Saturday 31 March 2018

Three little gull

A flock of three little gull flew out rather distantly mid am

Eight pale and two dark bellied Brent Geese on the usual routine

2Cy Gull photographed which looked interesting but couldn’t get close enough before it was displaced by the tide.  It was definitely a 2CY and the (escape) flight view suggested Caspian or hybrid but by the time I had driven to the closest point to Red Nab it had already taken off as I was driving and I couldn't swing the car round fast enough to get a phonescope of escape flight.  I'll have a look for it tomorrow

Friday 30 March 2018


Whooper - flock 17 North
Red throated diver - 4 North
Pale bellied Brent - flock of 10
Dark bellied Brent - 2
Meadow pipit - c10
Med gull - 2cy near red nab by pipeline
Snipe - 8 on heliport seawall ht
Robin - two lightweight birds ringed
Cetti’s warbler - one southern end central marsh
Buzzard - two over middleton prob local

Thursday 29 March 2018

Little Gull

A few bits and bobs from a fairly early start this am, most of them in these better pics - original deleted!


Thanks Janet - Red Nab; some of the pale-bellied Brent plus the Little Gull
Brent Goose - Two dark-bellied and eight pale-bellied Red Nab on the incoming tide (with 6 (of these??) off the children's play area as seen from Knowlys road earlier)
Little Gull - adult winter on outfalls then on Red Nab then around rest of day
Blackcap - male Red Nab bushes - first of year
Red-throated Diver - 3 sp birds in
Rock Pipit - 1
Meadow Pipit - no more than 26 overhead
Siskin - 2 north
Goldcrest - 2 ringed
No sign Iceland Gull first thing despite loads of gulls on waterfall and area
Grey Seal - one offshore
Nags are back in the paddocks off Knowlys road  

Wednesday 28 March 2018

Negative news negligence

Told off twice today for not saying on here that birds were not seen as opposed to not mentioning them!   Need to show more awareness of our responsibilities to target birders

Chough - a big NO during normal working hours but it may still be roosting on the Head, leaving early and returning late
Velvet Scoter - a slightly smaller NO as there is a big vast expanse of sea out there but the "guiding" large Eider flock has broken up
Iceland Gull - the 3rd S was sitting on a lamp stand on building just south of waterfall at high tide 0900ish
Common Scoter - pair out
Meadow Pipit - single figures north
Goldcrest - at least one!

Scandinavian Rock Pipit - one in summer plumage briefly on Half Moon Bay shore in am
Brent Goose - 15-17 on Red Nab at high tide (3 dark bellied), 17 definitely flew to the north side of the headland as the tide dropped and distant binocular views suggested at least 15 pale-bellied.  So in theory one dark-bellied left on its own on Red Nab and this has happened before!  Goodness knows how we are going to write these up accurately starting with are they the same birds as prior to the few days without any sightings or are they commuting regularly across the Bay!   We should really be studying and photographing each individual to compare plumage minutae but is it really worth it?
Little Grebe - one on fence pond

Small Tortoiseshell - one Heysham old village
Much reduced numbers of Oystercatcher today on the heliport roost

Tuesday 27 March 2018

Minimal coverage

Iceland Gull - 3rd S on rocks by wooden jetty am
Kitiwake - ad on Heysham two outfall same time

Monday 26 March 2018

Meadow Pipits push north

Fog was a problem until 10:35 but once it lifted grounded Meadow Pipits headed north or east in numbers.

Iceland Gull - 3S in harbour all day by waterfall - the only scarcity seen today
Velvet Scoter - negative on low tide scan but just 168 Eider present
Green Woodpecker - noisy individual around Heysham NR most of am

Meadow Pipits - 975 mainly NE over three different flightlines in the morning
Heysham Nature Reserve
Visible migration 07:30 - 12:30
Meadow Pipit 444
Alba Wagtail 4
Grey Wagtail 1
Sparrowhawk 3 high NE together whilst regulars displaying
Buzzard 1 NE
Reed Bunting 1
Skylark 1
Pink-footed Goose 1flock heard plus a single bird lost in the fog.

Ocean Edge foreshore/Middleton west
Meadow Pipit - 331
Wheatear - male
Skylark - 1
Merlin - male

Not sure what was seen other than 200 Meadow Pipit and a Cetti's Warbler was caught which was ringed last autumn - not the one we were expecting if indeed it was the singing male!
Two Buzzards were displaying over to the east.

A fox made an appearance near the office.

More pics from Janet to follow but having problems downloading

Sunday 25 March 2018

Early morning fare

Taken as it flew SE over Middleton NR today - the first time it has been seen over there. Thanks Janet

Interesting perception this lunchtime from a 'camera no binoculars' type.  "Why is the Velvet Scoter publicised when it is impossible to get a photograph of it".  My response was that it was up to him to convey this to the snapper community as it had been made repeatedly clear on here for birders that a good telescope zoom lens or 35 x + fixed lens was required to connect!  Have the snappers as opposed to photographer/birders got their own Facebook/website?

The most regular observer of this bird (Jean Roberts doing vis mig from Heysham Head) routinely uses 30-35 x to locate and 60 x to double-check.  Very occasionally identifiable whilst asleep on 20 x if close inshore.  Obviously if it flaps or flies to readjust its position on the dropping tide, even binoculars will identify it, but you need to find the right bird in the right flock of Eider in the first place to see if it flaps!

Pink-footed Goose - c75 north
Velvet Scoter - ad drake offshore with Eider:  too repeat (see above) 35 x plus scope needed to see this bird properly
Iceland Gull - 3S still in sw corner of harbour
Tawny Owl - calling Heysham Head
Raven - at least one and probably two heard flying high to north (scarce again around here now)
Carrion Crow - 17 on shore then east
Jackdaw - 5+2 east over HNR/OE
Redpoll - 3 N
Siskin - 1 N
Meadow Pipit - c10 N
Alba Wagtail 2 N
Goldfinch 2 N
Linnet 5 N
Chough - flew over Middleton NR just after 0900 heading SE - the only sighting this am despite presence in the area since 0700.  Suspect it went on to the golf course early am.  It then flew north over Heysham village east side late afternoon, the last known sighting to at least the 28th
Cetti's Warbler singing Middleton central marsh
Barn Owl - hunting early am at Middleton NR
Goldcrest - two ringed Middleton

Saturday 24 March 2018

It’s back!

Chough seen and photographed on beach this am and in first field north of café at 1230
Iceland gull - 3s in harbour south end
Velvet scoter - offshore with eider
Red- throated diver - 8 circling up and heading over Barrow
Whooper swan - 5 North
Med gull - 3cy outfalls early am
Cetti’s warbler - singing central marsh near fence pond
Kittiwake - flock of c40 floating in on the sea
Brent goose - 12 on distant skeer just after low tide
Goldeneye - f/imm off north wall
Barn Owl - one Middleton again late afternoon - thanks Janet

Not a bad mainly on-going haul to compensate for a rubbishy migration day!!

alba Wag - 5 N
Meadow Pipit - 34 N
Grey Wagtail - 1 N
Robin - 4 in-ringed birds early am but not particularly light weight
Goldcrest - just two reported
Chiffchaff - singing HNR
Carrion Crow - 4 in-off then NE, 18 together Midldeton

Friday 23 March 2018

Seabird passage

About 1/3 of the incoming tide was covered for seabirds this am and it didn't disappoint by our standards

Kittiwake - 211 in about 10 flocks increasing in size with a max of 40 at the end of the watch; two ads on the outfalls briefly after the watch had finished
Red-throated Diver - 4-5
Razorbill - one out
Guillemot - one out close inshore
Little Gull - adult flying steadily out
Velvet Scoter - ad drake in main Eider gang at low tide at least
Iceland Gull -  3rd S - Seen quite a few times this morning with the seawatching being undertaken from the back of the harbour and again on Red Nab early pm
Brent Goose - 10 pbb flew into Red Nab from the north mid pm

Chiffchaff - one by Obs tower pond HNR

Barn Owl - quartering Middleton late afternoon

Thursday 22 March 2018


No sign of the Chough again 😢

3S Iceland Gull at the “waterfall” in the inner harbour again.

Ad M Velvet Scoter in the low tide channel with 306 Eider as were
8 Red-breasted Merganser and
1 Great-crested Grebe
4 Wigeon

Little gull - adult briefly off the outfalls then out as freight ferry leaving

10-11 Pale-bellied Brent and 1Dark-bellied Brent flew in from the north to the north side of Heysham Head early am

1 Meadow Pipit on Heysham Head.

Wednesday 21 March 2018

Iceland Gull remains

Iceland Gull 3rd S on waterfall mid-am
NO Chough
Velvet Scoter ad drake drifting in with tide 0940.  Why is it easier to find now we have been asked.  Fine-tuning its routine and indeed those of the Eider helps, especially noting that the main channel starts moving quite quickly four hours before HT.  Clearer and colder weather post-new year as opposed to a lot of poor visibility westerlies pre-NY with daylight at a premium.  Finally the difference between it being 0.06% of the ducks in late November compared to about 0.3% now!
Brent Goose - 6 PBB by half moon bay.  They then flew south and joined up with one DBB on Red Nab where there were also two PBB staying separate (the originals).  The flock of 7 (one DBB) headed south to Potts corner, with the two PBB later moving from Red Nab to OE saltmarsh.  Do watch out for colour ringed birds

Middleton NR
Goldcrest - 2
Great Tit - 4 appeared to be moving through north
Pink-footed Goose - 80+13 N

Tuesday 20 March 2018

Rampside rejects pile across

No sign whatsoever of the Chough unless some visiting birders can contradict here.  Predicted by two of us to be a day to go if it was going to do

The Brent Goose situation is getting out of control as regards nice neat documentation!   It does appear that the original two went (back?) across after a lengthy stay on this side and dragged all sorts of odds and ends over, some of which may have subsequently done their own thing.  However we really do have no idea how many Pale-bellied there have been, especially after today, but Dark-bellied remain at a maximum of two, reflecting their respective ratios over the Bay

No overhead passage of even the slightest note today

Brent Goose - flock of 12 Pale-bellied flew in from the north to Red Nab late am, then 15 (at least 13 clearly PBB) flew north at 1450hrs
Velvet Scoter - drake with the Eider on arrival at 0920 after which they slowly started to drift into the bay with the tide
Iceland Gull - 3rd S on waterfall early am
Eider - 377 (excluding those way north of the head at low tide (c50??)
Great-crested Grebe - 5

Middleton NR
Buzzard - two circling high on east side of unknown status as regards migrant or nearby residents, probably the latter
Little Grebe - trilling birds on two of the ponds
Reed Bunting - influx after a noticeable absence with minimum of 5
Water Rail - squealing western reedbed
NO Cetti's warbler heard
Chiffchaff - 2

Goldcrest - at least one

Grey Seal offshore and three donkeys showing well near Middleton NR entrance

Monday 19 March 2018

Last day of freezing cold??

A few bits and bobs today as well as all the old favourites bar the Iceland Gull where the tide and dredger activity was unfavourable.  Thanks to Janet for the pics

Chough - mobile in the half moon bay area and last reported on the pager from there at 1600hrs
Velvet Scoter - ad drake picked up with the Eiders on the float in off the stone jetty but still too distant for any pics
Brent Goose - 6 pale and one dark Red Nab but kept splitting up and regrouping as they move to other sites to the south with the tide

Stonechat - passage female on the gorse Heysham Barrows

Middleton NR
Mute Swan - 6
Coot - down to 2
Gadwall - 24
Mallard - 4
Teal - 5
Tufted Duck - 3
Little Grebe - one on Tim Butler pond
Little Egret & Grey Heron - one each
Snipe - 1
Redwing - c40 grounded along eastern edge of golf course
Meadow Pipit - 8 grounded

Goldcrest - one at least

Sunday 18 March 2018

Early Greenshank

I was hoping to find out the date of Allan's funeral today but still not sure - will post when I can find out.  Allan was a mainstay of the Heysham Observatory in the very early days in the early to mid-1980s when we were initially operating amongst the scrub and lupins on the old railway storage area.  This is now the lorry park.  When this area became unavailable at the end of 1983, we switched to what is now Heysham Nature reserve.  At that time the power station site was a mass of bright lights with a few areas of screening planting, apple trees planted by a power station worker and gorse bushes.  The theory was that the lights attracted down the migrants, especially in spring following overnight south-easterly winds and poor offshore visibility.   Because there was so little vegetation, the birds landed 'amongst the lights' and (especially perhaps spring Willow Warblers) raced inland to find somewhere to feed.  So the name of the game for the ringers was to have the nets set by civil twilight and, on many occasions, most of the birds were caught before the sun appeared over the eastern horizon.  As already mentioned, poor offshore visibility was an essential component of a decent fall and Allan was the first to mention that "If you can see the lights of Barrow on the approach road to Heysham you might as well turn round and get an extra hour or twos sleep"!   This holds true even to this day as a night migrant numbers guideline.

Allan was absolutely vital to the continuity of the observatory after personal tragedy in early 1983 and lack of transport made it very difficult for me to continue.  Allan chivvied me along, got me going again, and helped by others such as Shaun Coyle, Andrew Cadman and Tom Wilmer, we more than ticked over.  It is almost impossible to visualise this now, as it is well-established 'old hat', but the likes of extensive Robin migration from late August throughout September at that time was just not 'something which happened on an inland headland on the west coast' with any changes in distribution were just a bit of local post-breeding dispersal.  Allan was really enthusiastic about this as well as the appearance of the likes of Barred Warbler and Wryneck.  Yellow-browed Warbler was a real west coast rarity and not on our radar in those days and it was one of the broadest grins I have ever seen when Allan appeared with a bag containing the first one ever located in a mist net.  

Many of these early morning sessions were prior to Allan having to circumnavigate Lancaster and be at work at the Castle by 0800!  This says an amazing amount for his dedication and also the lack of early morning traffic problems in those days!  These were also operations undertaken from the boot of the car in the early days and Allan's battered but reliable car certainly had character, especially the contents of the rarely visited bottom of the boot!  There were no sheltered comfortable chairs to cover the vis mig in between mist net rounds! 

More than anything else though it was the friendly companionship whether at daft o'clock morning mist net rounds or equally daft o'clock overnight expeditions to see rare birds or seawatching from the north harbour wall watching our first and only Balearic Shearwater cursing because it was only a subspecies in those days and why couldn't it be a Sooty!  I last saw Allan at an Askam Twite-ringing session last year and I will really miss him.  Rest in peace.

Brent Goose - 5 pale and two dark, then 8 distant 'Brent Geese' Middleton sands late afternoon at or very near the same time there were 4 pale and one db on Ocean Edge saltmarsh
Iceland Gull - back on waterfall 1640
Greenshank - one with Redshank off OE saltmarsh (NFY)
Wheatear 1 male OE salt marsh
Chough - first field HMB at lunchtime
Meadow Pipit - trickle south - c20


Saturday 17 March 2018

Plastic bottle bombardment for the Oystercatcher roost

Wish I had videoed this late morning as the Oystercatcher roost was bombarded by flying objects with one being bowled over by a whack from a 2 litre milk carton.  This was the accumulation of rubbish which had dried out after being trapped under the vegetation until the heliport was recently cut and the blustery easterly gale did the rest with a lot of swirling about below the seawall.  The Oystercatchers either departed or moved on to the grass at the top.  No wonder the seas are full of plastic and other rubbish

Pale-bellied Brent Geese - all pale-bellied today
7 of them but only two remained on Ocean Edge as the tide was nearing full.  Photos in sequence as the tide came in showing the north to south movement, presumably because the original two adopting this strategy with the tide have returned bringing some mates (Knowlys, off the village, fly round to red nab, oe saltmarsh, potts corner area).  Thanks Malcolm.

Chough - Ocean Edge and over the HN reserve today - not looked for at half moon
Iceland Gull - no sign but no one has had chance to look at low tide
Quite a few birders around half moon bay area but no known postings of anything else of note

Friday 16 March 2018

The sound of spring

Middleton NR
Chiffchaffs - 6 calling and seen feeding in the willows around the model boat pond.
None at all on Heysham NR but didn't arrive until mid am.
Chough - flew over then flew back over Heysham NR then presumably back to Half Moon Bay. It's getting desperate to find a friend now but it will have to range a lot further to find one, unfortunately. It has been visiting the "undercliff" near the old Pontin's site
Brent Goose - one dark and eight pale Red Nab pre-tide but some uncertainty over one of these from the long range shot.  Unfortunately not there when other observers arrived

Velvet Scoter phantom
For the second day running the Ad drake recorded off Heysham Head mid pm by a mystery observer.  Great - certainly saves me a lot of eye strain!

Ocean Edge
Wheatear - 1 male on the rocks
Little Egret - 1 on the salt marsh

Great visibility now as all the bushes and brambles have been cut down. But best to use the car as a hide as the birds aren't used to people stopping at the fence and I scared off hundreds of Oystercatchers while trying to check for rings.
Plus scared off:
Snipe - 7

NNEW Iceland Gull


Thursday 15 March 2018

Long-stayers hang on

I need to access the old Heysham Observatory reports to do a full tribute to Allan Mackenzie's contribution to Heysham Obs in the 1980s and I will be able to do that in the office this weekend and also probably know the funeral arrangements by then

Velvet Scoter - Ad M reported on the pager as being visible distantly from the Head at 1445 which would be about right for the tide.  A chance of a mid/late morning float-past at the Stone jetty this weekend
Iceland Gull - 3s absent, probably tidally related - until 1600 when on the waterfall
Chough - on Malcolm's "house list" at last though no other known reports
Pale-bellied Brent Goose - 6 Red Nab mid-am.  Four Brents earlier flew distantly south towards the Lune at least one of which was pale-bellied but the rest looked dark
Redwing - one by HNR office

Wednesday 14 March 2018

Brents come over from Furness

Allan Mackenzie sadly died today - I'll publish a full tribute tomorrow

Dark-bellied Brent Goose - one flew over from Furness with 7 pale-bellied, turned south at Heysham Head and ended up for at least the rest of the morning on Red Nab
Pale-bellied Brent Goose - see above
Chough - visited Ocean Edge football pitch this am before flying back towards half-moon bay via Heysham NR airspace; later in the afternoon on half moon bay fields
Iceland Gull - now 3S and seen in the harbour in the morning

Meadow Pipit - 80 north
Red-throated Diver - 1 in
Siskin - 2+ north
alba Wagtail - 2 north
Pink-footed Goose - 6 south
Knot - c4K south of OE

Tuesday 13 March 2018

Decent day even without any landbird migrants

The only things on the move in numbers today (by our standards) were five small flocks of Kittiwake.  Landbird passage virtually non existent.  The medium range forecasts suggest some major blocking weather through the rest of March and April - lets see what happens!

Managed to "see from" the three main birds of the area from Heysham NR today - thanks to a good 60 x zoom lens for the Velvet Scoter and a fly-by of the Iceland Gull returning from Middleton to the harbour.  The Chough flew over the reserve twice today but also spent a fair bit of time in the half moon bay fields

Iceland Gull - 3W harbour (feeding) and model boat pond (bathing)

Velvet Scoter - Ad drake seen offshore mid-morning with just three Eider
Chough - half moon bay fields on and off and over the Heysham NR twice
Meadow Pipit - 2 north
Grey Wagtail - 1 north
Pied Wagtail - 6 north
Curlew - 6 high to north
Kittiwake - 48 north east over the sea in five flocks
Red-breasted Merganser - 4 offshore
Red-throated Diver - one on sea and joined by another flying out of bay
Teal - 2 on sea
Blackbird - at least 5 presumed migrants, including a 130+mm female ringed
No reports of Shag

Middleton NR
Cetti's Warbler - first singing male of the year - western marsh
Coot - now five and some fighting!

Water Rail - 2+
Gadwall - 22
Mallard - 2
Tufted Duck - 2
Oystercatcher - passage flock of 26 landed briefly on model boat pond
Mute Swan - 7
Little Grebe - one tim butler pond

Dribs and drabs of new birds at the feeder included a Robin, Coal Tit, Blackbird, 2 Goldfinch

Two Roe Deer Middleton

Monday 12 March 2018

Wet and subdued Chough

Taken today in second field - thanks Janet

Iceland Gull - 3rd W in SW corner of harbour - on roof around lunchtime
Shag - juv wandering about harbour/wooden jetty area
Velvet Scoter - awkward - took a long time to come from the inner bay cp yesterday and seen late morning looking north from Knowlys Road.  Suggest people looking tomorrow wait until lunchtime as the neap tides slow everything down
Canada Goose - the top record of the day!  Five south past the wooden jetty at 0910 (IOY?)

No obvious passerine vis or grounded landbirds and no sign of either of the wintering female Stonechats - moved on with passage birds?

Sunday 11 March 2018

Will it come back next winter?

Update:  Its back already - just (1115hrs) flown over Heysham NR (for the first known time) heading towards Heysham Head!  Wonder where its been but it cannot have been impressed with the cliff-less Fylde coast or even further south in the almost three hour absence

and away again - at 1200 circled up really high and drifted out over the Bay and was last seen as a high dot heading towards Barrow, well over the Cumbrian border...............but it was reported again 'Heysham Head, early afternoon'!

As far as can be ascertained, the Chough was last seen as a distant dot at 0835hrs heading south, having first been picked up, as viewed from Heysham Head, flying above the heliport seawall area .  What may have been a trial run at least as far as the wooden jetty was timed by another independent observer as 0815.   The last four days have been noticeable for more contact calling, aerial antics and forays to more distant parts of its visual territory like the wooden jetty.

Bittern - One flew across the road from Heysham golf course to the recycling centre wetlands at 0750hrs.  This was searched for, but the terrain is pretty dodgy with grassed over old dykes.  No Bittern located, but it could have easily have been in the reed mace area
Velvet Scoter - showing as well as it can on the dropping tide - easier when its not in the middle of the Eiders. 
Iceland Gull - 3rd W by waterfall early am at least

Vis mig from |Heysham Head 0755-0955
Chough - one south - last seen 0835
alba Wagtail - 25 N
Meadow Pipit -96 N
Skylark - 7 N
Linnet - 1N
Goldfinch 6N
Carrion Crow - 3 in-off and high to east
Siskin - at least three N
Goose spp - 5 distantly east
Greenfinch - 6 S

Recycling centre wetland just to west of road
Teal - 35+
Little Egret - 1
Jack Snipe -2-3
Common Snipe c6
Great-spotted Woodpecker - one drumming in adjoining woodland near stables

Middleton NR
Little Grebe - whinnying
NO Cetti's - this is really unfortunate and not looking good

More later hopefully

Saturday 10 March 2018

Meadow Pipits on the move

No proper first light vis this am, but 21 grounded Meadow Pipit on Middleton NR set off northwards as soon as the early morning rain cleared.  Three flew north during brief visit to office

Other sightings:
Little Grebe - whinnying individual on fence or no swimming pond (heard distantly)
Water Rail - 2+ western marsh scrape
Stonechat - passage male knowlys horse paddock
Iceland Gull - 3rd W moulting neck/throat freckling to 3rd S sw corner harbour
Chough - 2nd field above cafe - more subdued today in few minutes I was within its range
Velvet Scoter - I couldn't see it amongst the Eider but a lot of birds feeding i.e. diving and I wasn't at the best spot i.e. by chapel, but none of several birders I could see wandering about reported anything on info services
alba wagtail - 5 north

Green Sandpiper - on the pond next to industrial site just beyond recycling centre roundabout - just outside area but visible from

Small Tortoiseshell - first of year

Friday 9 March 2018

Further Chough wanderings

Reached SD35 and 36 today - flying from south of the harbour about 1130 whence returned to the cliffs and fields are but was very mobile and vocal

Velvet Scoter - drake offshore with Eider but tricky to see
Goldeneye - drake along water edge north of Knowlys
Med Gull - ad Knowlys road roost
Iceland Gull - 3W sw corner harbour

Thursday 8 March 2018

A sad day

Allan Mackenzie, a stalwart of Heysham ringing, indeed held it all together for the most part, when he lived here in the 1980s is seriously ill in Furness General Hospital.  If you knew Allan, please get in touch soon if you want to visit

Velvet Scoter, Iceland Gull and Chough in the usual places, but the latter was also doing a lot of flying back and forth, including along the north harbour wall, calling a lot this morning - getting restless

Little Grebe - one Tim Butler pond
Mute Swan - 4 pairs
Gadwall - 18
Coot - now two
Teal - 5
No Pochard
Tufted D - 3
Skylark - 3 N

Buff-tailed Bumble Bee Middleton

Wednesday 7 March 2018

Still here

The Eider flock was scrutinised from chapel on Heysham Head 4.5 hours before high tide to see if the Velvet Scoter had flown off with yesterday’s Common Scoter flock, but no it was still with its winter mates, the Eiders.

There was some vis overhead:
Skylark 8 N
Pied Wagtail 3
Siskin (heard not seen) probably about 5

And over the sea:
Whooper Swan 3 NE

The drake Goldeneye was closer inshore near the skeer where at least 3000 Oystercatchers we’re feeding.

The Chough was in the second field opposite Half Moon Bay cafe.

More news later.

Ocean Edge and south wall (Malcolm)
Skylark - 3 NE
Stonechat - the usual female now on its own again on OE saltmarsh
Iceland Gull - 3CY outfall pre-tide

Ringing recovery - thanks to Mike Jackson
Herring Gull
Y:F47           2CY   30/6/17     Harewood Whin landfill, nr York  53 96N  1 17W 
Seen/photo              5/3/18       Middleton NR Lancs      110km WNW

Middleton NR (Janet and Southport birders).  Pics from Janet - thanks
Stonechat - migrant female

Iceland Gull - on model boat pond mid pm
Gadwall - fighting having lived amicably together all winter!
Teal - 8

Tuesday 6 March 2018

Migrant scoter flock

Nothing today to show much happening with Middleton disappointing for Malcolm.  NNEW Shag or Iceland Gull - not searched for by locals today

Middleton NR
Pochard - 1
Gadwall - 18
Teal -  less than 10
<10 p="">Water Rail - 1
unringed Grey Wagtail
No Cetti's - (PM checked as well)

Half moon bay area
Chough in second field

Heliport mown today

Stonechat - male in first field 1/2 moon Bay

Knowlys Rd VP at start of tide c1000
Velvet Scoter - drake slightly apart from and further out than Eider - one wingflap (but did NOT float in with Eider past SJ)
Common Scoter - tightly packed flock of 28 seemed to be mostly males
Eider - 620
RB Merganser - 5
Great-crested Grebe - 3 

Monday 5 March 2018

One loaf and five fishes?

The 3rd W Iceland Gull was at the waterfall this morning eating fish and other maritime bits and bobs, but a whole loaf of mothers pride type stuff finally tempted it within range for Janet's pics at the Middleton model boat pond this afternoon where it had been bathing and resting on the last remaining ice.  Thanks Janet.

Stonechat - male and female in the corner of OE saltmarsh
Rock Pipit - singles Red Nab and the end of the north wall
Skylark - 5 SE during the morning
Wigeon - 311 (Red Nab flock)
Turnstone - 74 wooden jetty, c10 heliport
Jack Snipe - one heliport flew down on to rocks
Snipe - minimum of 5 heliport
Chough - second field when looked for on and off
Shag - juvenile on wooden jetty at HT

No winter thrushes reported today and tide wrong for Eider/Velvet searches

Two ringed Herring Gull read on the ice at Middleton.  This 3CY is probably from York but haven't had it confirmed yet - note the Iceland Gull next to it.  Thanks Janet.

Sunday 4 March 2018

Seaduck review

With his intimate knowledge of the shore off Heysham, Malcolm went out on to the outer skeers, next to the Kent channel (don't think he quite needed a Cumbrian passport!) during a daytime low spring tide opportunity a few days ago. 

 1. This is a mile and a half out looking back from the southernmost end of the furthest channel (the gunnel) that you can reach from shore. It's looking back towards your vantage point on Knowlys road. You'll notice that the old waste pipe marker is in between, making this your line of sight out for Eider.

2. This is the view in the opposite direction, looking straight into the gunnel, where this group of Eider were feeding. I didn't see the Velvet Scoter, but there were three Scaup.  All the birds were feeding frantically just before the run stopped.  There were five groups of Eider about the size of those on the pic, all feeding where the water was running through sub channels. Plus loads of smaller groups. No divers and just one Merganser.
Some further thoughts:
Pic 1. This is similar picture to the one I sent earlier, looking back to Knowlys Road, but not zoomed as much. In this one you can see in the foreground what the sea bed typically looks like at this range. I.E. No living mussels, just empty shells and small clumps of honeycomb worm.

Pic 2. This shows the small islands of live mussels in the main channel (gunnel). The Oystercatchers were going into the water to access these before they were exposed, and avoid being harried by gulls. Obviously prime feeding area for mussels.

Pic 3. This is similar, but if you zoom in on the upper middle Oystercatcher flying away, you can see the size of the mussel they were "catching". They all flew away from gulls to eat elsewhere.

Pic 4. This is just another picture of where the Eider were feeding, but it makes sense now. They are feeding on smallish mussels that the force of the water through the channel is dislodging from the mussel island beds. That's why they congregate where the flow is strongest just to the south of the island. Every island in the flow had a group like this.
This will be the time of "easy feeding". I.E. Plenty of available food, you just have to be the first there. Hence the frantic feeding. Dislodged mussels not eaten will get washed further south and spread over a large area. Presumably this is the food source earlier in the ebbing tide or early in the flood tide.

Same stuff today:
Stonechat - 3 OE saltmarsh, one 1/2 moon bay
Chough - second field above 1/2 moon bay
Iceland Gull - on waterfall early morning pre-tide
Velvet Scoter - distant black blob floating in off the Stone jetty at 1009hrs
Mute Swan - just 4 Middleton
Gadwall - 19
Coot - 1
more Middleton stuff to add - left notes at Heysham NR!

Saturday 3 March 2018

Iceland visits the model boat pond

Good coverage today by Malcolm and Justine.

Iceland Gull - waterfall area late am then found on the model boat pond mid-pm - presumably because the freshwater bathing at red nab underwater?
ice on ice model boat pond
Chough - second field most of the day
Velvet Scoter - not seen : no late afternoon tidal check
Stonechat - 4-5 Ocean Edge/Pontins foreshore, female HM Bay
Golden Plover - 5 along beach by old Pontins site and at least two behind medical centre
House Sparrow - one collecting nesting material near Pontins!!
Water Rail - one in dyke near footpath between ocean edge and pontins
Rock Pipit - HM Bay
RB Merganser - 2 males and one female off Heysham head close inshore at HT
Fieldfare - two urban Heysham
Redwing - about 10 reported
Song Thrush - two OE saltmarsh, one HM Bay

Friday 2 March 2018

Stonechat influx

Ocean Edge foreshore was quite a haven for waifs and strays today and held at least five Stonechat and other odds and ends

Chough - second field north of half moon bay am at least

Iceland Gull - 3rd W on new waterfall am at least
Velvet Scoter - ad drake seen from Knowlys road lower section at 1510ish in flight with Eider.  Note the specific time - from this site need to be there with scope about 1530 onwards tomorrow
Med Gull - ad Knowlys road roost but no sign (as would be usual; invariably leaves late Feb) of the Czech bird
Ringed Plover - 20+ Knowlys road field at HT

Ocean Edge saltmarsh and area

Thanks for these Janet - Malcolm put a lot of legwork in today and the fare along the coast south of here was zilch despite some nice flushes - it was all concentrated on the saltmarsh or caravan site edge

Stonechat - 5 (2 males)
Meadow Pipit - 2
Redwing - 15-20 (including HNR)
Linnet - 2
Rock Pipit - 1
Woodcock - one HNR
Jack Snipe - 4 OE saltmarsh
Snipe - out of usual area birds in sheep field and on HNR (2)