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