Thursday 31 December 2020

Wildfowl teamwork far.

A hard frost again last night and the morning started with freezing rain, leaving a covering of ice over everything. The sun broke through by the afternoon, but the air temperature never got any higher than 2C. By 15:00 a mist came in off the sea. Very light N - NE breezes.

Middleton Nature Reserve - in the early afternoon sun
Main Pond:
Mute swan - Just the 2 adult and 3+1 juvenile are keeping a small patch ice free. 2 Moorhen have stayed with them.
When times are hard, local disputes are forgotten and the estranged juvenile was allowed to help to keep the hole ice free. 

No Swimming pond:
Despite the continued overnight freezing, the area of free water had increased slightly, as had the number of wildfowl.
Gadwall 29
Shoveler 6 (2 female)
Mallard 6
Coot 6 (I think joined by the 2 main pond birds)
Moorhen 2
Little Grebe 2
There was lots of activity (apart from the sleeping Shoveler). I expect the food supply is becoming scarce. Fortunately the activity, including diving and regularly climbing out onto the ice, is what is allowing this area to be maintained ice free.
Most of the above are on this clip.

The warm sunshine tempted quite a few of the Gadwall and Mallard onto the ice.
I like the Mallard moonwalking

Apart from cold feet, one of these Coot appears to be getting a cold shoulder too!

Tim Butler pond:
Completely frozen, no wildfowl seen or heard, although the horse field to the east wasn't checked.

Fence Pond:
There is a patch of open water below the large willow in the NW corner.
Teal 5

The only other record was 1 Water Rail squealing from the western scrape.

Siskin 3 or 4 feeding in the trees along Moneyclose Lane near the tall anemometer. Ref Kevin.

Well, the Siskins made it in as the last record for 2020. A year that most, if not all of us, will be glad to see the back of! 
2021 is going to start even tougher, but at least we can now see some light of what seemed to be an endless tunnel. So stay safe and lets hope we have a 

Happy New Year


Finally, an end of the year puzzle, and one that I don't yet know the answer to.
This is the superstructure above No.2 outflow. I have never seen it used by any sea bird, and I have checked at all times of the tide, all weather conditions and at all times of year, for over 20 years. Waders, gulls, terns and cormorant routinely rest on the rails along the outflow, which seems to rule out any theory relating to them not liking any odour from the outflow. But not once have I seen any sea bird on any part of the superstructure, other than the odd wader on the very lowest cross struts. I've absolutely no idea why. It must be something fundamental that I don't understand. I can't even recall, seeing  a feral pigeon here.

If anyone, has any thoughts on this, or records contrary to mine, I would be very interested. My contact details are on the side bar. Hopefully by new years eve 2021, I will post, at least a possible, explanation. 

Wednesday 30 December 2020

Lots of Pinks

Heavy overnight frost left the ponds frozen other than small pockets kept open by the wildfowl. What little breeze there was came from the north. Mainly sunny, particularly in the afternoon.

Middleton Nature Reserve 
The small patch of open water on the main pond contained:
2 adult and 3 juvenile mute, the additional juvenile was sat on the ice (this bird is fledged and could fly off if it wanted to).
2 Mallard and 4 Moorhen

The free patch on the "no swimming" pond held:
28 Gadwall
5 Shoveler (2 female)
1 Mallard
3 Teal
2 Little Grebe 
2 Coot and 2 Moorhen 
Most of the above are in this shot of the free water on the "no swimming" pond. I doubt there will be much if any free water remaining by the morning.

2 Mallard plus 1 adult Mute flying around before moving on (the Tim Butler pond was completely frozen, but evidence that a mute had been trying to keep a patch open).
Water Rail 2 squealing plus one flushed.
Common Snipe 1
Green Woodpecker 1
Grey Wagtail 1
Goldcrest at least 1

Pink-Footed goose - there were 1,100 flying towards the NE between 09:00 - 10:00. Comprising 14 skeins.
Everyone living under the flight lines will be very familiar with the morning and evening, plus some nocturnal calling. 
This is a short clip of a typical skein heading from the Fylde roost to inland feeding areas.

Later there were 57 and 120 heading south at 10:30 and 13:40.

No sign of any Brent geese in quick check of the skeer corner, just before dusk.

Tuesday 29 December 2020

The cold snap starts to bite

Overnight frost left the ponds largely ice covered. Light northerly breeze and plenty of sunshine.

Middleton Nature Reserve 
Pete managed to read a white Darvic ringed Black-headed gull roosting on the main pond ice. It's worth checking this pond, which has a good history of hosting roosting ringed birds when ice covered.

Wildfowl pretty much as yesterday, but more concentrated in the ice free areas of the "no swimming" pond.
This is a nice clip of a female Gadwall dabbling and a female Shoveler "shovelling". Showing the different depths these species feed here.

Red Nab/saltmarsh approaching high water
Common Snipe 12 flushed when the tide reached  the small sea grass islands just south of the saltmarsh 
Reed Bunting 2
Rock Pipit 1
The one legged Redshank is still around and seems to be doing well
It tends to feed in different areas to the other Redshank, presumably because it's feeding options are restricted. Today, it seems to have come across the apparently ubiquitous small shrimps.

Heysham Skeer 
Pale-bellied Brent goose 13 I wasn't really expecting any today as it was very late in the day before the weed bed in the skeer corner was exposed. Sure enough as I walked out about 14:15 there were none. But looking back at 14:50 there were 13. But they soon took flight and, surprisingly, flew low to the north, last seen passing the Stone Jetty. Perhaps the large numbers over the last few days have stripped the easy pickings. I'll have a look, when I can get there when nothing is feeding.
Eider 76
Great Crested Grebe 2
Knot c1000

Monday 28 December 2020

Brent continue to increase

Light NE breeze eased to almost nothing during the day. Light overnight frost left thin ice on the shallow pools and puddles, but the ponds remained ice free. Sun for most of the day.

Middleton Nature Reserve 
Full circuit.
Mute 3 adult 3+1 juvenile 
Coot 6
Moorhen 13
Gadwall 26
Mallard 4
Teal 4
Shoveler 5
Tufted 1
Little Grebe 2
Water Rail 3 squealing 
This is a nice comparison shot of a mature male Shoveler in full breeding plumage.
Plus another male at an intermediate stage.
Pink-Footed goose 15 + 53 north 08:40. 58 south 10:10
Grey Heron 1
Little Egret 1
Cormorant 4 (this is the most at any one time, they feed on the main and "no swimming" ponds and there is a constant turn over)
Raven 1
Stock Dove 1
Goldcrest 1

Heysham Skeer mid afternoon (4hr ebb)
Pale-bellied Brent goose 34 - 1 could see there were quite a few in the skeer corner from Knowlys Rd, when I set off 13:30. At 13:45 a flock of 5 flew in low from the south. 13:50 4 more came in high from the east, presumably cut overland from somewhere on the river. By 14:00 there were 34 birds feeding, but they were early, and presumably hungry, so they took to up ending to reach the still quite deep weed.
When I was leaving the skeer, they were feeding in the same location, but now on the mud. There were still at least 34.

Eider, much easier to count today on the calm sea - 107 
Great Crested Grebe 4
Red-breasted Merganser 2
Knot c2000
When I got on the skeer, the water hadn't uncovered the Knot's favoured feeding area, so they were milling around. When they are relaxed, they can ignore you. Twice during this clip, I was completely surrounded by them. This is what it's like inside a Knot flock.
And these were relaxed birds, the tempo is greatly increased whenever the flock is spooked.

Sunday 27 December 2020

Storm Bella, barely provides

The strong overnight SW winds quickly eased and moved around to west. Very heavy showers, most with hail.

Pete managed to check the incoming lunchtime ferry. Unfortunately in the middle of a squall, so some birds my have been missed.
Mediterranean gull 1 adult
Kittiwake 3 adult plus 1 juvenile

Otherwise along the wall, there was nothing other than the regular birds mid morning, with just Black-Headed gulls on the outflows.
Great Black-Backed gull, in first winter plumage, in the harbour 

One thing about walking along the sea wall when there are heavy showers, you can always see them coming.
You don't need to be a metrologist to recognise this as a rain,
 or in this case hail, cloud!

Heysham skeer 
Pale-bellied Brent goose. 24 seen on the way out, on return there were 29. I didn't think the extra 5 had just come in, just overlooked first time as they were away from the others. These also included two red and blue ringed birds, almost certainly the regular Canadian birds.
Knot only about 250
Eider there were 12 close in but a distant flock were hard to estimate due to the choppy sea, but at least another 50.
These 6 were close in, and still not easy to count!
As ever, gulls are never far from them, hoping to pinch any crabs that they may surface with when feeding.
This, futile attempt was actually from Friday, when the sea was a bit calmer

Saturday 26 December 2020

Shrimps still providing a bounty

The strong SW wind strengthened throughout the day and during the evening. Hopefully there will be something blown in tomorrow. Some lightish showers in the morning, but longer and heavier by the afternoon.

There are a lot of birds taking advantage of what appears to be larger than usual volumes of small shrimps. I (MD) think the shrimp are most likely to be at the first adult stage, probably just over 1cm, not including the antenna. Before that the larvae form part of the zooplankton and by the next adult stages I wouldn't expect them to be in such shallow water. All the instances below were recorded on the ebbing tide.
On the 11th and 12th December I showed the Black-Headed gulls and Oystercatcher taking advantage of them. This clip of Redshanks feasting is from earlier this week.
This is just beyond the outlet of a natural drain, the shrimps leaving the drain will be attracted to the shallow edge here. This is because the small breaking waves disturb the sediment, providing both food and cover, although the value of the "cover" in this instance is outweighed by the ease of accessibility!

Today it was much wilder, but a similar scenario played out. 
This is the drain from Red Nab as it flows along the edge of No.2 outflow. The gulls here normally line up along the beach facing the sea, picking up any tit bits left by the tide.
Today they were in the shallow water, shrimping.
Even some of the Wigeon appeared to get in on the act.

Also on south wall:
Wigeon c180
Redshank c150
Rock Pipit 3

Middleton Nature Reserve 
Gadwall 25
Shoveller 4
Little Grebe 1
No ice today and yesterday's additional Mute and Mallard had returned to whence they came.

Pale-bellied Brent goose 22/23 in the SE corner of Heysham skeer at 15:00

Friday 25 December 2020

Christmas Day goose

It was freezing again last night resulting in the ponds being 75% ice covered. Lightish wind during the day but starting to freshen from the west by evening, and set to continue increasing overnight.

Just time for a quick stroll around the skeer with a check of Middleton on the way home.

Heysham skeer low water 14:45
Pale-bellied Brent goose - at first I thought there were just 25 in the corner of the skeer. These comprised a group of 5 with the Canadian ringed birds, plus another group of 20 initially on the water, but later came ashore to feed. But still separate from the other 5.
These are the 25 birds, showing the location looking from the skeer

As I was walking off the skeer, all 25 were still there, then I inadvertently spooked another 6 that were on one of the inshore pools. Fortunately, they quickly joined the others and continued feeding.
So the new high for this winter has almost doubled from yesterday's 16 to 31.
Not sure about tomorrow, the tide height is good, but they are not as keen to come over in rough weather. 

Eider c80
Red-breasted Merganser 4
Great Crested Grebe 2
Little Egret 4

Yesterday I mentioned a clip of an Oystercatcher opening a mussel. They normally fly away to open them, I always assumed it was a messy job and they risked being robbed. But, this bird decided to open a small mussel were it was found. It seemed remarkably easy and only produced a small morsel. 
Presumably larger mussels require more effort, but provide more reward.

Middleton Nature Reserve 
Mute 2+1 adult and 3+1 juvenile on and around the main pond
Gadwall 24
Teal 3
Tufted 4
Mallard 6
c30 Black Headed gulls were resting on the main pond ice. No rings
7 of the BHG, there looks a lot more when every bird looks like two!

Thursday 24 December 2020

The Star(s) of Bethlehem

A cold north west wind, a ground frost overnight leaving the shallow pools and puddles with a thin covering of ice. The sun shone for most of the day, so very nice if you wrapped up.

Pale-bellied Brent goose 16.
Howard checked the skeer corner early in the ebbing tide (09:00). There were already 16 birds waiting for the weed beds to become available. The two Canadian ringed birds were with them. These three pictures from Howard - Thanks.

Note the Oystercatcher with a mussel on this picture,
the next quiet day (tomorrow?) I'll show you one opening a mussel.

I went down at low water (13:50), all 16 were still there.
Eider c60
The South Lake hills were snow covered, so I took a seasonal shot.

Middleton Nature Reserve (MD)
Gadwall 17
Mallard 2
Shoveller 4 (1 female)
Teal 2
Little Grebe 2
Woodcock 1
In hindsight, I should have taken a shot of a Robin.
I like this shot of a male Bullfinch, so it will have to do.

Today's title refers to the conjunction of Jupiter and Saturn. They were closest on Tuesday, but today was the first clear evening. This alignment only occurs every 400 years (last one 1623), there would have been one around the birth of Christ, leading some scholars to speculate that this could have been the "Star of Bethlehem". I remain skeptical, the ancients may not have had optics or knew what planets actually were, but they knew every point of light in the night sky and the movement of the "wanderers" across them.
Even so it's worth a look.
This one is looking over the trees before Red Nab - the trees are just visible (trust me)

This is the "detail" - you can just make out Saturn's rings (the right hand blob).
They are visible, low in the SW as soon as it is dark enough after sunset, these were 17:00. But a bit further apart every day

Well, Christmas Eve! I would like to be able to wish you all a "merry" Christmas, but I'm afraid that merriment is not really practical this year. But it will be a happy Christmas for everyone, if we get through safely. So:

Happy Christmas to all, and to all a good night!


Wednesday 23 December 2020

A surprise guest

Fresh NE wind with heavy showers in the morning, the rain eased a little by the afternoon.

Pale-bellied Brent - just a quick check from the promenade with x10 binoculars located at least 5 in the skeer corner at 12:45

Middleton Nature Reserve early afternoon (MD)
Gadwall 15
Shoveller 2 (1 male, 1 female)
Tufted 1 (male)
Goosander 1 (male) I think this is the first ever record of one on the reserve ponds. Goosander are barely annual here, but there have been more sightings than usual this year.
This is on the "no swimming" pond

It didn't dive at all, but kept dipping its head in the water as though drinking. Hopefully it had been fishing and was washing one down, there are plenty of small Perch in this pond. It does look like it's trying to digest something.
First seen 13:15 and still on the pond at 14:15, but I saw it flying north as I drove away. Probably just a quick stop off after the morning's heavy rain, but hopefully it may return, the red headed Goosander seen on Saturday was flying from the direction of this pond.

Finally, I'm not a botanist, but I'm pretty sure that December is early for these Hazel catkins 
My (albeit elderly) reference book says:
"A sure sign of spring"!

Tuesday 22 December 2020

A more clinical approach

A light east breeze with some warm sunshine made it quite pleasant.

Heysham Skeer - low water 11:30 (MD)
Eider c60
Great Crested Grebe 2
Knot c2000
Pale-belled Brent goose 14. 
The Brent hadn't arrived when I went down, so I took the opportunity to check out what they are feeding on.
"Sea lettuce" in the corner of the skeer.
I think this is sea lettuce, I'd be happy to be corrected if anyone knows differently. Either way, it looks more appetising than the gut weed available out from the children's play area.

Gut weed on shore out from the play area.

The Brent arrived about 10:30. I also parked briefly on Knowlys Road at 15:20 and could see all 14 on the water just out from the children's play area. I would expect them to be around for most of the day again tomorrow.

Today's title refers to a more clinical and effective Peregrine attack. 
The Knot were feeding on the skeer when a low flying Peregrine flushed them. The Peregrine shot up and I lost it, but knew where it would be heading next. The Knot knew too, you can see wave after wave ripple through the flock as each bird tried to be in the middle. Twelve seconds into this video clip the Peregrine comes in from the top, just left of centre. In real time it looked like it had missed, but I knew it had got one, as there were no further attacks and the Knot quickly settled back to feeding - they knew it was over, for now at least.

This still from the video shows the point just before the kill. The arrow is pointing to the fated bird, which presumably had either weaker instincts or muscles than the others. You can also see the Peregrine's tail and wings spread to brake its speed to match the Knot 
This is typical of Peregrine strikes on Knot here. Suggesting that it is either an experienced adult or the juvenile are learning quickly.

Monday 21 December 2020

The winter solstice arrives

Very light breeze, initially from the east but variable by evening. Overcast all day with some showers.

Heysham Skeer - low water 10:30 (MD)
Eider c60
Great Crested grebe 2
Red-breasted Merganser 2
Knot c200
Pale-bellied Brent goose 12
Almost certainly the same 12 as yesterday, the Canadian ringed birds were with them. At 10:00 they were in the SE corner of the skeer, but quite a distance up the brackish drain that feeds into the corner. This shot is just to show the location at that time. The Stone Jetty and the Midland Hotel can be seen in the background. 
I've been looking at the weed here and it isn't gut weed, I think it's sea lettuce. It certainly looks more appetising than the gut weed out from the children's play area.
Another quick look at 14:00 and all 12 were on the water in between the skeer and the children's play area. They were swimming towards the play area but turned back as a dog got too close. As I was walking away I looked back and they were flying, I thought they were off, but they came back and landed closer.
The background noise towards the end of this clip is actually their wing beats, indicating just how close they came towards me.
By the time I'd got to Heysham Head at 14:30 there was no sign of them. I suspect they need to be hungrier to tackle the weed near the play area.

The "rock balancer" has been busy. I have seen a lady doing this a few times. I don't know if she did these. They are below the high cliffs at Heysham Head. Many are well above the reach of any tide till the middle of January.

I've no idea why they are created. I hope it's to make people smile, they always make me smile.

The Norwegian ringed Oystercatcher is still feeding on the cricket field - ref Howard
Looking at the state of its bill, the worms must be getting deeper!

Well, here we are, the shortest day of the year. After today, the laws of physics guarantee that the days will get longer and brighter. Lets hope that the laws of nature also allows life to get brighter for everyone.

Sunday 20 December 2020

Brent numbers increase.....incrementally

The wind had moved round to SW. Some sunshine and heavy showers.

Another Grey Wagtail recovery - see scheme details on side bar to the right.


Ringed  1st W          Middleton NR, nr Heysham, Lancs   10/09/2020

Photo. Priorslee Flash, Telford, Shropshire SJ7110  20/12/2020  153km SSE

Thanks to Edwin Wilson for this picture and Martin Grant for facilitating the report

Kittiwake 2 adult behind the afternoon ferry.

Heysham Skeer - low water 09:40
No Knot today, presumably the Peregrine got there before I did.
Eider c40
Great Crested Grebe 2
Pale-bellied Brent 12 (previous high count this winter was 11) Feeding in the SE corner of skeer at low water. I don't know if they moved up to the children's play area with the tide, but they didn't get as far as Red Nab.
This shot shows all 12, including the Canadian ringed birds

This is a close up of the ringed birds
Red V Blue T = VTRB plus VDRB

As I was leaving there was a rainbow. I got all arty again (I think the social isolation is finally getting to me! (MD))
All 12 Brent feeding in a rainbow's reflection 

Middleton Nature Reserve - early afternoon 
Just a quick check of the "no swimming" pond
Wildfowl as yesterday except now 2 male Tufted and 5 Shoveller (4 male)
All seems amicable in the Shoveller society today.

Saturday 19 December 2020

Oystercatchers with attitude

The wind continues from the south, quite pleasant in the morning sunshine, but showers began by lunchtime.

Heysham skeer - low water 08:50 (MD)
Eider only 17 seen
Shelduck 3 - not regular here
Pink-Footed goose 105 west 08:40
Great Crested grebe 2
Knot c2000
Peregrine 2 - at least one, probably both juveniles. They quickly flushed all the Knot away, without catching any. So one juvenile tried its hand with the Oystercatchers.
I'm sorry about the quality of this video, but it's good enough to tell the story of what happened.:
The experienced Oystercatchers stay on the skeer/water. A Peregrine won't risk hitting something on the ground as it would risk injury to itself, whether this is learned or instinctive for the Oystercatchers, I don't know.
It eventually managed to persuade a few to take flight by coming in more slowly, then set after them, resulting in two having an early bath, but none caught.

The full sequence was almost a minute and a half, it then landed for a rest. The Oystercatchers seemed to realise that the risk was over, and ignored it.
The Peregrine is arrowed
Even when it took off, the Oystercatcher were comfortable, some even landed close to it, when it landed again.

Middleton Nature Reserve - mid afternoon (between showers)
Mute 3 adult (one skulking away on Tim Butler pond) 3+1 juvenile 
Coot 6
Moorhen 16 (8 on the field to the east of Tim Butler)
Gadwall 32
Shoveller 4 (3m 1f)
Mallard 2
Tufted 1 male
Teal 7 on Tim Butler pond 
Little Grebe 2
Water Rail 3 squealing
Goosander 1 redhead west. They are normally a rare visitor to the recording area, but this year there have been six sightings and a total of 12 birds.
Not a great shot, but just good enough to confirm species.

Friday 18 December 2020

Jack Snipe still abundant

The wind was mainly SSE. Light rain on and off all day.

Jack Snipe at least 5 on foreshore between Red Nab and the saltmarsh. Long before high water (ref Pete).

Heysham Skeer - low water 08:10
Eider 28 close in, more further out
Wigeon 1 - not regular here
Great Crested grebe 6
Red-breasted Merganser 1
Little Egret 4
Knot c2,500
The Brent Geese did not come over to feed in the corner today - perhaps tomorrow 

The honeycomb worm colonies that formed this year, when the skeer was stripped of its seed mussels by the early summer storms, are now eroding. The low beds are now providing opportunities for the waders to feed, in the diminished crevices.
 This picture shows a portion of the new low beds.
A more mature colony can be seen top right.

This clip shows Knot coming in to feed on these low beds
Unfortunately, unless this first season growth is stripped by winter storms, the colony will consolidate next year. The only birds that regularly feed on the mature colonies appear to be Carrion Crow

Middleton Nature Reserve 
Not actually checked today. This video is from yesterday, it demonstrates the change in behaviour of the three male Shoveller, with the arrival of a female. The dominant male was keeping the other males well away from the female (she enters stage left).
The background noise is the rain!

The Norwegian ringed Oystercatcher is still being regularly seen on the cricket field (ref Janet)

Thursday 17 December 2020

Brent on half day return....

The wind varied from SSW to SSE, sunshine in the morning but turning to rain by mid afternoon.

It was a nice morning for a stroll along the south wall, but at one level, there wasn't much to see. Although in reality there were lots of birds around. 
Janet took these pictures of all the birds that can almost always be seen. It's normally best about 2 hours either before or after high water, when the birds are nearer the sea wall.
All today's pictures are best viewed by opening them.
Some of the 150+ Wigeon waiting for the tide to reach
their feeding areas on Red Nab

A nice shot of some of the Wigeon flying to Red Nab

Redshank and Turnstone roosting on No.1 outflow. 
If the tide covers the outflow they move on to the sloping sea wall

Curlew and Oystercatcher near the outflow
but both these can be seen everywhere!

Grey Heron - this one routinely feeds in the channels by No.1 outflow.
It then roosts on Red Nab, as here.

Also today:
Rock Pipit 1 on Red Nab
Mistle Thrush 1 on foreshore.

Report from David Talbot
Jack Snipe 6, possibly 7
Common Snipe several flushed early by the tide

Knot ring reading was disrupted with the arrival of this male Sparrowhawk 
Stunning picture by Howard 
A Peregrine was also doing the rounds

North shore 3 hr before high water
This is what today's title refers to. The previous three visits by Brent geese this winter I described them as "day trippers". Today they had been and gone by 10:15.
Pale- bellied Brent 6 were on the water between the corner of the skeer and the children's play area at 10:00. Presumably they had been been feeding in the corner before the tide moved them on. I expected them to drift along till they reached the gut weed out from the children's play area (as previous years), but instead they took flight and disappeared to the west.
Fortunately I took this short video before they flew. I was a long way away and was expecting better views, but it's not too bad.

Middleton Nature Reserve - mid afternoon 
Gadwall 31
Shoveller 4 (3m+1f)
Tufted 2 m
Mallard 2
Common Snipe 10 flushed from the marsh areas. This is in contrast to yesterday when none were flushed, but today's visit was at a time when the tide was still covering the saltmarsh.

Wednesday 16 December 2020

Woodpecker, a belated FOY!

Strong SE winds. Rain for most of the day, easing off by "evening"

South shore mid to late morning
Rock Pipits 1 on saltmarsh, 1 on Red Nab, 3 along the sea wall.
Nothing of note on the sea

A walk past the saltmarsh when it was about 75% covered
Jack Snipe at least 4
Common Snipe - none lifted from the marsh, but a flock of 12 came from the north tried to land on the marsh, before eventually heading towards Middleton Nature Reserve.
Reed Bunting 4

Heliport area
Knot ring reading - from Pete - Four Sefton coast birds (one new one), two Icelandic (one new) and two Dutch Knot flags/crs read today

Middleton Nature Reserve 
A decent walk around, in what turned out to be the best part of the day, weather wise.
Mute 2 adult plus 3+1 juvenile 
Coot 6
Moorhen 10
Gadwalls 26
Shoveller 2
Tufted 1
Mallard 2
Water Rail 1 squealing 
Common Snipe - surprisingly none flushed despite trudging through some likely terrain. But as darkness decended (16:10!) a flock of 22 circled several times over the central marsh before decending.
Green Woodpecker 1 flew south from the golf course area. This is the first record in the recording area since 30/04/19, so a very belated first of year (FOY)

It had not been a good day for photography, I managed some Jack snipe shots, but nothing like the quality of David's yesterday. So as the clouds started to clear, just as the sun was setting, I went all arty! (MD)
Sunset over Middleton Nature Reserve - 16:00!

Tuesday 15 December 2020

A full count of the saltmarsh Jack Snipe. Plus SEO bonus

SSE wind and mainly sunny.

Saltmarsh - high water 11:20 - 9.8m
This set of spring tides started encroaching on the saltmarsh on Saturday. The reports of Snipe, up to now, were from my walks past as the tide was covering it. Today, David Talbot and three colleagues Graham and David Hulme and Geoff Carefoot strategically positioned themselves before the tide reached the saltmarsh and remained until it was fully covered, resulting in a very thorough survey of the rising birds.

This report and excellent pictures from David T - N.B. these are high resolution images and need to be "opened" to appreciate the detail.

Good, early activity on the flooding marsh towards high tide. 

First a Short-eared Owl flew from the centre as the tide advanced. 

Ultimately 14 Jack Snipe were flushed by the rising water but as is typical of Jacks some were reluctant to leave the marsh edge. Plus another Jack Snipe on the grass above

Two of the Jack Snipe

A handful of Common Snipe too which barrelled off high towards Middleton.

25 Ringed Plovers. 

Footnote (MD). On Saturday when the tide reached the saltmarsh for the first time in over three weeks 45 Common Snipe were flushed along with several Jack Snipe. But as David says the Common fly directly towards Middleton, whereas the Jack try to relocate on the marsh. Obviously, not all the common are returning between tides. Please note that Ocean Edge remains locked down. The only access to the saltmarsh is along the foreshore.

Middleton Nature Reserve 
Just a quick look at the "no swimming" pond
Gadwall 32
Shoveller 2 m&f
Tufted 2 male
Teal 2 m&f
Mallard 2 m&f

The warner weather today rewarded Kevin with a Small Tortoiseshell in his garden. Nothing special, but cheering to see.

Monday 14 December 2020

More Knot rings read plus northern limit pill-woodlouse

South to SSE wind rain showers throughout the day.

South shore - around high water (MD. JP)
Saltmarsh as it was being covered, most of common Snipe will already have been flushed:
Common Snipe 10
Jack Snipe 5
Rock Pipit 1 on saltmarsh, 1 on Red Nab and 3 squabbling near the lighthouse.
Today's high tide was the highest since 18th November, almost 4 weeks. As the tide rose along Red Nab sea wall it flushed small invertebrates that had been hiding in the jetsam.
The Rock Pipit was the first to notice and take advantage.

Followed by the Turnstone 

Janet took this nice shot of a Turnstone as the tide was ebbing and feeding tactics change....

......and these cormorant feeding near the wooden jetty at high water

Heliport area high water
At least 6 ringed Knot were read. 
These are two of them

Pictures by Howard 

It would seem that most of the ringed birds roosting on the heliport move to the south, or further north, to feed. Pete checked c3000 out from Sandylannds yesterday and could only find one yellow flagged bird. I checked at least 2000 out from the children's play area today and couldn't find one ringed.

Nicola Garnham located and photographed this Armadillidium nasatum on Middleton Nature Reserve today. I have to confess my ignorance and hadn't realised that there were more than one species of "pill bug" (MD). This is right at the northern limit of its known range. Nicola has found them here before, but that was 18 months ago.

One of the defining characteristics of Armadillidium nasatum is that it forms an imperfect ball, with its antennae protruding, when disturbed.

Oh, by the way, the colour ringed Oystercatcher is still on the cricket field. Reference Janet.