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 Atlantic.....plus 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

Sunday, 15 October 2017


Another little bit of Heysham Nature Reserve history disappears.
This is all that is left of the old classroom. But, kids, never fear - there is a more modern classroom at the Reserve in the new building.

Went up onto Heysham Head for an hour to see if anything was migrating. The light southerly wind was OK but the generally murky cloud didn't seem to augur well. But out of the murk came a few pulses of birds as follows:

(in order of appearance and south unless stated)
Grey Wagtail - 1
Pink-footed Goose - 60 N, 38 S
Chaffinch - 33
Greenfinch - 4
Goldfinch - 4
Mistle Thrush - 5
Reed Bunting - 2
Starling - 13
Brambling - 22 (two flocks of 6 and 16)
Linnet - 4

Goldcrest - 5
Coal Tit - 2
Robin - 3 (excludes the singing birds)
Blackbird - 3

Then went on to Heysham NR 1020-1120
Vis - alba Wagtail 1, Chaffinch 4
Blackbirds (9) were targeting the berries, 4 Song Thrushes were "ticking" and eventually one was seen to head off south, Goldcrests (7) were scattered around the reserve.

Report by JR

Saturday, 14 October 2017

A visit from Merlin

It was a very mild day (15C) with thick cloud, apparently full of dust from the Sahara, and a force 4 wind from the SW. Disappointingly for National Moth Weekend there were no moths in the trap at Heysham but there is another night to go. At least 4 Goldcrests could be heard below the obs tower where it was relatively sheltered so I put a few nets up to try and catch them and in the hope of catching a Yellow-browed Warbler. Sadly, the latter species was still not around, nor any other warblers.

Heysham NR
Ringing (new birds):
Long-tailed Tit - 5
Goldcrest - 3
Coal tit - 1
Treecreeper - 1 (see mugshot)
Dunnock - 1
Greenfinch - 1
Goldfinch - 2

Coal Tit - 1
Chaffinch - 1 (first caught on 18 July as a juv)
Great Tit - 1 (first caught on 30 June as a juv)
Goldcrest - 1 (first caught on 10 September as a young un)

The Goldcrest that has been around for a month was lighter in weight than the new birds (5.3grams cf 5.7 or 5.8 grams). Whether this means the heavier birds are about to migrate and the lighter bird is going to stick around longer, I don't know but it was interesting to note the difference. All the Goldcrests were males. The average weight for a Goldcrest is 5g (same as a 20p coin) and the heaviest weight is 6g (just less than a 10p coin).

The Long-tailed Tits were heavier than average as well, the lightest was 8g (same as a 50p coin) and the heaviest was 8.6g compared to the average of 7g (per BTO data).

Ocean Edge
A Merlin paid a visit to the saltmarsh and perched on some driftwood for a while, no doubt hoping to catch one of the gang of 25 Linnets that frequent the marsh or perhaps a Meadow Pipit.

Mediterranean Gull - 2

Middleton NR
A Little Grebe was on the No Swimming Pond - first time one has been seen for over a month

Report by JR.

Friday, 13 October 2017

Routine check of coast

A quick look by the model boat pond saw seriously windswept bushes.  The only other effort was a quick check of the outfalls

Med gull - 1cy, 2x 2cy, 3ad
Little gull - ad winter

Thursday, 12 October 2017

Out of the blue

A bit of coastal birding in bright and breezy conditions degenerated into texting Lou Cross to see if I had just seen his van going along the Barrow coast road at the other side of the Bay...................then on the same text theme Malcolm informed of a vocal Yellow-browed Warbler near the steps on the SE side of the model boat pond.  No sign of it later but very little was actually calling and it was rather breezy with several potential corridors the bird could have made its way along

Middleton NR
Yellow-browed Warbler - see above
Chiffchaff - 2
Mute Swan - 7
Migrant Hawker - at least 7
Common Darter - 6+

Early stages of incoming tide & ferry
Med Gull - 3 x 1CY, 2 x 2CY and a minimum of 6 Ads (inc 8 birds behind ferry as it entered port).  One of the 2CY has a lot of solid black on the outer primaries - not one which has been previously recorded
Little Gull - Ad
Guillemot - one in harbour

Wednesday, 11 October 2017

Wet and wetter

Three 1cy meds and one 2cy med plus the usual ad little gull all that registered today!


Tuesday, 10 October 2017

Passerine migration gives it a miss

Almost unbelievably bad this morning with not a single bird flying over heysham NR which could be deemed a migrant.   Typically this was the one day we could leave nets up from about 0900 to 1600.  This saw the grand total of obvious migrants limited to two Goldcrest and a 'three o clock' Chiffchaff with a small unringed LTT flock.   Amazingly, thanks to the bottomless trickle of unringed Greenfinch, the ringing produced about 20 new birds, or about 2.74 per hour

Outfalls/ocean edge etc two hours pre tide
Little stint - juv with 85 Dunlin and 49 ringed plover
Med gull - two ads but many gulls had left the area
Rock pipit - one by slipway

At least three migrant hawker

Monday, 9 October 2017

Better than staying in bed

It was a shame the SW wind kicked in before dawn (certainly the upper wind) as there was obviously some eastern promise trying to reach this side overnight, led by quite a few redwing flight calls.   In reality night migrants were thin on the ground - probably mainly the final leftovers from the fall on  30 Sept and a few subsequent 'tricklers'.   At least rock bottom numbers highlight any new influxes!

Coverage was very good today with Dan putting in a stint around Heysham Head.  

The night migrant possibilities lacked so little prospect that Jean went and recorded the first Short-winged Coneheads from ocean edge saltmarsh (using bat detector) whilst also checking what the tide kicked off

Vismig over a) Middleton NR b) Heysham Head
Redwing 5, 3
Grey Wagtail 2
alba Wagtail 9, 5
Pink-footed Goose 7, 102
Reed Bunting 4
Meadow Pipit 2, 9
Chaffinch 2, 5
Skylark 11, 17
Tree Sparrow 0, 7
Jackdaw - 8

VERY little in addition to birds ringed
Goldcrest - c14 (8 ringed)
Song Thrush - 10
Chiffchaff - 4 (two ringed)
Stonechat - one Heysham barrows
Thanks Dan

Red nab and area mudflats
Med gull - 5 ad, 2 2cy
Little gull - ad
Snipe - 7 oe saltmarsh
Linnet - 25
Peregrine -1
Kestrel - 1

Harbour wall
Rock pipit - 2

Thanks Janet

About 38 new birds between Middleton and Heysham (5 nets) with most of the grounded migrant element on Middleton: Included:  Goldcrest (8), Chiffchaff (2), Pied Wagtail (5), 2-3 Wren and Robin of probable migrant/dispersive status and Grey Wagtail & Reed Bunting (one each)

Speckled Wood - tatty one Middleton
Migrant Hawker - 3
Common Darter - 2
Red Admiral - 4

Sunday, 8 October 2017

Under a cloud

A mass of cloud hung over the Heysham area till late morning putting a bit of a dampener on the vis and ringing.  A bit more action when it started to clear and I've updated stuff from elsewhere in the recording area to add to Jean's post

The mid morning 'action' was mostly tit movement with at least 20 coal and 35 long-tailed through Heysham NR as well as the flock of 13 unringed birds caught at Middleton

Pink-footed Goose - at least 485 Groups moving south throughout the morning
Sparrowhawk 1
Redpoll sp 3
Siskin 1
Meadow Pipit 18
Alba Wagtail 40
Chaffinch 16
Raven 1
Grey Wagtail 7
Skylark - 4
Snipe 2
Song thrush - 1
Mistle thrush - 2
No sign of the Redwing heading NW from the Pennines.
Two singing Cetti’s Warblers on site at Middleton NR

at Middleton and Heysham NRs consisted mainly of Long-tailed Tits (13), Chiffchaff (5), Goldcrest (14) Reed Bunting (5), Coal tit (4), Pied and Grey Wagtails (two each) and a surprise late Willow Warbler.

Had a look at the ringing totals and, has been the case in recent years, the Chiffchaff total overtook that of Willow Warbler today (217:215) but it has been a poor later autumn for Blackcap which suddenly dried up in mid-September.   Goldcrest are very unpredictable but it looks like just one decent spell of suitable ringing weather could see a record annual total (already 211).  Thanks to everyone for the Grey Wagtail effort during an autumn passage where mist netting was by no means straightforward with a lot of last minute weather watching - 82 colour-ringed is a good total in the circumstances

One feature of this second half of the year has been the complete lack of any birds ringed elsewhere (other than Med Gulls).  Maybe the fairly constant low-level movements, rather than major falls, indicate that we are catching mainly young birds trickling south down the country from obscure inland locations (in this respect Heysham is very 'central' as the west coast headland nearest to the east coast!) and not 'finding' the numerous mainly coastal ringing sites en route.     

Guillemot - one out then landed
Red throated diver - one out
Ringed plover - 43 on red nab at ht
Med gull - ad and 1cy

Saturday, 7 October 2017

Seawatching cameo

Webs count a day early knowing that all the waders south of the harbour would be on their way to Garry at Middleton on both today and tomorrow, so no problem with double counts

During this count, a bit of a seawatch from the back of the harbour and the first five minutes were 'amazing' by heysham standards in breezy but not particularly promising weather:

Sea 1255-1315
Guillemot - 1
Razorbill - 2 together
Gannet - adult out
Med gull - adult out
Then the rest of the seawatch consisted of a few large gulls

Med gull - 1cy outfalls
Little gull - ad outfalls

Cormorant - 122 wooden jetty
Redshank - 670 heliport wall
Oystercatcher - 6950 heliport - see how they don't mind being next to the tall vegetation but are in two lots either side of it with the near lot spilling on to the old heliport surface.  Not all were displaced from the seawall on the 10m tide as the fresh/strong wind had no north in it.

Ringed plover - 18 heliport,  30 south of oe on incoming tide
Little stint - probably two different individuals ( one definitely a juv )
with other waders south of ocean edge on incoming tide


Friday, 6 October 2017

Gold rush

Clear skies overnight and a full moon usually mean a clearout of night migrants so a netful of Goldcrests was a big surprise (20+ first round at Middleton). Some were pretty weighty for this minute migrant (6 grams ! ) suggesting that they had hung around for a day or two feeding up.

Ringing with a line of 3 sunlit nets at Heysham and two better ones at Middleton
included 34 Goldcrest, 5 Chiffchaff, 3 Reed Bunting, 3 Coal Tit, 4 Wren and a couple each of Grey Wagtail and Robin and a single Bullfinch 

Vis over Heysham and Middleton NR
Meadow Pipit - c250
Skylark - 4
Raven - 1
Song Thrush - 7
Siskin - 2
Redpoll - 3
Alba Wagtail - 22
Chaffinch - 14
Grey Wagtail - 11 (just 2 ringed)
Jackdaw - 44 (3 lots)
Pink-footed Goose - c160 in three lots 
Carrion Crow - 8
Goldfinch - c30
Coal Tit - 7 (3 ringed)
Kingfisher - one

Cetti's Warbler - one migrant just to the south of the area at Potts Corner and at least opne singing/calling at Middleton
Chiffchaff - at least 11 in addition to those caught
Stonechat - two together Middleton
Goldcrest - at least 50 around

Sandwich Tern - one Red Nab
Med Gull - ad, 2CY, 1CY behind IOM ferry




Thursday, 5 October 2017

Waifs and strays

Wind easing and moving towards west, but still too much for some.

Juvenile Gannet was sheltering in Harbour late morning, had moved on by late afternoon.

Juvenile Little gull on No.1 outflow in morning, again no sign late afternoon.

Adult Common Tern No.2 outflow. Did not arrive till almost high water. Looks to be the same bird that has been here for three days now.

1 adult and 1 juvenile Mediterranean gull also on No.2 outflow

2 Skylark grounded on small patch of grassed ground on wall side of wooden jetty.

Red Nab
3 Grey Wagtail
14 Wigeon

Ocean Edge
6 Little Egret
5 Wheatear
1 Greenshank
1 Black Tailed Godwit
1 Common Snipe
1 Rock Pipit

Wednesday, 4 October 2017

Autumn fayre

So which is rarer at Heysham - Leach's Petrel or juvenile Gannet? Apparently the latter but both appeared in similar numbers today.

Thanks to Jim Clift for the photos

Seawatch from 09:10 - 13:00 (High tide 9.06m at 11:13)
Leach's Petrel - 1 out very close inshore at 10:40, 2 out at yellow buoy distance at 12:53
juv Gannet - 1 harassed by juv Herring gulls, later 2 others out, 2CY into Bay, 3 adults into Bay
Common Scoter - 1 drake close inshore flew out of the Bay at 10:20
Kittiwake - ad and first winter behind the ferry
Shelduck - 2 out and 2 in
Wigeon - 4 out
Pink-footed Goose - 375 in 10 flocks (120 at 09:40, 7 at 10:20, 45 at 10:25, 43 at 11:05, 8, 34, 34, 84)
Med gull - Czech ad, 2cy and 1cy at various times along seawall

Ocean Edge
Mediterranean Gull - 9 (3 x 1CY, 3 x 2CY, 3 x ad)

Common Tern - 1 ad (same as yesterday)
Little gull - usual ad

Moss Lane, Heaton
1600 mixed gulls (90% Black-headed) included 2 adult Mediterranean Gulls

Report by JR

Tuesday, 3 October 2017

Northwesterly pink foot surge

Various reports throughout the day gave

Pinkfooted goose - 590 in 10 skeins in very intermittent watching and missing the late afternoon peak to the north of here - all southish
Common tern - ad outfalls
Little gull - ad outfalls
Med gull - 5 (1x 1cy, 2x 2cy and 2x ad) red nab and area
Wheatear - 2
Rock pipit - 1
Swallow - 1

Thanks mainly to Malcolm for today's coverage

Monday, 2 October 2017

Nice list of October log padders

Sea at various times from 0800 to IOM ferry arrival 1210
Gannet - 12 out - all early on
Red-breasted Merganser - one out
Kittiwake - just the one Ad seen early on i.e. none behind ferry
Red-throated Diver - partial sp adult out
Pintail - flock of 6 out
Sandwich Tern - juvenile briefly off end of outfalls early on, then out
Arctic Tern - either two 1CY briefly or the first bird briefly dragged back in by the ferry - perhaps unusually would not remain on outfalls
Common Tern - adult arrived mid morning and remained on outfalls
Thanks Malcolm
Common Scoter - 2+5 out
Med Gull - at least 9, mainly resting on Red Nab (at least 2 x 1CY, at least one x 2CY, 6 x Ad)
Sanderling - unusually a singleton flew out (NOT a Grey Phal!)
Little Gull - usual ad

Stonechat - inner end of wooden jetty briefly
Wren - two presumed migrants with the above
Meadow Pipit - at least 5 heading SE over the sea!!
Peregrine - one took Redshank from heliport seawall
Wheatear - 3
Ruff - one juv male with Lapwing briefly Ocean Edge grass
Lapwing - grey bird seen again
Goldcrest - quite a lot heard in windblown bushes

Sunday, 1 October 2017

Intermittent migration

The forecasted rain belted through much earlier than anticipated and was followed by a slacker period where we, not for the first time this autumn, dodged heavy showers hitting SW Cumbria or just south of us.  Then the wind took over, albeit not a helpful direction for any seabirds.....yet

A grey-backed Lapwing on Ocean Edge foreshore saw no Pallas's Peewit fitting the bill, unlike the charter-plane-launching probable Siberian Oystercatcher on Shetland.  Undoubtedly a bit of leucism.

A 40 foot net was set near the office where it is completely sheltered and the feeder net was also run until the wind got up.  Not a bad catch of 31 new birds

Gadwall - record count of 26 on Middleton
Coot - 1 Middleton
Mute Swan - 4 ads and 2 1CY
Tufted Duck - pair
Moorhen  7
Water rail - 2
Little Egret - 8 on shore
Wigeon - 5 Red Nab
Med Gull - 2 ads
No small calidrids within identifiable range

Treecreeper - one ringed Hey NR office area
Chiffchaff - 3 ringed and only a couple of additional birds reported.  None at all on Middleton
Goldcrest - a handful compared to yesterday around Hey NR and 10 ringed
Blackcap - at least one (1 ringed)
Song Thrush - 6 birds grounded then flew high to the east
Robin - one new bird ringed
Coal Tit - no obvious vis mig but two unringed birds caught

Vis mig
Linnet - 6 SE (flock)
Redpoll  1 S
Skylark - 26 SE (flock of 25)
Goldfinch - 115 S
Grey wagtail - 1 SE
Swallow - 1 SW
Meadow Pipit - 68 SE
Chaffinch - 15 S
alba Wagtail - 28 SE

Very late male Large White getting buffeted around

A rare foray into this topic - these Fly Agaric were on Heysham NR: