Friday, 16 April 2021

Arctic Terns begin moving through

Very light SE breeze early on, freshening and shifting to west after lunch. Sunshine all day.

Middleton Nature Reserve 
Ringing report from Pete:
I think this morning was quite quiet as Middleton was in a pocket of still air.  Two Lesser Redpoll were caught as soon as the net up but catching these things in civil twilight - when a lot can go over on clear mornings is just a little too early for me these days!

Ringing - new ringed:
Lesser Redpoll - 5
Blackcap - 4
Willow Warbler - 2
Goldfinch - 1
Sedge Warbler - 1
Nothing else of note other than two Teal and 2+3 Greylag

A check in the afternoon noted there were fewer warblers singing than of late, but all the recent birds were present.
Cetti's warbler 2, Sedge warbler 1, plus Blackcap, Willow warbler and Chiffchaff 
The sun brought out the butterflies including the first emergence of the spring:
Speckled Wood 3
Also: Small Tortoiseshell 5, Peacock 3, Comma 3.

Pete also managed a brief check of coast from north wall:
Arctic Tern flock of 8 feeding then flew high to NNE
Sandwich Tern - 1 in
Quite a few Black headed Gull small gangs flying in
Nothing notable on water

South shore
Rock Pipits 2 - the ringed bird and a second bird squabbling near the lighthouse.

There were at least 8 terns feeding and flying into the bay at 11:00. Based on the predominantly white plumage and feeding style, I presumed that they were Sandwich, and they probably were, but they were just beyond firm identification with my optics. There are four on this clip, taken from the lighthouse as they were flying past the buoys out from the north wall (sorry about the blurry bit in the middle MD)

This Song Thrush was collecting food, presumably for its mate:

Janet spotted this Mistle Thrush on Heysham Village green

Finally, there have been regular sightings of Roe deer this year. This female was on Middleton Nature Reserve. She saw me before I saw her, resulting it what must be the most common view of a Roe deer.



Thursday, 15 April 2021

Whoopers take a long break

Almost breathless early on, what breeze there was stated from the southeast. Sunshine all day.

Middleton Nature Reserve 
Ringing report from Alan:

Another frosty start at Middleton with no wind and clear sky. A very light southerly breeze got up during the morning.


A nice selection of birds trapped and ringed:

Meadow Pipit 1

Blackbird 1

Blackcap 2

Willow Warbler 10

Goldfinch 2

Siskin 1

Lesser Redpoll 8


Little else seen and any migrants would have been very high and out of my (poor) hearing range.

A Roe Deer appeared on the centre road about ten metres away from my ringing position and shot into the western marsh when it saw me.


A check in the early evening also heard:

Cetti's warbler 2

Sedge warbler 2 - I couldn't quite get a clip of one singing, this is as close as I managed, just a glimpse of "a" warbler but at least the Sedge Warbler song is clear.


Pete checked the north shore:

Mediterranean gull - 1 second calendar year (with almost full black head) out from the north wall.

Great Crested grebe 9

Red-breasted Merganser 15 including a flock of 9

Teal pair

Whooper swan 19 lingering in the middle channel

Low water this morning was 08:30, Pete located the Whooper 08:00. I was on the skear later, but it's not possible to see the middle channel from the shore, but at 10:00 19 distant white necks began rising up through the heat haze. By 10:20 they were fully visible, albeit still quivering through the haze. By this time the tide was flooding quickly and taking them in towards the Stone Jetty. They were still on the water at 10:40 when I left. Not much of a video, but an indication of location.

Eider, not counted but numbers looked similar to recent counts


Heysham Nature Reserve 

Janet had a walk around late morning. Records included a Sparrowhawk and this Blackcap

Male Blackcap looks to have caught a parasitic wasp.

You will need to open these images to see the insect details.



Wednesday, 14 April 2021

Sedge warbler arrives

An overcast morning with hardly any breeze, what little there was started from the east then swung round to west. Sunny spells from lunchtime onwards.

Middleton Nature Reserve 
Ringing report from Jean:

It was fairly quiet this morning at Middleton NR - like the weather.


Vis consisted of 9 Meadow Pipits, 9 Lesser Redpolls and 4 Woodpigeons (the latter heading high SSE for some reason).


Ringing from 0730-1130 comprised a few migrants and some residents:

Lesser Redpoll 6 

Blackcap 2

Willow Warbler 2

Greenfinch 4 new birds and one retrap which had been ringed at Heysham NR as a juvenile on 8 Sept 2019

Goldfinch 1

Bullfinch 1

Cetti's Warbler - a retrap first ringed at Middleton NR as a juv on 1 July last year, and also caught in September.


Janet took some nice shots:
Female Roe deer, one of two seen

There were at least 4 male Pheasant calling - this is one of them

Three of the Gadwall, gadabouting.

The Canada geese seem determined to stay

An early evening check located:
Mute 11 on main pond plus two breeding pairs
Canada goose 2
Teal 4
Gadwall 5
Tufted 1 male
Mallard 4
Cetti's warbler Central marsh and Western scrape males singing
Sedge warbler, just a couple of bursts of song from western scrape 17:10 (first record of the year)
Willow warbler, Chiffchaff and Blackcap singing all around the reserve.
Reed Bunting 1

South shore mid morning
Linnet 6 Red Nab
Wheatear 1 Ocean Edge foreshore 
Goldfinch - a single bird on the sea wall, unusual to see just one, anywhere.
Rock Pipits 4 one on the sea wall plus:
This is the lighthouse female taking nest material to the nest hole. You would have to imagine its only a flimsy construction, she doesn't appear to be the most dexterous of birds.

The ringed male appeared to be standing guard
The dark blue background is the StenaLine going out

But just after this shot another bird turns up and one chases the other off. Later the ringed bird was keeping an eye on me half way along the wall. So it isn't certain yet if the ringed bird is the lighthouse male. But further observations will sort it out (MD)

Finally just a short clip of, probably the least liked rodent, taking advantage on the kindness of visitors to Middleton. You have to admire the opportunism of Brown Rats.


Tuesday, 13 April 2021

Ring Ousel and Redstart

Very light but cool wind. Overcast till mid afternoon, then some sunshine.

Middleton Nature Reserve 
Ringing report from Alan:

Another unseasonal cold start at Middleton this morning.

Nets set on both east and west sides from 06.00.


Willow Warbler   7 + 2 retrap

Chiffchaff   1

Blackcap    1

Meadow Pipit   1  caught in a cage trap at 07.10, no other individuals seen.

Treecreeper  1   This is the first spring record for the Observatory 

Song Thrush  1

Goldfinch  2

Blue Tit   1

Great Tit  2

Wren  1 retrap


Nothing seen moving overhead except for two Swallows that briefly showed some interest in a song recording played briefly later in the morning.


Redstart 1 female near hawthorn line between the main pond and Tim Butler pond - reported by Alan Physick.


Cetti's warbler 2 singing, the "no swimming" pond and central marsh birds, also three brief, sightings.


Pete checked south and north shores:

South shore

Ring Ousel 1 briefly grounded on foreshore grass 07:55

Sandwich Tern 1


North shore

Low tide channel:  

Eider 326

Red-breasted Merganser 13 

Great-crested Grebe 9 - these two started displaying, before being interrupted 


Massive large seagull influx on to skeers but not the honeycomb worm ones but those furthest out - 470 counted - they should increase from now


These followed the dredger in, they reminded me of gulls following a trawler as it was discarding unwanted fish. But a dredger, in calm conditions? Perhaps they were just appreciating the graceful lines of this grab hopper dredger.......(MD)

When the dredger reached the harbour, the gulls settled on the sea and drifted in with the tide.

There were 26 Carrion Crow on the beach as the tide was making, 21 near the green marker post, plus another 5 nearer the north wall, I don't think it was passage, they drifted off east in twos and threes. These are just some of the marker post birds.
This time last year I saw 30+ on the skear early one morning. I think these must have come from there, presumably they find something good for breakfast. Most days there are only two birds feeding there.

Monday, 12 April 2021

Plenty of warblers in the sunshine

Another sunny day with light wind, initially from south, but quickly moved round to west.

First, some records from yesterday from Pete:
Red-Throated Diver 4 over the sea on the incoming tide
Eider 192
Common Scoter 2
Turnstone 356 on wooden jetty high water roost.

Middleton Nature Reserve - mid morning
Mute swan 9 on main pond including 3 immature. 2 breeding pairs on other ponds.
Canada goose 2 together on main pond at start of walk, but, interestingly, just a single bird on the return.
Coot 3 
Moorhen 4
Gadwall 5
Mallard 5
Tufted 1 male
Teal 2 (male and female). I've attached this clip of the male, not because it does anything, but there is a nice burst of Willow Warbler song in the middle.
Little grebe 1 trilling on "no swimming" pond

Reed Bunting 2

Warblers - sining males
Cetti's warbler 1 on central marsh
Blackcap 3
This male Blackcap is ringed
And a burst of song:

Willow Warbler 8
Chiffchaff  9
I didn't try and count the non singing birds, but there plenty around, although no female Blackcap seen.
Not all the warblers were just passing through.
This one (Chiffchaff I think (MD)) seemed very pleased with this feather

Heysham skear - evening ebbing tide
Eider 104 was the highest single count, but undoubtedly more around
Great Crested grebe 7
Red-breasted Merganser 8
Little Egret at least 8
This clip shows the Egret again finding lots to eat, I suspect it was shrimps on this evening's menu. Also on this clip; Redshank, Turnstone, Lesser Black-Backed and Herring gull.




Sunday, 11 April 2021

Not much, so far

Another overnight frost. Cold breeze but sunshine for most of the day.

This is the history of the third colour ringed Oystercatcher seen by Richard yesterday







I didn't manage to get out till the evening, just as I got on to the skear (this is the traditional spelling), the wind freshened and the clouds rolled in, it went very cold and looked like it was going to pour down, fortunately, I got away with it, but Lancaster didn't look so lucky.
Downpour towards Lancaster, as seen from the skear 18:00

Eider c60
Great Crested grebe 2
Red-breasted Merganser 1. This tatty, even by Merganser standards, male had me fooled for a minute!

Little Egret 6
Turnstone at least 150. The tide was just starting to come in as I was leaving, the Turnstone were waiting patiently on their selected piece of honeycomb, for the tide to bring the worms into feeding range.
Won't be long for this one to wait, by this time the sun was out again, but it was still cold,
 so I was on my way home for an OXO (other stock cubes are available. MD)

Possibly more records to come.

Saturday, 10 April 2021

Some interesting ring records today

Overnight frost. Very light northerly winds, the sun shone throughout the day, but it clouded over in the evening.

Middleton Nature Reserve 
John and Alan braved the frost for an early ringing session - report from Alan:

The temperature was around minus 3 degrees when I arrived at just before 06.30 with a clear sky. The catch was unsurprisingly small but interesting nonetheless.


Meadow Pipit - 1

Dunnock, Blackbird, Cettis Warbler - single retraps of each

Blackcap - 1 retrap of a bird ringed here in June 2020

Chiffchaff - 1

Goldcrest - 1

Lesser Redpoll - 1

Willow Warbler - 2 retraps. Both of these were returning birds. One ringed here in July 2018 and retrapped in early summer 2019. The other ringed here in April 2019 and retrapped in June 2020.


Both these birds have made multiple return trips to Africa.


Little movement seen overhead, although birds may have been extremely high in the clear conditions.


Swallow - at least six flew low over the reserve heading northwards.

Meadow Pipit - 5

Carrion Crow - 4 +2 flying west were almost certainly migrants.


One Peacock Butterfly in the western marsh area.


Heliport wall
Richard du Feu managed to read three colour ringed Oystercatcher this morning:
C6 the Devon ringed bird last seen on the Near Naze 27/03/21 - it was expected that this bird would have already moved on.
LA the Norwegian ringed bird last seen near Cricket Club 08/02/21
Plus a new Norwegian bird, ringed in Hordaland - details awaited.

South shore towards high water 
Shelduck 19
Red-breasted Merganser pair
Grey Plover 1 (not the regular one with a bad leg)
Little Egret 4
Swan sp - flock of 5 north very low over the water. I suspect Mute, but not certain (they were a lot further away than they look. MD)
Rock Pipit 1 on foreshore
Wheatear 2
Female/first winter Wheatear
A few birds over to north
Swallow 2
Linnet 9
Meadow Pipit 8

Friday, 9 April 2021

Oystercatchers - quick learners!

A WSW light wind to start with, moving to WNW by evening. Sunny all day.

Pete managed a short seawatch 08:10- 09:10
Red-Throated diver 7
Common Scoter 1
Red-breasted Merganser 5 out
Little Egret 1 flew across bay towards Ulverston 
Later
Gannet 1, plus another Red-Throated diver


South shore
Wheatear 4
Rock pipit 4 probably 5
These pictures from Kevin. This is the ringed male Rock Pipit

Rock Pipit and Wheatear sharing a perch
Swallow 1 north
The butterflies are starting to fly again - Small Tortoiseshell 

Middleton Nature Reserve late morning
Mute swan 3 adult plus 3 immature on the main pond. 2 adult each Tim Butler and "No swimming" ponds.
Canada goose 2 main pond
Mallard 3
Little grebe 1 trilling on main pond
Swallow 1 north
Cetti's warbler 1 - just the "no swimming" male heard
Several Chiffchaff and Willow Warblers heard/seen, but no other warblers.

Heysham skeer - low water 17:50
The wind was a bit stronger by this time, a wind surfer was taking advantage of the conditions, unfortunately clearing the sea of birds.
These Eider took flight, the purple shape is the wind surfer's "kite".

Today, it was a Herring gulls turn to strike a pose

Right, back to the honeycomb worms, I'm sorry for going on about this, but it represents a significant change in local bird behaviour, with ramifications for the topography of the skeer. (MD)
This morning, at least 150 Turnstone returned to the wooden jetty to roost after feeding on the skeer. They must have been well sated, as this evening no more than 20 returned to the skeer.
The tide went out further today revealing the honeycomb beds the Turnstone were feeding on yesterday.
You can see how segments have become separated, making it easier for the 
Turnstone to prise away the edges to reveal the worms.

Oystercatchers have longer stronger bills and could feed on the worms anywhere, when the tide is rising around the beds. Unfortunately Oystercatchers are normally very loyal to their preferred feeding method. But not today! There were c700 Oystercatcher feeding on the honeycomb worms. This is new, I've never seen anything eat the worms till this set of tides. Yesterday there was a smallish group of Oystercatchers on the southern edge feeding near the Turnstone, today they were on the quite pristine beds in the centre of the skeer.
This first short clip is just to show that it is the worms that they are eating. Watch the bird just right of centre, at the front.

This clip is a section of the feeding birds.

Quite a number of these are immature birds, so hopefully developing feeding methods for life. It looks like they are devastating the Honeycomb worms, but this next picture puts it into prospective:
The c700 Oystercatchers are the pale smear in the mid ground. 
This picture still only shows 30% of the extent of the beds on the middle skeer
Hopefully the change in feeding will be maintained, perhaps it is only practical in the worm's breeding season, I have no idea at the moment. But even if the Oystercatchers do continue feeding this way, they will make little difference in the short term, but it will surely tip the balance back to mussels in the longer term.


Thursday, 8 April 2021

Much better seawatch!

The wind had strengthened and moved round to WSW. It continued windy all day, but not as strong as forecast and the expected rain held off.

Pete and Jean checked the sea 08:00 - 10:00. The bulk of these sightings by Jean from Heysham Head:

Red-Throated diver 40 (inc flock of 16)

Gannet  9

Common Scoter 42

Kittiwake 100 exact 4 flocks 

Fulmar 1


South shore

Linnet 28 at least near saltmarsh plus 2 near lighthouse 

Wheatear 3 on foreshore south of Red Nab

Rock Pipit - minimum 5 (1 saltmarsh, 1 Red Nab, 3 between lighthouse and waterfall, including the ringed bird at the mid point, with another bird)

This is the lighthouse territorial bird bracing itself on sea wall - no ring.

Middleton Nature Reserve - Janet
The Canada geese seem to be making themselves at home.
Cetti's warbler - one "shouting" from "no swimming" pond area. (Janet's words, but I like them, although technically the Cetti's is singing, you do feel that you are being shouted at! MD)


Heysham skeer low water 17:00

Eider - scattered, no more than 40 seen.

Red-breasted Merganser 2 (pair)

Little Egret 2 again easily catching common gobies.

Turnstone c150. Less today than yesterday, one of the problems with an evening feeding opportunity, is that it depends on how many birds are still hungry.

A few are starting to mount into summer plumage, this one also has a metal ring.

So, yesterday I got excited as the Turnstone were feeding on the honeycomb worms. I speculated that they had worked out that the worms were briefly available as they moved towards the end of their tubes as the tide was rising. Like most, if not all, theories, that is only a factor of a more complex explanation, I know a little more today, but there is more to be learned (MD)

I got down before low water, the Turnstone were all on the honeycomb bed on the southern edge of the skeer, a few were poking around, but most were just resting. By the time the tide was making, I was on the western edge of the exposed skeer. There were Oystercatcher and Redshank feeding on the honeycomb worm beds here, but feeding on whatever they were finding in the crevices, not on the worms themselves. On the north side there were very few waders and most of them just resting. But by the time I got back to the southern edge, everything was trying to feed on the worms! By that time I had already realised the main factor was that the beds on the southern edge are the most exposed and most damaged. The rough weather over the last few days, although mainly from the north, will have weakened them further.

This is the most encouraging clip, the Oystercatchers seemed to be catching lots.

The Redshank were trying, but I didn't see any catch a worm. But this young Lesser Black-Backed gull did


But, in these conditions, it seems the Turnstone are best suited to catching the worms. This one eats three in just over 10 seconds.

I'll be keeping an eye on these beds, but at the moment, you'd have to expect the waders to continue weakening them, and possibly eradicate them completely from here. Also, you would think that the Oystercatcher's strong bill would allow them to get to the worms in less damaged beds. That could be very significant as there is a large contingent of Oystercatchers throughout the year.

Let battle commence!

Wednesday, 7 April 2021

Easy pickings.......for some.

The cold NW winds eased a bit more. A clear start clouding over by lunch, but it remained dry.

South shore
Shelduck 61
GreyPlover 1
Wheatear 2
Rock pipits 3 (1 Red Nab, the ringed male on mid point of harbour wall and 1 near waterfall)
Grey Seal 1 quite distant near No.1 outflow
The dried mud on this Little Egret's feet make them look pink.
More on Little Egrets later.

This Chiffchaff was feeding near the small anemometer, and seemed to be catching lots of small insects.


North shore
Pete and Jean had a "dire" 1.5hr morning sea watch resulting in just:
Red-Throated diver 1 distantly on the sea out from Knowlys 
Bar-Tailed Godwit 1 on Near Naze

Heysham skeer - Low water 16:00
Eider at least 70
No Red-breasted Merganser or Great Crested grebe seen
No Knot either, but at least 250 Turnstone.
This clip may explain why the Turnstones have taken to feeding on the skeer in large numbers. These are two Turnstone and a Dunlin feeding. Watch the Turnstone on the left - it's catching honeycomb worms!
This is the first time I've seen anything eat the honeycomb worms. This Turnstone makes it look easy, you'd think the other waders would also take advantage. These are the honeycomb worm beds on the southern edge of the skeer, which take the brunt of the storms and so regularly reform. This area is recently formed, so not as high and dense as the beds on the north side. The worms do not get much bigger than these, even when the tubes are 2m high! This was the only Dunlin I saw, it seemed to try and copy the Turnstones.

Two Lesser Black-Backed gulls taking a break.

On Saturday Pete counted 13 Little Egret and commented that it seemed a large gathering at breeding season. Today there was only 5, but you can see the attraction, this one catches 4 Common Goby in the duration of this clip.
The west wind colours the shallow water, which in turn brings the gobies closer in than they would normally venture.
Behind the Egret you can see the Turnstone waiting on the Honeycomb worm beds. This was more or less low water, they didn't start feeding on the worms till the tide started rising. That must be the key! Presumably the worm stays at the bottom of its tube until the tide rises and then it moves up to feed. If so, it's only a short window of opportunity before the tubes are covered. I'll check in more detail next visit.
 (Can't wait! I love something new to try and understand.(MD))


Tuesday, 6 April 2021

Warbling in the snow!

The fresh NW cold wind continued, although not quite as biting as yesterday. Largely sunny in the morning, but snow then hail showers and sunshine in the afternoon.

South shore
Shelduck 26
Wheatears 4
Linnet 2
Rock pipits 5 (1 briefly on foreshore then Red Nab, 2 between lighthouse and waterfall, 2 "agitated" near the, now locked, gate the other side of the waterfall (where Fishers building is being stripped). But the agitation appeared to be due to the dredger working very close to the wall (nest site?).
This is one of the birds between the lighthouse and waterfall, I was trying to see if it was ringed on the right leg (see post 4/4/21), but it was hunkered down against the cold wind, and protected its right leg with all the skill of a fan dancer (MD)
So I cheated and snook around and took a shot from backstage 
Success! So the bird Jean ringed is a mature male defending territory.
This is almost exactly mid point between the lighthouse and the waterfall,
the other bird was directly over the waterfall, so possibly there are three
territories between the lighthouse and, what was, Fishers.

Middleton Nature Reserve - checked by Josh Hedley in the morning

Canada Goose- 2

Mute Swan- 11 on the main pond and another single on the "no-swimming" pond.

Jay- 3 together

Willow Warbler- 2 singing

Chiffchaff- 6

Blackcap- 2 singing

Blue Tit by Janet - it's yellow face evidence of it feeding in the catkins.


North Shore

Red Throated Diver 3 in an hour - ref Pete

Rock Pipits 2 Heysham Head - ref Josh

Osprey 1 was reported heading south along Morecambe Promenade in the afternoon, it isn't clear yet whether it entered Heysham air space or not.


Heysham Nature Reserve - afternoon 
By this time there were short but heavy snow and hail showers, but in between the sun shone.
Chiffchaff 4 
Willow Warbler 2
This short clip gives you an idea of the ferocity of the showers, not just the snow, but the wind increased too
To be fair, the warblers didn't actually sing through this, but they did continue calling, although, drowned out by the wind in this clip.

Roe deer 2, I only managed a glimpse of them disappearing. Unfortunately, not enough to establish if it was a doe with a fawn.

This is my favourite "wild" flower - Snake's Head Fritillary 
When and how it became established here is not clear, but it 
has been self sustaining on the reserve for many years.

There is seldom any milage in videoing flowers, but this clip of these delicate blooms in a hailstorm, to me, has a unique beauty! (MD)



Monday, 5 April 2021

Icy Easter wind - nice day for a swim!

The wind started almost due north then drifted towards NNW. A light snow shower first light, then mainly sunny all day. Even so the icy wind made it cold anywhere that wasn't sheltered.

South shore
Wheatear 1 male in the lee of the north bank of the saltmarsh.
Rock Pipits - at least 2. Early on there was one on Red Nab, but no sign of any along the exposed inner harbour wall. I believe the bird below is the territorial male from the lighthouse area. It was sheltering behind the very end of the sea wall, but high enough to be able to see the lighthouse.
Rock Pipit sheltering just below the sea wall. This bird was not ringed (see yesterday's post)
Later when Janet checked, there was at least one male displaying between the lighthouse and waterfalls.
Rock Pipit parachuting 

This was slightly unusual, the Oystercatchers set off from Red Nab on the ebbing tide. They head towards the feeding areas on the north side at this point in the tide. But as they got higher, the cold blast must have changed their mind, and they quickly landed again,  but they ended up in the sea, and then got washed ashore like so much flotsam. Unfortunately I was slow getting my camera out and most were back within wading distance by the time I took this clip.
It looks more like a scene when the tide is coming in rather than ebbing

North shore
Pete managed a check of the low water channels
Flock of 31 Kittiwake in then landed in Kent channel.  Probably another flock of 14 in but not sure this species.
Eider 148
Great Crested grebe 8
no Red-breasted Mergaser

Middleton Nature Reserve 
Just a quick check in passing of the two main ponds.
Mute swan 11 on the main pond (only 1 obviously immature) plus 2 adult on the "no swimming" pond
Canada goose 2 on main pond
Mallard 3 males
Gadwall 2 males 1 female

Three species of warbler heard
Chiffchaff 
Willow Warbler 
Cetti's Warbler (the "no swimming" pond male was singing, this is the third male heard this spring)

Finally, this Grey Heron got out of its depth - it's not often you see a Heron swimming!
It looks about as keen on swimming as I would be! (MD)

Sunday, 4 April 2021

Some birds moving through

The breeze had shifted to the west and freshened slightly. Overcast, but dry all day.

No more news on the Common Crane, it was seen and photographed from Fluke Hall area. The photograph has been confirmed as a Common Crane.

Records from Nick Godden viewing from the Stone jetty 07:45 - 09:15:

Greylag goose 2N

Eider 176

Red-throated diver 1

Great crested grebe 4

Herring gull 120

Meadow pipit 114 N

Rock pipit 3 N

Linnet 6N

Siskin 5N

Goldfinch 8N


Pete checked the low water channels and obviously saw some of the same birds:

Eider 170

Great Crested grebe 6

Red-breasted Merganser 3


Just a trickle of movement north, later in the morning past the harbour:

Linnet 15

Meadow Pipit 5

Alba wagtail 2


The highlight of the day (for me at least (MD)) was Jean managing to catch and ring one of the Harbour Rock Pipits. There were two displaying males plus two other birds between the lighthouse and the waterfall. Jean eventually caught a male.

Unfortunately, the plumage difference between adult and immature birds
in spring really requires comparison of the two - not really practical with one bird

This is the trap, which was made by Alan. In this clip there are three Rock Pipits checking it out.

A metal ring was placed on the right leg. Hopefully, the ringed bird will be one of the territorial males, if so, we will soon find out which one. Please check all sightings of Rock Pipits in the area, and report any with a ring (no need to try and read it), including location and behaviour - Thanks





Saturday, 3 April 2021

Common Crane - poor timing!

The light, cool, north wind continues, but a pleasant day in the almost constant sunshine.

Common Crane 11:00 watched from Fluke Hall heading towards and into Heysham air space. Unfortunately just after both Pete and myself had left the area!

Pete had managed a quick check in passing:
Osprey 1 - 10:15 distant and went up the river Leven
Eider 154
Great Crested grebe 5
No Red-breasted Merganser
Little Egret 13 around the skeer (a lot for the breeding season).

Other stuff:
Wheatear 1 male on saltmarsh in the morning
Rock Pipits 8 (2 Half Moon Bay beach, 1 foreshore, 2 Red Nab and 3 between lighthouse and waterfall, including two displaying males. Heysham Head not checked)
Just a few birds passing over to north in the morning
Meadow Pipits 10
Alba wagtail 2
Two of several 2nd calendar year Common gulls feeding on the outflows.

Someone asked me this morning why there seems to be almost constant dredging of the harbour, I expect most of you know the answer, but for those that may not, here it is (MD).
The harbour is the wrong way round!
Most harbours and Ports are fed by a water course, a large stream or small river continually flushes silts out of the harbour. Small streams are dammed and water released periodically (normally at low water) to flush away silt. There is no water course feeding Heysham Harbour. On the contrary, it is the feed to two small "rivers" (Power Station cooling waters) that draw water into the harbour.
This is the harbour at low water this morning, not an especially low water.
The dredger is just beyond the harbour mouth. You can see the open
channel for shipping but silt build ups to the left

Looking at the water above, everything looks still, but when you look at the water running out of the two outflows, you have to imagine that volume of water constantly flowing into the harbour. 
Of course the outflows are far from the only factor, there is a huge volume of constantly shifting silts and sands in Morecambe bay. I'm amazed the shipping channels into the harbour remain consistently along the same line, presumably related to the sea bed geology.

Friday, 2 April 2021

The Willow Warblers arrive (yesterday)

A cool night followed by a clear morning with light NW breeze. The cool breeze freshened during the day, but it was quite warm in the sun.

Late report of a Willow Warbler singing in NE corner of Heysham Nature Reserve yesterday morning.

Middleton Nature Reserve 
Ringing report from Alan:

Only caught two Lesser Redpolls and one Willow Warbler but wasn't expecting anything with the very frosty and clear conditions. No Meadow Pipits seen at all to the MP3 player.


A few singing Willow Warblers and Chiffchaffs.  

Cetti's Warblers - at least two singing, one each side.  

A very pale bird seen against the sun towards the east of the reserve at around nine without optics was probably a Barn Owl.


Later Janet had a look around

Long -Tailed Tit

Greylag goose on the main pond

One of the Mute nests, that's the blue ringed male .


South shore

No Wigeon left, but still a couple of pairs of Shelduck 

Rock Pipits - just one brief call from one on Red Nab. The harbour birds not seen or reported, so far.

Wheatear 1 male on foreshore in the evening


North shore
Whooper swan 34 - 09:20. They came overland, crossing the sea wall c300m north of the children's play area and continued NW towards Grange

Some of the Whooper swans
There were still lots of Red-breasted Merganser, Great Crested Grebe and Eider, but not the same high numbers as early in the week.

Meadow Pipits no more than c20 heard flying north in just over an hour.

Alba Wagtail - just two heard flying north


The anemones in the rock pools are now fully open.
Beadlet anemone - they are normally red like this one, but shades vary and green ones
are not uncommon. Also 3 periwinkles leaving tracks as they feed.

I dropped a broken barnacle (you can't help but break barnacles as you walk over the rocks). Apologies for the poor quality of this clip, but I was feeding with one hand and "filming" with the other.
It will take a couple of minutes, but it will move the barnacle to its mouth in the centre of the tentacles. It will then engulf the barnacle, digest what's edible then regurgitate what isn't. When I was young I kept some in a cold water marine fish tank, if they ever swallow anything nasty they can completely empty their stomach by turning it inside out! Not a pretty sight.
If your really bored, and watch carefully you can seen the periwinkles moving too.