Tuesday 31 December 2019

From elusive to predictable

Shag - the short days seem to be forcing it into a predictable pattern, at least during spring tides. Its preferred feeding location seems to be the low water channels on Heysham skeer, but these are seldom exposed during daylight at this time of year. They were this morning, and by 08:30 it was resting on a small island west of the largest rock in SE of skeer, presumably digesting breakfast (MD)
Not much of a picture, but shows location.

The tide may just be low enough again in the morning. If so, the Shag should be feeding or resting between about 08:30 and 09:00. If the tide is not low enough it will probably feed near Heysham Head and/or the north wall around high water.

Carrion crow, there were 34 waiting for the tide to ebb far enough to reach the skeer islands to feed. They then fed in ones and twos, on the exposed sections of honeycomb worms beds, before leaving, again in ones and twos in all directions east. The new honeycomb worm beds must be providing some new opportunity to feed. Two to four birds feeding here is typical.

Great -Crested Grebe - at least 8

Monday 30 December 2019

29th & 30th - spring has sprung

Middleton Nature Reserve 
Mute 7 adult 7 juv
Coot 1
Moorhen c12
Gadwall 22
Teal 6
Tufted 2
Wigeon 1
Mallard 5
Woodcock 1
Redwing 14
Goldcrest 2

Small Tortoiseshell 1 near HNR office

Rock pipit 4 on south harbour wall roundhead

Saturday 28 December 2019

27th and 28th

Middleton Nature Reserve 
Gadwall 31
Wigeon 1
Tufted 1 male
Shoveler 2 male
Teal 15
Mallard 8
Coot 1
Water Rail 2

Great White Egret - Two sightings (10:55 and 11:15) same flight line from Red Nab direction to ESE.

Redwing - just one seen

Rock pipit - at one point (c10:00) there were 5 on sloping sea wall near No.2 outflow. Two feeding groups of 3 and 2.

Thursday 26 December 2019

Ferry and Shag routine

Ben my Chree
2 x adult Med Gulls, one prob Czech bird, the other flew in then out

Shag - off the Head at high tide, entered harbour at 1200hrs and fished alongside inner north wall

Rock Pipit - 2 north wall end

Wednesday 25 December 2019

Christmas Day treat

Heysham Head rocks - high water (MD)
10:38. It landed on water, just out from the rocks on the south end (Throbshaw Point). It came from the north, but it could have just come from north end of the Head. It started feeding immediately.

10:50. It flew off south last seen on water out from the heliport. I didn't see it catch anything, presumably why it left. But, it is worth chevking on similar height tide tomorrow - high water tomorrow 11:08.

24th DEcember
Ad Med and 5 ad Kitt behind ben/dredger in harbour mouth

Monday 23 December 2019

Kittiwakes ferried in

20-22 Kittiwake behind IOM ferry approaching Heysham Port but yet again no Meds.
The Czech ringed veteran has been seemingly absent for the last month

Skeer and low tide channels - scoped from Knowlys road
Shag 1 - fairly close to the largest rock on skeer.
GCG 10 scattered around

No change in duck numbers, but Coot seems to have gone, but Little grebe still around

Sunday 22 December 2019

Shag obliged.... weather didn't!

Shag 1 feeding in first channel area (see yesterday's post) at 14:00, after which the heavens opened and visibility not good enough. Tomorrow's tide is a suitable height, but weather not promising. After that, diminishing low water heright will force it elsewhere, possibly to main chnnel (MD).

Great-Crested grebe 4
Red-Brested Merganser 2
Eider 2

Fieldfare flock of 20 on Imperial Road

Saturday 21 December 2019

Shag located feeding

Heysham skeer - low water
Shag - The cormorant were all resting on sandbars. Only one bird was feeding in the first channel area, saw it dive a couple of times and it's leaping dive Indicated shag. When tide stopped ebbing, it stopped feeding and rested on water, still in first channel area. Most views were just its head bobbing over waves, but I eventually managed a couple of record shots. (MD)
(The original pictures are slightly sharper than when posted, and are diagnostic)

Feeding here on last of ebb on these mid range tides must be on pin whiting, if so, these will be here at same time for similar height tides. This suggests that there may be a repeat performance tomorrow, 14:000 onwards. The first channel is about 250m west of the largest triangular rock on the skeer (conger rock). This will be on the skeer's SW water edge approaching low water tomorrow.

Great- Crested grebe 6
No RBM or Eider

Middleton Nature Reservep
No ducks on the main pond, but 40 on the "no swimming" pond:
Gadwall 27
Tufted 2 (male)
Shoveler 1 (male)
Teal 10

West side of road to re-cycling centre - this is the eastern boundary of the recording area.
Great White Egret 1 - in field in the afternoon.

Thursday 19 December 2019

Little change

Ocean Edge salt marsh 
Rock pipit 1
Song thrush 2 together - new arrivals
Reed Bunting 2

Middleton Nature Reserve 
Mute 9 adult plue 7 juv - 4 new adult
Coot 1
Moorhen 14
Gadwall 34
Tufted 4 (3 male)
Wigeon 1 female
Teal 4
Little grebe 1

Redwing - numbers dwindling, but still plenty feeding

Wednesday 18 December 2019

Unremarkable low tide channel

Low tide channel from Knowlys & out on skeer!
Wigeon 3
Great-crest - 6
RBM - 3
Eider - 4

Redwing have been hanging about far more than usual with the proliferation of berries:
Thanks Janet

Middleton Nature Reserve - two main ponds
Gadwall 32
Tufted 2 male
Shoveler 1 male
Wigeon 1 female
Coot 1
Moorhen 12
Little grebe 1

Tuesday 17 December 2019


10:45 - Bird landing, unfortunately out of sight, on rocks in front of north wall roundhead was, almost certainty, an adult or near adult Shag (MD)
Wigeon 175
Rock Pipit 1

Middleton Nature Reserve 
Just the two main ponds checked:
Gadwall 30
Tufted 2 (male on "no swimming" female on main pond)
Wigeon 1
Teal 6
Coot 1

Redwing - several flitting around

Monday 16 December 2019

Sunday webs

Nothing of specific interest on coastal  WeBs but 10.3k Knot on the heliport were spectacular

Belated ringing totals for November saw (new ringed) 64 Greenfinch, 40 Goldfinch, 24 Blackbird and a few bits and bobs including a Firecrest

Middleton Webs
Mute Swan 12, Moorhen 14, Coot 1, Gadwall 35, Wigeon 1, Shoveler 2, Mallard 6, Teal 8, Water Rail 2+, Snipe 7 (& 2 Pheasant, c20 each of Blackbird and Redwing)

Rock Pipit 3 - lighthouse area, one visiting 2019 2nd brood nest hole
Meadow Pipit 1 - near waterfall

Large numbers of Pinkfeet over Heysham after dark

Saturday 14 December 2019

Shag - repeat performance

Shag - Ad or near ad  in harbour mouth again 1345 before moving into harbour.
Little Gull and Guillemot flying S offshore

Middleton Nature Reserve 
Gadwall 27
Wigeon 1
Teal 3
Tufted 1 (m)
Shoveler (m&f)
Coot 1

Still plenty of Redwing feeding

Friday 13 December 2019


Ocean Edge saltmarsh - high water
The 9.3m tide just covered the saltmarsh, revealing  just a few snipe (MD).
Jack Snipe 1
Common Snipe 7

Middleton Nature Reserve 
Just the briefest check of the two main ponds revealed a male Tufted has joined the 25 Gadwall and 2 Shoveler .

Blackcap 1 female in a garden NE section of recording area.

Thursday 12 December 2019

Another one to add to "elusive" status - Black Redstart

It's nice when a plan comes up with a good sighting.........Shame that the plan was locate the Purple Sandpiper, and came up with a:
Black Redstart 1 f/imm - 10:05 - about an hour before high water. Red Nab was mostly covered. (MD).
It flew low along sloping sea wall from the direction of No.2 outflow. It initially landed on rocks below the wall where the freshwater culvert drains on to Red Nab, and disappeared from view. As I got within 50m it flew from here towards the exposed natural red rocks, I lost sight of it over the eastern edge of Red Nab. I hoped that it had landed, but I didn't see it again. After an extensive check of likely habitats nearby, I concluded that it must have doubled back towards the Power Station grounds. Just popped out for a drink?
This sighting suggests that the bird seen on 27/11 is lingering, and hopefully will be for some while.

Salt marsh - tide not much higher than yesterday, with reduced wind.
Common Snipe 6 (reduced waves tends to move birds in rather than flush them up)
Reed Bunting 2
Linnet c30

Wednesday 11 December 2019

One elusive plus one habitual

Ocean Edge - am
Tide flushed 18 Common snipe off the salt marsh, but not quite high enough today to flush any Jack snipe. Tomorrow might be high enough, Friday's tide will be. Jack snipe are more likely here when the tides are rising, as now, they tend to stay away after being flushed a few times.
Rock pipit 1
Purple Sandpiper 1. As far as I know (MD) this is the first sighting since 12th and 13th November. Elusive? Yes, but possibly predictable. Today's bird was seen flying east from the direction of the small beach between Red Nab and Ocen Edge foreshore at 10:50, just after high water. The previous  two sightings were from same location on similar height tides. Worth checking this beach about an hour before and up to high water on spring tides.

Middleton Nature Reserve- pm
Gadwall 31
Wigeon 1
Shoveler 2 (m&f)
Teal 10
Mallard 6
Coot 1

Redwing - up to 32 seen flying around at one time, plus many more feeding on hawthorn all around the Reserve.

Great White Egret 1. This is the habitual bird. So I decided to hang around to see if it was still commuting in the "evening" (MD). It finally turned up at 15:45, by then quite dark. It flew from the direction of golf course to ESE.

Tuesday - Shag

Shag 1 - adult or near adult briefly in harbour mouth before flying in to the inner harbour, out of sight line.

Middleton Nature Reserve
Pretty much as yesterday, but the Wigeon was back on main pond with 5 Gadwall (31 in total)

Hopefully more later

Monday 9 December 2019


Nice day, but nothing of interest on south shore this morning.

Middleton Nature Reserve (MD)
Grey wagtail - second sighting of same colour ringed bird. At least three different ringed birds are around the Heysham area this winter. More lingering birds than normally located from the ringing program.
Gadwall 28 - no sign of the wigeon, but all the Gadwall were all on the "no swimming" pond, I have only seen the Wigeon on the main pond
Shoveler 2 (m&f)
Coot 1
Little grebe 1 - offering slightly better views on "no swimming" pond.

Redwing- at least 40 feeding on the Reserve.

Mediterranean Gull - 1 adult behind IOM ferry

Sunday 8 December 2019

Wigeon conundrum, settled........

The only bird of note seen on the sea was a juvenile Kittiwake behind the IOM ferry.

Middleton Nature Reserve 
Just checked the three ponds on east side of MNR:
Main pond
Mute 3 adult 7 juv
Gadwall 6
Mallard 4
"Wigeon" 1 - this is the bird previously thought to be a hybrid, partly down to its unusual behaviour. But the decision now is: just a female wigeon with odd habits. See pic below (MD)
Moorhen 6

No Swimming pond
Mute 2 adult
Shoveler 2 (m&f)
Gadwall 21
Teal 2
Coot 1
Moorhen 6

Tim Butler pond
Mute 1 adult
Mallard 4
Gadwall 2
Moorhen 2

Redwing 17 grounded

The odd, at least by behaviour, female Wigeon.

Saturday 7 December 2019

Friday - Long-Tailed Duck

Long-Tailed Duck - 1 juvenile very elusive in far channel out from Heysham Head. Almost certainly the same bird as unidentified duck seen in same channel on Tuesday.

Rock Pipit 1 on inner harbour wall

Middleton Nature Reserve
Gadwall 30
Shoveler 1 male

Common Snipe 51 flying from rocks below heliport on to heliport grass.

Middleton Nature Reserve 
Gadwall 32
Pink-Footed goose c2,300 flying south over between 15:20 to 15:25

Some of the Pink-Footed going over

Tuesday 3 December 2019

The low water channels provide main interest

Low water channel out from Heysham Head 
Scaup 1 female
Eider 27
Red-Throated Diver 1
Red-Breasted Merganser 4

Middleton Nature Reserve 
All the ponds were virtually ice free this morning, but the number and variety of ducks was reduced.
Gadwall 30 - no sign of possible hybrid bird.
Mallard 2
Teal 3
Water Rail 2
Little grebe 1
This individual lingering much later than in recent years.

Still at least 20 Redwing plus 10 Blackbird feeding on hawthorn

Sunday 1 December 2019

A bit better variety

Low tide channels viewed from Knowlys Road
Great Crested Grebe 19
Goosander 1 (redhead)
Eider 3
Goldeneye 1 drake
Wigeon 8

Harbour mouth
Mediterranean gulls 2 adult - 1 flew in high behind ferry and was joined by a second bird (Czech ringed?) in the harbour.
Red-throated diver 1 - distant

Rock Pipit 1 near waterfall
Nothing of note along south wall or outflows

Middleton Nature Reserve
Gadwall 34
Possible gadwall/wigeon hybrid - better views today now reveal that this is possibly what yesterday's "wigeon" was.

Shoveler 1 male
Mallard 7
Teal 14

Redwing at least 40 grounded, pretty much everywhere on the reserve, but the two main concentrations are near Tim Butler pond and the corner with golf club and Tradebe.

Saturday - Wigeon guest appearance

Middleton Nature Reserve 
There are routinely up to 200 Wigeon around Red Nab/south shore, but this morning, 1 female had joined the Gadwall on the main pond. Unusual (unpresidented? MD).

Gadwall 31
Teal 9
Little Grebe 1
Mallard 5
Water Rail 1

Redwing c10
Fieldfare c30

No sign of Little gull or BRS on south wall