Friday, 31 January 2020

Brent numbers reduce - tide height related?

Pale-bellied Brent 26 feeding out from children's play area on flooding tide (PM).They had gone by 13:00, possibly to Red Nab, not sure if anyone checked. This is still a high number for this area, but significantly down on the high counts on the +9m tides earlier in the week.

Mediterranean Gull 1 near play area.

Middleton Nature Reserve
Mute an additional 7 adult so 11 adult plus 5 juvenile
Gadwall 32
Coot 2

Thursday, 30 January 2020

29th an 30th consolidation

Brent geese:
Thursday - out from children's play area (PW)
Pale-bellied Brent 60
Dark- bellied Brent 1
They flew south at 12:50 and all 61 birds were relocated on Red Nab. Later joined by an additional 2 pb (MD & PW).
They flew off in the direction of Pott's corner at 13:40
If not disturbed, the geese provide a good show close in to the sea wall at Red Nab.

Tomorrow's tide might just be high enough for them to feed at Red Nab, after that, diminishing tide height means that they are unlikely to be flushed from the children's play area (at least by the tide) for over a week.

Wednesday - out from the children's play area (MD)
Pale-bellied Brent 82
Dark- bellied Brent 1
There could easily have been more, accurate counting is difficult when they are feeding amongst the rocks.
They feed here long before the water reaches the rocks, but when it does activity is frenzied!

Rock pipits 1 Red Nab plus 1 Ocean Edge Salt marsh

Hopefully more later

Tuesday, 28 January 2020

.......... and grow

Brent geese (MD). A check on the skeer at low tide located at least 63 pale-bellied and 2 dark-bellied.
Pete W checked the birds feeding then waiting on water out from the children's play area.
Pale-bellied 86 
Dark-bellied 2

A late check at RedNab found only 10 pale-bellieed remaining. These flew off to Pott's corner when flushed by tide.
There were no Brent on the saltmarsh today.

Rock pipit 1

Hopefully more later

Monday, 27 January 2020

Brent numbers continue to grow

Pale-bellied Brent goose - (strangely only pale-bellied today). A new high count of 72 were feeding out from children's play area on incoming tide. (Ref Pete W). Then they waited on water till the tide was high enough for south side feeding areas to become available. Then flew off south at 10:50.
They skipped Red Nab (suspect there were people/dogs on the rocks as they arrived), but at least 70 of them went directly to the salt marsh and were still there at 12:15.

Also on salt marsh
Rock pipit 1
Stonechat 1

Red-Throated Diver 3 seen while waiting for IOM ferry

A quick check of Middleton Nature Reserve - late pm
Gadwall 35
Wigeon 1
Tufted 1 male
Teal 4
Coot 2
Little grebe 2 (one trilling)

Sunday, 26 January 2020


Brent Goose - Pete C recorded 29 pale-bellied and one dark-bellied out from the children's play area on flooding tide.
29 flew past Heysham Head, presumably on their way to Red Nab at 10:15.
18 pale-bellied plus 1 dark-bellied joined 9 others in Heysham Village bay. Late afternoon

Mediterranean Gull 1 adult (PC) near play area
Rock Pipit 1 near play area plus 1 at Half Moon Bay

Saturday, 25 January 2020

Brent complete full circuit today

There was no odour of diesel at all today and still not any obvious sign of any damage. Hopefully we got away with it. We'll see.

Pale-bellied Brent goose - (MD). All the birsds seen today were pale- bellied. A full circuit of all the main feeding areas within the recording area were visited by the Brent, and there is nothing to suggest they won't follow a similar pattern tomorrow.
10:05: 55 flew in from the north past the wooden jettey towards Red Nab. Presumably they had been feeding out from children's play area till displaced by tide.
All 55 fed on Red Nab
Including the two Canadian ringed birds
10:45: They were displaced by the tide and all 55 flew to the partially covered salt marsh
They were still feeding there when I left at 11:15

14:00: Out from children's play area. The birds were waiting on the water for the outer rocks to become exposed. Two counts by different birders of 58 and 60
14:15: They moved in to feed amongst the rocks
14:40: By now the skeer was becoming exposed and all the birds flew there to continue feeding.

Middleton Nature Reserve - late afternoon
Barn owl - 15:15 one flew over the main pond bottom carpark towards the gun club.
Gadwall 37
Coot 2
Little grebe 1

Friday, 24 January 2020

Record Brent numbers - but erratic!

The smell on the shore today from the remnants of the diesel spill was much fainter. It reminded me of entering an engineering workshop, at first you can smell the lubricants but after a few minutes you don't notice it.

Brent Geese - (MD). There were none on Red Nab as the tide covered it. I wasn't expecting any. But I was expecting a repeat of yesterday's showing in front of the children's play area on ebbing tide. I checked at 13:30 and again 14:30. Nothing!

15:00 : They were all on the skeer.
Walking out I found 39 in this pool right in the middle of the skeer.
These are only a few of the 39 Brent on this central pool.

There were another 11 on the water near conger rock on south side. These were still visible when I reached the north side and found another 13 on the water. As I walked back the birds on the middle pool had split onto two pools one had 30 the other 14, so they had either been joined by 5 more birds, or I under counted on the way out.
So a total of 68 Brent geese. There could have been more as I was restricted as to where I walked so as not to disturb the ones I saw. At least 65 Pale-bellied, but these 3 on the left looked to be 2 adult and a juvenile Dark-bellied.

Couldn't locate Shag

Rock Pipit 1 on Ocean Edge salt marsh

Hopefully more later

Thursday, 23 January 2020

Invasion - one day after D-Day!

D-Day stands for Diesel disaster day.
Yesterday, a major spillage of diesel covered the sea out from the north wall and Half Moon Bay. The beaches were (and still are) closed, but the stench of diesel was enough to keep the public at bay. Diesel has a very low viscosity which means it quickly spreads out over a very large area, which is a bad thing. Fortunately, this allows it to evaporate quickly, which is not such a bad thing.
Today the stench was reduced to an unpleasant smell, and there was no obvious visible signs of the diesel itself or any obvious damage. That said, it will be a relief when the Shag is sighted again (MD).

The "Invasion" refers to an influx of Pale-bellied Brent goose -
12:20 - 46 landed in front of the children's play area just as the ebbing tide was at the rock edges. They then quickly moved into the margins and started feeding. 46 is certainly the highest count this winter, if not ever here.
All 46 are on this picture, taken from 4 Lane Ends, but you'll have to "open in a new tab" the image if you want to try and find them all.

Later there were at least 28 feeding in the SE corner of skeer. There could easily have been more as they can be difficult to spot when feeding amongst the rocks.

Rock Pipits 2 enduring the fumes at Half Moon Bay

Hopefully more later

Tuesday, 21 January 2020

Brent pattern continues

Heysham skeer SE corner
Pale- bellied Brent - 34 feeding at low water

Great White Egret - one flew north along west side of road to the re-cycling centre 12:50. Just within recording area

Hopefully more later

Monday, 20 January 2020

Brent update

Pale-bellied Brent goose - there were 34 feeding in Heysham skeer SE corner at low water up till dusk. These are 32 of them, they move on to water when the Knot get spooked. The other 2 seem less concerned.

This is what they are feeding on.
At low water they have to come on to the skeer to feed, but as the water rises they can feed above it on the water.

The two Canadian ringed birds were there, as was a third ringed bird, whose details could not quite be made out today.

Redwing 26 on south side of MIddleton Nature Reserve access road

Sunday, 19 January 2020

Nice day - Birds ok too!

Light overnight freezing leaving open water partly ice covered, then a largely sunny day.

I knew it was going to be a good day when I shared my breakfast with my first garden Blackcap this winter (MD)

Pale-bellied Brent goose - Pete Crooks recorded 32 flying in to Heysham village bay. These are some of them in the skeer corner. Photograhed from sea wall by Kevin Eaves.
Mediterranean gull - adult near children's play area (also PC)
Eider 45 in low tide channel, but unfortunately the Shag didn't make an appearance today.

Middleton Nature Reserve mid morning.
Mute 7 adult + 5 juv
Coot 2 together
Moorhen 15
Gadwall 27
Wigeon 1
Mallard 7
Teal 16
Tufted 2 male
Little grebe 2 together
Water Rail 2

Great White Egret - two sightings, both flying east 10:50 and 11:00, almost certainly two different birds

Grey Wagtail - record just received of sighting from Yeovil (see scheme detailed to right). This is the second most distant record

Saturday, 18 January 2020

Nice day - shame about the birds

Pale- bellied Brent goose - 2 were in corner of Heyshem skeer by 11:15 as tide was still ebbing they hung around feeding in the margins and eventually made their way towards the play ares at 14:30.

Other stuff around the skeer
Great-Crested Grebe 6+
Red-breasted Merganser 3
Eider 8+

Incoming IOM ferry
No Kittiwakes or Mediterranean gulls but,
Common Gulls 29

Friday, 17 January 2020

Another guest appearance

Goosander - Not as interesting as yesterday's grebe, but a redhead on water to north of Heysham skeer at low water - this species is barely annual here.

Shag 1 adult resting briefly near conger rock on skeer, before a short feeding session then disappearing

Also around skeer
Great-Crested grebe 6
Red-Breasted merganser 3
Yesterday's grebe had not turned up by 12:30.

Hopefully more later

Thursday, 16 January 2020

Black necked Grebe

This really is the winter of the unreliable and elusive at Heysham, probably due to complex circuits including extensive private or difficult to access terrain.  Notably ‘the’ Black Redstart.  Early winter, a Black necked Grebe was staled out on the Lune Estuary, then a gap before a single date multiple observation a bit further down the coast.  This morning in the incoming tide a reliable and experienced  observer was watching as  it or another flew into the slacker and shallow inshore water off Heysham Head, being dwarfed by nearby RBMs and GCGs.  It then fed intensively until lost from sight after 30 mins of spending the majority of time under water.

Worth checking equivalent stage of tide tomorrow?

Eider - 12
Single figures of RBM and GCG

Med gull - ad by play area

Salt marsh
Jack snipe 1
Common snipe 12
Rock pipit 1

Wednesday, 15 January 2020

Jack Snipe surprise

Scoped from Knowleys Rd by Pete Woodruff
Mediterranean gull - 1 initially on shore then settled on horse field inshore of play area.
Pale-bellied Brent goose - 6 out from the children's play area on flooding tide.

Ocean Edge salt marsh 30 minutes before high water
There were no snipe at all at this time of the tide yesterday. Today:
Common snipe 8
Jack snipe 3 - think this is highest count this winter
Reed Bunting 5
Rock pipit 1
Ringed Plover 17

Middleton Natyre Reserve late afternoon
Mute 5 adult 3 juvenile
Coot 1
Moorhen 12
Gadwall 32
Tufted 1 male
Teal 4
Mallard 4
Little grebe - 2 feeding together on the "no swimming" pond. First record of more than one bird this winter.

Tuesday, 14 January 2020

Brentless today, but BRS compensates

No Brent geese got as far as Red Nab today. It seems hit and miss, at the moment, when they decide to cross over from the west side of bay

Black Redstart - 12:00 Red Nab was almost covered when it flew west to east over the remaining rocks and headed down Ocean Edge foreshore loosing height, suggesting it was going to land. A walk back along foreshore did manage to relocate it about half way along. Good views for about half a minute, but pouring rain meant my (MD) camera was stashed away, by the time I got it out it had dissapeared behind a rock and presumably flew back towards the Power Station as it couldn't be found again. Frustrating!
Rock pipit 2
Grey seal - one feeding in No.2 outflow

Unfortunately car problems left Pete stranded at home, so unable to check the Knot flock again. Even more frustrating!

Monday, 13 January 2020

Heysham welcomes back Canadian visitors

Pale-bellied Brent geese - they started arriving from west into the SE corner of Heysham skeer at 08:50.
First these 10

By 09:10 they had been joined by 12 more

And by 09:55, 26 were moving in with the tide towards rocks in front of children's play area.

By 11:10, all 26 had moved to Red Nab - these 24 together on water, plus 2 feeding separately on rocks.

These eventually started feeding on margins revealing two of them to be the Canadian ringed birds seen here last spring.
Ringed birds not on this picture

This is one of them

Also on skeer
Great-Crested Grebe 8
Red-Breasted Merganser 1
Plus lots of Knot!
Ad Med and German-ringed BHG inshore by play area

Also on Red Nab
Red-Breasted Merganser 3
Plus lots of Wigeon

Some of the Knot from the heliport seawall last few days read by Richard and myself.  In addition some Dutch-ringed ones still to come:

CU Ad 21/05/2019 Marnes, Porsanger , NORWAY  70 24N 25 32E
Seen 03/09/2019 De Richel, Terschelling, NETHERLANDS  53 14N  5 8E
Seen 11/01/2020 Heysham old heliport
84N 2CY 24/05/2017 Skogranes, ICELAND 64 46N 22 36W
Seen                17/5-20/5/18 Skogranes, ICELAND 64 46N 22 36W
Seen                    2/2-3/2/19 Heysham old heliport
Seen 11/01/2020 Heysham old heliport
12N 2CY 22/05/2017 Straumfjorder, ICELAND 64 29N 22 13W
Seen              30/8-15/10/17 Griend. NETHERLANDS 53 16N 5 15E 
Seen                2/8-16/10/18 Griend. NETHERLANDS 53 16N 5 15E (& De Richel 12/10)
Seen                15/9-24/9/19 Griend. NETHERLANDS 53 16N 5 15E 
Seen 13/01/2020 Heysham old heliport
77K 2CY 22/05/2017 Straumfjorder, ICELAND 64 29N 22 13W
Seen                27/7-31/7/18 Formby Point, Merseyside
Seen 01/08/2019 Ainsdale, Merseyside
Seen 13/01/2020 Heysham old heliport
3P Ad 22/09/2017 Altcar, Merseyside
Seen                29/9-3/10/17 Caldy Wildfowl, Merseyside
Seen 11/01/2020 Heysham old heliport
KX Ad 22/09/2017 Altcar, Merseyside
Seen 14/04/2018 Southport, Merseyside
Seen 25/03/2019 Heysham old heliport
Seen 13/01/2020 Heysham old heliport
XY Ad 30/03/2018 Altcar, Merseyside
Seen 11/01/2020 Heysham old heliport
CLE 2CY 30/03/2018 Altcar, Merseyside
Seen 01/05/2018 Southport, Merseyside
Seen                  24/6-9/7/18 Dundalk, IRELAND
Seen 04/09/2018 Crosby, Merseyside
Seen 11/01/2020 Heysham old heliport
K1 Ad 22/09/2017 Altcar, Merseyside
Seen 11/08/2018 Seaforth, Merseyside
Seen 08/10/2018 Altcar, Merseyside
Seen                    2/2-9/4/19 Heysham old heliport
Seen 21/07/2019 Crosby, Merseyside
Seen 31/12/2019 Thurstaston, Merseyside
Seen                   12-13/1/20 Heysham old heliport
Note the classic moult on the Waddenssee before moving NW to winter with 12N.  Also change
of wintering location with K1 in 2019/20

Sunday, 12 January 2020

11 & 12 Jan

Sunday 12 Jan 2020

Ocean Edge saltmarsh
Snipe - 32
Jack Snipe - 1
Reed Bunting - 4 overwintering
Rock Pipit - 1

Behind the ferry
Kittiwake - 35
Mediterranean Gull - 2 adults
Thanks Kevin

Knowlys Road field 
Early am
Mediterranean Gull - 1 adult


Saturday 11 Jan 2020
SW F4, 4-7C, rain in morning, cloud and sun pm

Heliport sea wall
Knot 12000. 6 leg flags read - 3 Icelandic/Dutch and 3 ringed at Formby
Peregrine - 1 targeting the Knot. Displaced everything.
Kittiwake - 57 seen from heliport. Flew into Bay

Friday, 10 January 2020

Just bits and pieces - so far

No sign of any Brent today, checked south shore on rising tide and north side towards low water.

Rock pipits - these seemed omnipresent along south sloping wall and near the lighthouse. Maximum seen at one time was 3. These could possibly have accounted for all the sightings.
Reed Bunting 5 together on salt marsh.

Middleton Nature Reserve 
Gadwall 34
Tufted 2
Teal 4
Mallard 7
Coot 1
Little grebe 1

Hopefully more later

Wednesday, 8 January 2020

Brent again

Pale-bellied Brent - minimum 13
14:00 at least 5 amongst the rocks in front of the children's play area, just north of Knowlys road.
14:15 to 16:00 13 in the SE corner of Heysham skeer, alternating between feeding on the shallow water and wading ashore to feed in various drains and pools.
At this stage, the water in the corner was shallow enough for them to reach the gut weed below.

Feeding in a drain. This picture is taken from skeer, the pale brown wall is the children's play area. The rocks in the middle distance are where the inshore birds feed.

No sign of the Shag this afternoon, presumably it had already fed.

Middleton Nature Reserve
Gadwall 32
Teal 4
Goldcrest 1

Tuesday, 7 January 2020

Brent - hopefully a welcome return

Inshore Skeer from Knowleys Road
Mediterranean Gull 1 adult
Pale- Bellied Brent Goose 17 - this is the first known sighting this winter of the Brent feeding where they did regularly during the last two winters.

Red-Throated Diver 1 - seen flying out while waiting for arrival of IOM ferry

Sunday, 5 January 2020

Shag still feeding, plus more signs of "spring"

Shag  1 - feeding near the green marker post NW of Heysham Head

Lesser celandine.  In flower on Trumacar school banking

Rock pipit 2 together near No.1 outflow
Great-Crested grebe 2 juvenile feeding out from harbour mouth

Saturday, 4 January 2020


Heysham Head woodland
Nuthatch 1 - barely annual in the recording area
Goldcrest 1

Middlton Nature Reserve
Mute 7adult 7 2cy
Moorhen 16
Coot 1
Mallard 4
Tufted 2 male
Wigeon 1 female
Gadwall 38 - this equals high count for last year
Teal 21
Little grebe 1
Water Rail 2
Common snipe 6

Great White Egret 1 over east to west 09:55

Just one Redwing, despite lots of hawthorn berries remaining

Raven 1 grounded, being harassed by 13 Carrion Crow

Friday, 3 January 2020


Heysham low tide chanels
The water was clear today, so very few small fish would be in the shallow water around the skeer. Fortunately Shaun located the:
Shag - feeding further out.
Eider 6
Great-Crested Grebe - minimum 6
Red-Breasted Merganser 4

Middleton Nature Reserve two main ponds
Mute 7 adult plus 7 juv
Coot 1
Gadwall 26
Tufted 2 male
Shoveler 1 male
Teal 8

Thursday, 2 January 2020


Heysham skeer - low water
Shag - it seems very attuned to feeding opportunities here, even on today's highish low water of 2.9m. It waited on top of conger rock till the tide started to flood. Then started feeding around the rock.
This is conger rock - on these neap tides it is not fully exposed at low water. There should be the tip of it showing tomorrow too. Might be worth checking c10:45.

Goldeneye 1 male also feeding near conger rock, but on the ebbing tide.

If you had have been watching me (MD) from the promenade, I would have disappeared as I was surrounded by this flock of, mainly, Knot trying to escape a Peregrine. Ultimately, one failed.

Wednesday, 1 January 2020

New Year's Day

Heysham skeer - low water
Shag 1 - turned up on north side of skeer 09:00, still around at 09:45. Seen from skeer and scoped from Knowsley Rd.
Goldeneye 1 male in partial eclipse drifted in on flooding tide and fed around conger rock.
Eider 4
Wigeon 2
Great-Crested Grebe 10
Red Breasted Merganser 2

Mudflats to SE of Ocean Edge - close inshore near where Pontins used to be.
Dunlin c700
Ringed Plover 19
Sanderling 1