Wednesday, 30 September 2020

Water off a duck's back!

It's hard to imagine two days more different than yesterday and today. Yesterday almost no wind and wall to wall sunshine, after the mist. Today, strong SE winds, almost constant rain with some very heavy showers.

Only my records so far, and I wouldn't expect anyone else to have been around (MD).

Ocean Edge/Red Nab - mid morning
Rock Pipit 3
Wheatear 2
Linnet c15
Little Egret 6
Wigeon 17

Middleton Nature Reserve - early evening
Mute 2 adult plus 3 cygnet + 1 adult with 1 cygnet
Coot 5
Moorhen 5
Little Grebe both the summer plumage and the winter plumage birds
Gadwall 2

Teal 4

This time last year the hawthorn bushes were laden with a bumper crop of berries. This year they are very sparse, some bushes have none at all. I expect that the winter thrushes will not linger as long as they did last year.

Tuesday, 29 September 2020

Clear skies after a misty start

Dense sea mist didn't clear till mid morning, then sunshine and very light variable breeze.
The last of the mist clinging to the warmer water of the outflows 10:00

South shore (MD)
Knot c2000 including at least two Sefton coast orange flag ringed birds - unfortunately not read
Grey Plover c50
Ringed Plover c50
Dunlin c70
Bar-Tailed Godwit c30
Some of the Bar-Tailed Godwit with a backdrop of mist
Pink-footed Goose 79 south 10:00
Skylark 3 south
Rock Pipits 2 - one seemed to be a passage bird, as it was chased off by another, presumably one of the "resident" birds
Wheatear 2
Wigeon 28
Middleton Nature Reserve 
Ringing and vis report from Jean

The fog deterred birds from moving over Middleton NR this morning. As an example of how thick the fog was, if you stood on the edge of the grass foreshore of Ocean Edge and looked back, you couldn’t see the caravans.

On arrival at Middleton NR the first bird heard, apart from a Robin ticking, was a Cetti’s Warbler at 06:33hrs. A second Cetti’s responded at 06:40 and a third was heard later on the west.

Overhead vis was no more than a trickle:

Meadow Pipit 8

Reed Bunting 6

Lesser Redpoll 1

Linnet 4

Alba Wagtail 3

Grey Wagtail 5

Redwing 1 dropped in

Coal Tit 4 dropped down from height into bushes

Chaffinch 2

Pink-footed Geese got going from 09:45 and a total of 518 flew over in 6 flocks.

A flock of 10 Carrion Crows moved off in twos and threes at about 10:00

Whooper Swans were heard.


Meadow Pipit 1

Reed Bunting 4

Alba Wagtail 1

Robin 1

Chiffchaff 2 (inc 1 retrap)

Wren (retrap)

Blue Tit


Brown Hawker (late for this)

Red Admiral

3 Common Darter

3 Migrant Hawkers 

Migrant Hawker picture from Janet

Chiffchaff passing through my garden this afternoon (MD)

Heysham Skeer - evening (MD)

Great Crested Grebe 4

Red-Breasted Merganser 2

Knot c2000 again one Sefton Coast flagged bird

You can get close to the waders, with the sea and sun behind you

Snorkelling lesson

This adult Herring Gull caught a crab

It flew to shallower water

Carefully dropped, the now incapacitated, crab

Shouted the juvenile (come and get your dinner...)
Then flew off

The juvenile came over and after a bit of snorkelling
retrieved the crab.

Then flew off to join the adult.

This Hermit Crab was upside down on top of a mussel bank. There is no way that it would have been stranded there. A gull must have fished it out but failed to reap its reward. This is a full sized Hermit Crab in a Common Whelk Shell. I returned it to the water.

I have very large hands.

Monday, 28 September 2020

Winter thrushes start to arrive

 Very light breeze starting from the south then working through more or less all points of the compass. Leaden skies started high then got lower during the day resulting in fine drizzle then rain by evening.

Excellent coverage today from DH, KE, JR, PM and MD - a particularly thorough and comprehensive check by Dan.

Heysham Head 0650-0900


Coal Tit 9 restless flock

Blackbird 8

Redwing 7 then E

Goldcrest 6

Song Thrush 5

Chiffchaff 3

Rock Pipit 2


Greenfinch 15

Linnet just 10


Siskin 4 E

Meadow Pipit 3 SE

Grey Wag 2 SE

Lesser Redpoll 2 NE

Swallow 1 N

Skylark 1 N

day movements:

alba wag c15 N and E ex-roost?

ET 9 low S suggesting ex-Leighton roost rather than Lune.

Half Moon Bay and scrub / woodland inland of cafe

Coal Tit 6

Chiffchaff 3

Goldcrest 3

Rock Pipit 2

Helipad 0950

Oystercatcher 1600

Knot 1750

Heysham Nature Reserve 

Goldcrest 15 

Robin 14

Coal Tit 2 plus irruptive flock of 20 south

Blackbird 8

Redwing 3

Song Thrush 6

Chiffchaff 4

Jay 3

Blackcap 2

Siskin 2 then N

Kestrel 1 (m)

Meadow Pipit - party of 6 South at 1030

Moneyclose Lane / Dog Track

Goldcrest 12

Coal Tit 10

Chiffchaff 5

Red Nab 

Curlew 73

Black-headed Gull 25

Shelduck 25

Wigeon 17

Rock Pipit 2

Mediterranean Gull 1 (ad)

Merlin 1 female type rested briefly before flying off west along the sea wall - 08:30

Ocean Edge

Shelduck - another darvic ringed bird (lime green) read

Carrion Crow, flock of 15 north.

Dunlin and Ringed Plover c 50 each

Knot 2000 offshore

A small flock of 14 Pinkfoot were also on the beach. They unfortunately took flight when the tide reached them, lifting all the waders. 


The resulting chaos -  You can see the geese lower centre. 

After - The waders eventually landed nearer Potts Corner.

Linnet 15 near saltmarsh

Rock Pipit 1

Wheatear 2

Picture by Dan.

Wooden Jetty area

Rock Pipit 1 - that's a total of 8 Rock Pipits seen in the recording area today.

Mediterranean gull 1 2nd calendar year

Picture by Kevin
Ulster Bus Alley
Blackbird flock of 15 males (13 x 1Winter)

Chiffchaff 2

Goldcrest 2

Blackcap 1

Middleton Nature Reserve

Cetti's warbler 2 singing

Gadwall 4

Teal 1

Red-Breasted Merganser 5 north

Little grebe 1

Today's bird still in, at least partial, summer plumage

Sunday, 27 September 2020

A better selection

 Light winds started in NE and ended in NW. Sunshine and very blue skies for most of the day.

Middleton Nature Reserve 
Visible migration report from Jean:

Vis 0700-1000 NE F2. All generally south unless stated.

Whooper Swan 5 - first records this autumn 

Marsh Harrier 1  E

Great Spotted Woodpecker 2 N

Raven 1

Skylark 1

Song Thrush 1

Grey Wagtail 8 

alba wagtail 5

Meadow Pipit 12

Chaffinch 2

Linnet 4

Siskin 1

Reed Bunting 7

Early evening (MD)
Jack Snipe 1 - first record this autumn 
Common Snipe 2
Water Rail 1
Kingfisher 1
Cetti's warbler 1 the "No swimming" pond male singing
Little Grebe 1
Now in winter plumage

Dragonflies: Common Darter c15. Migrant Hawker 3
Butterflies: several Small White, Speckled Wood and a single Comma

Ocean Edge/Red Nab
Early morning (PM)
Mediterranean gull 5 (1 adult, 1 2cy and 3 juvenile)
Grey Plover 410

high water 09:10 (MD)
Again lots of Shelduck and waders, I didn't try to count, but the inshore waders on the mud, in order of abundance were:
Grey Plover,
Ringed Plover
Bar-Tailed Godwit,
This young Lapwing looking good in the sunshine.

Wheatear 2
Meadow Pipit 8 SE
Skylark 1 unseen but generally south

Saturday, 26 September 2020

A reasonable selection today

 The wind still from north, NNW to start with then pretty much due north. Sunny spells and light showers.

South shore - covered between 08:00 - 10:00 (JR, PM, MD)
Chiffchaff 1 singing near Ocean Edge entrance 
Mediterranean gull 2x 1cy Red Nab, two adult south of Ocean Edge.
Shelduck 114 - most were in the water but two of those at the edge had coded darvic rings. Details awaited
Pink-footed Geese 422 in 5 flocks
Rock Pipit 2
Tree Sparrow 1 near saltmarsh 
Off passage Tree Sparrow with resident House Sparrows and Starling

Meadow Pipit 11
Kingfisher 1 on Red Nab
Wheatear 6
One of yesterday's Wheatears - from Kevin

on mudflats off Ocean Edge
Grey Plover 285 with 71 of these close inshore
Sanderling 1
Ringed Plover c52, 
Dunlin c80

on rocks at No.2 outflow
Knot c500
At least one of these is colour ringed, but only one leg is visible 

Wigeon 9
Nice formation but the Curlew wasn't impressed 

Grey Seal 1 between the outflows

Friday, 25 September 2020

Some Rock Pipit passage and an elderly Grey Wagtail

 Fresh NW strong breeze all day. A mixture of sunshine and light showers

News of a Grey Wagtail from colour ringed schemed (details on side bar to the right)
Ringed grey wag from  2014 seen at Twemlow Parade,  north Heysham today - 6 years old (national age record from Ringing is  7 years 1 month) - thanks to Bill Ashby

South Shore 
Mid morning
Wheatear at least 7 between Red Nab and Ocean Edge
Rock Pipit - as well as three, that appeared to be the long staying birds. There were two on passage seen on Ocean Edge foreshore, before flying off high to the east.
Quite a contrasting couple of birds
One quite a rich brown, the other paler and greyish.

The browner bird had a metal ring

Wheatear 8 located, but that included 1 from the lighthouse area, not checked this morning.
Rock Pipit 4 including one near lighthouse - all presumed to be the long staying birds
Grey Wagtail 1 juvenile on Red Nab
Kingfisher one briefly on Red Nab

Agility training!
These are two adult and four juvenile Lesser Black-Backed gulls.
The adult at the top has a portion of food

The food is released for the juvenile to catch in flight


Thursday, 24 September 2020

Of light and shade, and far away places

 The wind started SE but by evening had swung round to NE. Light rain for much of the morning then some sunshine and very heavy showers in the afternoon.

Jean's report for this morning:

The blog should be entitled "The Best of the Rest" because we missed most of the vis, which occurred in the first hour and a half of daylight (see for reports from other areas). Arrived at Heysham NR just 20 minutes before the rain began and in that time (07:40-08:00) there were:

Meadow Pipit 72 (3.6 per minute)

Goldfinch 2

Alba wagtail 7

Siskin 1

3 Goldcrests and a Chiffchaff were calling and a Blackcap seen.

In the short, dry spells between the heavy showers, Meadow Pipits were still coming through and several flocks of Pink-footed Geese. So in 2hrs 40 mins (between 08:40 and 11:20) there were:

Meadow Pipit 253 (1.5 per minute)

Pink-footed Goose 113

alba wagtail 2

Grey Wagtail 1

Siskin 1

Ocean Edge 

A notable 15 adult Mediterranean Gulls were loafing on the shore towards Potts Corner. A juv was on Red Nab. 

40 Ringed Plover and a Dunlin scurried about near them.

Low tide channel

Eider 67 - numbers are slowly building up.

Great-crested Grebe 11

Red-breasted Merganser 6

Other records (MD)
South shore
Wheatear 2
Rock Pipit 3
Grey seal 1

Middleton Nature Reserve 
Mute 4 adult 4 cygnet
Coot 5
Moorhen 4
Little Grebe 1
Mallard 1
Gadwall 2
Teal 1
Water Rail 2
Common Snipe 1

Cetti's Warbler 1 singing
Chiffchaff 1 singing plus at least 3 calling
Common Whitethroat 1 seen
The sun chose this moment to shine through
leaving the Whitethroat in silhouette.
Still, a distinctive profile.

Visible migration:
to south/southeast 
Pinkfoot 367 ( including 144 in the afternoon)
Swallow 2
Skylark 9 (one flock)
Meadow Pipit 72 (same number, but different birds to Jean's)
Jay 3 (north)

Lighthouse area early evening
There were some very dark clouds and distant rain and hail showers visible, but the sun was bright and created some spectacular views, one of which was a revelation to me.
Kevin took these splendid pictures:
Silver skies over Fylde

Dark skies over the south lakes

This next one is special, to me at least, I had no idea that this view was possible from here. This is looking out past Knott End/Fleetwood. White clouds had moved behind distant "hills" allowing them to be seen in silhouette.
Revealing the unmistakable profile of Snowdonia
in north Wales!

Once Kevin had shown me the location, I could make it out, even in less favourable conditions. You learn something new every day!

Footnote from Kevin:

I used a map measuring tool to find out the distance from the harbour to Snowdon, and it's 80 miles! I also realised, on close inspection, that the view was probably a mixture of the Carneddau range, the Glyders, with Snowdon behind them .It's very satisfying to see that the straight line does indeed just miss the tip of Knott End/Fleetwood.

Wednesday, 23 September 2020

Bypassed by the Pinks

 Northerly wind first NNE then NNW. Overnight rain petered out by 09:30, after that some sunshine and light showers.

South Shore
Pink-Footed Goose - there were large numbers heading south generally. 12,000 over Moffat in Scotland and c5,000 arriving at Martin Mere. The only records over Heysham were 168 south at 10:35 and 15 SE at15:20
Wheatear 4
Great White Egret 1 - 15:20 a flight line from the estuary past the wooden jetty. GWE have been seen reasonably frequently in both directions along this line, both from the Observatory and Potts Corner.
Wigeon 5
Shelduck over 100
Grey Seal 1

At low water on these spring tides the mud is still wet from the previous tide and the waders spread out to feed. There are plenty around, just not immediately obvious. 
Knot - there have been a group of four feeding directly in front of Ocean Edge foreshore rocks all week.
Including this juvenile 

Grey Plover only two seen 
This male still sporting (most of) his summer Plumage

Ringed Plover - spread all across the mud in loose flocks - at least 60
Dunlin - also spread about but in small groups - also c60
These two vigorously feeding

They prey hardly seems to justify the effort!
The one on the left has a small mollusc

Tuesday, 22 September 2020

Greenshank best of an otherwise standard bunch

 The wind freshened throughout the day starting a cool SSE then swinging towards SW. sunshine in the morning then largely overcast with light drizzle.

Middleton Nature Reserve 
Report from Jean.
Meadow Pipit 9
Reed Bunting 3
Linnet 2
alba wagtail 1
Grey Wagtail 2
Siskin 1
Greenfinch 1
Chaffinch 7

Reed Bunting 3
Meadow Pipit 3
Chiffchaff 2 (+1 retrap from yesterday)
Lesser Redpoll 1

Ringing control information
Meadow pipit
Ringed: Erme valley, Harford, Devon as 1st calendar year on 13/9/19

Caught: Midd NR on 18/9/20
407km N
But obviously migrated north of here to breed as both captures were on autumn passage 

South shore
Dunlin 105
Ringed Plover 70
Knot 2
Greenshank 1 juvenile in inshore channel
Wigeon 3
Wheatear 2
Rock Pipit 3
Linnet c30

Heysham Nature Reserve
Chiffchaff 5 heard from road and car park

Heysham skeer low water
Great Crested Grebe 7
Red-Breasted Merganser 4
Eider 2
Turnstone c50
Knot c20 + c40
Redshank and Curlew - numerous, but scattered in small groups
Oystercatcher everywhere 
Little Egret 8
Grey Heron 2

Monday, 21 September 2020

Good variety, including Osprey and Brent

The breeze shifted round today, from east through south and ending up WSW. Mainly sunny.

Heysham Nature Reserve - report from Jean
Low key vis (in terms of numbers) this morning but high flying in the clear sky.

Heysham NR vis 07:30-09:30
Pink-footed Goose 20
Skylark 1
Swallow 5
Grey Wagtail 3
alba wagtail 1
Meadow Pipit 81
Chaffinch 18
Linnet 1
Siskin 3

On the deck/night migrants
Robin 11, Chiffchaff 4, Goldcrest 2

Middleton Nature Reserve- ringing report from Alan:

Three Grey Wagtails seen this morning and of these only one was caught.

Other passerine passage must have been very high in the clear conditions apart from a few Meadow Pipits that came down to the lure and seven Swallows that flew southwards across the reserve.

19 Pink footed Geese flew south well to east of Middleton.

A few birds were trapped and ringed:

Meadow Pipit - 4

Grey Wagtail - 1

Wren - 1 +1 retrap

Robin - 1 retrap

Chiffchaff - 4 + 2 retrap

Blue Tit - 1

Great Tit - 1

Lesser Redpoll - 5

Reed Bunting - 2

Pete conducted low water scans from various vantage points:
Out from Ocean Edge
Curlew Sandpiper 1 juvenile 
Dunlin 120
Ringed Plover 87

Red Nab area
Mediterranean gull 5 - 2 adult 2 x 2nd calendar year. 1 x 1st cy
Shelduck 175
Alba Wagtail 72 grounded on OE grass - ex ps roost presumably.  

Over in 1 hour
Meadow Pipit 22
Grey Wagtail 2

North side low water channels
Pale-Bellied Brent Goose - Two flew along Kent channel then swung towards walney
Great Crested Grebe 11
Red-Breasted Merganser 3
Eider 11

South Shore approaching high water (MD)
Wheatear 7
Rock Pipit 3 on Red Nab plus 1 on rocky outcrop south of the saltmarsh 
Wigeon - the flock has now swollen to 5!
Osprey - fishing between the outflows c2 hours before high water. Watched for a while by one fortunate  observer, who eventually saw it catch a fish then head towards Red Nab. 

Some nice views of the smaller waders as they rested on the last of Red Nab rocks
Dunlin and a Ringed Plover

The Ringed Plover, almost left it too late