Thursday, 30 April 2020

Almost beaten by the weather

This morning started bright and sunny with a SE wind. By mid morning the wind had strengthened and was driving rain showers. Then at lunchtime a severe thunderstorm with heavy hail seemed to stop the wind for a while. After that we were back to light SE wind with sunny spells and showers.

Shoreline out from Half Moon Bay - mid morning
Mute Swan - 4 resting on mud in front of the north wall, later seen flying south.
Whimbrel one flock of 17 quite high to NW
Sanderling 1 in summer plumage feeding on water line - unfortunately it was pouring down and couldn't manage a decent picture.

This is conger rock, far and away the largest rock on the skeer, making it an important "landmark". On these neap tides, it is only just exposed, making it a handy resting place for these young cormorants.

On the way back, the sun came out briefly, allowing good views of four Rock Pipits around the middle slipway to Half Moon Bay field. A further check is required to determine the status of these (MD)

Mediterranean gull 1 2nd calendar year on mudflats by No.2 outflow on south wall

Sandwich Tern 2 in shipping channel

Wednesday, 29 April 2020

Eyes to the sea - but you have to look a long way!

The wind started off due E then moved around to SE then finally S. Overcast at first, rain in the afternoon followed by a sunny evening.
Observations restricted to four one hour observations by different observers. Early and mid morning, early afternoon and evening.
There were birds to be seen, but many were at the limits of observation.

Sandwich Tern 1 in
Arctic Tern - tight flock of 36 SE into the wind early afternoon, plus 1 and 1 in.
Gannet 24 in
Fortunately some of the Ganets came in closer, but still quite a distance. This picture from Kevin.

Arctic Skua - flock of 4 dark morph birds in
Common Scoter 5 out plus 2 flying between inner and outer channels
Shag 1 2nd calendar year bird flew east accross the bay then veered south towards the harbour entrance
Red-Throated diver 1 out
Whimbrel at least 22, some feeding some in.

Grey seal 1

Tuesday, 28 April 2020

Passive passage?

The breeze was back to north and east. But only a light breeze, accompanied by light drizzle.
There were signs of subtle and off passage birds.

Water's edge out from Half Moon Bay around low water 09:45
No sign of any tern passage
Whimbrel 2 feeding on skeer
Curlew several feeding individuals on skeer but also a small group of 8 that flew off north together
Great-crested grebe 12 feeding plus one that flew in
Red-breasted merganser 8
Eider 5
Little Egret - one, presumably the regular bird here, was feeding (see post 25/04), then three other birds came from the east (not bearing gifts) and settled around it. The regular bird stopped feeding and just stood there till the three flew off north. As soon as they left, it started looking for food again. It didn't seem to want share it's technique. (MD)
The regular bird is the middle one here - a Heysham standoff!

Middleton Nature Reserve - early afternoon ref Janet
There seemed to be more Lesser Whitethroat around than recently.
Buzzard 2 over, very high
Kestrel 1 high plus this one feeding.

One of the "no swimming" pond Moorhens busy at work.

South shore - high water 15:15
Rock Pipit one in nesting area near lighthouse plus pair on Red Nab
Canada goose - the two itinerant birds were taking advantage of the gut weed, which is becoming lush again in the warmer weather, and the lack of grazing by the Wigeon and Brent geese that have moved on

Just someting to consider, if you plan to walk along the water line at Heysham, apart from the obvious - don't walk into soft mud!
I could see the Sea Cat approaching Heysham Harbour.

I knew what would happen next, the Cat turns to enter the harbour.

But it's wake keeps coming. I had anticipated this and moved up the beach. But the power of the wake as it traveled across the bay was sufficient for it to break as it passed over the already submerged sand bars.

The wakes from the normal ferries act differently, much larger displacement but slower pace. Always be aware of boats both coming in and leaving. Although in reality, the main risk is of getting wet feet, not being swept away.

Monday, 27 April 2020

Ah well - half right

The breeze was again from the west with sunshine all day.

The only records so far are from mine (MD) and Janet's exercise walks mid morning at
Middleton Nature Reserve.
All the 9 regular warblers (see post 23/04) were seen and or heard. Although the two Grasshopper warblers heard were underwhelming, one very quiet and the other only singing in short bursts.
It's a shame because many of the other warblers were taking advantage of the calmer conditions to sing from the bush tops.
As per this Common Whitethroat

It's also nice to see and hear the Wrens more than matching the warblers.
Pictures from Janet - thanks

Today's post title refers to my prediction yesterday, of Four-spotted Chasers being located on Middleton today. No sign of them, but two teneral female Broad-bodied Chasers were located. So half right.

Hopefully more later

Sunday, 26 April 2020

Top moth fills the gap

Overcast and feeling cooler today, despite the wind coming from the west.

No reports received so far today, other than my (MD) brief check of the skeer just before dark. The only sign of movement were two swallow north just above the water and two off passage Whimbrel. Plus the regulars:
Knot only c250
Great-Crested Grebr 10
Red-Breasted Merganser 6
Eider, c30 mainly male flew to skeer from the inner bay.
As with most familiar birds, their beauty is often overlooked.

These pictures from Janet of Reed Bunting and Sedge Warbler are from Middleton yesterday. No dragonflies reported as yet from Middleton, despite good numbers of Four-spotted chasers at nearby Heysham Moss.. Perhaps tomorrow.

Lunar Marbled Brown (SD46A)
This moth from Kevin's trap yesterday, may be the first record ever for the Heysham area.

Saturday, 25 April 2020

Back to more subtle observations

Very light east breeze early on. Sunny till mid afternoon.

The seabird pasage is still on hold for the time being.

Low water (08:00)  tide line out from Half Moon Bay
Sandwich tern just 4 in
Whimbrel, none seen moving but a total of 9 located feeding
These five 2nd calendar year Mute Swans flew in from SE and settled on the north side of skeer.

Unlike a Sandwich Tern, a Little Egret's feeding method is dainty- although I doubt the prey appreciate it! (MD)

Middleton Nature Reserve - early evening
Just a quick visit to check out reports of  "none lockdown" activities reported on Facebook. Fortunately when I got there at 17:00 the place was deserted and clean and tidy. Let's hope it stay that way (clean and tidy, not deserted).
All the warblers except for Grasshopper heard
Common Snipe 1
Stock dove 1

This is an unusual viewing angle for a Grey Heron. I'm glad it didn't live up to its local nickname!

Friday, 24 April 2020

Passage stutters to a halt

 There was hardly any breeze early on, what there was came from north, with possibly a bit of east in it. Still warm and sunny.

There weare some flurries of movement to mid morning (most done by 08:15), but absolutely nothing moving through in the afternoon.

Arctlc Tern just 11 in through the far Kent channel
Sandwich Tern c60
Arctic Skua 1
Common Scoter 2 came from far channel and settled in near one, then disappeared
Kittiwake 1 adult looked lost over skeer then headed out
Whimbrel 3 in
Bar-Tailed Godwit 3 in

These Herring gull certainly seem to have a strict hierarchy (MD)

No reports as yet from inland sites.

Thursday, 23 April 2020

A change to flight lines

The wind again started due north, but today only veered slightly to the east as the morning progressed. Cloud cover early on but sunny later.

Today's sea bird coverage managed 07:00 to 11:00 (several observers)
Arctic Tern   865, most before 09:00 with long gaps after and many birds flying inland over a broad front. Some were flying inland over Ocean Edge and one flock over Sunderland Point as seen from Red Nab area. Others fed mid channel then shot into the sky and disappeared!

Arctic Skua: 4 in plus at least two others early am off Morecambe,  One light morph came in over Red Nab. The other three dark morph.

Sandwich Tern: at least 192,
Some take a break, the one on the right has a white ring, unfortunately too distant to read.

Black Tern 1,
Little Gull 1 - 3rd Calendar Year,
Common Scoter 60
no Gannet or Red-throated divers today

One of the Dunlin near the wooden jetty - thanks Kevin

Nature Reserves
Grasshopper warblers have finally made it to Middleton two singing simultaneously plus almost certainly a third bird singing.
This makes the full set of  9 typically resident warbler here, Listed her in this year's arrival order.
Cetti's Warbler (over wintered)
Willow Warbler
Sedge Warbler
Common Whitethroat (both Whitethroats arrived same day)
Lesser Whitethroat
Reed Warbler
Grasshopper Warbler

Large Red Damselfly - now present on Heysham and Middleton.

Thanks Janet

This picture from Janet reminded me of just how many Brimstone I have seen this year. I have probably seen as many this year than the total in all my years walking. Presumably that is partly due to a increasing local population plus the favourable winter and spring (at least it has been favourable for overwintering butterflies!) MD

Wednesday, 22 April 2020

.....and come........and come!

The wind started off almost due north, but quickly drifted to NE. Bright and sunny again.

I'm not sure if I have all the reports yet, so I may be adding more to this post tomorrow (MD).
2cy Med gull with 175 Common Gull red nab/oe foreshore,
80 Dunlin and four Whimbrel red nab,
57 meadow pipit,
39 Swallow,
15 white Wagtail North,
very distant Osprey fishing? outer Leven Estuary
one red throated diver

Sandwich Tern - these were coming in steadily in ones and twos from 06:30, doing a spot of fishing when the opportunity presented itself, then continuing north. But by 08:45 they started hanging around making counting difficult. Even so an absolute minimum of 121 by 09:30 and c150 by lunchtime.

This one caught quite a decent sized fish. It looks like a small pouting or possibly a whiting. Either way not a surface feeding fish. The water depth where it was caught must have been at least 2m. These fish mainly occupy the bottom third of the water level. Did this tern dive 1.5m? (MD)

Arctic Tern - these were slow off the mark only 39 by 09:20, 120 by 09:30 and by late morning they were coming in so quickly as to be almost impossible to count. Total received so far 1,447.  Quite a few observed heading up and overland over the harbour and inner Bay observations suggested they had all done this south of the Keer Estuary 

Some of the Sandwich terns took a rest and watched the Arctics go by.

Gannet 2 - one adult - I suspect there are more records to come
Arctic Skua 2
Long-Tailed duck 1
Whimbrel 4
Meadow Pipit 16
Swallow 1
Sand Martin 1
White wagtail 5 taking a break near lighthose

Rock pipits Pair near lighthouse plus another one on Red Nab
These Dunlin also on Red Nab - thanks Janet

Reed warbler. One each singing on Heysham and Middleton reserves - first records of year
Tufted Duck 6 (4 male) on "no swimming" pond

And finally, this pair of Green-veined white were enjoying the afternoon sunshine on Middleton 

Tuesday, 21 April 2020

And still they come

A similar day weatherwise with warm sunshine and a cool NE stiff breeze.

Again, a valiant recording effort, with good results. But the totals could have been much higher.

Total unduplicated records to 09:40
Arctic Tern 670
Gannet 19
Sandwich Tern 32
Razorbill/Guillemot 17
Eider 125
Great-Crested Grebe - tight flock of 9 distant adult,  plus usual 6 close in
Red-Breasted Merganser  14
Turnstone 237 on wooden jetty
Knot c500 old heliport wall
Whimbrel 6

Plus a trickle north of:
Meadow pipits 27
Alba wagtail 15
Swallow 17

But the Arctics were still coming through as verified by Kevin's check from south shore 10:00 - 10:30. These records are in addition to the above.
Arctic Tern c200 including one flock of 100
Common Redstart 1 male, seen and heard singing
Wheatear 4

This Tawny Pinion is also one of Kevins from his trap in SD46A

Middleton Natur Reserve lunchtime
A third Mute is now on nest
Tufted pair
Mallard 2 male
Warblers - Willow Warbler, Chiffchaff, Blackcap, Lesser and Common Whitethroat, Cetti's and Sedge warbler.
Lardge Red Damselfly- first record this year

Another record from breeding area of one of the colour scheme Grey Wagtail
ARB67464Juv16/09/2019Heysham NR, Lancs
(M/O, R/R)
SeenAd (F)20/04/2020Killington Lake N. Shore, Cumbria, 54 32N, 2.62W Approx 37Km NNE
(Andy Robson)

Habitat in IPMR input as 'Small Stream' 

Monday, 20 April 2020

Good (under current restrictions) passage coverage

Another sunny day with NE breeze

A combination of well timed exercise walks and Pete taking advantage of a necessary visit to the area to do a spot of scanning, meant there were checks of the sea from 06:30 to 15:30, albeit with significant gaps.
Little gull 2 adult heading for Lune estuary
Gannet 3 adult in
Red-Throated Diver 3 separate birds in
Sandwich terns at least 5 around area seen on outflows, harbour mouth, Half Moon Bay and Heysham skeer.
Thanks for picture Kevin
Whimbrel 16
Arctic Tern - between 425  and 475 flying through the bay, the number depends on how many lingered in the inner bay - the data suggests that there were none, other than a bit of feeding, so likely minimum of c475

Dunlin c100 Red Nab
Little Egret 6 Red Nab, later 5 by outflows
Knot c2,700 old heliport wall
Wheatear 2
Swallow 30+
House Martin 3

Sunday, 19 April 2020

Seabird passage underway

A brisk easterly breeze, but still warm and sunny.

Red Nab - high water
Wheatear 6
Swallow 3

Middleton Nature Reserve - afternoon - ref Kevin
Willow Warbler
Lesser Whitethroat
Common Whitethroat 
plus the usual Cetti's Warblers. 
The Shelduck seems to have taken up permanent residence.

Arctic Tern 65 in (from pager)

Low water's edge out from Half Moon Bay - MD
Sandwich Tern 3 out 16:30
Whimbrel -  17:00 high flock quickly over.  Flight line Half Moon Bay towards Grange.
Absolute minimum 43 birds
Plus 8 birds feeding along skeer edge.
Slighly clearer picture today
Swallow 10
Red-Breasted Merganser 8
Great Cressted grebe 7

Saturday, 18 April 2020

Normal service will be resumed as soon as possible.

Today's title will only mean anything to those of you who were brought up with two, black and white, tv channels. Apologies if you have had problems viewing images on this blog recently. Hopefully the problem is now resolved - we'll see.

The returning Whitethroat have been particularly ellusive so far this year. It took Kevin 10 minutes trying to get a decent shot of this Lesser Whitethroat near dog walk. As he says, the bird won!

This Grey Heron is taking advantage of the significant wetland enhancement undertaken at Heysham Nature Reserve this winter. This picture by Janet is from the gondola hide.

Low water edge out from Half Moon Bay
Sandwich tern 2 in
Whimbrel 2 plus 1 in, later 5 were on the skeer edge.
There are 4 Whimbrel in middle foreground here, but not easy to see. Species confirmed with calls as well as visual. Open image in "a new tab" to get a slightly better view.

Picture of a Little Egret - just because I like it (MD)

And finally, the Great Black-Backed gull came to pick up what was left of yesterday's supper (see yesterday's post). Fortunately two tides with the shrimps and crabs left the flounder light enough to be carried away tonight.