additional to above which were higher in the tide cycle towards Walney)
Little Egret - 4
Great Crested Grebe - 2
Bar-tailed Godwit - 14
Peregrine - 1
Goldcrest - 2 (churchyard)
Rock Pipit - 1

Saturday, 2 December 2017

Chough mobility and rising tides

Chough was quite mobile and elusive today ranging from the north-eastern end of the horse fields to Heysham Barrows and not spending much time along its favoured fence line
Offshore/North wall
Czech-ringed Med Gull on railings
Red-throated Diver - two offshore together early stages of dropping tide
Eider - well scattered due to anglers boats
Rock Pipit - on seawall by turbine
Watched tide up over OE
2 Jack Snipe
29 Common Snipe (I'm planning to watch Half Moon Bay rocks being covered on Monday)
3 Skylark (flew over low from south, presumably displaced somewhere towards Potts Corner. Appeared to land on grass behind foreshore)
1 Grey Plover
Salt marsh only partially covered. Tomorrow's tide will cover completely, but tonight's tide will too, so perhaps there will be little left in morning.
Lots of birds on Red Nab, but of the common variety
307 Wigeon
14 Shelduck
5 Red Breasted Merganser
3 Little Egret (unusually, all roosting on same rock)

Friday, 1 December 2017

Chough roams around heysham head

a lot of chough photographers today and some excellent pics around the internet, especially perhaps a good day for flight shots as the bird roamed between the horse fields and brief visits to the barrows

Red throated diver - one distant towards the turbines and one closer at main eider flock range
Red breasted merganser - pair

23 Linnet on feeding area.

Thursday, 30 November 2017

More Chough

Still present today but by all accounts a bit less cooperative and flighty, not helped by Carrion Crow attention.
Thanks to Stan for this
Offshore/north wall
Little Gull - this was a big surprise today - a 1CY heading slowly into the bay with a small loose gang of BHG
Wigeon - 5 with the Eider
Eider - 'loads'!
No other ducks seen - RBMs are especially conspicuous by absence
Med Gull - ad flew past once

Wednesday, 29 November 2017

Chough still present

South west corner of horse fields north of Knowsly road also gets into grassy area to the west of the footpath the other side of the hedge and on nearby heysham village rooftops

Thanks very much for these Craig

Trying to attempt to age this bird using Javier Blasco-Zumeta & Gerd-Michael Heinze suggests that this bird is an adult, but other references needed to see at what point in late autumn they might become very difficult on eg iris colour and tail shape/wear.  If it is definitely not a 1CY, this suggests an individual with a 'lengthy lost wanderer' status than a recent storm-blown bird, not that there is much evidence of IOM birds crossing the sea to the mainland, judging by lack of Cumbrian records and more on vagrancy distribution (and a Heysham ringing recovery) to suggest more terrestrial wandering from NW Wales.  However this (apart from the Welsh ringing recovery) is all idle speculation without more evidence and/or reference sources to check 

North wall
Small unidentified duck with/lost amongst the Eiders which were not counted today
Med Gull - usual ad patrolling

Tuesday, 28 November 2017


The fourth record since (including) the Heysham Barrows bird in 1977 was located the other side of the headland by Helen yesterday and showed really well on and off this morning allowing dog walkers, albeit the other side of the fence, within a metre!   Frequenting the field next to the footpath down to the prom at the western end of Knowsly Road (the one with the Strawberry gardens pub at the junction with the main Morecambe road).  Better pics undoubtedly forthcoming!
Eider - 1520 in several groups in the area south of Heysham skeer (new record count but probably just due to favourable counting conditions)
Red-throated Diver - one very distantly towards Roa Island
Disappointingly, nothing else at all other than gulls and Cormorants located on the water in fairly good conditions with just a slight choppiness

Czech-ringed Med Gull was along the north wall

Monday, 27 November 2017

Only one Kittiwake

STOP PRESS:  Chough Heysham head north side

Checks offshore in increasing rough seas were unproductive and the lunchtime IOM ferry failed to perform in what seemed "good conditions" (but not for the passengers)

North wall
Eider - most ended up in a mass flight enabling 1250 to be counted and others still concealed on the rough sea
Nothing else other than a few Cormorant heads and necks could be located

IOM ferry
Kittiwake - one adult in tow

Snipe - back to last winter's tricks on a small scale - 14 flushed from seaweed covered rocks below the heliport all flew up into the grass

Sunday, 26 November 2017

Long-tailed Duck

Some tricky conditions - weather and sea - to do a fairly lengthy low tide check before the eyes had had enough and a large squall enveloped the whole area.   However, what was seen suggests that as soon as we get any calmer seas, grilling of the low tide stuff from Heysham Head or north wall VPs could be well worth it.

North harbour wall
Long-tailed Duck - immature actively feeding about 300-400m further out than the yellow buoys before presumably drifting out whilst spending time trying to relocate the bird at the bottom of this posting
Eider - impossible to count but a rough block estimate saw  at least 1000
presumed Common Scoter  - 5 very distant in flight - landed on water and 'disappeared'
Great-crested Grebe - 2
Red-throated Diver - two distant birds together
Grebe - the reason for a lengthy stay - only seen once for about 4 seconds but only side on for about 2 of these - obviously would like another look but couldn't find it again after it dived and the weather turned pear shaped (suggestive of Red-necked - not a Slav or Great-crest (or RBM!))

Saturday coverage

Saturday Middleton

Checked out MNR again this morning. Quite a lot more activity, but nothing other than residents.
Blue and Great tits have joined the LTT feeding low on the branches of willow in flooded western marsh. Literally picking off the invertebrates that have climbed up to avoid rising water.
The Mute have spread out, but all 6 accounted for (including 1 x1cy on flooded central marsh with 4 Mallard.
The only other ducks were the Teal on Tim Butler. Counted 56 in one short flight, while others were still calling from pond.
At least 3 Water Rail calling.

Heard Cetti's singing from three locations (at least 2 birds): western scrape, east edge of fence pond (possibly the same bird) and NE corner of central marsh.

Checked the drainage situation of fence pond. The brick culverts are well below the water level, but no sign of water movement in either direction. I think it is just the very high water table that is preventing the marshes draining, rather than a blockage

Friday, 24 November 2017

More wet Middleton in pics

North wall incoming tide
Shag - 1CY flew on to wooden jetty and soon shuffled completely out of sight amongst the Cormorants!
Med Gull - pres Czech ad Fishers roof
Middleton (MD)
Had a walk around MNR this morning. Very little to report, except for the very high water table. The "no swimming" pond is now half way up the trees and much too deep for the mute to feed. The two adults have moved to the model boat pond and have displaced the resident pair to the periphery. Just the two cygnets, one Gadwall and a couple of Moorhens remain on the "no swimming" pond.
No sign of Tufted today. But plenty of Teal on Tim Butler (at least 40).
Water Rail calling from western marsh
All the low lying ground is covered with water. The attached images are "no swimming" pond, central marsh and western marsh.

A large LTT flock was feeding in willows above the water on western marsh. But no other tits or other birds with them.

Thursday, 23 November 2017

Coastal bits and bobs

A bit of seawatching and ferry watching today produced the following

Little Gull - 1+2 adult out
Kittiwake - 5 ad and 1 1cy in
Red-throated Diver - 1CY did a tour of the harbour (dreadful record shot!)
Med Gull - 1CY outfalls
Pintail - flock of 4 out
Oystercatcher - 4200 heliport nearly all on grass at northern end
Redshank - just 320 heliport
Wigeon - 175 outfalls

Middleton NR
or Middleton Lake as it looks like now.
Snipe 2 at the very least. Flushed from close to the central track so no doubt plenty more if I’d waded into the marsh in waders.
Water Rail 1 squealing
Cetti’s Warbler 1singing 

North Harbour Wall 
Goldfinch 12 on the seed


Wednesday, 22 November 2017

Rain !!

Middleton NR (MD)
Managed a walk around MNR mid morning (wonderful things, waterproofs - at least in winter!).
Very little to see/hear though.
2 Tufted on model boat pond with 2 Gadwall.
A further 6 Gadwall initially on "no swimming" pond. Later 7 (2 & 5) Gadwall flew off north, leaving just 1 on "no swimming" on return leg.
C15 Teal on Tim Butler.
The only small birds seen in entire walk were 10 grounded Meadow Pipit.
North Harbour Wall
Very brief visit around 13.30 in appalling rain storm. Despite conditions 14 Linnet and 2 Goldfinch (plus a feral pigeon) were on the feeding area.

Tuesday, 21 November 2017

Access to North Wall open again

The road at the entrance to the North Wall has been resurfaced. Diversions still in place but access to North Wall again.

Heysham harbour

A Shag was at the entrance to the harbour

North Harbour Wall

25 finch sp on the seed  - mixture of Goldfinch and Linnet

Monday, 20 November 2017

A few sightings and access restrictions

Ocean Edge saltmarsh

Jack Snipe - 3
Common Snipe -2
Reed Bunting - 1
Linnet - c20

No access to the North Wall at the moment due to resurfacing works.

Advance notice -No access along Moneyclose Lane 4-8 Dec due to resurfacing work


Sunday, 19 November 2017

New Goldcrests and heliport Knot consolidate

Middleton NR
Tufted 1
Gadwall 12
Mallard 5
Teal 15
Water Rail 3 (2 heard, 1 flushed)
Common Snipe 1
Cetti's calls from western scrape
Didn't locate the mixed tit flock today
Pink-footed Goose - c50 each way i.e. 8,000 departees from Pilling roost heading north/NW were probably before anyone was active here or out at sea  
Ringing by office
... surprisingly included three unringed Goldcrest
Knot 2600+
Thanks to Malcolm for pic

Saturday, 18 November 2017

Record Jack Snipe count

Ocean Edge saltmarsh
Jack Snipe - absolute minimum of 9 today
Snipe - 15+
Linnet - 40
Reed Bunting - 1
Red-breasted Merganser - 5 (one male)

Brief seawatch incoming tide
Red-throated Diver - one out
Guillemot - one poss two out

Med Gull - ad fishers
Black-headed Gull - 73 Fishers
Oystercatcher - 9500 Heliport
Knot - 1750 heliport with a further 700 which flew south - not a lot of room!
Redshank - 620 heliport
Turnstone - 36 heliport
Ringed Plover - 11 heliport
Dunlin - 6 heliport
Cormorant - 71 wooden jetty

Friday, 17 November 2017

Snipe time

The tide was covered by malcolm today producing the following

Ocean edge saltmarsh
Linnet - 40
Jack snipe - at least five with some hiding places not covered by tide
Snipe - 47
Red- breasted merganser - 2

Red nab
Wigeon - 235

Harbour and outfalls dead

Thursday, 16 November 2017

Middleton coverage

Middleton NR
All ducks except Teal on "no swimming" pond. A busy place today.
Tufted 2 (males)
Mallard 12
Gadwall 16
Teal, similar numbers to yesterday (can only count reasonably accurately when they are spooked, and take a short flight)
Little Egret 1 (model boat pond)

Strip along eastern edge of Golf Club.
Redwing 2
Large flock of mixed tits patrolling up and down, including one very infuriating LTT, with a tail shorter than a Blue Tit (presumably growing back). Kept picking it as "something different" with naked eye, before confirmation with bins.
Also with flock:
Goldcrest 2
Treecreeper, probably 2. First bird seen had particularly worn tail feathers. The "second" appeared to be less worn.
No sign of Chiffchaff today

Wednesday, 15 November 2017

Two Slavonian Grebes and blythi confirmation

A vis mig session with good views over the sea from Heysham Head highlighted by two Slavonian Grebe slowly floating in close together on the last of the incoming tide.  Also an email received from Martin Collinson indicating that the Lesser Whitethroat ringed at the end of October had a 100% DNA match with blythi and sufficiently different from other forms to rule them out.   This makes it the first confirmed Lancashire record

Heysham Head near HT
Slavonian Grebe - two floated in slowly 0740 onwards near a raft of feeding Cormorant
Common Scoter - 22 out then on 0855hrs
Chaffinch - 23 S
Brambling - 1 S
Siskin - 1
Meadow Pipit - 4 S
Pink-footed Goose - 675 in four flocks north/NNW
Rock Pipit - 1

South harbour
Rock Pipit - 1

Knot - 40
Turnstone - 50

Red Nab
Wigeon - 125

Middleton NR half circuit
 Thanks Janet
Tufted 4 (3 male) on model boat pond
Gadwall 8
Teal c30
Coot seems to have gone
Moorhen 8
Water Rail 1 flushed
Pink-footed Goose -  20 south

N H Wall
A morning whoosh netting session at the feeding site captured the following:
Goldfinch - 7 (included 4 local ringed birds)
Linnet - 12
Meadow Pipit - 9/20 grounded ringed  (these attracted by mp3 playback), plus 18 which earlier flew south

Sparrowhawk - 1 perched on one of the large white fuel tanks.

Tuesday, 14 November 2017


One flew over office from tank farm direction

About 20 blackbirds around the office area

Monday, 13 November 2017

Feeder ride surprises and record eider count

The north harbour wall held:

Eider - 1510 with about 70 per cent male but very mobile with some flying out of the bay
Red-throated diver - two offshore
Finches - about 43 linnet and goldfinch around seed
Meadow pipit - 7
Med gull - ad following freight ferry for short time - presumed to be the Czech bird and seemingly this is the only bird left

Brambling - 1cy male ringed
Chiffchaff - new collybita type ringed
Greenfinch - half a dozen new birds ringed

Sunday, 12 November 2017

Bright sunny and useless

Highlight today was the latest ever use of the fly swat in Heysham NR office - the usual persistent house fly type thing

North wall
Eider very mobile in  the rough sea but didn't seem to be as many as yesterday - perhaps 900
Red-throated Diver - ? same as yesterday Kent channel area
Meadow Pipit - 2
Too much heat haze (!) for very distant stuff like the time on Barrow Town Hall Clock

Middleton (thanks Malcolm)
Pink-footed Goose - 97 south
Meadow Pipit - 12 grounded

Saturday, 11 November 2017

Eider hit new heights

Three sweeps were carried out blocking in 20s and the average of three similar counts was 1410

No sign of Slavonian Grebe or indeed anything else of interest other than:

Brents - 6 extremely distant flying over the Rampside side
Red-throated Diver - one in kent channel

Outfalls completely Med dead and the only thing of interest was a single Twite which seemed to come in-off and head south towards Potts Corner - I think there was only one bird calling

N H Wall Feeding Site
Linnet - 17
Goldfinch - 12

Friday, 10 November 2017

Middleton coverage

A breezy day saw Malcolm cover Middleton NR with the highlight being a continued presence of a Chiffchaff along the eastern gold course edge

Tufted Duck - one male
Gadwall - 12
Teal - lots calling TB pond
Redwing - 7
Common Snipe - 1

Neither the sea conditions nor the time to search for the Slavonian Grebe off Heysham Head


A Slavonian Grebe was seen flying out of the recording area off Heysham Head towards Morecambe Stone Jetty, thence landing about 1/2 a mile to the NNW

Middleton NR
Chiffchaff - one eastern edge golf course
Tufted Duck - male
Teal - 2
Gadwall - 8
Common Snipe - 1
Pheasant - 2
Redwing - 3
Cettis Warbler singing south side no swimming pond
Treecreeper - one near Chiffchaff
Goldcrest - 2
Jackdaw - 18E
Carrion Crow - 7 west

Common Darter - one - pic later

Wednesday, 8 November 2017

Lots of cuddy ducks

In fact a ridiculous amount but perhaps not so unexpected given part-counts in less favourable conditions recently.   Three sweeps were undertaken as the tide was turning and the last of these enabled all birds to be seen without obscuring skeers

North wall low tide
Eider - 1221 - high proportion males
Scaup - 6 - one ad male, the rest female or imms
Teal - 2 females
Wigeon - 117
Great-crested Grebe - 3
.......but where are the RB Mergansers - fits with the lack of suitable prey??
Linnet - 19
Rock Pipit - 1
Meadow Pipit - c5

Heysham Head
Treecreeper - 1
Brambling - 2 grounded
Rock Pipit - 3 grounded
Not sure of any vis

Heysham NR/Middleton
Pre-dawn rush but nothing afterwards other than Pink-feet
Blackbird - 47 south past HNR office, all pre-sunrise and some may have been ex-roost
Redwing - just one HNR, two Middleton
Reed Bunting - one south HNR, two grounded Middleton
Chiffchaff - one along golf course edge Middleton
Chaffinch - 6 SW HNR
Long-tailed Tit - flock of 14 towered up HNR and headed inland
Goldcrest - one new bird ringed HNR
Pink-footed Goose - 320 north, 60 south

More to add I think but need to post now!


Just the ad Med Gull patrolling the north wall to offer

Monday, 6 November 2017

Early November migrant flurry

Vis by the office on and off
Blackbird - minimum of 59 passing through with many missed whilst concentrating on ringing tuition
Starling - 275 SW
Redwing - 17 SW
Chaffinch - 53 SW, prob more
Song Thrush - prominent with at least 15 SW or inland
Siskin - 3 registrations
Little Egret - 2+1 S
Pink-footed Goose - 80 NE, 40 S
Woodpigeon - 21 plus a flock of 38-40 SW
Fieldfare - 4 SW
Sparrowhawk - 2 separate birds high to SW
Meadow Pipit - 4 SE
Reed Bunting - 1 S (late for this sp)
Goldfinch - just one on vis mig!
Linnet - 2 SE
Long-tailed Tit - flocks of 12 + 13 south

Ringing: New birds comprised
Blackcap - male
Bullfinch - female
Goldcrest - 2
Blackbird - 4
Two each of Coal and Long-tailed Tit and one Blue Tit

North harbour wall
Morning visit to the feeding site top up seed plus second visit at high tide saw only 10 goldfinch alongside the approach road.  No Linnets in the area seen or heard.

South of harbour near high tide
No Snipe after the succession of flushing spring tides
Mallard - female in harbour by waterfall!
Ringed Plover - 35
Lapwing - 116
Grey Plover - 1
Little Egret - 4
Wigeon - 115

Sunday, 5 November 2017

Twite, irruptive Long-tailed Tits and late Migrant Hawker

North wall
Twite - at least one was with a very brief visit by 18 finches - the rest looked like Linnet - to the north wall feeder around HT.  These joined the 'core' population of 6 Linnet.
Med Gull - ad fishers roof at the same time
Rock Pipit - one heard near naze area

Office area
Migrant Hawker - one by office early pm

Middleton (thanks Malcolm)
Redwing - 10 on hawthorn
Chiffchaff - two along eastern edge of golf course (one ringed on right leg)

Goldcrest - 4

Gadwall - 7
Moorhen - 9
Teal - 6
Mute Swan 4 + 2 1Y
Mallard - 3
Coot - one

Pink-footed Goose - 8 north
Long-tailed Tit - irruptive flock of 26 landed just once after flying in high from the west before continuing on.  6 similarly south over HNR early pm
NO diving duck

Saturday, 4 November 2017

North westerlies

Photo shoots of the heliport seawall roost were the order of the day and the only things of note seen were:

Czech ringed med gull
1cy kittiwake behind iom ferry

Friday, 3 November 2017

Jack snipe tide

Ocean edge saltmarsh
Jack snipe - At least three and possibly four displaced at high tide

Office area
Blackcap - female ringed
Goldcrest - 2 ringed
Robin - 1 ringed
Coal Tit - one ringed
Low single figures of Green and Goldfinch ringed
Starling - 180 S

No proper vis mig counts today and both Middleton and the outfalls area were pronounced dead!

Red admiral - 1 seen

Thursday, 2 November 2017

A Hawfinch pays a flying visit

Bird(s) of the day would have been the 5 Whooper Swans that flew south over Heysham NR but a surprise flyby of a Hawfinch at Middleton NR was rather rarer.

Weather: A calm start then becoming NE F3 for a while then calming down again with air from WNW. Cloudy first thing giving way to clear skies and bright sunshine.

Vis at Middleton NR 07:30 - 11:30 - birds heading in a variety of direction, many heading north.
Raven 4
Buzzard 1 east at 10:34
Redwing 3
Chaffinch 15
Brambling 1
Goldfinch 15
Meadow Pipit 12
Lesser Redpoll 5
Siskin 3
Skylark 5
Reed Bunting 2

Ringing at MNR
New birds
Redwing 2
Blue Tit 2
Robin 1
Goldcrest 4
Lesser Redpoll 4
Meadow Pipit 1

Retraps - Blackbird 1, Long-tailed Tit 2, Goldcrest 1, Robin 1
Controls (ie birds from elsewhere) - Lesser Redpoll 1

Heysham NR
Whooper Swan 5 at 08:50 heading south

New birds
Robin 1
Goldcrest 3
Blue Tit 1

Retraps - Dunnock 1, Blackcap 1, Goldcrest 1
Controls - Goldcrest 1

Heysham Head - vis
Chaffinch 89
Brambling 5
Siskin 7
Lesser Redpoll 2
Meadow Pipit 28
Blue Tit 3
Golden Plover 1
Skylark 8
Redwing 5
Greenfinch 2
Goldfinch 4

Grounded at
a) Heysham Head and surroundings:
Meadow Pipit 14
Rock Pipit 4
Stonechat - pair
Goldcrest 8
b) the mound at the end of the North Harbour Wall:
Meadow Pipit 5
Linnet 32
Goldfinch 2
Med Gull - Czech veteran on the railings

Heysham skeer
Over 500 Eider in one raft off the skeer.
Also a Great Crested Grebe.

Thanks to the following observers: Andrew Cornall, Joanne Bradley, Malcolm Downham, Dan Haywood, Pete Marsh, John Mason, Jean Roberts.

A tale of two tails - on the left a young (this year's) Lesser Redpoll with pointed tail feathers, on the right an adult Lesser Redpoll with more rounded tail feathers. There are differences in the tertials as well with the adult having clear cut buff edges and the young bird having more diffuse paler edges.

Report by JR

Wednesday, 1 November 2017

Bits and bobs in the south westerly

This was not an early start and in consequence the only vis mig was the usual late Skylark or two plus a few Pinkfeet.  As usual the wind direction and cloud cover favoured a ringing session by the office and this produced a sprinkling of migrants as well as the expected finches

Goldcrest - 4 unringed bird in the net by the office
Blackcap - male ringed by the office
Robin - lightweight bird ringed by office
Dunnock - unusually yet another two unringed birds caught by the office

Kingfisher - one OE saltmarsh
Rock Pipit - 1-2 OE saltmarsh
Little Egret - 5
Med Gull - adult
Pink-footed Goose - 60+30 S over bay
Linnet - c20 OE saltmarsh with Twite not ruled out for a separate 5 additional finches.  15 on the north wall seed were all Linnet (apart from 3 goldfinch)
Skylark - 3 SE
Meadow Pipit - at least 6 north wall

Tuesday, 31 October 2017

Quiet end to a roller coaster month

This month has been all about the Monty Python catchphrase 'now for something completely different' with the weather neither forecastable for more than a day and a half ahead and on many occasions radically changing with pulses of rain and intermittent dry spells racing through, usually but not always with a strong push from the of course the infamous red sun and its Saharan dust and Portuguese forest fire smoke.  It has been a month when close perusal of the rain alarm was essential for any ringing effort and we were only 'caught out' once due to a last minute decision of a large blob of rain to change direction and descend over us from south Cumbria.  As implied, it was often a case of micro-siting - "that shower is going over north Morecambe, that one is going over Pilling" etc and ignoring the previous night's forecasts and trusting the early morning rain alarm

28 ringer/days was a really good ringing effort considering one of us was out of action unless another ringer was present (confined to base with knee rehab) and two of us had very limited availability as the bits of suitable weather were very short notice and usually did not allow forward planning in relation to other commitments.  The other problem was the water level at Middleton knocking some ringing rides out of action, not allowing more than 2/3 nets per ringer as per available sites being too far apart for a single ringer.  It was a month where Jean's regular availability at short notice was crucial to the effort.

It was also a month when the coverage of the recording area was pretty good, with the exception, perhaps ironically, being regular circuits of Heysham NR - a bit beyond the injured knees.  Malcolm put in loads of footwork and Dan and Joanne covered some more obscure spots eg rewarded with the second eastern-type Lesser Whitethroat in the scrub near half moon bay car park

Bird-wise it was just about as good as it gets, given that there were no mornings which "felt rare" with coastal murk and an easterly wind.  We had a decent variety of scarce migrants for a west coast site in "rubbishy weather" and other interest such as late Common and Arctic terns

Ringing totals:  534 new birds were ringed including the following top ten:  136 Goldcrest, 68 Greenfinch, 45 Long-tailed Tit (good numbers moving through), 38 Blue Tit, 31 Coal Tit (reflecting aa decent passage considering weather), 26 Wren, 24 Redwing, 24 Goldfinch, 19 Chiffchaff, 18 Robin (only 2-3 orange breasted grey ones).   More unexpected were:  singles of Firecrest, eastern type Lesser Whitethroat, Brambling (first for ages) and House Sparrow!   Way below par was 8 Blackcap, along with just single figures of Blackbird and Song Thrush.  Note the absence of Yellow-browed Warbler - one spent three days in our usual mist net ride by the office, but on none of those Storm Brian days was a normal ringing session possible other than a single net "just to catch it" which we don't do here.

The most noticeable feature of the ringing (this whole autumn) has been the complete absence of birds ringed elsewhere.   Whilst partly due to the relatively low numbers of Reed Bunting and Lesser Redpoll, it does suggest that the Goldcrests were a product of drifting south from some obscure northern Britain conifer plantation rather than via east coast ringing stations due to an influx across the North Sea.   Yet the Faroes birding blog suggest there were heaps of migrant Goldcrest up there which presumably tried to head south.  However, surely ringing efforts with mist nets were severely curtailed in a lot of places this month c/p the last two Octobers?

Finally today:
Little Egret - 5
Med Gull - ad outfalls, 2CY and 1CY following outbound ferry   


Monday, 30 October 2017

Hawfinches and some bog standard seasonal migration

This morning was all about the larger thrushes and a couple of Hawfinch tagging along.  It was also about an "invisible" Greenfinch passage which saw 15 new birds in the mist nets, but nothing on the vis mig the other side of the office!   It was not about unseasonal summer migrants or indeed any warbler registrations to date

Terns gone
Red-throated Diver - one close inshore off north wall

Grounded/low level vis mig by office
Blackbird - 90 passed through the office area on a NE to SW bush to bush or slightly higher movement
Song Thrush - 10 as above
Dunnock - two unringed birds caught and a third unringed bird leaping around on top of bushes - very late for fidgety ones
House Sparrow - one heard and then presumably the same (female) ringed
Goldcrest - just three unringed birds caught and no evidence of any others
Greenfinch - 15 new birds with no retraps
Coal Tit - two unringed birds caught and another four behaving like migrants
Bullfinch - female headed south and presumably the one ringed

Vis mig by the office to above 1130GMT
Hawfinch - one south vaguely accompanying a large Fieldfare flock at 0900 and another much lower trailing behind two Redwing on HNR and appeared to land in the tank-farm at 1005hrs (no access)
Fieldfare - 243 WSW in 5 flocks
Chaffinch - 54 S but difficult to monitor
Woodpigeon - 25 S
Pink-footed Goose - 521 NORTH, 50 S
Meadow Pipit - 7 SE
alba Wagtail - 2 SE
Mistle Thrush - 1 S
Siskin - 5 S
Lesser Redpoll - 5 S (4 ringed)


Sunday, 29 October 2017

More rubbishy weather produces the unexpected goods

The strategy today in the cold northerly was to vis mig the high point to hope for Hawfinch and check the mound area and hope for Twite and Snow Bunting.   It didn't really work out like - equally good but more unexpected - with the highlight being the second brown Lesser Whitethroat of the late autumn.  Unfortunately this allowed just a few record shots and was silent throughout.  Surprisingly the tern duo was also still there late afternoon.  Thanks to Dan, Malcolm and Joanne for pics

Stonechat - two Heysham Barrows
Rock Pipit - one by near naze
Meadow Pipit - c25 north harbour wall until scattered by vehicle whence half of them flew south west out to sea.  A not unprecedented late flurry of movement
Merlin - female by 1/2 moon bay café late afternoon
Goldcrest - very few with no more than 10 in total despite good coverage
Chiffchaff - one in scrub inland from 1/2 moon bay car park
Lesser Whitethroat - brown one - similar to the one caught the other day, but seemingly more white on T5

Eider - 400 or so
Guillemot - two on the sea
Red-throated Diver - one flew out distantly
Great crested Grebe - one on and two in
Med Gull - adult behind ferry
Kingfisher - one outfalls
Arctic Tern - 1CY outfalls
Common Tern - 1CY outfalls

Vis mig
Meadow Pipit - 15 S
Redwing - 2 S (and 4 grounded in scrub by Heysham HBB car park
Greenfinch - 2
Pied Wagtail - 2
Linnet - 4
Carrion Crow - 20
Chaffinch - 24
Lesser Redpoll - 5
Pink-footed Goose - 3
Woodpigeon - 22
Siskin - 5
Skylark - 9
Rock Pipit - 1
Goldfinch - 7
Starling - 4
Little Egret - 1 north

Red Admiral - 2 S

Cetti's Warbler singing central marsh during a very truncated Middleton visit

Saturday, 28 October 2017

1CY Shag new in and terns remain

Here is Dan's audio of the noisy Yellow-browed Warbler around the office last weekend.  Thanks for this

Here is Malcolm's picture of todays new arrival - a wet 1CY Shag by Heysham one outfall.  Thanks for this:

Common Tern - one 1CY until at least mid-afternoon
Arctic Tern - 1CY at least early am with the above
Med Gull - 2CY Red Nab
Shag - 1CY

Office area
Blackbird - at least 20 - definite influx of continental birds in small gangs
Lesser Redpoll - 1 off passage
Long-tailed Tit - at least 11 unringed and others in flock
Goldcrest - 5+
Blackcap - one male with tit flock
Raven - one on pylon
about 20 each of Green and Goldfinch and low single figures of Chaffinch

Friday, 27 October 2017

Too stratospheric

Incredible contrast between days at the moment, but it was far too clear today.  Unexpectedly two of the terns stuck around until at least lunchtime but the lack of pics in my inbox suggests attempts to photo them this afternoon failed.  Best was another new Cetti's Warbler, plus a different retrap to yesterday, so at least three birds around (and another singing male just to the south of the area at Bowie's Pool.  The Eider went up to an autumnal record 804

North wall
Eider - at least 804 off north wall on the calm sea
Scaup - male and female Kent channel
NO RMB, GCGrebe or Goldeneye!

Rock Pipit - 1
Meadow Pipit - 3
Skylark - 3
Linnet - 1
Brambling - 1
Chaffinch - 39
Greenfinch - 5
Siskin - 2
Redpoll sp - 3
Mistle Thrush - 3
Redwing - 55
Jackdaw - 1
Carrion Crow - 24
Sparrowhawk - 1 high heading SW
Pink-footed Goose - 150 + 70 south, well to the east, 300 to west.

Goldcrest - 7 new birds and at least 6 others
Coal Tit - 4 new birds but no irruptive behaviour noted
Lesser Redpoll - 3 ringed and at least three more over
Reed Bunting - three ringed
Song Thrush - at least 10 grounded
Blackbird - at least 7 grounded
Chiffchaff - one by 1/2 moon bay café
Rock Pipit - 2 ocean edge foreshore
Redwing - 5 ringed Middleton - at least 2 others down

Arctic Tern - 1CY
Common Tern - the 'gingery' 1CY remained
Med Gull - at least 2 1CY and a 2CY

Thursday, 26 October 2017

Firecrest and a three bird theory!

This last seven days have been pretty impressive for here given the weather might be best described as 'unhelpful'.   Horrified to discover the "single" tern on the outfalls had changed from Common into an Arctic this afternoon.  Malcolm went to see if he could solve the mystery and amazingly there were three terns on the outfalls (what date is it!) - two 1CY Common and a 1CY Arctic!   No need for any dodgy two-bird theories, but only one (Common) tern has been visible at any one time this last few days as per wind-blown scans from Ocean Edge!   The other news was a female Firecrest ringed on Middleton NR.  Tellingly, this happened on the first visit there for several weeks not to capture a Goldcrest - they certainly tend not to 'flock together' in my experience

Vis mig Heysham NR
Pink-footed Goose - 190 north and 79 south
Skylark - 9 SE
Bullfinch - flock of 5 south
Chaffinch - 16 S
alba Wagtail - 5 S
NO thrushes

Chiffchaff - 1 HNR
Firecrest - female Middleton NR
Goldcrest - 5 unringed birds caught HNR
Lesser Redpoll - 2 ringed Middleton NR
Reed Bunting - one new bird ringed Middleton NR

Outfalls/Red Nab
Common Tern - 2 x 1CY
Arctic Tern - 1 x 1CY

Thanks Malcolm

Cetti's Warbler - the new male caught the other day was retrapped on Middleton NR

Wednesday, 25 October 2017

Goldcrest influx in a fresh westerly

The nets were set by the office this morning - quite tolerant of westerly winds with the pond and embankment providing the shelter.  They produced 10 new Goldcrest and a new Chiffchaff, more than might be expected in the conditions and sure enough coverage elsewhere saw a sprinkling of Goldcrest totally at least another 20 birds. The other two features were the ongoing presence of the 1CY Common Tern and the highest ever count of Eider off the north wall in autumn - 506 was the average of a left to right and a right to left count!

Wigeon - 15 in the Kent channel area
Eider - 506 as above
Med Gull - 2CY and 3 poss 4 1CY plus adult flying from Middleton to shore (2CY just north of the area off SJ)
Common Tern - 1CY outfalls

Redwing - 27 Middleton
Chiffchaff - 1 HNR
Goldcrest - at least 30

Siskin - 1

Ringing:  18 new birds by the office including 10 Goldcrest and a Chiffchaff

Tuesday, 24 October 2017

Foul weather

Bit of coastal coverage:

Med gull - one ad (prob Czech bird), 2x 2cy including the one with loads of black like a relict gull!  Also three 1cy
Common tern - 1cy still heysham two
Rock pipit - 2

Monday, 23 October 2017

One sibe for another?

No sign of the Yellow-browed Warbler after its window of departure after dark last night but the day was almost certainly not without interest with a rather sandy coloured Lesser Whitethroat which will be hopefully be able to be determined by Martin Collinson and the Aberdeen DNA centre.  Once again the rain conspired to miss Heysham other than the odd spot here and there and it was possible to run the office mist nets for most of the day.  Thanks very much to Ian Hartley for assistance.  Wing formulae will be published later.

Please do not copy and paste any of these on social media without permission.  Thanks.

Common Tern - 1CY still on outfalls
Med Gull - Ad & 1CY outfalls
Chiffchaff - 4 round office first thing (2 ringed)
Blackcap - 2 ringed
Treecreeper - one ringed
Goldcrest - 9 ringed

Sunday, 22 October 2017

Low key life of brian

The problem today was the wind first thing was most definitely way north of west and although it later went slightly more west there was clearly no prospect of anything to add to the local year list  (or was there - where did Ian's great northern diver past rossall come from?)

Not too bad in the circumstances
Common Tern - 1cy outfalls over the tide at least
Yellow-browed warbler - fairly easy to hear, very difficult to see with wind blowing straight on to favoured bushes on the only viewable side - to mid pm
Chiffchaff - one with above
Starling - 72 south
Kittiwake - two flocks totalling c35 headed in ahead of the iom ferry, three more behind it
Med gull - at least two ad and three 1cy in area
Shag - 1cy on sea harbour mouth 0845 only then swam out of view south side

Saturday, 21 October 2017


Yellow browed warbler
Still present next to office calling regularly in association  with chiffchaff but hard to see in wind!  Present in same area to 1735 at least

Chiffchaff - 1
Goldcrest - 6 plus

Friday, 20 October 2017

Messy weather produces two Gems

Thanks Dan
The first one was in the moth trap at nearby Sunderland Point (a Gem) and the second was heard as I was getting out of the car at Heysham NR office - a vocal Yellow-browed Warbler.  Just occasionally birding is easy! 

Goldcrest - at least 20
Song Thrush - c15
Redwing - c5
Chiffchaff - one by office, one in what has been christened (not by me) 'chavvy scrub' by half moon bay
Stonechat - two by half moon bay then on to heliport area
Yellow-browed Warbler - one by office from early pm to at least 5pm and, unless it got away in the first hour of darkness, probably going nowhere for a day or two
Water Rail - three calling from scattered locations away from usual areas at Middleton
Blackcap - female by office with tit flock

Vis mig (not a lot)
Grey Wagtail - 1
Skylark - 2
Swallow - two blogging Heysham Head
House Martin - two south Middleton
Chaffinch - 18
Reed Bunting - 6
Redwing - 6
alba Wagtail - 11
Meadow Pipit - 5
Egret spp - two high to north in distant escape flight only over Middleton in am (not large)

Merlin - female with prey north wall and later HNR chasing finches
Linnet - 23 north wall
Med Gull - ad and 1cy behind ferry
Eider - 342 at low tide round skeers - 2/3 male - very good number for this time of year

More odds and ends to come

Thursday, 19 October 2017

Single observer decisions!

Plumped for a vis mig session from the concrete road between the western and central marshes at Middleton and that wasn't a bad choice but what was elsewhere?  I'll have another session later, but it is absolutely typical sods law that the main ringing team is not available on the two peak late autumn migration days (today and tomorrow).  

Vis mig Middleton 0800-0930
Skylark - 31 SE
Meadow Pipit - surprisingly plentiful this late with 43 SE
Reed Bunting - 7 SE
Sparrowhawk - 1+1 high south
Grey Wagtail - 3 together then a singleton SE
alba Wagtail - 26 SE
Goldfinch - 24 SE
Greenfinch - 2 SE
Chaffinch - 65 S
unidentified Chaffinchish finches - c60 S
Linnet - 23 SE
Lesser Redpoll - 2 SE
Carrion Crow - 46 S (incl flock of 21)
Jackdaw - just the one flock of 16 S - prefer clearer and calmer weather!
Blackbird - 18 dropping from height from the north and landing in bushes
Redwing - 705 almost all north to south with quite a bit of landing but 'dried up' after 0910 with just the odd singleton
Fieldfare - 16+17+15 S
Song Thrush - just two dropping from height into the bushes
Mistle Thrush - 3 S
Starling - ex-roost stuff early on ignored.  61 S in dribs and drabs, some with RE
Pink-footed Goose.   This was unexpected:  1205 high to NE (not to local fields) in 7 skeins plus 18 S
Raven - 1 high S
Jay - 2 S possibly just local
Woodpigeon - at least 21 migrants to south - lower birds difficult to classify here

Blackbird - c30 in the area (plus the vis birds above)
Ring Ouzel - 1CY male on view for 5 minutes before heading for brick building
Song Thrush - 5 in addition to the vis birds
Chiffchaff - one moved rapidly inland
Goldcrest - just 4 within audible/visual range as above
Cetti's Warbler - singing regularly eastern end of central marsh but no others heard
Green Woodpecker - heard once

Kestrel blogging

oiled Great-crested Grebe hauled itself out of to the seawall by Heysham 2 outfall

Wednesday, 18 October 2017

Partial migrants on the rampage

One of the highest non-Swallow-roost ringing totals for here today without any relationship to a 'fall' of migrants.  Therefore the composition was more 'west coast cat food' than 'eastern promise', exemplified by eight un-ringed Wrens.  There was a decent movement of Coal Tit, but very difficult to document as they were in the corridor of migratory uncertainty ranging from those accompanying 'grounded' roaming tit flocks and noisy 'top of the bushes' single-species movers.  There were certainly no noisy high-flying flocks as on some previous irruptions and, as implied, many of them were mixed in with similar numbers of un-ringed Long-tailed Tit and Blue Tit.

Blackcap have been conspicuous by their absence for several weeks, so five un-ringed birds were welcome, and equally welcome was an un-ringed, presumed male on wing length, Cetti's Warbler in Middleton central marsh.  The first Brambling to be ringed for several years was also trapped on Middleton

Ringing (new birds)
Included:   22 Goldcrest, 15 Greenfinch, 12 each of Coal, Blue and Long-tailed Tits, 8 Wren, 5 Blackcap, 4 Redwing, 2 Lesser Redpoll and singles of Brambling, Chiffchaff and Cetti's Warbler
Redwing Middleton (thanks Janet)
Redwing 40
Song Thrush 9
Skylark 29
Siskin 2
Meadow Pipit 19
Alba Wagtail 14
Grey Wagtail 2
Chaffinch 9
Raven 1
Jackdaw 6

Gadwall - 22
Jack Snipe - flushed by Janet
Cetti's Warbler - new bird ringed Central Marsh
Brambling - 1 ringed
Redwing - grounded flock of 20

Redwing 25
Wood pigeon 11 SE
Jackdaw 70 S
Corvid sp 100 SE
Pink-footed Goose 30

Heysham Head
Brambling heard

Outfalls etc
Med Gull - 1CY

Tuesday, 17 October 2017

Ophelias bits and pieces

Shame there were no squalls this morning to spice up the seabirds and send them further into the Bay but we didn't do too badly.  Indeed I posted this a bit prematurely as the day gave new meaning to "the afternoon dropping tide being best for Leach's Petrel".  They do not seem to have a problem with mudflats and therefore low tide and lack of water is not an issue.

Pomarine Skua - juv wheeled in at quite close range at 0845hrs - didn't think there would be any juvs this autumn after my experience of the Arctic breeding season!
Leach's Petrel - one 9ish and one located off the stone jetty at 1130 and seen again 30 mins later off the north wall & see below
Velvet Scoter - male floated in with the tide during the last hour of flow with a rough sea, but hasn't been relocated as yet
Pintail - 7+5 out
Wigeon - 8 out
Shelduck - about 160 out
Med Gull - 7 behind IOM ferry (2 x 1CY, 3 x Ad, 2 x 2CY), ad red nab at same time and three 1CY already on outfalls
Little Gull - ad appeared to come in with IOM ferry but may have been the usual bird wandering

Chiffchaff - one by gate 38!

Later update

Yes well they are not easy to phonescope!  The 1555hrs bird off the north wall and this was followed by three others as seen from the SJ during the last 1.5 hrs of daylight

Eider - 120 off north wall low tide

Monday, 16 October 2017

Spanish sun

"Red Midday Sun" by Malcolm Downham

The day was notable for two things a) a Pochard turned up at Middleton, almost the only one in the whole area and b) the unusual weather courtesy of the outer edges of Hurricane Ophelia.
Heysham NR
Early doors the skies were "normal" and a bit of vis got underway with alba wagtails and the odd Siskin and Reed Bunting then a huge yellow blob formed over Heysham and it went dark enough for the security lights to come on again. It felt rather threatening. Luckily the Saharan dust + Spanish forest fire smoke sucked up by Hurricane Ophelia stayed up in the atmosphere and moved off north. Eventually the skies went grey and rain lashed down for a short while, birds dived for cover. Late morning the clouds thinned enough to reveal a spooky red sun that just about everyone in the UK commented on. Finally the clouds broke up, it became very breezy but balmy with temperatures of 19C.
Chaffinch - 5
Snipe - 1
Golden Plover - 1 (unusual for here)
Redwing - 3
song Thrush - 6
alba wagtail - 2
Grey Wagtail - 1
Siskin - 1
Reed Bunting - 2

New birds:
Greenfinch 3
Long-tailed Tit 1
Wren 1
Goldcrest 4p
Chiffchaff 1
Song Thrush 1

Coal Tit - 4, Goldcrest 1, Chiffchaff 2, Robin 2, Long-tailed Tit 1
One of the Robins was first ringed in 2013 so at 4 years old it's pretty ancient for a Robin whose average lifespan is just 2 years. It's escaped the clutches of the local marauding Sparrowhawk as well. What a survivor!

Red Nab
Wigeon 65

Mediterranean Gull 1 x 1CY

Middleton NR
A male Pochard has joined the 18 Gadwall on "No Swimming" pond - no sign of Little Grebe today.
1 Redwing grounded
5 Alba Wagtail & 14 Meadow Pipit to east 
1 Water Rail calling 
Pochards, which winter here from northern and eastern Europe,  are now classed as "vulnerable"/globally threatened by Birdlife International and are Red-listed in the UK as a species of high conservation concern. Across Europe they have declined by a whopping 60% since 1980.
Here is what the Wildfowl and Wetlands Trust have to say about the reasons for the decline:
"Researchers have found that the decline is related to gulls, mink and nutrients.
Pochards build their nests among black-headed gull colonies for protection and there are fewer black-headed gull nesting colonies across a number of European countries, including Norway, Germany and Latvia.
Explosions of plants and algaes in wetlands and waterways, caused by nutrients washing off farmland, has prevented pochards and other birds from diving for food.
The American mink has become a major wetland predator. The species was originally introduced and farmed in Europe for its fur, but escaped and is now considered to be an invasive species in many countries.
Despite the decline in migrating pochards, the number of them breeding in the UK has actually increased and the latest estimate is 653 pairs"

Report by JR