Saturday 12 December 2020

Brent 11 - Theory 0

Quite a fresh SW breeze. Rain for most of the morning, easing off by lunchtime with late afternoon sunshine.

Saltmarsh - high water 09:00 (MD)
The tide was only 9m. Enough to reach the saltmarsh but to only cover 20%. I wasn't really expecting to see many snipe, but I was wrong.
Common Snipe - 45 lifted from the saltmarsh in small loose groups that headed towards Middleton Nature Reserve. A tight flock of 23 birds came from the north and landed in the middle of saltmarsh.
Jack Snipe - several sightings, each of which landed back on the saltmarsh. An absolute minimum of 4 birds involved.
I've looked at the tide table and note that the tide hasn't been high enough to cover the saltmarsh since 18/11, so the snipe have had almost 4 weeks for numbers to grow. The bulk of today's birds weren't flushed by the tide, but the few that were spooked others and started mini chain reactions. 

Wigeon 180
Lapwing 160
Dunlin 35
Grey Plover 1
Rock Pipit 2

Heysham skeer - 2hr before low water
Well, so much for my theory that the Brent geese were only coming over on the lowest neap tides. Perhaps the food availability on the west side is dwindling. (I'd always rather have a theory that is proven wrong, or at least incomplete, than have no understanding of the what/why of the way things are (MD))
Pale-bellied Brent goose. Initially 5, including the 2 Canadian ringed birds. Later when Howard arrived there were 10. These later flew off for a while and then 11 returned.
Howard hasn't had time to check his images yet.
This was his first one - best "opened" to see the detail.

The 5 early birds were feeding high up the beach in a brackish drain. They prefer eating the gut weed when it is floating underwater. So they flew down onto the sea.

The SW breeze put pay to any shrimping opportunities for the waders on the south side of the skeer. Yesterday, I glibly referred to "gulls crowded in every drain outlet". This is a common occurrence and I take it for granted, but thought afterwards that it wouldn't mean much to some of you, so today I videoed one of the main drains into the north side of the skeer. Drains in this sense are just natural channels that the sea water drains through.
Black-Headed gulls are very good at catching shrimps in these conditions. I would expect that at least 50% of the head bobs in this clip result in one less shrimp - you might be surprised!

Howard photographed the Norwegian ringed Oystercatcher on the cricket field again today (see Thursday's post)
It was raining,
 you can see the raindrops on the bird's back if you open this image.

It looks like it's going to be around a while, perhaps a good opportunity for any youngsters with an interest in nature to see if they can read a colour ringed bird. It's normally easily found either on the football or cricket pitch, near the SW corner of Heysham Village main car park. I will add and credit all records on this post. (see contact details to right MD)