Saturday 29 September 2018

Massive northerly goose movement tracked into and over Cumbria further up the Bay

Given the weather forecast for tomorrow, this will be the end of the month as regards ringing and any vis mig sessions and it was a month with an amazing one-off, the Little Shearwater and which can otherwise be consigned to the instantly forgettable

There was no decent visible migration with all the Meadow Pipit being sent along the Pennines or down the east coast by strong westerlies to the north of us and even the "seawatching weather" promised much but was never (with one notable exception) quite right on the day with a lot of watching paint dry waiting for the odd Leach's

As regards 'falls' and other possibilities with overnight migrants, a lot of effort was put in around the office area, where the feeder fare was a back-up to any poor migrant showing, but Middleton motivation suffered from the general synoptic mediocrity and received the worst coverage for a few years.  The few visits made did suggest that more warblers were moving through there than Heysham NR

So the monthly ringing totals top ten as follows:  Chaffinch (65), Blue Tit (64), Goldfinch (55), Grey Wagtail (37), Robin (32), Blackcap (29), Chiffchaff (23), Greenfinch (22), Meadow Pipit (18 - we did try!), Long-tailed Tit (17).  So the top species away from the feeders was the study-targeted Grey Wagtail with a meagre 37!  Grand total about 455.  Thanks for all the effort, often with low but by no means worthless catches

Vis mig today
Pink-footed Goose - northerly passage of 3865 visible from HNR office and two other flocks heard further west.  These were tracked over the bay/south Cumbria and were almost certainly all overshoots heading for the Solway.  Note that both movements this week have been in SW winds eg virtually none seen yesterday.  25+1(!) south.
Chaffinch - 30
alba - 8
Meadow Pipit - 11
Grey Wagtail - 4
Reed Bunting - 1

Only perceptible stuff round HNR office was single Goldcrest, Blackcap, Chiffchaff

Ad and Juv med gulls near jetty - probably Czech ad - no available tubeworms now
Shag 2cy - flew from harbour to wooden jetty

About 30 new birds by office - surprisingly good - mostly goldfinch, chaffinch and blue tit

Friday 28 September 2018


A Short-eared Owl was the day highlight as it was flushed by the tide from Ocean Edge saltmarsh

Also unexpected was the Ringing session at Middleton which was assumed to be a vis mig morning after a clear night and sizeable moon but the hint of east in the northerly produced virtually no vis but the highest day catch of what has been an awful year for Chiffchaff - both migration and perhaps especially local productivity (8 new birds).  Other grounded migrants ringed: 5 Reed Bunting, two Blackcap, two Robin and a Goldcrest

Med gull - 3 2cy Red Nab
Buzzard - juvenile over Middleton
Wigeon - IOA

Pics and additional stuff will be added tomorrow

Thursday 27 September 2018

Surprisingly good

Nets were put up at the office just for routine coverage from about 0715 and the dull conditions meant probably very little was missed earlier.  A combination of HNR office coverage and Malcolm out on the shore saw an enormous NORTHERLY movement of Pink-footed Goose which was presumably some overshooting by ?Solway birds and certainly not roost to feeding area.  One flock contained a single Barnacle Goose

The only other vis mig over the office was four Grey Wagtail and two were duly ringed along with an array of finches and tits with single Chiffchaff and Robin - far more than seemed likely from the synopsis

Thanks to Janet and Malcolm for pics

Pink-footed Goose - 2280 north in at least 15 skeins
Barnacle Goose - 1 north
Skylark - 2 south
Grey Wagtail - 4 SE
Red-throated Diver - 1
Meadow Pipit and Chaffinch - 'none'!

Heysham Head shore
Rock Pipit - ELEVEN!

Red Nab area
Sanderling - at least 2

After a mild night, nine species in the office trap including Acleris emargana which I think if NFY

Wednesday 26 September 2018

Bits on the coast

Merlin - Male ocean edge - 1OA
Wheatear -1
Med gull - min 9 (2 juvs)
Shelduck - 217
Common or Arctic Tern - distant Juv prob Common

Tuesday 25 September 2018

Latish willow warbler

Ringing saw a lot of effort for fairly meagre fare which included a Willow warbler, two Reed warbler,   Chiffchaff, two Blackcap, two Goldcrest and two Grey Wagtail

The rest included three migrant Rock Pipit along ocean edge, a Juv Med gull and a Guillemot still in the harbour

Vis mig 06:30 - 12:00
Chaaffinch - 36
Pink-footed Goose - 148 north
Grey Wagtail - 1 north at 07:50
Meadow Pipit - 2
Collared Dove - 2
Golden Plover - 1 east

Monday 24 September 2018

Northwesterly and that means more pinks but few warblers

Vis mig 06:45 - 11:00
Pink-footed Goose - 1208
Grey Wagtail - 5
Chaffinch - 39
Alba Wagtail - 4
Goldfinch - 13
Bullfinch - 2
Meadow Pipit - 7
Swallow - 10
Cormorant - 5
Buzzard - 1
Song Thrush - 1
Linnet - 1
Siskin - 1

White Wagtail - 1 at Ocean Edge

Harbour - see photo

Rock pipit - singles by 1/2 m b cafe and below Heysham Head
Wheatear 1 - Heysham Head

Sunday 23 September 2018

Sat and sun

22 September 2018

Heysham NR
Vis 08:50-12:00
Pink-footed Goose - 428 south
Meadow Pipit - 2
Swallow - 4
Goldcrest - 1

Red Nab
Sandwich Tern - 2 (adult and juv)
Mediterranean Gull - 15 at least

Guillemot - 2

Ocean Edge
Ringed Plover - 32
Grey Plover - 420

Middleton NR
Gadwall - 27
Mallard - 2
Teal - 1
Coot - 2
Water Rail - 3
Stock Dove - 2

Heysham Moss
Woodpigeon - flock of 70


23 September 2018

Heysham NR

Vis 06:45 - 12:00
Meadow Pipit - 35
Pink-footed Goose - 1736
Chaffinch - 25
alba wagtail - 3
Jackdaw - 1
Grey Wagtail - 3
House Martin - 1
Swallow - 1
Mistle Thrush - 1
Song Thrush - 1

Wooden Jetty


Friday 21 September 2018

Wind okayish in the bay but not in the bigger picture Irish Sea

Nothing to push birds in overnight and a marginal wind on the tide produced very little with just one Leach’s after a cumulative 100 square miles of scanning from various VPs over four hours.  Didn’t realise IOM ferry was in business until it reached the harbour and some followers undoubtedly missed

Leach’s Petrel - one cut across from north side then headed out beyond the yellow buoys
Great Skua - one flew north west through the scope as it was trained towards Knott end from ocean edge
Sandwich tern - loose gang of 13 out, three red nab and two later on outfalls in squall
Common Tern - ad behind ferry
Arctic Tern - 1cy behind ferry
Pintail - flock of three out
Kittiwake - two 1cy early on then at least seven behind IOM ferry
Little gull - usual ad red nab over tide
Med gull - min of 19 including 5 Juv red nab then 25-30 by wooden jetty including the above Belgian or French Juv and German ANLT
Guillemot - one harbour area, one dead on water
Shag - flew towards heyshsm head close inshore

Rock pipit 1-2 Heysham head shore
Low double figures of swallow and meadow pipit struggling south

Thursday 20 September 2018

Small shearwater

One of the vagrant small shearwater species off Heysham this am then Rossall an hour later.   Not necessarily Barolo but unlikely to be fully documented and specified unless we get some point blank views and pics further down the coast.   What an amazing sighting though, initially at only c350m range.  More later.

Shag - usual bird
Leachs petrel - one out distantly 0810
Sandwich Tern - two north wall, 7 red nab

Wednesday 19 September 2018

Long gaps between highlights!

One of these days lists with decent variety but quite hard work.   The morning tide was predictably useless in the southerly but the cold front saw a change to SW.  A few bits as the tide came in

Seawatching stuff
Leach’s petrel - one out 1635 at medium range, another out and across about 1710. A further 8 seen past SJ, all but one distant bird after 1730
Black Tern - Juv out past north wall mid afternoon
Sandwich Tern - at least 5 out
Gannet - two out early am
Common Scoter - Drake offshore
Guillemot or Razorbill - four out together
Guillemot - two singletons close inshore
Shelduck - 5 plus 11 out
Kittiwake - three out together (one ad), ad and Juv blogging by harbour

Med gull - 23 ad/2cy red nab plus Juv outfalls
Little gull - usual ad red nab
Wheatear - 2

Tuesday 18 September 2018


Unfortunately a rapidly inbound probably black tern in particularly foul weather this am couldn’t be clinched but single juvenile Arctic and Common and a flock of four Sandwich tern were seen rather better although also in transit

Guillemot - two together out and one in harbour mouth later

17 Med Gulls on the mud near the wooden jetty

A house Martin decided to fly through the wake of the IOM ferry as it was turning to enter port!

Two swallows similarly struggling over the rough sea

Five Pinkfeet out

Eider - at least 196 on sea off Heysham Head - 70 per cent ad m

Monday 17 September 2018

All about flightlines and virtually nothing grounded

Today's south-easterly would in normal circumstances have seen reasonable numbers of vis mig species at both Heysham and Middleton NRs but it didn't really happen that way with, for example, the Meadow Pipit tape on Middleton catching and attracting down zero.  As is often the case at Heysham NR, the south-easterly sent a significant number of birds crossing the Bay round the north side of the Power Station and there was a reasonable trickle of stuff heading down the coast from Heysham Head over the reserve

Vis mig
alba Wagtail - just 14 SE
Meadow Pipit - 142 SE
Chaffinch - first big movement of the autumn - 84 S/SW
Grey Wagtail - 21 SE
Linnet - 8 SE
Dunnock - one S - very high!
Pink-footed Goose - 26 N, 10 S
Great White Egret - 1 S at 0848
Swallow - 80
House Martin - 1
Coal Tit - flock of 4
Magpie - one in-off amd a flock of 3 high to south
Common Buzzard - one low to E

Grounded HNR
Goldcrest - 2
Chiffchaff - 2
Blackcap - 2

Grounded Middleton
Willow Warbler - 1
Garden Warbler - 1
Blackcap - 2 

Ringing combined:  Grey Wagtail (11), Chaffinch (12), Goldcrest, Willow Warbler, Chiffchaff, Blackcap (3), Garden Warbler, Greenfinch (2), Goldfinch (6), Blue Tit (6|), Great Tit (2)

Small Dusty Wave new for year

Sunday 16 September 2018

More geese

Pink-footed Goose - 660 S
House Martin - 1
Swallow - 5
Raven - 2

Saturday 15 September 2018

Pinks pile in

A day of proper early morning migration coverage at last but it did not include anything over the sea so the Pink-foot count was very high in the circumstances.  The first two migrant Goldcrest of the autumn appeared in the net at Middleton and there was a variety of late warbler species as well as the more seasonal trickle of Chiffchaff and Blackcap.  In summary, better than recently but in the context of a normal September, nothing special, as to be expected with the light WSW wind and rain fortunately just to the south until lunchtime

Chiffchaff - just three (2 ringed)
Willow warbler - one ringed Heysham NR
Blackcap - three ringed
Reed Warbler - one ringed Middleton
Garden Warbler - one ringed Middleton
Goldcrest - two together ringed Middleton
Robin - 4 lightweight presumed migrants ringed

Vis mig until midday
Pink-footed Goose - 840 S
Sparrowhawk - on east high - prob in-off
Golden Plover - one high to SE
Carrion Crow - flock of 7 east
Swallow - just 14
Grey Wagtail - at least 6 (5 ringed which included 4 out of a flock of 5)
alba Wagtail - just two and no sign of any ex-roost early on
Meadow Pipit - 205 SE
Tree Pipit - one SE
Chaffinch - 9 S
Linnet - flock of 4 SE
Reed Bunting - 1 S over HNR (one ringed Middleton where conspicuously absent recently)

Inshore stuff on tide
Med gull c14 - less than recently
Little Gull - usual ad

Rock Pipit
Two by the south harbour late pm. Six along the shoreline from half-moon bay to Heysham Head - difficult to be certain of origin now but appeared to be two groups of three, including at least three adult and at least one juv and nothing in the plumage to suggest other than petrosus

First Pink-barred Sallow of year

More later on incoming tide stuff red nab/outfalls

Friday 14 September 2018

Pinks trickle in

Czech Med Gull on north wall:

Present every non-breeding season since arriving as 1CY in 2003

Useless seawatching today with a great big clear slot over the whole of the Irish Sea at the optimum time we needed a few squally showers over the tide:  This synopsis would be fine in spring when you are looking for a north-easterly corridor for northbound seabirds, but no good when you are wanting rough weather to blow things back against the direction they want to go [synopsis one hour pre-high tide].  In late afternoon Nick informed of a close Leach's Petrel heading for the recording area past the Stone Jetty.  In retrospect looked along the wrong line and should have seen all the kite surfers at the Battery a bit earlier - they must have sent it way out.   However the visit to the north wall was not fruitless as the Czech Med Gull perched very close and the ring re-read - first time definitely seen this autumn although a 'metal on right above tarsus' was seen on the south side about a month ago

Pink-footed Goose - 20+30+81+162
Little Gull - adult & juv out, usual adult outfalls
Kittiwake - two adults behind IOM ferry, juv appeared soon after briefly
Guillemot - 1CY harbour mouth for short time
Shag - 2cy harbour; flushed by tug and flew out
Med Gull - 30, including 5 juvs behind IOM ferry and 25 (I juv) by the wooden jetty late pm
Curlew - 370 Red Nab
Great Skua - one on sea?, then flew towards Walney late afternoon

A rather unconvincing report that the "Chough was back" which didn't seem to go much further than a 'black bird'

Thursday 13 September 2018

Latish Manx Shearwater

Hopefully get chance to do some seawatching tomorrow and the forecasted showers play ball and compensate for the below par wind speed.

Manx shearwater - one out close inshore - chased by outfalls gulls
Kittiwake - Juv out
Med gull - at least 24 on Red Nab mid am and a Juv on outfalls (5 Juv in total)
Little gull - usual ad red nab mid am

Grey wagtail ringed this am then ground staff had to do some work by the ride.   Hopefully Saturday will allow some more comprehensive Ringing

Wednesday 12 September 2018

Meds and Little and miniscule vis

Meds and Little in the evening sun thanks Malcolm
Med Gull - 15 red nab am
Little Gull - ad seen am and pm
Grey Wag - at least one SE
Meadow Pipit - at least 3 SE
Sandwich tern - one RN am

Tuesday 11 September 2018

Little Gulls but little else

Too gentle today - indeed the feeder net was operable this afternoon (three Goldfinch ringed and a few retraps).  Annoying to see the peak passage birds at Portland today was Grey Wagtail and we can do nothing about the study in this weather.  At this rate we are going to be lucky to ring many more this autumn

Middleton NR
Gadwall - 18
Mute Swan - 6
Tufted Duck - 3
Water Rail
no waders or coot seen

Gannet - 2 ad

Shag - 2CY at waterfall
Med Gull - max of 15 on Red Nab early incoming tide (four juvs plus white darvic and green darvic and metal ringed ads around)
Sandwich Tern - once
Little Gull - ad flew south past Red Nab whilst regular bird was roosting there.  Juv in harbour in pm

Thanks Malcolm

Monday 10 September 2018

Tufted Duck

A 1cy Male Tufted Duck off the harbour mouth was a new species for SD35Z!

Med gull - at least 33 today including ANLT and four juvs
Little gull - ad outfalls near HT
Sandwich Tern - 3 red nab
Guillemot - one in harbour early evening

Nothing seen in intermittent seawatches

Sunday 9 September 2018


A small petrel was seen very briefly but enough to see it wasn’t a Leavh’s (or a house Martin, green sand, Black Tern etc!) and looked like a Storm Petrel.  A great wadge of poor visibility soon after locating it knocked the record on the head

Most of the early morning seawatching was from the stone jetty between 8 and 11(thanks Nick)

Sea 0815 to 1245 (Heysham unless stated)
Arctic Skua - two off sj, one in at lunchtime
Fulmar - one sj
Kittiwake - flock of 5
Gannet - 11 or so off Sj
Sandwich tern - two
Guillemot - one sj
Little gull - ad heysham two before ht
Med gull - ad, 2cy and 1cy outfalls/Red Nab

Landbird wise totally dead as also confirmed by Colin on Walney - the forecast doesn’t look too good  with only next Thursday looking possible in the next fortnight and Thursday is always the most difficult day for coverage.

Saturday 8 September 2018

Wet webs

Sandwich Tern - 11 red nab including distant one with white darvic, four flew out this evening
Turnstone - 112 red nab plus 109 heliport but no Pirple Sand
Redshank - 495 heliport plus c150 south of harbour
Little Egret - 10!
Med gull - 19 by wooden jetty this on ores includes the 3x2cy and 1x1cy on red nab at ht
Eider - 9 inshore
Rock pipit - one near wooden jetty in evening

No migrants reported

Pics will be posted tomorrow

Moths included Agriphila geniculea again but haven’t managed to record our speciality Agriphila latistria this late summer

Friday 7 September 2018

Even better tidal display

However - it isn't really what we are about this time of year and the forecast for the foreseeable future has migrant mediocrity written all over it and doesn't look like providing the back-up ringing to getting up early to catch and colour ring a handful of Grey Wagtail.  We'll see - could really do with a howling gale if it is going to be unhelpful weather

Purple Sandpiper - adult moulting out of summer plumage on Red Nab - disappeared behind a rock and I lost it in the incoming tide mayhem - loosely with Turnstone
Sanderling - c6 Red Nab
Dunlin - 500 Red Nab then flushed by tide
Med Gull - 25 by the wooden jetty feeding on tube worms this evening (ANLT amongst them)

Rhomboid Tortrix in moth trap I think is new for year

Thursday 6 September 2018

Good early morning neap tidal display

Spotted redshank - Juv oe creek then along inner shore to south
Grey plover - 369 many in summer plumage
Dunlin - 1870
Bar-tailed Godwit -  411
Sandwich Tern - 4 red nab
Med gull - 3x 2cy 1x Juv Red Nab, then 9 by wooden jetty in evening including metal ringed Ad and German green ANLT (thanks Malcolm)
Shag - 2cy by then on wooden jetty
Cormorant - 135 wooden jetty at least

Vis 08:00-10:00
Reed Bunting 1
Swallow 18
Dunnock 1
Grey Wagtail 1
Meadow Pipit 1
Chaffinch 2

Very slow
Robin 2 up to 10am and several blank round

Middleton NR
Teal 8 (2 Tim Butler 6 no swimming ponds)
Tufted single male still in eclipse
Gadwall 15
No sign of Coot, but they are sometimes elusive.
Water Rail - one calling from low ground between main pond and Tim Butler pond. Presumably a new arrival.
Common Snipe 1

Southern hawker on golf club strip. Probably same insect as previous sighting.
Common darters ovipositing, including in remnants of new ponds.

Wednesday 5 September 2018

More Ringing in the crystal clear

This was a very odd day where there was just about one of everything but absolutely no numbers other than perhaps Swallow.   Despite a clear corridor there seemed to be zero cross bay vis mig!

Tree pipit - one se
Grey wagtail - 5 ringed
Singles or twos of Whitethroat, blackcap, willow warbler, lesser whitethroat, chiffchaff and a few robins ringed.  Jay also ringed!

Vis mig 
In addition to the Tree Pipit and Grey Wagtails -
Chaffinch 16
Swallow 21
Linnet 2
Meadow Pipit 1

Mainly Ringing on Tuesday

A triple session at all our main sites saw an unremarkable return with further confirmation that most warblers had cleared out and there was little evidence of passage from elsewhere.   Best was a single Tree pipit

alba wagtail 1
Meadow Pipit 5
Swallow 8
Linnet 2
Chaffinch 1
Grey Wagtail 2
Coal Tit 1
Starling 34 - probably ex-roost but all went SE

Monday 3 September 2018

Low key coverage

Two sandwich tern and just five med gull on red nab at high tide

Whitethroat caught in feeder net run for a short time by office this pm
Along with a Male Greenfinch first ringed in 2013

The Moth trap held typical autumnal species including Treble Bar

Sunday 2 September 2018

Out of the Blue

A shock today at Middleton where the first substantial Blue Tit flock for many years ended up in the net.  This is early days for migratory/dispersing flocks - usually peaking around the last week of September - so hopefully its not a precursor of the rest of the autumn as they can lead to a precautionary reduction in mist nets and all the rarities slip through the dense scrub unrecorded

Note the blackberry stains on the bags from the eight Blackcap ringed earlier:
Alan back at base with 60% of todays otherwise unremarkable ringing in one net on one round! 

Middleton NR WeBS
Mute Swan (4), Coot (2), Moorhen (12), Gadwall (10+), Tufted Duck (1), Grey Heron (1), Cormorant (1).  In addition
Common Sandpiper - one main pond
Green Sandpiper - one Tim Butler pond

Vis mig this morning 0730 on wards  SEish unless stated otherwise
Grey Wagtail - at least 6, poss 8
Swallow - 215
Meadow Pipit - 20
Chaffinch - 4
alba Wagtail - 5
Linnet - 1
Goldfinch - 60
House Martin - 16
Sand Martin - 18 (late for these numbers but similar to others seen locally)
Pink-footed Goose - flock of 11 NORTH!  IOA

Ringing Hey/Midd
Blue Tit (20), Grey Wagtail (3), Willow Warbler (2), Goldfinch (3), Greenfinch (1), Wren (2), Linnet (1), Blackcap (8), Reed Warbler (1), Whitethroat (1), Great Tit (2)

Saturday 1st Sept

Vis mig at the office at HNR during am
Meadow Pipit 24
Reed bunting 1
Yellow wagtail 1
Grey wagtail 5
Alba wagtail 7
Swallow 57
Redshank 5
Chaffinch 9
Carrion crow 1
House Martin 1+

Grounded Heysham NR/foreshore
Wheatear - 2
Willow Warbler - 2
Whitethroat - 1
Sandwich Tern - juv Red Nab roost

Southern Hawker - not common here - photographed Middleton today (thanks Malcolm)