Sunday 31 March 2019

Sandwich Tern

Our thoughts go to the families of those involved in the car accident alongside the reserve in late afternoon

Two Sandwich Tern far offshore in am fishing in the area forming the outer Kent channel but less expected were 3 plus 2 House Martin through Middleton NR

Just nine Pale bellied Brent today

Wheatear - about 5

Great white egret - one seen distantly from the south end of Ocean Edge flying across towards Colloway Marsh

No Kittiwake left

Ringing totals: a couple of minor Goldcrest arrivals but the main feature was a decent Robin total for us and also far more unringed Dunnock than expected.  In contrast finch passage was below par, especially Greenfinch and we ended up with the Dunnock/Robin/Blue and Great Tit total equalling the finch total - most unusual for March with the feeder in operation.  Top species: Goldcrest (42), Goldfinch (21), Robin (17), Chiffchaff (13), Blue Tit (8), Dunnock and Chaffinch (7), lesser Redpoll (6)

Saturday 30 March 2019

Red throated day

A flock of 20 Red throated Diver flew from Heysham direction directly overhead at the Stone Jetty at 0645 and a further 11 were recorded off Heysham itself

Common Scoter - 3 off Heysham Head

Pale bellied Brent Goose - 17 early am increasing to 22 - seemingly all unringed

Two Chiffchaff and three Goldcrest were ringed

One Siskin over
Meadow Pipit 10 north 0720-0920

The huge numbers of Meadow Pipit over the Stone Jetty were not replicated at Heysham, although many had gone through before observations started there

Kittiwake - at least one 2CY outfalls

Friday 29 March 2019

Not a great deal new

A pale Lesser Black-backed Gull caused problems when photographed in sunlight and needed a bit of scrutiny on the big screen in the evening as well as second opinions.  Thanks for these as all in agreement.

Mid grey Lesser Black-backed gull, with regular Herring gull companion. Near No.2 outflow

Wheatear - 1
Pale bellied Brent Goose - 11 rather scattered on the north side this am as 2 plus 6 plus 3
Kittiwake - two 2cy outfalls
Chiffchaff - two ringed
Goldcrest - one ringed

Thursday 28 March 2019

Subtle movement

Evidence of some movement everywhere.

Middleton Nature Reserve am
House martin 1 north
Lesser Redpoll at least 4 ringed
Buzzard 1 high to north
Green woodpecker 1
Cetti's warbler 2 singing

Heysham Nature Reserve pm
Cetti's warbler male singing on north side
Lesser Redpoll 1 SW
Siskin 1 N
Speckled wood 1

North shore am
Pale-bellied Brent goose 2

South shore pm
Rock pipit 2
Kittiwake - at least one 2cy patrolling south wall
Wheatear 1

Thanks Janet

More vis records to follow

Wednesday 27 March 2019

Red throats on the move

Red-throated Diver - flock of eight in gaining height
Kittiwake - 2 x 2CY Heysham one outfall

Pale-bellied Brent Goose - 10 today
Nothing much happening landbird-migrant-wise - just one new Goldcrest caught. 4 Chiffchaffs singing on the Reserve.

Vis 07:30-10:00
Meadow Pipit 6
Goldfinch 10
Greenfinch 6
Alba Wagtail 2

South Harbour Wall - Rock Pipit

Tuesday 26 March 2019


Better than expected for a sunny west-north-westerly

Pale bellied Brent Goose - nine, seemingly all unringed, north of  the head in am, then on Red Nab early afternoon.
Osprey - one NW across the bay 1240ish
Whooper Swan - record flock of 54 in transit

Chiffchaff - four ringed
Goldcrest - two ringed
Robin - one ringed and another migrant briefly at the near naze

Vis over Heysham NR
alba wagtail - 1
Meadow Pipit - 2

One Wheatear and a Rock pipit near salt marsh.

No obvious vis mig other than a trickle of Albas  and meadow pipits

Monday 25 March 2019

Red throated chaos

A red-throated diver trailing a bright orange item round its leg was diving close inshore by the near naze attracting alarm calling gulls.  This unfortunately spooked 6000 Knot but I managed to read seven colour marks but made the cardinal mistake of not writing down an Icelandic one as I was trying to read another bird at the same time.  Then I promptly forgot what the last letter was.  Familiar?

Kittiwake - single 2cy

Vis 0915-1030
Meadow pipit - c25 North
Pied Wagtail - 2 N
Goldfinch- 7 N
Greenfinch - 3N
Linnet - 4N
Siskin - 2N
Sparrowhawk - 1 N

Low tide channel
Eider - 430
Wigeon - 3
Great-crested Grebe - 8

Middleton Nature Reserve pm
Chiffchaff 5 seen and or heard
No sign of Shoveler or Tufted
Gadwall 2
Teal 4
Little grebe 1
Cetti's warbler, two singing
Some high raptor movement including at least one Buzzard and a Sparrowhawk

Sunday 24 March 2019

Whoopers on the move

A new moth for the Heysham recording area from Kevin who has recently moved into the area:  Oak Nycteoline .  Thanks for sharing this (caught 21st March)

7 Mute juveniles southeast out from Red Nab
24 Whoopers out on the sand all morning, another 10, then 5 north,  plus 5 southeast

Five flying SE past south wall roundhead 10:30

Gannet - 2 out

No Brent

Saturday 23 March 2019

Morning coastal coverage


About 2000 Knot this morning but difficult to read because the tide was moving them so quickly. The above are as I understand Icelandic ringed and Sefton coast ringed .

Pale-bellied Brent - 18 on the sea onnthe north side but they didn’t appear to the south side of Heysham Head.

Wheatear - 2 north end of Half Moon Bay

Middleton Nature reserve pm
Mute 3 pair
Moorhen 7
Coot 1
Gadwall 8 (5 male)
Shoveler 1 male
Tufted 1 male
Teal 1 male
Mallard pair
Little grebe 3

Cetti's warbler singing central marsh

Friday 22 March 2019

Mixed bag

Whooper Swan - four flew inland, six distantly North
Kittiwake - flock of 12 in during brief seawatch, 4x2cy and one ad on Heysham two outfall
Pale bellied Brent - either 22 or 25
Pink footed goose - 30 North
Merlin - female making a nuisance of itself heliport
Goldcrest - 7 ringed
Chiffchaff - one ringed

Thursday 21 March 2019

More migrant Robin and Goldcrest

Conditions were not quite as good this morning but there was still another little flurry of  19 new birds in the nets, mainly Goldcrest and Robin

Pale bellied Brent Goose - 19, including Canadian pair, Red Nab for about half an hour on incoming tide then south

Chiffchaff - 2 (1 ringed)
Goldcrest - 15 plus (12 ringed)
Robin - 4 new ones
Dunnock - unringed bird
Kittiwake - 2CY still outfalls
Wheatear - 2 Red Nab
Vis mig of Meadow Pipit and alba Wagtail unremarkable this am and not recorded

Moths:  just Common Quaker (2) and Hebrew Character


Wednesday 20 March 2019

Migrants in the mist

A decent day which could have been even better with a dawn start.  Arrival about 0900 saw quite a few long-winged Blackbirds, prompting a couple of mist nets

These produced an amazing (for here in spring) ten migrant Robin as well as 14 more predictable Goldcrest and a few migrant female Chaffinch.  A single Siskin was unusual and a couple of Chiffchaff include a bird with pollen on its forehead

In the meantime coastal coverage produced 178 Meadow Pipit grounded on Ocean Edge and 55 on the heliport in the murk with single Wheatear at Red Nab.

Twite - one North
Sand Martin - one North over sea
Meadow Pipit - c50 on vis mig in addition to grounded birds
Pied Wagtail - c20 on vis mig but only about 5 grounded
Pale-bellied Brent - 25 incoming tide but no sign dropping tide
Chiffchaff - at least three
Goldcrest - 20-25 at least
Blackbird - 20-30 Moneyclose lane and reserve
Linnet - one North
Siskin - one ringed
Wheatear - Male Red Nab
Eider - c400 low tide
Great crested Grebe - 2
Green Woodpecker - usual noisy mobile status

Moths comprised: common plume, Hebrew character, Common Quaker, clouded drab, early grey, shoulder stripe

Some of the 400 Eider

Tuesday 19 March 2019

Rockits and Mipits

A low key day with outbreaks of drizzle. Headline news: a rat caused mayhem in the wader roost on the old heliport. There were few birds of note:

2 Rock Pipits

A Chiffchaff was new in but passed through quickly
An elderly Chaffinch was recaught - 6 years old. Most Chaffinches only live 3 years (according to BTO Birdfacts) although a truly  ancient Chaffinch of 13 years 11 months was caught elsewhere in the country in 2011.

4 singing Cetti’s Warblers. This species in this quantity would have been the headline news a few years ago but now you can hear them on every visit all year round.

Green Woodpecker - 1 called from the golf course.

Meadow Pipit - 15 flew north.

Our very own Half Moon Bay will feature on TV tomorrow when the new drama The Bay begins on ITV. Don’t miss it!

Monday 18 March 2019

Meadow Pipits on the move

Meadow Pipits on the move, unfortunately not in huge numbers. In fact only 16 were seen but it’s a start !
Also 1 Pied Wagtail.
An unringed Goldcrest appeared.

5 Meadow pipit north (singles)
1 Skylark on foreshore
2 juv Kittiwake on No.2 outflow
1 ad Kittiwake in harbour

17 Pale-bellied Brent on Red Nab, but when they flew off at 10:20, there was also the "regular" three. So 20 In total. 

Wheatear - 1

Sunday 17 March 2019

Kittiwakes on the move

Kittiwake - 159 in in only about 45 mins on and off seawatching plus at least 8 inshore outfalls/harbour
Little Gull - just two sightings of single adult
Meadow pipit - at least 10 North
Pale-bellied Brent Goose - peak of 32 (mid pm off Knowlys on tideline)

Saturday 16 March 2019

Cutting edge birding

Great effort by Malcolm this morning and pics to boot in a SW F9 and driving horizontal rain

Little Gull - 3 Ad outfalls in am, ad blogging off Knowlys road am.  At least 9 ad and one 2cy at 1540, with six plus at seaward end and four half way along hey two. There were still a minimum of 9 birds on or near outflows at 17:15.
Kittiwake - at least two adults and two 2CY around
Shag - presumably the usual elusive 3CY harbour mouth

Pale- bellied Brent geese - 10 on rocks near play area early on, then just 3 later. A flock of 25-27, presumed pb, flew past south wall roundhead 17:20. Either to Red Nab or Pott's Corner.

Friday 15 March 2019

Not quite wild enough!

Thanks to Ian and Nick for seawatch data

Kittiwake - about 72 seen, including three or four blogging around harbour/outfalls
Fulmar - two possibly three
Eider - an increase perceived
Pale bellied Brent Goose - 31 on tideline North of Heysham Head including the two Canadian Arctic-ringed birds
Shag - subadult harbour mouth briefly

Thursday 14 March 2019

A matter of degree

Good job I wasn’t twenty minutes later with a Heysham Head seawatch as I managed the last bit of westerly before it swung round and closed the door

Velvet Scoter - female flew out beyond the Eider line and landed on the rough sea and couldn’t be relocated after logging the inbound seabirds immediately afterwards
Kittiwake - c270 in long strung out line and two more compact ‘balls’ - mainly adults
Little Gull - loose gang of 16 in - quite distant
Gannet - two ad in
Eider - c290
Pale bellied Brent Goose - flock of 27 on tideline and three close inshore north of Heysham head

Middleton Nature reserve
Mute 3 pair
Tufted 2
Gadwall 5 (4 male)
Water Rail 1
Cetti's warbler 1 singing
Green woodpecker 1

Wednesday 13 March 2019

Lots of wind and Little, else...

The strong westerlies continue

Little gull 1 adult on seaward end of No.1 outflow at low tide in morning

Pale-bellied Brent just 3 today, presumably the regular birds, out from children's play area. Today's tide of 8.2m not high enough to flush them to Red Nab at high water.

Kittiwake - there doesn't seem to be a lot of food coming through the outflows, but just enough to hold a few kittiwake. There was one adult and a juvenile at low water in morning on No.2 outflow. Two adult and a juvenile on rising tide in afternoon.
Pictures below are actually some of yesterday's birds, same location.

Adult (with Blackpool tower in background)

Ocean Edge salt marsh
Rock pipit 1
Skylark 1
Reed bunting 1

Tuesday 12 March 2019


A few bits today but perhaps surprisingly no Kittiwake flocks

Gannet - three out
Common Scoter - pair out
Kittiwake - two ad and two 2Cy inshore around outfalls/harbour
Pale bellied Brent - simple today - the three long stayers feeding close inshore by play area, 22 feeding along waters edge on detached weed in the tide.  All of them later on Red Nab including all three ringed birds

The yellow ringed one was ringed in Iceland in 2008 and has been returning to the Walney area for many winters.  It has lost a darvic ring off the right leg, hence confusion but the ‘T’ on the yellow ring was read yesterday (thanks Colin and Malcolm)

Monday 11 March 2019

Brent frustration

At least 31 Pale bellied Brent today but all eyes were on the yellow ringed bird.  Failure to cooperate was an understatement!

Rock pipit by heliport

Knot V4 read on heliport seawall

Hebrew character in moth trap

Sunday 10 March 2019

Brent numbers double!

Awful news from Fair Isle Bird Observatory which has been burnt to the ground today, fortunately everyone has been accounted for and safe.  Hopefully it can be rebuilt during the course of this year.

43 Pale-bellied Brent Geese today in two gangs but all together on Red Nab for a short time

Kittiwake - 52 out in dribs and drabs with about half of them 2cy - some came into the harbour

Knot - at least 7 colour marked birds, four of them successfully read.  A great year for reading rings in the Heysham area this year thanks to Richard, Jean and Malcolm

Saturday 9 March 2019

Little Gull at last and record Brent numbers

An adult Little Gull wheeled out of the bay at a vast rate of knots at about 1130, part of a big clear out of birds as the wind went fractionally north of West

Pale bellied Brent Goose - 21 including the colour ringed birds

Kittiwake - probably about 175 out with the early and mid am birds seen from the SJ


12 pale-bellied Brent, initially on north side, out from childrens play area, arrived at Red Nab at 10:20. These included the two ringed birds. These were joined by three others, assumed to be the regular three at 10:30. Expect arrival tomorrow around 10:50.

Rock pipit 1 salt marsh
Raven 1 Red Nab
Greylag goose 2 - west of recycling centre road

Hopefully more later

Thursday 7 March 2019

The Return of the Rings

14 pale-bellied Brent were feeding on the north side, out from the childrens play area, on incoming tide. There were no rings on twelve of these, the remaining two were swimming.
They arrived at Red Nab at 10:00. By that time they had been joined by three more birds. Resulting in a count of 17 pale-bellied Brent.  Two of these were the ringed birds, so the 14 must have picked up the two adult ringed birds with accompanying juvenile, or the two swimming birds on the north side were ringed and the 14 were joined by the 3 regular birds, who seem to remain to their own agenda.

10:02 - 17 Brent arrive at Red Nab from north side.

10:28 - last bit of Rocks about to be covered. One of these is ringed.

10:29 - Brent leave Red Nab towards Pott's Corner. You can just make out the red ring on two of these. The feeding window at Red Nab will be even shorter on tomorrow's higher tide. 10:30 will be about the optimum time.

Kittiwake 3 distant

Wednesday 6 March 2019

Ringless Brents

Red Nab
13 pale-bellied Brent today; no ringed birds

Ocean Edge
Skylark 2
Rock pipit 1
Reed bunting 4
Meadow pipit (not "rock" as per original typo MD)

Thanks for pictures Janet

Tuesday 5 March 2019

Canadian-ringed Brents

Thanks to Colin for informing us that this pair were likely to be those which had wintered on Walney for the last few years and were first ringed at:

Therefore we just double-checked the ringing details this morning and they matched these two birds

The Walney birds disperse as the Eel grass runs out in late winter and some have started to cross the Bay and feed on Gutweed

A new high of 17 Pale-bellied Brent Geese this morning

Kittiwake - 16 in, then landed on sea

Monday 4 March 2019

Ringed Brent geese

A bit late getting to south shore this morning. By the time I reached Ocean Edge foreshore the tide had almost covered Red Nab, but there were still some pale-bellied Brent. The picture below shows eight birds, two of which have rings. By the time I reached Red Nab only the three regular birds remained. They then flew towards Pott's corner.

Hopefully the ringed birds will return tomorrow. Two hours before high water, or slightly earlier, should be best. If anyone reads the rings, please advise Pete of either ring details or the returned "life histories".

Also on Ocean Edge salt marsh:
Rock pipit 1
Skylark 2
Reed bunting 2

Sunday 3 March 2019

March catchup

3 March 19

7 Pale-bellied Brents today on Red Nab.


2 March 19

Reed Bunting at Middleton NR

Red Nab
244 Wigeon
3 Pale-bellied Brent

1 March 19

The elusive (though noisy) Cetti's Warbler at Middleton NR. One of two singing males in the Central Marsh.