Thursday, 31 August 2017

The luck comes to an end

It had to happen.  Couldn't make a lot of sense yesterday of the variable forecasts for this morning until an innocent looking trough was picked up over the Atlantic on the Magic Seaweed synoptic chart and the chance of this lot heading our way and 'developing' started to climb to 80-90%:

Situation at 7ish.  We have been very lucky this month with medium range forecasts indicating gloom and doom and the rain then either falling in the night or not at all and strong winds melting away.  Not so fortunate 'down south', it seems, so the decent numbers of birds we have ringed this month may have/have had a mist-net-free further migration. Unusually, I'm not aware of any birds ringed elsewhere in our nets this month.

Totals of newly ringed birds for the month of August from Middleton/Heysham.  Note that we have been two ringers short and many Middleton efforts have been just a single ringer with 2 or 3 18m nets and similarly at Heysham NR, just the line of three 18m by the office (including feeder):

Swallow (250), Whitethroat (97), Greenfinch (91), Willow Warbler (68), Goldfinch (65), Blackcap (42), Chiffchaff (35), Blue Tit (33), Long-tailed Tit (28), Lesser Whitethroat (22), Wren (19), Sedge |Warbler (19), Grey Wagtail (18), Great Tit (18), Reed Bunting (13),  Dunnock (13),  Garden Warbler (11), Robin (11), Reed Warbler (10), Sand Martin (7), Chaffinch (7), Coal Tit (4), Blackbird (4), Bullfinch (4), Grasshopper Warbler (3), Goldcrest (3), Kingfisher (2) and singles of Tree Pipit, Great-spotted Woodpecker, Song Thrush

Difficult to make any meaningful comments on a single month but Whitethroat and Willow Warbler above average for here, Reed Warbler below average all summer, Wren and Long-tailed Tit above average for August, Grey Wagtail in good numbers in the last few days of the month,  but never was so much racket played with such little effect for Tree Pipit.  Just one was caught and ZERO heard on vis mig!   Craig Bell indicated that the good numbers he was catching above Rossendale were due to his site already being at 1000ft and even there the birds were migrating very high.  Peter Alker is also at  a higher site at Billinge. So maybe we have been fortunate in previous years to get a few low-flying ones

Outfalls/Red Nab post high tide quick check in the rain
This was a little cameo, albeit with 55 less Med Gulls than seen the other day (wrong stage of the tide)
Grey Plover - 177 on mudflats
Greenshank - juvenile with Redshank OE saltmarsh creek
Sandwich Tern - adult on mudflats then flew south
Little Gull - moulting ad feeding on heysham 2
Med Gull - just 2 1CY with no 'small' gulls left on Red Nab
Wheatear - 2

Middleton NR post rain (MD)
Had a very pleasant stroll around MNR this afternoon. Not much to report, but the duck numbers are slowly increasing:
Tufted 5 (2m)
Gadwall 4 (2m)
Teal 4 (2m)
4 Robins singing plus three territorial squabbles. Looks like there is some movement.
Large dragonfly numbers reducing.
3 Emperor
3 Brown Hawker
3 "medium sized" hawkers
Lots of Common Darter
Female Brimstone

Wednesday, 30 August 2017

Steady but unspectacular trickle of migrants

Ringing operations at both Heysham and Middleton were successful without revealing spectacular numbers.  Another excellent Grey Wagtail capture rate with 8/9 known vis migrants caught and colour-ringed and, as expected at this time, Blackcap and Chiffchaff starting to top the warbler ringing lists, whilst acros were nowhere to be seen.

Whinchat - one Middleton
Barn Owl - Middleton early am
Marsh Tit - the long stayer retrapped at Heysham
Green Woodpecker - heard Heysham
Sand Martin - 2 south
Swallow - 135 south but just one in roost!
House Martin - 3 south
Grey Wagtail - 9 south
Reed Bunting - at least one vis mig bird (and two unringed ones caught)

No known coastal coverage

Tuesday, 29 August 2017

Meds and finches

An amazing 57 med gulls were around red nab and the outfalls just after low tide (Margaret and mark breaks).  10 1cy and the rest evenly split between ads and 2cys.

Ad little gull seen later by pete woodruff

Just the one wheatear

The only ringing option in the westerly was by the office which was predictably dominated by green and goldfinch totalling about 36 of the 47 new birds.

The moth trap held agriphila latistria

Monday, 28 August 2017

Routine coverage

Limited mist netting for a short time as per wind at Middleton left the jury out as to whether the earlyish start was worthwhile:  singles of Grey Wagtail, Willow Warbler, Great Tit, Lesser Whitethroat, two Blackcap, two Robin, one Great spotted Woodpecker and a retrap Wren

15 Med Gulls were on Red Nab but the next "best" was just three Little Egret

Cetti's Warbler singing western marsh for second day
Single Goldcrest at both Middleton and Heysham NRs

Vis mig saw two House Martin and another Grey Wagtail

The Swallow ex-roost didn't sound up to much and described as "one bird twittering"!

Male Black Darter photographed in the Nature Park yesterday (thanks Janice)

Sunday, 27 August 2017

Grey wagtail autumn passage starts in earnest

Middleton NR
Grey wagtail - 9 se (8 ringed)
Tree pipit - one ringed
Meadow pipit - 2 se
No perceptible hirundine movement and only c10 ex-roost
Predictably, after the clear night, warblers were at a premium with 1-4 of the commoner species ringed, including garden warbler but not lesser whitethroat

Outfalls/red nab later stages of dropping tide
Med gull - just 4

Saturday, 26 August 2017

Warbler wave

Middleton NR

A wave of Warblers passed through until 10am consisting of a minimum of the following:
Whitethroat 14 - some really heavy ones obviously ready for a long journey 
Garden Warbler 3
Chiffchaff 7
Blackcap 6
Lesser Whitethroat 3
Willow Warbler 1
Sedge Warbler 1

Other species today:
Kingfisher (1)
Jay (2)
Grey Wagtail (1)
Reed Bunting (1)
Long-tailed Tit (11)
Goldfinch (flock of 14)

No attempt was made to count the Med Gulls today.


Friday, 25 August 2017


Med gull - 17 red nab (3 1cy)
Sandwich tern - one off skeers at low tide
Swallow - just 20 in roost
Gadwall - 5

Thursday, 24 August 2017

Low tide med fest

Med gull - 17 red nab and outfalls (just two juv actually on outfalls)
Little gull - moulting ad
Sandwich tern - ad
Wheatear - 3

Wednesday, 23 August 2017


little gull -ad
Med gull -6

Odds and ends Tuesday sightings

Marsh tit retrapped by office
Green woodpecker around
Three juvenile coal tit ringed by office
Two sedge warblers ringed by office

Outfalls etc
Sandwich tern - 2
Med gull - 11


Monday, 21 August 2017

Quite a few grounded

Middleton nr
Green Woodpecker briefly
Kingfisher - juv ringed
Garden Warbler - three ringed
Goldcrest - very early female ringed
Double figures of new whitethroat and willow warbler ringed
Grey wagtail - 1 south
No hirundine movement

Red Nab
Ocean Edge motto is about amazing experiences.  Many seemed happy with this this morning - taking selfies next to a doomed Range Rover ready for its second tidal dunking.  Trouble was the associated mutts were not impressed and the seagulls were scattered

Med - just four, later 6 (3 juvs)
Little Gull - moulting ad
Whimbrel - one

High tide roost in offshore wind:
Redshank - 370
Oystercatcher - 2100
Lapwing - 6
Med Gull - Czech ad

Sunday, 20 August 2017

Bits and bobs of migration

Wheatear - 4
Whitethroat - 4 ringed HNR plus a single by wooden jetty

Vis mig
Greenshank - one heard flying over HN reserve
Grey Wagtail - 2 SE
Hirundines in very short supply

Goose spp - a flock over Middleton NR towards the coast late on (inaudible)
Med Gull - just 6 seen on late stages of incoming tide
Whimbrel - one red nab
Jay - group of three of unknown status HNR - prob local

Middleton pm
Sand Martin - at least one in roost
Swallow - only 35-40 in roost (28 of them ringed!)
Water Rail squealing
Barn Owl patrolling

Saturday, 19 August 2017

Splashy tide

A reasonably strong WNW wind this morning, despite a tide height best described as a 'high neap', produced quite a bit of 'splash' on to the heliport seawall for the first time this autumn.  A compact roost of c4000 Oystercatcher earlier in the tide cycle 'lost' about 800 birds which headed south whilst the rest split into two main group as can be seen in this dreadful pic which also shows the darker wave-lashed bits of the seawall.

There was a small amount of Oystercatcher 'spillage' on to the top of the seawall but very little on to the 'grass' for the following reason:

Frome being largely confined to the old sand-works and surrounding area for many years,  Wild Parsnip has proliferated this year and carpeted the old heliport site and, presumably, via lorry wheels etc, spread quite some way along the verges of the Heysham bypass.  As some may already have found out, it can cause irritation to the skin, especially if the sun comes out directly after making contact with the stems, although it is not quite as bad as Giant Hogweed or even Stinging Nettle.  However, it catches people unawares as it is not on their 'nasty plant' radar e.g. any children playing along the seawall whilst their parents do some angling.  It is also a bit too tall for Oystercatchers to roost between the individual plants but this will change when they die and keel over later this autumn, especially if a north-westerly 'hooley' & 'spring' tide sends a load of seawater on to the heliport

Heliport roost
Oystercatcher - 4150 down to c3200 with wave splashing
Redshank - 290 tucked out of sight behind the nearest bit of seawall on the pic
Turnstone - 80 similarly (pushed off wooden jetty by sea)

Red Nab/Ocean Edge
Sandwich tern - ad and juv
Med Gull - only 9 seen (3 juvs) at high tide

Manx Shearwater - one!


Friday, 18 August 2017

Juv Meds proliferate

Outfalls/Red Nab
Once again a glaring silhouette job looking south, but plenty of stuff looking the other way

Med Gull - 14 juvs and at least 6 'white' ones
Little Egret - 3

Thursday, 17 August 2017

Greenfinches back to form

The feeder nets next to Heysham nr office  were used today and produced 29  new greenfinch amongst a catch of over 60 birds.   Other species included willow warbler, chiffchaff, blackcap, reed warbler and whitethroat.

A visit to the outfalls coincided with a spell of blazing sunshine and the great mass of gulls on the sands to the south of ocean edge were black silhouettes against glistening wet mud.

Better luck the other way with 14 meds on red nab/outfalls including 7 juvs.

Green woodpecker again by reserve office

Vis mig
Swallow - 70 plus
House martin - loads for here - in excess of 50 plus  40 grounded briefly near ocean edge
Sand martin - 2
Grey wagtail - 1
Probable tree pipit heard once distantly flying over

Middleton NR
Mute Swan 9, Coot - 1, Mallard 9, Gadwall - 5, Tufted Duck - one, Moorhen - 5, Heron - 2
Also Cetti's Warbler

5 male Emperor and 6 Brown Hawker

Wednesday, 16 August 2017

Bits and bobs

Outfalls and red nab
Dropping tide saw about 30 meds scattered amongst hordes of gulls on the mudflats including 5 2cy together

Ringing in marginal conditions at middleton was highlighted by a juv Kingfisher, a new grasshopper warbler  and a retrapped juvenile Cetti's warbler

Tuesday, 15 August 2017

Med Gulls and a wedge

When I was a teacher, noticeable wedge haircuts were synonymous with lads you hadn't come across before (in a cover lesson) who sneaked towards the back of the class for a bit of quantitative easing.  Risking the European court of human rights, I usually stuck them under my nose at the front.  One decided to lob some stones at the gulls today and at least enabled an accurate count of 28 Med Gulls on Red Nab

Med Gull - 29 - c15 2CY, c9 adults, 4 juvs plus another juv on the outfalls
Little Gull - moulting ad on mudflats
Swift - one south

Monday, 14 August 2017

Lots of 2cy meds

Outfalls/red nab
Grey plover - 28 on tideline
Med gull - 14 2cy, 5 juvs 6-7 adults
Green shank - one red nab

Heysham nr Office area
Green woodpecker showed well for a short time

Sunday, 13 August 2017

Subtle autumnal changes

Middleton NR
6.5C and a whole load of dew all over the car when I left my house

A session using three nets in the western marsh was different to previous visits this month which saw a scatter of warbler species and very little else other than above average numbers of Reed Bunting for this time of year.   The catch of 53 new birds this morning saw far fewer 'scattered' warblers, with the night presumably more about departure than arrival, but quite a few warblers latched on to small tit flocks, mainly (as usual) Willow Warblers.   Noticeably absent were Sedge Warbler (one heard), Blackcap (just one ringed) and Common Whitethroat (only 9 ringed, mainly later in the session)

One "notable" feature was the first Sand Martin ever to be caught in morning mist-netting, as opposed to the small numbers as a by-product of Swallow roost ringing, of which two were ringed birds, both from the same artificial colony in Dumfries and Galloway.  The other notable feature is  more typical of here - all the common warblers ringed, including Grasshopper Warbler, with the exception of Sedge Warbler.  This species tends to 'dry up' at this site at the end of July unless the ringing session is during cloud cover ahead of a warm front, when there can be the odd decent late 'fall'

Vis mig
ONLY aerial feeders - where are all these early autumn Tree Pipit!
Swallow - difficult - minimum of 135 S
Sand martin - 2
Swift - 3+1+1
House Martin - H+ 4+18

Single Garden and Grasshopper Warblers caught at Middleton

Red Nab
At least 11 Meds but very heat-hazy

Swallow roost Middleton NR
Some good teamwork allowed 134 Swallow, 5 Sand Martin and a Reed Warbler to be ringed before dark.  Even better was a juv Cuckoo seen by two of the team and the Green Woodpecker calling again.  Thanks to Kevin, Richard, Jean and Malcolm for help  

Saturday, 12 August 2017

Brief encounter

Outfalls/Red Nab
Curlew - 217
Med Gull - at least 16 but facing away and many gulls not fully viewable (only 2 x juv)

Friday, 11 August 2017

Outfalls at the right time

Heliport high tide
Oystercatcher - 3300
Redshank - 420
Turnstone - 35
Lapwing - 6

Outfalls etc early incoming tide
Med gull - 24 (11x 2cy, 8 x 1cy, 5 x ad)
Little gull - ad

No waders of interest along oe tideline

Thursday, 10 August 2017

Great day for flying

The best record today was the first Green Woodpecker for quite some time frequenting the northern end of Middleton NR.   Birds, butterflies and dragonflies were making the most of today's sunny weather and light winds.

Middleton NR 0600-1200
Vis (done in between net rounds so numbers are a minimum)
Swallow - 133 south
Swift - 7 south
House Martin - 8 south
Sand Martin - 1 south

Ringing (new birds)
Whitethroat - 13
Lesser Whitethroat - 3
Willow Warbler - 12
Chiffchaff - 2
Reed Warbler - 1
Sedge Warbler - 2
Grasshopper Warbler  -1
Goldfinch - 1
Great Tit - 2
Blue Tit - 2
Long-tailed Tit - 3
Wren - 1
Swallow - 4
Reed Bunting - 2

Little Gull - adult
Mediterranean Gull - 8

Ocean Edge saltmarsh
Redshank - 320

Today's butterflies and dragonflies (thanks to Janet for these)
 Brown Hawker
 Common Darter

Wednesday, 9 August 2017

More passage waders show up

Lovely weather for a walk - sunny, warming up to 19C but with a cooling northerly breeze (F3).

A walk from Red Nab to Heysham 1 outfall resulted in the following:

Red Nab
Mediterranean Gull - 7 adults
Little Egret - 3 feeding in channels just west of Red Nab

Heysham 2 outfall
Mediterranean Gull - 1 adult, 4 juvs
Little Gull - 1 adult, 1 x 2CY (latter per PW)
Whimbrel - 1
Redshank - 8 feeding frantically and flew south as they got displaced by the tide

Heysham 1 outfall
Dunlin - 40 (mostly juvs but one or two adults)

Wooden jetty
Turnstone - 124 (all but one in summer plumage)
Redshank - 14 roosting on the rocks

Tuesday, 8 August 2017

Bits and bobs of interest

Vis over Middleton 0630-1100
All heading south
Sand Martin - 6
Swift - 13
Swallow - 54
Grey Wagtail - 1
Curlew - 5 (2 and 3)

Heliport roost at high tide
Redshank - 490
Oystercatcher - 4500
Lapwing - 10

Ocean Edge
Redshank - 320

Med Gull - 4 2CY & 3 juv
Common Gull - juv

Ringing at Middleton and by office
Included 5 x Lesser Whitethroat, 12 x Whitethroat, Garden Warbler but only ones and twos of Willow, Sedge and Reed Warblers

Monday, 7 August 2017

Incoming tide check

Never known the grass so wet on Ocean Edge!  Thanks to Malcolm and Janet for selection of pics, including the accreting saltmarsh:

Outfalls/Red Nab etc
Med Gull - 15, including red darvic 2CY and 6 juvs
Little Egret - 2
141 Redshank
Again no sign ad Little Gull

Middleton PM
Swallow - c120 in roost (76 ringed)
Sand Martin - at least one in roost (ringed)

Sunday, 6 August 2017

Good effort in marginal weather

Middleton NR
A couple of sheltered nets at Middleton western marsh saw about 25 birds ringed this early morning and some vis mig records

Raven - heard (really scarce recently)
House Martin - flock of 6 south
Swift - 4 south
Swallow - 7 south & 120 ex-roost in central marsh
Water Rail - at least one

The catch included (new birds):  9 Whitethroat, Garden Warbler, Lesser Whitethroat, 2 each of Reed and Sedge Warbler and three Reed Bunting

Willow Warbler and Chiffchaff completely absent other than two distant calling Willow Warbler.  No vocal evidence of Grasshopper or Cetti's Warblers

Outfalls/Red Nab/Ocean Edge saltmarsh
Med Gull - EIGHT juvs (6 at least unringed) & 6-8 of other ages:  4-5 x 2CY, 1-2 x Ad.   This was on the incoming tide and previous experience suggests some adults may already have headed towards the Lune
No sign of anything else notable eg Little Gull or Greenshank

Saturday, 5 August 2017

Grey plover brighten up a day dominated by dunnocks!

Sad to hear that Harry Shorrock has passed away.   I remember him in my early birding days at Leighton moss as a teenager and will miss his yarns.

Birding wise it was all very hard work in a sunny north westerly right in the middle of the gull moult fest.  Four sweeps of red nab produced a new med each time and the grand total of partially hidden rear end birds could have been higher than the 8 (three juvs) but it all went rather Catherine Tate.

Little Egret - flocks of three JUVS Red Nab
Med Gull - Czech-ringed adult roosting at base of heliport seawall
Grey Plover - 27 in summer plumage along shoreline between OE and the DONG pipe

The office saw a record day catch of nine new Dunnocks and not a lot else!

Friday, 4 August 2017

Juv Med further increase!

A bit of outfalls and Red Nab coverage (thanks Malcolm)

Greenshank - presumed same bird still OE saltmarsh
Med Gull - 6 juvs, 5 of other ages
Little Gull - adult summer
Common Gull - the first juv of the autumn

Thursday, 3 August 2017

Juv med increase

Middleton nr held seven gadwall today and seven adult and two juvenile mute swan

Little gull - ad summer
Med gull - 11 (5 juvs)

Wednesday, 2 August 2017

Rain alarm app proves its worth

Ringing at Middleton
A short session before the rain with two nets was timed to perfection thanks to the rain alarm app - taking notice of the main forecasts would have seen the rain arrive about an hour early!  20 birds comprising mainly Willow Warbler and Whitethroat with three Reed Bunting

Outfalls/Red Nab (Malcolm)
Greenshank calling from SE corner of salt marsh 6:30 then from Red Nab 8:00. Didn't see bird on either occasion but confident with identification. Salt marsh was silent at 8:30, so I am presuming this was same bird.
71 Redshank feeding along OE foreshore on incoming tide.
9 Dunlin flew east
1 Little Egret on salt marsh and another on Red Nab

Foreshore Rocks
C20 Pied Wagtail
14 Linnet
1 Meadow Pipit

Nothing on No.1
Very nice adult SP Little Gull on No.2 outflow at 7:45 not there at 7:15.
About 6 Med Gulls around (3 juvs)

Tuesday, 1 August 2017

Greenshank new in

Adult Greenshank in ocean edge low tide channel this am

Gulls scattered all over the place on the early drop tide so only 3 Meds (2 x juv).  Will check later