Friday, 31 July 2020

Not much far

Bright and sunny till mid afternoon then increasing cloud and humidity. Light variable breezes ended up from SW

Just my couple of quick checks of lighthouse area so far. Possibly more to come (MD).

Lighthouse/wooden jetty area
13:45 - tide ebbing away from the wall and breeze from SE. East winds often bring insects in off the sea here, but it has historically been better E to NE.
Just a few butterflies drifting inland - Red Admiral 1, Small Tortoiseshell 1, Small White 3.
Mediterranean gulls 4 adult on beach.

18:00 - Tide flooding, but still away from the sea wall. By now the breeze was back to SW. No insect movement.
Rock Pipit 1
Mediterranean gulls 11 adult plus 1 juvenile on beach next to wooden jetty
The green German ringed Adult is still around 

Thursday, 30 July 2020

Decent evening records

After heavy rain in the morning, the day ended calm and warm.

Ocean Edge/Red Nab - evening  (PM, JR)
Mediterranean gulls - absolute minimum 42 scattered off OE 
Greenshank 2
Bar-Tailed Godwit 15
Dunlin 50
Curlew 400+
Wheatear 1 - first autumn record

Middleton Nature Reserve evening (MD)
The conditions were again right for the emergence of flying ants, but tonight it was widespread so the small gulls were too high and wide to check for Meds. The large gulls (Herring and LBB) also got in the action, they preferred to catch the ants on the ground as they were emerging.
Several swallows, a few Sand Martin plus just two Swift were also feeding. The reduced numbers, almost certainly, the result of the wide ranging emergence.
Dragonflies included Emperor, Brown Hawker and Common Darter
Male Common Darter 

Nice selection of moths in overnight actinic including Fen Wainscot 
Several Shaded Broad-bar were seen on Middleton early evening.
Shaded Broad-bar 

Wednesday, 29 July 2020

A sleepy sort of day

The SW wind eased to a breeze, generally overcast but some prolonged sunny spells.

Only my stuff so far hopefully more to come (MD)

South wall
Mediterranean gull:
10:30 - ebbing tide just exposing the beach by wooden jetty 7 adult plus 1 3rd calendar year, arrived early to feed, unfortunately none were ringed.
16:00 - flooding tide starting to cover beach 18 adult, 2 x 3cy and 1 juvenile.
Initially all were resting, some on rocks some on beach. Two of the adult on beach were ringed, but out of range for reading and they flew off when tide reached them. The birds from the rocks moved to beach and fed on sand mason worms.

Nothing of note on outflows. Red Nab not checked

These Lesser Black-Backed gull juveniles were being fed
Great things parents, you just tap this red button....

......and out pops food

Middleton Nature Reserve - early evening 
Just a quick check of the two main ponds
The only thing you could describe as "active" were the Gatekeepers, who seemed to be everywhere.
There are only two remaining cygnets on the main pond, originally five. There seems to be one less each time I visit. No evidence of the culprit(s).
Still at least two Little grebe.
The only dragonfly seen was this female Common Darter

Tuesday, 28 July 2020

Meds more scattered today

Strong SW winds still, some sunshine but a few showers too.

South shore - afternoon (PM, JR, MD)
Mediterranean gull 
Holiday maker disturbance of Red Nab left it Med free.
10 on and around No.2 outflow
Beach near jetty 13:00 - 15 including two ringed birds. 14:30 - 19, none ringed.

Arctic Tern 1
Common Tern 1
Common tern feeding on No.2 outflow with Black-Headed gulls, also two juvenile Meds upper left.

Heysham Nature Reserve - afternoon (JP)
Despite the wind there were still plenty of butterflies to be found In the sheltered reserve including:
Small Skipper

Speckled Wood

Monday, 27 July 2020

Record broken (à la Bob Beamon)

Strengthening SW winds with heavy rain in morning, brighter later

Red Nab area - early afternoon towards high water (PM)
Mediterranean gull -  At least 107, possibly 117, with at least 4 juvs and plenty of all three other age classes, especially adult (50 plus) 
The previous high count was yesterday's 83. When Bob Beamon smashed the world long jump record in 1968, it stood for 23 years! So, perhaps not a good analogy - we'll see.

Common tern 1 adult
Arctic tern 1 adult

Sunday, 26 July 2020

Record number of Meds

Still SW winds with a few showers and mainly overcast.

South shore on flooding tide (SC, MJ, PM)
It's not always easy to get accurate counts of roosting birds with multiple observers. Everyone today saw lots of Meds, although they started to drift off south as the tide rose. However, Shaun went through each of the areas systematically and managed an astonishing 83. Previous highest 78 in 2019. 
Mediterranean gull 
Red Nab: 45 3cy/ad + 2 juvenile 
Outfalls and Wooden jetty: 33 3cy/ad + 3 juvenile 
Adult Med resting on beach 

Black-t Godwit 1
Common Tern 1 adult on No.2 outflow 
Whimbrel at least one
Another bird, surprisingly difficult to see on rocks

Nice picture of a Small Skipper - this and the two images above from Matt

Heysham Nature Reserve - afternoon (KE)
Butterflies included:
Meadow Brown
Speckled Wood
Small Skipper
Common Blue
The Peacock was a lovely, freshly emerged specimen. 

Comma, nicely displaying the white "comma" on underwing 


Saturday, 25 July 2020

Meds spread about

Light SW winds, mainly overcast with a few light showers.

All I have so far are my two checks of the beach near wooden jetty - hopefully more later (MD)

11:30 - tide starting to flood, but still a long way out.
There were no Mediterranean gulls feeding on the beach. But this group were preening on the rocks on the seaward side of beach.
The German green ringed bird, first seen yesterday, is with these, as is a white ringed bird. 

There were also 3 adult and a 3rd calendar year bird on the beach near No.2outflow.

As the tide flushed the birds from the rocks most flew off east straight away, others tried the beach, but found nothing to eat so also set off east. Possibly to Red Nab, although Dan reported 16 on the Lune, as seen from Glasson Dock, yesterday.
Total seen this morning - adult 19, 3cy 3, juvenile 3

Whimbrel 1
Common Sandpiper 1

18:45 - 3.25 hours after high water - beach just about to become exposed.
There were 8 Meds waiting on the stones below sea wall (shame none were ringed). They moved on to water, and by the time they could get on to mud there were - adult 11, 3cy 2, 2cy 1, juvenile 2.
Still none with rings! They seemed to be finding some food, but only at the water's edge, so they followed the tide line.
These are the 2 x 3cy, waiting for the mud to become exposed

So, minimum for the day:
Mediterranean gull- adult 19, 3cy 3, 2cy 1, juvenile 3.

Friday, 24 July 2020

Meds join in on anting feast

A better day with warm SW light winds and quite a bit of sunshine.

Red Nab area rising tide (PM, MJ, JP)
Mediterranean gulls - 12 (one Juv, one metal ringed adult on left tibia).
And this German ringed adult - ringed as nestling 2012, and seen previously in Heysham 2017, 2018 and 2019
Matt Jackson did really well to read and photograph this, as it was a long way out on beach.

Janet photographed one on the Rock Pipits
Very hard to see them against the rocks - just as well they are noisy little peepers!

Middleton Nature Reserve late afternoon (MD)
There was a major emergence of flying ants. They were being eaten at every level.
The Blackbirds and Dunnock On the the ground - both soon full
There weren't many dragonfly around today, but the Emperors were feeding up to 3m high.
Got one!

C200 Black-Headed Gull from 3m upwards

This one is just going to catch one

There were also at least 4 (almost certainly many more) adult Mediterranean gulls feeding with the BHG
This is one of them

Above the gulls were an absolute minimum
Swallow 25
House Martin 10
Swift 50 - a knowledgeable couple on car park as I was leaving said they saw 60 - 70 Swift leaving to the south

The single large swarm split into three and the birds followed and also dispersed, presumably sated. 

A lot of the BHG and at least one Med settled on the main pond for a drink.
Med third from left

And this is what it was all about.

Thursday, 23 July 2020

Outage sees gulls disappear

Recent Med Gull recoveries

Mediterranean Gull
E939425 Nestling 09/06/2016 Marais d'Harchies, Bernissart, Hainaut, Wallonia BELGIUM 50 29N 3 41E
3VEP Seen 21/03/2018 Playa San Lorenzo, Gijon, Asturias, SPAIN  43 32N 5 39W
Seen 16/04/2019 Hems-Saint-Poi, Gravelines, Nord, Hauts-de-France, FRANCE 51 00N 2 08E
Seen 29/01/2020 Estuario do Douro, Canidelo, Vila Nova de Gaia, Porto, PORTUGAL 41 08N 8.40W
Seen 19/07/2020 Heysham outfalls
E947761 Nestling 09/06/2018 Total, Antwerp, Flanders, BELGIUM  51 15N 4 19E
3857 Seen 17/07/2020 Heysham outfalls
3693897 Nestling 24/06/2010 De Kreupel Island, Ijsselmeer, Noord-Holland, NETHERLANDS  52 48N 5 14E
LCG Seen 19/08/2010 Knott End
Seen 20/08/2010 Cocker's Dyke, Pilling Lane
Seen 20/02/2011 Malaga Harbour, SPAIN  36 43N 4 25W
Seen 11/08/2013 Heysham outfalls
Seen 09/01/2015 Olhao salinas, Algarve, PORTUGAL 37 02N  7 48W
Seen 19/01/2016 Santa Cruz, La Coruna, SPAIN  43 21N 8 02W
Seen 18/01/2017 Playa San Lorenzo, Gijon, Asturias, SPAIN  43 32N 5 39W
Seen 29/12/2017 Playa de El Rinconin, Gijon, Asturias, SPAIN  43 32N 5 38W
Seen 21/01-09/02/2018 Playa San Lorenzo, Gijon, Asturias, SPAIN  43 32N 5 39W
Seen 31/07/2018 Heysham outfalls
Seen 02/02/2019 Playa San Lorenzo, Gijon, Asturias, SPAIN  43 32N 5 39W
Seen 16/7-04/08/2019 Heysham outfalls
Seen 18/01/2020 Ria a Coruna, Santa Cruz de Oleros, A Coruna  SPAIN  43 21N 8 21W
Seen 18/07/2020 Heysham outfalls

Wednesday, 22 July 2020

Ringing and mothing morning

Alan and John operated two actinic traps and then two similarly socially distanced ringing sessions either side of the track between the western and central marshes at Middleton NR

Moths included another Agonopterix conterminella, Eudonia pallida and another wainscot species making an appearance - Bulrush.  Still Silky Wainscot around along with a few Southern

Birds saw a decent selection of early migrants including the first Garden Warbler of the autumn, 10 new Sedge Warbler, 11 new Whitethroat and five each of Willow Warbler and Chiffchaff.  A new juvenile Cetti's Warbler was caught in the central marsh suggesting that four successfully fledged from the territory there

Brief coastal birding saw nothing of interest

Tuesday, 21 July 2020

Insects active

Calm in the morning, when the gentle westerly returned, it was more to south and warmer. So it got quite hot as the sun shone for most of the day.

A check of the beach near the jetty in the morning found only two Mediterranean gulls. A 3rd calendar year and a 2nd calendar year - this bird had a white darvic, which remains unread. Neither bird was feeding and both flew off as the incoming tide reached them
Great White Egret 1 flying west from the direction of the Lune estuary 
Rock Pipits 3 on Red Nab plus 1 near lighthouse 
Grey seal 1

Middleton Nature Reserve mid afternoon 
Wildfowl as yesterday 
Lots of insects
Butterflies 10 species seen:
Red Admiral 
Large White
Small White
Speckled Wood
Meadow Brown
Small Skipper
Female Brimstone 

Dragonflies - these were particularly active, making identification of some difficult - but at least 6 species:
Brown Hawker
Hawker sp medium sized, probably Southern
Common Darter
Four-spotted Chaser
Black-tailed Skimmer
One of two pairs of Black-tailed Skimmers, taking advantage of the warm spell.

No Mediterranean gulls on the beach near jetty as it became uncovered in the evening, but these two were flying out from north wall, providing nice views of the Cumbrian coast.

3rd calendar year 

Monday, 20 July 2020

Little Egret puzzler

The cool westerly wind continues, mainly sunny.

Beach near wooden jetty
Mediterranean gull - Two checks, morning (MD) and evening (JR).
08:00 adult 11, 3cy 2, 2cy 1
18:00 adult 17, juvenile 1
All the birds on both occasions were just resting, none feeding.

Middleton Nature Reserve late afternoon (MD)
Mute swan. Two pairs with 3 and 4 cygnet, plus 5 additional adult 
Coot 6
Moorhen 6
Mallard 21
Little Grebe 3
Little egret 1
House Martin 5
Swallow feeding all over the reserve at least 16
Swift 4 in afternoon at least 6 in a brief evening check

Darter 1 mature male - too brief to confirm species.

I saw the Little Egret on the other side of the main pond. The coot family passing in front of it, so took this snap.

Just after this it flew off. I then noticed on the pictures that its legs were yellow 
My first thoughts were Cattle Egret but Pete and Dan confirmed that it was a juvenile Little Egret. I didn't know that juveniles had yellow legs (I do now MD). Anyway, it's the first one I've seen.

Sunday, 19 July 2020

Misunderstood Meds

Sunny for most of day wind more northerly than recent, but from west.

Pete Crooks did a thorough check of the south shore on this morning's rising tide:
Heysham Stage 2 outfall 
1 juvenile Mediterranean Gull (flew off towards Wooden Pier and later seen off harbour mouth), 
3 Rock Pipit 

Heysham Wooden Pier 
40 Cormorant, 
10 Turnstone, 
1 Common Sandpiper, 
1 Sandwich Tern 

Red Nab (incoming tide) 
14 Mediterranean Gull (11 adults, 3 x 3rd CY), 
5 Whimbrel, 
1 Greenshank, 
1 colour-ringed Curlew (Red right above 'left knee', Dark ring with pale line / code above 'right knee'), 
1 juvenile Peregrine 

Beach near wooden jetty (MD)
Todays title refers to my misunderstanding regarding the Mediterranean gulls feeding yesterday. On Friday they were all easily catching sand mason worms, last night they were all either sat on rocks or beach. Not feeding, I presumed because they were full. I went down early this morning, expecting to see another feeding frenzy - at 06:00 the beach was deserted, no gull of any description was there. By 07:00 6 Meds had turned up, but no attempt at feeding. The sand mason worms could not have been available, and the Gulls knew in advance!
Dunlin - a nice flock of 28 summer plumaged adults did stop off to feed ( they were, and continued heading south)
Adult Med gull watching the Dunlin and Redshank feeding.

There was a family of five Linnet feeding on the wall where the solitary Rock Pipit normally sits.

After failing to chase them off, it skulked to a hole in the wall - This is not the nesting hole.

By evening it was a completely different story at 19:00 the beach was full of feeding gulls. All managing to catch some sand mason worms, albeit not as easily as Friday (this all needs some further Thought and observations). 
Mediterranean gull 40+ including 3 juvenile, 2 2cy. I didn't notice any 3cy, but there probably were some. There must be quite a turnover of Meds. There was a new darvic bird today and the previous two not seen.
A few of the remaining Meds + BHG as the tide cleared the last of them

Saturday, 18 July 2020

More, fed up, Meds

Rain in the morning eventually cleared and resulted in a nice sunny evening with light SW wind.

So far all I have is from my two visits to south shore, hopefully more to come. (MD).

Went down at 14:30 to see if many Mediterranean gulls went to beach near to jetty as it became exposed.
Rock Pipits 2 on Red Nab
Whimbrel 1
Grey seal 1
Just after the beach near jetty became exposed 4 adult and 1 3cy Meds started feeding. None were ringed. The birds would have had a chance to feed here earlier, up to 07:15, otherwise I would have expected more to turn up this afternoon.

Went back at 18:00. There were at least 16 Meds on beach plus a number on the rocks on seaward side of beach. It's hard to see looking out into the sun, but I estimated 13 of these were Meds, there might have been more.

None were feeding, even the birds on the beach were either sat or stood still, many, frustratingly, on one leg. They had obviously eaten enough sand mason worms for one day! No darvic rings visible, I walked down to No.2 outflow. A further 3 adult and a 3cy Meds were on mud here. I didn't check Red Nab but minimum totals:
Mediterranean gull 33 including 2 juvenile, 2 2cy and at least 5 3cy.

I went back to wooden jetty and watched the tide flush the birds from rocks, some landed on beach. 
This white darvic adult was ringed as a nesting in the Netherlands in 2010. It has been recorded in Heysham in 2013, 2018 and 2019

There was also a white darvic ringed 3cy bird, presumably the one read yesterday.

This is one of the juveniles 

Friday, 17 July 2020

Meds start to feast!

Another dreary day with some showers. SW wind.

Middleton Nature Reserve late afternoon (MD)
Wildfowl unchanged
House Martin two feeding groups 5 & 3
Swift 3 feeding, but drifting south.
Stock dove 1
The only dragonfly was a single Common Darter.
Only butterflies: Meadow Brown and Gatekeeper (I did say it was a dreary day!)

Wooden Jetty area  - Afternoon and evening (KE, MD)
The solitary Rock Pipit is still hanging around.

The gulls, including 16 Mediterranean Gull (12 adult plus 4 3rd calendar year) were easily catching sand mason worms today. The picture below clearly shows the worm tubes showing above the mud on the beach between the wooden jetty and No.1 outflow.
Both the above pictures from Kevin.

I (MD) believe that the availability of the worms is linked to their breeding cycle, which I also believe is linked to the phases of the moon. New moon is on Tuesday.
This adult has a worm, hope you can make it out. They are thin, but long and protein packed!

This 3cy with a darvic ring is a Belgian ringed bird - details awaited.

The next few days could be good, about 3.5 hours before high water, probably better in mornings.

Thursday, 16 July 2020

Great White Egret

Wind more to SW mainly overcast, but warmer.

Morning high water check from OE (PM)
Great White Egret 1 distant - it isn't long since a GWE really was headline news. The first record at Heysham was only 2017!
Mediterranean gull - visibility not good, just 7 located.

Heysham skeer - low water (MD)
The only waders, apart from Curlew and Oystercatchers were two Turnstone.
Little Egret - at least 13
There are five here catching shrimps in the flooding channels 

Great Crested Grebe 3
This one, in not quite, summer plumage, looked like it was practicing for next year

South wall (MD)
Two quick checks
Morning - ebbing tide
Whimbrel 3
Rock pipits - 2 on Red Nab plus 1 near lighthouse nest site (not been seen here for a week)

Early evening - flooding tide
Mediterranean gull 5 adult plus 3 x 3cy (none with darvic rings)
One of the 3cy Meds 

This handsome racing pigeon was either resting, or sorting its bearing out. Either way, it was fine and quickly flew off north. Hopefully in its home coop by now.

Wednesday, 15 July 2020

Terns turn up on time

A pretty dreary day, rain on and off till evening. Westerly wind.

The only records so far are from the south wall in the evening.
Kevin watched the tide cover the beach near wooden jetty. There were four Mediterranean gulls taking advantage of the sand mason worms.
This adult Med and a BHG were the last to leave. You can see the sand mason worm tubes protruding out of the mud.
At that time there were no terns on the outflows.

I (MD) arrived at the outflows at 17:15, still no terns.
Checked the Mediterranean gulls on beach and Red Nab.
Adult   4
3cy       3
ad/3cy  1
2cy        2

I got back to No.1 outflow at 17:45, still no terns. The water level was about 0.5m below the outflow edge. At 17:50 Common Terns started feeding, I didn’t see from which direction, but not from north or west.
There were quickly at least 5. They looked to be the same birds as yesterday, based on plumage variation distribution. They obviously have a favoured water height in the outflow. I left at 18:00 there were still at least 3 feeding.
One had time for a rest and preen.

Hopefully more later

Tuesday, 14 July 2020

Four ages of Meds

After a wet start, the rain pretty much, held off for the rest of the day. Westerly wind and overcast.

South wall (MD)
Mid morning, tide almost out
No terns on outflows
Whimbrel 1
Mediterranean gull:
One adult on beach near No.2 outflow.
Two adult and 3 x 3rd calendar year on Red Nab.
The two adult and 3 x 3cy Meds decided it was feeding time and flew from Red Nab to the sand mason worm bed on beach near wooden jetty.

When I got to the beach near wooden jetty, the third adult and 2 x 2nd calendar year birds were also on the sand mason worm bed. Unfortunately, this year, the densest area of worms is near the water’s edge - not good for ring reading, although none of today’s birds had darvic rings.

Evening, an hour before high water.
Common Tern - At 18:10 there were 5 adult on No.1 outflow.
At 18:20 they were joined by a sixth adult which came from No.2 outflow direction.
A quick look at No.2 outflow found no more, and by the time I returned to No.1. All the terns were gone. It looks like timing is critical, they disappeared just after the tide was higher than the outflow sides.
Three of the Common Tern.

Mediterranean gull
There was an adult and juvenile feeding together on No.1 outflow

Detail of the juvenile 

So the day’s total:
Juvenile 1
2cy 2
3cy 3
Adult 4 (assuming this evening’s bird was different to this morning’s)