Monday, 31 August 2020

Another visitor from the east.

Light breezes all day starting from the east then moving to west, then stopped altogether In the evening. Light cloud and plenty of sunshine.

Middleton Nature Reserve early morning - ringing (JR.PM)
Visible migration:
Swallow 3
Meadow Pipit 2
Siskin 2
Tree Pipit 2
Linnet 3

Snipe 3 on the ground.

Twelve birds ringed including 9 warbler (almost double figures - a Willow Warbler escaped)
Lesser Whitethroat 2
Common Whitethroat 2
Blackcap 2
Willow Warbler 3

Another Grey Wagtail was colour ringed

South Shore (MD)
Morning rising tide
Wheatear 1 on saltmarsh 
I was giving it one more try from the mud in front of Ocean Edge. As I was walking out, this juvenile Peregrine was stood just where I was planning to stand.

I'm not sure if it was waiting to be fed, or already fending for itself. 
Unsurprisingly, the bulk of the waders were much further south in front of Potts Corner. When the microlights started at 09:30, it was obviously time to call it a day and leave the beach to the holiday makers. 

Wooden Jetty area - evening.
What a beautiful evening! Pleasantly warm, no breeze and surprisingly quiet.
Mediterranean gull - 12 adult feeding on the beach next to wooden jetty. Joined briefly by a juvenile.
The only darvic ringed bird today, was the regular German bird. The low sun making viewing difficult, but quite striking images.

Yesterday's white ringed bird was first ringed in Belgium as an adult - details:
Ringed with white 3AH1 as Adult on 11/5/19 at the colony at Total, Antwerp, Belgium 51 15N 4 19E

Re-ringed with white 34ET on 12/5/20 at the Total colony. Presumably the original darvic was damaged.
Today's title refers to this handsome moth from Kevin's trap this morning.
Palpita vitrealis
It's a migrant from mainland Europe
and mainly occurs in the South of the UK. It's quite rare this far North

Sunday, 30 August 2020

Overhead disturbance, but not a bad day

It started cold with light northerly winds which quickly drifted to the east, before swinging round to SW by evening. Dry with some prolonged sunshine.

Middleton Nature Reserve early am - ringing report from Alan.
Almost a Grass Frost !!
The temperature was 4 degrees at 05.30 this morning and I was expecting the guy cords and poles to be frozen, but fortunately they weren't.

The catch was very low with almost no warblers. Five more Grey Wagtails caught and colour ringed however - three further birds were seen but did not end up in the nets. Two of these did perch on the top of a net but decided to fly away again.

The only other captures in four hours were singles of Chaffinch, Blue Tit, Common Whitethroat, Reed Warbler, Lesser Whitethroat and a retrapped Cettis Warbler.

South shore (MD)
Early to mid morning on rising tide
Merlin 1 juvenile must have been resting on Ocean Edge foreshore rocks, it flew low (below me) towards Red Nab. I tried to relocate but it must have carried on or gone into the Power Station.
Wheatear 1
Rock Pipit 1
Linnet c30
Little Egret 12
Grey Seal 1
There were Mediterranean Gulls on Red Nab, but I didn't attempt to count them.

Again, the plan was to let the tide bring the waders close as I waited on the mud out from the saltmarsh. At 8.1m the tide was a perfect height for this viewing technique.
There was some sort of gathering on the mud out from Potts Corner, this involved flying microlights around. This had two effects on the waders. It had herded between 5,000 to 7,000 to the corner out from Ocean Edge, which was good. But it also made them very flighty, which wasn't.
Unfortunately, before I was close enough to check them out in detail a Peregrine came hunting. It lifted everything, and they flew off towards the estuary (later the Peregrine returned with a godwit sized capture).
This is just a small fraction of the fleeing birds
The bulk were Knot and Grey Plover. But there were also Bar-Tailed Godwit, Curlew, Dunlin, Golden and Ringed Plover, Redshank and Oystercatcher (not all on this frame)
I say the Peregrine lifted everything - this Knot seemed oblivious to the mass departure!
Where did everyone go??
Still plenty of food around 

Fortunately a few wader that were feeding nearer the saltmarsh hung around.
Some of the Grey Plover still almost in full summer plumage.

This Golden Plover on the left is a juvenile, based on its constant peeping to be fed.
The bird on the right was silent. Winter Plumage adult? (MD)

Evening check of wooden jetty area
Rock Pipit 1
Mediterranean gull - 19 adult feeding on sand mason worms. Including the green ringed German bird, and a new white ringed bird.
Details awaited 

Saturday, 29 August 2020

A touch of west in the wind helped

The northerly wind was still quite fresh, but more to west today. The sun was out early but cool in the wind. It clouded over by lunchtime with just a few sunny spells later.

South shore ((MD)
07:15 - 08:45 just before high water.
Wheatear- initial walk from Red Nab to the saltmarsh located 7, return walk 45 minutes later found 12. They seemed to be moving through quickly but could have included some of the same birds. One near lighthouse in the evening brings day minimum to 13.
This juvenile provided a good shot of its flight feathers.

Rock Pipit 1 on saltmarsh, 3 Red Nab plus 1 near lighthouse in the evening.
Rock Pipit
Meadow Pipit 1 - grounded on Red Nab
Meadow Pipit
Mediterranean gulls - I managed to confirm 12 on Red Nab, almost certainly woefully undercounted. Pete counted 36 yesterday. Probably similar today.

These neap tides do not cover the mud out from the saltmarsh at high water. With the low sun behind you,  it is ideal to view the feeding waders from the mud in front of the saltmarsh. Unfortunately today's tide was a bit too low (7.7m) so the waders remained a long way off. Even so there were c2000 on the water's edge nearest to Ocean Edge. Comprising, in order of abundance, Knot, Grey Plover, Curlew, Bar-Tailed Godwit and Dunlin.
This small group were resting closer in.
Mainly Grey Plover with a couple of Knot and Dunlin in the middle.
Little Egret 13 - including this group of 9 on the saltmarsh. At least 4 of these, and probably 5 were juvenile (by absence of plume). All 9 were constantly preening with their heads buried, so it wasn't easy to check.

The juvenile far left still has yellow/greenish legs.
The juvenile far right looks particularly waifish.

Evening check of Jetty area and outflows
Common gull 1 juvenile on No.2 outflow
Mediterranean gulls - 46 feeding on the beach next to jetty, including 1 juvenile

Juvenile Common gull

Juvenile Med gull

Hopefully more records to come.

Friday, 28 August 2020

Nothing new - so far

Quite strong winds from the north, mainly NNE. Some showers.

So far all I have is from a quick check of jetty area and outflows - early evening (MD)
Arctic Tern 1 juvenile on No.2 outflow
Mediterranean gulls - 27 feeding on the beach near the wooden jetty. None on the outflows and no juvenile birds seen.

Hopefully more to come

Thursday, 27 August 2020

Of clouds, potatoes and salvage - oh.......and a few birds

Light variable winds and the constant threat of rain that rarely materialised.

Middleton Nature Reserve 
Ringing report provided by Alan:
The ringing session this morning at Middleton began early, at 05.45 with the expectation of rain by 10.00 - the rain never came. After a quiet start a reasonable total of 26 of birds was caught, including a nice treat in the from of the first Grey Wagtails. Three of this species were trapped and colour ringed as part of our on-going project (see scheme details on side bar, right)

Warbler species trapped were:
Whitethroat 5
Garden Warbler 1
Blackcap 3
Lesser Whitethroat 1
Willow Warbler 4

Also caught were singles of Blue Tit, Robin, Goldfinch, Chaffinch, Wren and two each of Long Tailed Tit and Great Tit.

Jean managed to photograph this Kelvin-Helmholtz cloud (no, I hadn't heard of them before either, but I found it interesting (MD))
A Kelvin-Helmholtz cloud looks like waves. I was a bit slow to take the picture, so it had started losing its shape. It indicates a turbulent flow which causes ripples of air within an otherwise stable flow of air.

South shore
Early morning (PM)
Arctic Tern 1 juvenile on No.2 outflow. Looking restless, with at least one foray to the shipping lane and back.

Early afternoon (MD)
No sign of the Arctic tern
Wheatear 1
Rock Pipit 2 + 1 + 1
Mediterranean gulls:
5 juvenile feeding on No.2 outflow
3 adult on beach next to the outflow
36 including 1 juvenile feeding on the sand mason worms on beach next to jetty.
This juvenile Med, was practicing its walking on water skills.
But the Arctic Tern hadn't moved on ( unless a new bird). Kevin photographed it on No.2 outflow later in the afternoon. Presumably the prospect of easy pickings is currently outweighing the instinct to move on.

North shore (JP)
Rock Pipits 3 including at least one juvenile bird, below the Heysham Head cliffs. That takes the minimum number in the observatory area today to seven.
One of Janet's juvenile Rock Pipits

This is the remains of an Heart Urchin - commonly known as a "Sea Potato".
They are a generally quite a common urchin, but not regularly seen in the bay. They live in burrows under the sand and can be washed out by heavy seas. I think the heavy mud of the bay and the large tidal reach makes it unsuitable for them - I could be wrong (MD)

Finally, Janet managed to photograph the demise of the green marker post (4/08/20). I had presumed that it was just due to storm damage, and perhaps it was.
This is a salvage vessel removing the post. Perhaps it had been damaged and was being removed for repair. The supporting structure is still in place on the pipeline, I'll have a look at its condition during the next spring tides. You would think that they wouldn't go to the expense of removing it, if they weren't going to replace it. Let's hope so, as it's a handy marker for locating distant birds and feeding areas.

Wednesday, 26 August 2020

Arctic best of a poor bunch! least so far

Light winds from the west. Mainly dry with some sunshine.

Only my stuff so far, and not much at that - hopefully more later (MD)

Arctic Tern - 1 juvenile feeding on No.2 outflow. At least during mid afternoon

Heysham skeer low water (12:20)
Not much!
Little Egret 8
Great-Crested Grebe 5
Red-Breasted Merganser 2
Eider 5

An area of mussel beds on the north side of the skeer was cleared by early summer storms. This area is now being colonised by Honeycomb worms.
At the moment they are just a few centimetres high.
But this is a potential foundation for a reef, which can reach almost 2 metres.
They are very similar to sand mason worms,
But instead of building their tubes in the mud,
they form colonises on anything solid.
This is a different area on the south side, first colonised last year.
The clumps are getting larger and the reef starting to form.
Over the last 20 years or so there has been a constant conflict on the skeer between the mussel beds and Honeycomb worm reefs. The dominance dictated by the tides and weather each year, at the moment the Honeycomb worm is winning. It wasn't always so, I'd never seen a Honeycomb worm till about the 1980's. They are a warm water species, previously restricted to the south west in England plus the Scottish Western Isles, warmed by the Gulf Stream.
I've never seen anything trying to eat them. You would think that the worm tubes at the edges would be relatively easy pickings.

By the way if any of you use the green marker post at the end of the old pipeline out from Heysham Head - It's gone. Hopefully it will be replaced.

Tuesday, 25 August 2020

Francis doesn't really provide

The wind from storm Francis started strongly enough but had a touch of east in it. By the time it had swung round to the west, it had eased. Heavy rain on and off all day.

South Shore (MD. PM)
Wheatear 5 (2 on saltmarsh, 2 on Red Nab and 1 near lighthouse)
Rock pipit 2 + 1 + 1
Rock Pipit in yesterday's sunshine 

Common Tern, 1 adult briefly on No.2 outflow 15:00
Arctic Tern, 1 juvenile on No.2 outflow at least 14:30 to 15:30

I know these pictures of the juvenile Arctic, are no better than Sunday's, but they were difficult in today's conditions so I decided to use them anyway (MD)

Just received these excellent pictures from Howard. Roosting waders on the Heliport wall yesterday.

The brown four legged individual, scurrying below the Redshank,
is a Brown Rat. They don't look pleased!

Just two Knot

Monday, 24 August 2020

The one that got away - well sort of..

Light breezes starting NNW, then drifted more westerly during the day, before stopping altogether in the evening. Mainly sunny.

Middleton Nature Reserve
Early morning - report from Alan
A ringing session this morning was rather unpromising at first with conditions that were cool and clear with a NNW gusty breeze. However, a steady trickle of captures produced the following:
Blackcap 1
Lesser Whitethroat 4
Garden Warbler 1
Common Whitethroat 4
Willow Warbler 1
Bullfinch 2
Greenfinch 1
Blue Tit 1
Goldfinch 11 (these captures were all juveniles from a flock of at least 30 birds roaming around the western marsh area)

No Grey Wagtails have yet been caught for the colour ringing project, although at least one passed over this morning. The passage should get going and hopefully result in some captures in the next few days.
There was little other visible migration noted.

Mid afternoon (MD)
Mute Swan - the family from the "no swimming" pond have now claimed the territory at the car park feeding area on the main pond. Fortunately the resident pair with the additional adult and two cygnet are still together, but now confined to the SE corner.
This is the current demarcation. 
The three cygnet family can move anywhere. 
But the other birds are pushed back, if they move from the corner.

House Martin 5 over main pond for a while
Swallow at least 9, a mixture of feeding and moving through.
Dragonflies- 6 species seen
Emperor 4
Brown Hawker 3
Brown Hawker ovipositoring 
Migrant Hawker 4 (including 3 together)
Southern Hawker 1
mature male Southern Hawker 
Black-Tailed Skimmer 1 male
Common Darter - lots

Butterflies included:
Gatekeeper, Meadow Brown, Common Blue, Red Admiral, Small White and Speckled Wood.
An extremely "worn" Speckled Wood taking in the sun.

South Shore (MD)
Wheatear 9 (along Ocean Edge foreshore and Red Nab)
I reached the beach next to the wooden jetty at 10:45 I was expecting to see it full of feeding gulls and waders - instead it was deserted!
I was pondering this as I checked the inner harbour.
Robin 3 grounded
When I got back to the beach at 11:10 there were plenty of waders and c20 gulls. At least three were Mediterranean gulls.
Then every bird took flight south. I scanned the skies and located the reason:
Osprey 1. It was quite high and heading south. After confirming the species I was going to take a record shot, but my camera was set for reading Med rings and I couldn't focus on the ever decreasing dot that it had become - hence "the one that got away". But only the picture got away,  not the record.
At least it explained the deserted beach when I first got there. Something (else?) had flushed it clean.

A check again in the evening (19:30) as the beach became exposed again. There were 5 Mediterranean gulls on the water waiting. Then just as they could get onto the mud they were flushed by a particularly noisy family out for a walk - they had cow bells - why?
The wind had dropped and the sea was like a duck pond.
This Med tried its best duck impression.
The evening sun was shining on the south wall, attracting small insects. The wall was lined with pied wagtails. At least 60 between the two outflows and presumably a similar number between No.2 outflow and Red Nab. They reminded me of fans in a football stadium doing a Mexican wave. The birds were hopping into the air to catch the insects as they passed over them. An easy supper before going into the Power Station to roost.
Rock Pipits at least three feeding with the wagtails.

Sunday, 23 August 2020

Still some bits hanging on

The winds eased, but still a fresh Southwesterly. Some heavy showers and sunny spells.

Wooden jetty11:30 as tide was covering beach. (MD).
Mediterranean gulls 24 feeding, no juvenile. The only darvic was the green ringed German bird.

Outflows c3hr before high water (M.Breaks)
Kittiwake 1 adult
Common Tern 1 adult
Sandwich tern 1 adult

Wooden Jetty 18:45 as tide was just exposing beach (MD)
Rock Pipit 1 + 2
Mediterranean gull - 12 including 2 juvenile started feeding on sand mason worms as soon as the beach became exposed. Shame none had darvic rings.
Some of the Meds.
You can see the end of the sea wall,
and the sand mason worms tubes on the beach.

No.2 outflow 19:30 (MD)
Common Tern 1 adult
Common Tern with Blackpool tower in the background.

Arctic Tern 1 juvenile

Saturday, 22 August 2020

Excellent selection - but hard come by!

The strong winds continued from the south, largely overcast with, some heavy, showers.

Wooden Jetty area (MD)
11:00 tide starting to cover the beach next to jetty.
Mediterranean Gulls 18 feeding including 2 juveniles.  In addition there were 46 med gulls visible from the vantage point on Ocean Edge grass, mostly on red nab - many of these drifted south very early in tide cycle as I was mix and matching a Zoom meeting with telescope checks (PM)
The only darvic ringed bird,
was the long staying green ringed German bird
Wheatear 2

South shore - high water Webs check (PM)
Mediterranean gulls - 7 feeding on outflows
Little Gull - 1 second calendar year
Sandwich  Tern 1 adult
Common Tern 1 adult
Turnstone - 65 heliport seawall amongst 400 Redshank
Common Tern with juvenile Med and BHG above.
The Med has a yellow Darvic ring

The following excellent trio were seen flying into the recording area from the Stone jetty during an epic session by Nick Godden (thanks):
Great Skua (Bonxie) 
Grey Phalarope 

Friday, 21 August 2020

Meds, but little far

The strong wind started SSE freshened slightly during day and sifted to SSW. Not quite gale force, and nothing reported so far as "storm driven". Perhaps tomorrow

Red Nab area c2.5 hours before high water (PM)
Mediterranean gulls - at least 53, most roosting on Red Nab, but some juveniles on both outflows.
One of the juvenile Meds (left) on No.1 outflow

The juvenile Black-Headed gulls are also quite striking now

Thursday, 20 August 2020

Waiting for the winds to stir things up

Steady quite fresh SSE winds all day. Sunny spells and a few light showers

Red Nab towards high water (PW)
Mediterranean gulls - 12 including three juveniles. White and green darvic ringed birds seen, but well out of reading range. Yellow darvic 2nd calendar year bird not seen today.

South shore (MD)
Lapwing numbers quickly growing. Flock of 45 out from saltmarsh.
Linnet numbers also increasing - 19 on saltmarsh
Rock Pipits 2 Red Nab. 1 near lighthouse
Grey seal 1
Mediterranean gull - 19 roosting on rocks at the seaward end of beach near wooden jetty early evening. Two juvenile. Only a handful searching for sand mason worms.

Turnstone moulting to winter plumage.

Wednesday, 19 August 2020

A quiet day

Warm with east winds, a few light showers.

Middleton Nature Reserve early morning (AD. JM)
Ringing session this morning with nets set on both sides at Middleton produced a much reduced catch. The majority of warblers seemed to have left the site during the clear and cool night.

The catch included:
Common Whitethroat 4
Willow Warbler 5
Lesser Whitethroat 2
Chiffchaff 3
Garden Warbler 1
Blackcap 2

Few migrating birds were noted, although the sky was fairly clear and migrants may have been flying high.
The only noted birds were a party of 7 Swallows moving SE and two single Swallows flying low and fast due south.

South shore 
Not much happening.
Wheatear 1
Rock Pipit 2 + 1
Lapwing a grounded flock of 13 with at least 3 juvenile birds

2 hours before high water (PM)

Mediterranean gull - 21 (14 2cy, 5 juvs, 2 ad) two hours pre HT.  this Darvic ringed bird definitely a new (Yellow) one but couldn’t read the four characters.  Undoubtedly a lot of adults had already moved south on the tide  

Whimbrel  1

Tuesday, 18 August 2020

Meds drift away early

Wind from SW.  Varying degrees of rain all morning then just a few showers in the afternoon and evening.

South Shore earlyish morning - c3.5hr before high water (PM. MD)
Mediterranean gull:
There was just a single adult feeding near wooden jetty.
It was sometimes hard seeing through the rain, but Pete initially managed 32 on Red Nab, but some were already drifting off, although at least two more juveniles came in.

Common Sandpiper at least three individual birds heading south.
Wheatear 2
Rock Pipit 1 near lighthouse, 2 on Red Nab.

There were warblers grounded both on Ocean Edge and near waterfall. The OE bird eluded identification, but the three near waterfall were Willow Warbler
Willow Warbler over the razor wire.
(One of  Vera's less well known songs?)

Stop press - just had report of a juvenile Yellow Wagtail roosting with Pied near wooden jetty 20:00.

Monday, 17 August 2020

More Meds and a belated Red Kite

Another strange weather day. Light breezes predominantly from south, but started from east and ended in west. Mainly overcast, but some showers and sunny spells.

Red KiteThursday 13th Aug 12.30pm. Per Brian Rafferty.
picked up flying over Red Nab, on over Sunderland Point and Cockersand, out of view south east. 

Red Nab/ Ocean Edge area 
Early morning (PM)
Mediterranean gull - at least 72 including one dark davic ringed juvenile.
Yesterday's white ringed bird read by Pete Crooks has been identified as being ringed in the Netherlands.
3745109 White 3LX9
Ringed:     nestling       20/6/19   San van Gent, Terneuzen, Zeeland, Netherlands 51 14N 3.49E
Seen:                            7/11/19   Nevern Estuary, Newport, Pembroke, Wales
Seen                            3/2/20      Gann Est, Dale, Pembroke       
Seen                            16/8/20    Heysham outfalls, Lancs

Mid morning - high water (MD)
Sandwich Terns seemed to be everywhere, but never saw more than 10 together.
Shelduck 4 - first for a while
Knot c1,000
Common Sandpiper 1
Rock Pipit 1
Wheatear 1

Middleton Nature Reserve mid afternoon (MD)
Just a brief check of the main pond to see how the mute are doing.
The two resident breeding birds are still holding territory on the south side of the pond. They still have two cygnets and seemed to have formed an alliance with another adult to keep the aggressive male at bay. 
The pair from the "no swimming" pond with three cygnets are, reluctantly, confined to the north side of the pond.

Emperor 3
Brown Hawker 2
Common Darter 6
Black-Tailed Skimmer 3
Black-Tailed Skimmer with a Common Blue Damselfly.

Lighthouse area (MD)
Checked at 14:45 as the beach was becoming exposed. Hoping for a chance to read any Darvic ringed Mediterranean Gull. 13 birds quickly turned up, unfortunately none ringed.
Whinchat 1
RockPipit 1
Wheatear 2
This male Wheatear was still looking quite smart.

There was a short but heavy shower at 18:00. I returned at 18:45.
Wheatear 5
Whinchat - at least 1, probably 2

Not great shots, it was very flighty

Mediterranean gulls- at least 28 including 2 juvenile. Again, unfortunately none with darvic rings.
This is a better shot of one catching a sand mason worm. 
First they grab it with the bill....
Then between tongue and, in this case, upper mandible.
I think it allows them a better "feel"
So as not to break the worm