Friday, 30 April 2021

First Whinchat arrives

A sunny morning after a cold overcast start. It clouded over by lunchtime after that there was a mixture of sunny spells and showers.

Middleton Nature Reserve 
Ringing report from Alan:
When I arrived at about 05.40 it was 3 degrees and cloudy, the sky cleared after an hour or so and it became quite warm in the sun. The NNE breeze increased to near 10 mh by 09.30. The combination of sun on the nets plus wind wafting the nets makes them very visible to birds so by 10.30 it was time to pack up.

Sedge Warbler  6 plus 2 retraps -  one ringed here in June 2020, the other ringed here in August 2019 and re trapped June 2020.
Blackcap  2 females
Willow Warbler  1 only
Lesser Whitethroat  1 retrap - ringed here in June 2019.
Chaffinch  1
Great Tit  1 retrap
Long tailed Tit  1 retrap

At least 12 Swallows flew through northwards in ones and twos.

I had a pleasant walk around mid morning (MD)
Warblers (numbers are minimum numbers of singing males heard)
Common Whitethroat 10
Lesser Whitethroat 6 
Willow Warbler 10
Chiffchaff 4
Cetti's warbler 1 (just the "no swimming" pond bird)
Sedge warbler 3
Blackcap 4
Grasshopper warbler 1 (just one brief reel from the NE corner of western marsh)
No Reed warbler heard, but the marshes were not checked as Alan was ringing.

This is a nice clip, shame about the siren! Male Chaffinch listening to a Chiffchaff singing, he then produces his song, then seems surprised to be answered by a Blackcap.

There seems to be a lot of Pheasants on the reserve this year,
but they normally see you before you see them!


There was a Little Grebe feeding a chick on the Tim Butler pond.


Seawatch report from Pete:
Arctic Skua 1 in Kent channel about 0725
No terns!!!
Red-breasted Merganser 4
Great Crested grebe 5 ( one trying to muscle in on displaying pair)
Swallow 11 north
Whinchat 1 male by Ocean Edge Cafe

A quick evening check of the shore below Heysham Head only managed to locate one pair of Rock Pipits on territory.
Whimbrel 2
The Sea Thrift on the cliffs is always nice to see.

Finally, what a difference a year makes. Last year there was a breeding pair of Mute Swan on both the "no swimming" and main pods. The Mallard with chicks was constantly driven from one pond to the other (she did very well fledging all nine!). This year there are nine none breeding Mute on the main pond (there was a failed breeding attempt) and they are happy to share their lunch with the Mallard chicks.


One last reminder of the open events organised by the LDBWS for this weekend
LDBWS Heysham 'open weekend' this Sat & Sun 
The second LDBWS field meeting of 2021 is a two-parter! Seawatching and landbird migrant sessions at Heysham Head this Saturday May 1st (7 'til 11AM) AND Sunday May 2nd (also 7 'til 11).

The first half of May sees the peak of Arctic Tern and Arctic Skua passage, as they fly into the inner bay on their Spring migration. Meet Shaun Coyle, Dan Haywood and other seasoned society seawatchers in the carpark of St. Peter’s Churchyard Heysham (suggested parking- Knowlys Rd or the pay-and-display in the village) at 7AM for a two-hour+ session over the dropping tide.

If you're not an early riser we'll be birding in the area till 11 AM but note that for terns etc., early morning is usually best.

As well as looking for terns, skuas and auks on the move we may also see offshore swallow and swift passage and search for songbirds making landfall on the headland. Telescopes can be useful but are by no means essential– binoculars are fine.

We would also like to offer short guided walks around nearby Middleton NR at this double-morning event, where the focus would be singing scrub and wetland warbler species. Please let us you know if this appeals and we can make arrangements.

Contact ldbws.info@gmail.com to express your interest in the event (stating which day you would like to join us) so we can gauge numbers and plan– note we’ll be moving around using the ‘rule of six’ but there will be plenty of space on the head!''

Please note that this open weekend event replaces the May 8th event-- when weather is predicted to be foul. Looking good for this weekend though!


Thursday, 29 April 2021

Three Tern species passage

A cold north wind continued till late evening before easing to nothing. Some heavy showers.

Pete's report from this morning:
Low tide channels 
Great Crested Grebe 4 
Red-breasted Merganser 6

Arctic Terns 11 plus 8 plus 12 the first lot headed NE high over the horse paddock!
Sandwich Tern c74
Common Tern 1
Pink Footed goose 14 north
Swallow 28 north

I just managed a late evening check of the skear. 
Little Egret 7
Whimbrel 2
Eider 67 close in
Red-Breasted Merganser just 3 - no displaying today
Great Crested grebe 4 (2 x 2)
These two didn't seem to be getting on!

Later, these two were starting a very genteel display. This clip also shows the beautiful evening light.

The tide had left this Thornback Ray stranded. They are one of the 
recent fish species, that were once quite rare but are now quite common in the bay.
It was obviously alive when stranded as you can see marks in the mud
where its tail had been. I picked it up, it was still just alive.

I quickly placed it in a pool that would not drain before the tide returned.
I think it would survive. It was probably one caught then returned by anglers
and hadn't had time to recover before being stranded

It was a beautiful sunset, but better still........

......it made the rain falling near Arnside into Purple rain!


LDBWS Heysham 'open weekend' this Sat & Sun 
 now includes Middleton Nature Reserve 

The second LDBWS field meeting of 2021 is a two-parter! Seawatching and landbird migrant sessions at Heysham Head this Saturday May 1st (7 'til 11AM) AND Sunday May 2nd (also 7 'til 11).

The first half of May sees the peak of Arctic Tern and Arctic Skua passage, as they fly into the inner bay on their Spring migration. Meet Shaun Coyle, Dan Haywood and other seasoned society seawatchers in the carpark of St. Peter’s Churchyard Heysham (suggested parking- Knowlys Rd or the pay-and-display in the village) at 7AM for a two-hour+ session over the dropping tide.

If you're not an early riser we'll be birding in the area till 11 AM but note that for terns etc., early morning is usually best.

As well as looking for terns, skuas and auks on the move we may also see offshore swallow and swift passage and search for songbirds making landfall on the headland. Telescopes can be useful but are by no means essential– binoculars are fine.

We would also like to offer short guided walks around nearby Middleton NR at this double-morning event, where the focus would be singing scrub and wetland warbler species. Please let us you know if this appeals and we can make arrangements.

Contact ldbws.info@gmail.com to express your interest in the event (stating which day you would like to join us) so we can gauge numbers and plan– note we’ll be moving around using the ‘rule of six’ but there will be plenty of space on the head!''

Please note that this open weekend event replaces the May 8th event-- when weather is predicted to be foul. Looking good for this weekend though!

A chance to see:
Arctic Skua

Arctic Tern


Whitethroat 

Wednesday, 28 April 2021

Slight lull, hopefully before a not so slight a storm

The cold NE breeze freshened by 08:00. Mainly overcast with some brief sunny spells.

Pete checked from north wall 07:30 - 08:30:
Arctic Tern 22 + 9 in (before the wind freshened)
Sandwich Tern 2 blogging
Guillemot 5
Red-breasted Merganser 13
Great Crested grebe 4
Eider not counted 
House Martin 2 in
Pete must have been bored, he took this shot of me, back in full winter plumage
 I must wear that hat more often, makes me look like I have hair!
This is what I was looking at, the two blogging Sandwich Tern
Eventually a total of eight went through
The patch of rocks where I am standing is all that remains of the old Tanker Jetty. The two buoys out from the north wall are where the original floating ends of the jetty (for some reason they were called dolphins) kept the jetty end at the same relative height to the unloading tankers. These rocks are only exposed on spring tides and are covered in anemones.
Five closed anemones waiting for the tide to return

Pete also managed a quick check of the outflows:
Mediterranean gull at least 1 second calendar year
Common gull - lots!
The Dark-bellied Brent goose was further down the coast at Cockersands today.

Middleton Nature Reserve - mid afternoon
What a difference a week makes at this time of year, that's how long it's been since my last visit. The leaves are all bursting out and within two minutes of arriving at the bottom car park I'd heard six warbler species:
Cetti's warbler ( eventually 2)
Lesser Whitethroat (eventually 3)
Willow Warbler
Chiffchaff 
Blackcap
Sedge Warbler (eventually 3)

Later in the circuit I also managed 
Common Whitethroat 2
Reed Warbler 1
No sign of Grasshopper Warbler this afternoon

Swift 2
Swallow 1

Mute 9 plus 2 breeding pairs
Mallard 3 males 2 females - the one with chicks now on the main pond
Coot 3 (Tim Butler pond bird with 3 chicks)
Moorhen 3

Finally another tale of Hermit Crabs (MD):
Just a little later than this last year, I explained the difficulties a Hermit crab has when they move to a shell that is too large for them (see post 13th May 2020 - there is a shortcut link to dates on the sidebar to the right), and I'll  probably do the same again this year! But today's tale is the opposite problem, when their shell is too small. This one was on the skear a couple of days ago, I saved it for a quieter day.
This Hermit Crab was laying prostrate out of its shell. I thought it had died of exposure, it was a warm day, and it was exposed.
But when I touched its leg it retracted slightly, so not dead yet.
I then noticed the fresh damage to the shell, either side of the barnacle.

It was obviously in a shell too small to offer it full protection, both from predation and the sun. So I picked it up to place it in a pool. To my surprise, instead of retracting as far as it could, it became quite animated.
I don't normally shake - I'll put it down to excitement!

This is a front on view

This is the detail of the shell damage. Small peck holes, so not a crow or gull.
There is no way that this crab would have been stranded here, unless it was unwell.
The only benefit of a small shell is that it is relatively light and manoeuvrable.
More likely a wader (oystercatcher?) has brought it here and tried to get it out,
I do believe the barnacle may have saved it, but surprised there is no obvious damage to the crab

Whether it was the attack or the subsequent exposure it clearly needed to recover. I placed it in a pool and set about trying to find a larger shell for it to move into. The tide was already coming in so I didn't have long.
The first shell I found was the same size, but at least not damaged. Unfortunately already occupied by a small Hermit Crab.
This small crab (you can just make out a couple of legs) is prone to being stranded
with such a relatively large, unwieldy, shell, but at least it is well protected.

After about 10 minutes I found a full size common Whelk shell, but again occupied and by a crab the same size as the first crab. 
The crab seems quite large when in feeding mode as it is above. But when I picked it up and it retracted, you can see there is plenty of room for "growth". A full sized crab fits this size shell perfectly, they can't fully retract but their large claw fully covers the opening.

By this time, the tide had already reached the pool where I left the first crab. I'd done all I could, but it was a shame that I couldn't find a better shell for it, I'm confident it would have switched. So I resolved to keep the next empty shell I find for potential other opportunities, but so far I've not found one, they are obviously prime real estate!
I referred above to growth in inverted commas, that's because they grow by shedding their old exoskeleton, which in this crab species is just the head legs and claws, the rest is just a fleshy muscle. The new exoskeleton then swells and hardens. They are just starting to shed now. This is a discarded outer skeleton.
Note the large right hand claw used to block the shell entrance 

Heysham is fortunate enough to be the host of a LDBWS open weekend this weekend. I will post these details again tomorrow and Friday:

LDBWS Heysham 'open weekend' this Sat & Sun.

The second LDBWS field meeting of 2021 is a two-parter! Seawatching and landbird migrant sessions at Heysham Head this Saturday May 1st (7 'til 11AM) AND Sunday May 2nd (also 7 'til 11).

The first half of May sees the peak of Arctic Tern and Arctic Skua passage, as they fly into the inner bay on their Spring migration. Meet Shaun Coyle, Dan Haywood and other seasoned society seawatchers in the carpark of St. Peter’s Churchyard Heysham (suggested parking- Knowlys Rd or the pay-and-display in the village) at 7AM for a two-hour+ session over the dropping tide.

If you're not an early riser we'll be birding in the area till 11 AM but note that for terns etc., early morning is usually best.

As well as looking for terns, skuas and auks on the move we may also see offshore swallow and swift passage and search for songbirds making landfall on the headland. Telescopes can be useful but are by no means essential– binoculars are fine.

We would also like to offer short guided walks around nearby Middleton NR at this double-morning event, where the focus would be singing scrub and wetland warbler species. Please let us you know if this appeals and we can make arrangements.

Contact ldbws.info@gmail.com to express your interest in the event (stating which day you would like to join us) so we can gauge numbers and plan– note we’ll be moving around using the ‘rule of six’ but there will be plenty of space on the head!''

Please note that this open weekend event replaces the May 8th event-- when weather is predicted to be foul. Looking good for this weekend though!


Tuesday, 27 April 2021

Scaup joins the year list

Overnight showers had more or less stopped by 08:00. Odd shower during the day. West wind drifting to north by evening.

Seawatch report from Pete:
Sea incoming tide Heysham north wall: 
1 Arctic Skua - dark morph
1 drake Scaup flew in 09:08
41 Guillemot
5 Razorbill (all auks floating in quite close)
16 Gannet
1 Red Throated diver
7 blogging Sandwich Tern (don’t usually get tern passage in westerlies)
5 Whimbrel
1 migrant little egret NW across the bay.  
Low water channels
320 Eider
1 Dark-bellied Brent
Harbour Porpoise 1

There are 8 singing male Rock Pipit between Heysham Head and Ocean Edge - at least three - like the stone jetty one - probably not paired.

Wheatear 1 below Heysham Head
Bar-Tailed Godwit 1 out from Half Moon Bay
It was nice to see this male House Sparrow help to feather the nest (one of the colony near Half Moon Bay high steps).


Heysham skear on ebbing evening tide
Little Egret at least 14
Great Crested grebe 1
Red-breasted Merganser 11 many of them frantically displaying to the diminishing female contingent:

These even go in for a bit of synchronised diving - note the second male start to display when it temporarily finds itself first male





Monday, 26 April 2021

Black Guillemot and Arctic Skuas top a good bill

Very light SSW breeze early on moved to SW and became slightly fresher. Sunny till lunchtime then overcast for the rest of the day.

A few observers were seawatching (Jean, Doreen, Dan and Pete - apologies if I've missed anyone) summary by Pete:
Sea incoming tide Heysham: 
Common Scoter 85
Razorbill 25
Guillemot 174
Razorbill/Guillemot c30
Sandwich Tern 74
Black Guillemot 1 in summer plumage
Red throated diver 1, 
Arctic Skua 4 (but a Pomarine and 4 other Arctic Skuas seen off  Rossall didn’t come through)
One of two dark morph Arctic Skuas missed passing through Heysham, but seen 
and photographed by Dan Haywood from the Stone Jetty in Morecambe 

Whimbrel 3
Pink-Footed goose 138 (plus one Unidentified small goose)
Dark- bellied Brent 1
Immature Dark-bellied Brent - see below for high water location
Manx Shearwater 7
Goosander 2 (not common here)
Mediterranean  gull 1 second calendar year
242 Common Gull. Many of these floating in. 
Not a single Arctic Tern despite small flocks passing Rossall - puzzling - maybe the Lune is the new overland route!

Harbour Porpoise 1
Grey Seal 3
One of yesterday's Grey Seals "bottling"
Picture by Kevin
Janet spotted the Dark-bellied Brent goose out from Half Moon Bay an hour before high water. It then drifted towards Heysham Head and back again. The shot below is one of mine just to show the location (MD)
This is the rocky outcrop at the northern end of Half Moon Bay, you can just make out the Brent.
It drifted between here and the rocks out from the Head and back again till high water,
and probably beyond. The detail shot above was taken from the path along the cliffs.

A couple more shots from Kevin:
Whimbrel and Little Egret 

Redshank and Dunlin

Another record of a colour ringed Grey Wagtail received (see scheme details on side bar to right)
Thanks to Mike Pickwell for this record and picture 
Amazingly the first from perhaps the theoretically most likely breeding river to the north - the Kent!

AXH0491/Lime over metal/red over red
Ringed:  Middleton NR, nr Heysham as 1st winter bird    31/8/20
Seen=male River Kent SD487980, near Staveley, Cumbria  26/4/21   38km NNE

Sunday, 25 April 2021

Swift arrive

The wind from NNE to east was quite cool early on. The sun warmed the day up.

Pete and Jean conducted a, relatively quiet, seawatch from the north harbour wall - report from Pete:
0650-0850:
40 Arctic tern three flocks, 
1 Common Tern, 
c20 Sandwich Tern, 
1 Mute Swan, 
2 Red Throated diver
3 Whimbrel and a few swallows.  
Three Grey Seal around

Heysham skear - low water 05:20
Eider c80 close in
Red-breasted Merganser 3
Sandwich Tern 2
Whimbrel 20+
Swallow 2
Common Snipe 1
No sign of the Dark-bellied Brent
Bar-Tailed Godwit 8 - these weren't actually on the skear, but feeding on the mud just south of it. They continued feeding until the tide pushed them onto the rocks. These three circled south, picked up five more birds before heading off north.

This is just a still from the video, the summer plumaged male looks quite impressive.

Swift 2 over Knowlys Rd 18:30 (first of the year) - ref Alan Physick 

Saturday, 24 April 2021

Still plenty of interest over the sea.

Very light variable breeze again, from NE to west and back to NE again. Very warm in the almost constant sunshine.

Middleton Nature Reserve 
Ringing report from John:
Another very quiet ringing morning. Although three nets set before 6.30am, no new birds caught in the first two hours. Just two retrap warblers a Willow and a Sedge. 
The only other birds caught later were seven Lesser Redpolls, in two small groups.

Jean and Pete conducted a seawatch from the North wall, and the resulting tally looks impressive, but things weren't as hectic as yesterday.
Report from Pete:
Early morning seawatch heysham north wall: 
52 Sandwich Tern
8 Red Throated diver - Nick had more rtd than us (10 in and 3 out)
1 Arctic Skua
32 Whimbrel
175 Pinkfeet
1 distant Osprey
141 Common Scoter
3 Gannet
9 Guillemot
2 Razorbill
2 Razorbill/Guillemot 
5 Arctic Tern - The arctic terns we’re going up the Lune flightline this am - Ian Hartley had 60 odd in a short high tide seawatch from Cockersands.
5 Manx Shearwater 
13 Swallow and 1 House Martin over sea

Nick Godden also a lot of Bar-Tailed Godwit (130 north plus 25 on the shore) which may have been feeding north of Heysham Head - they are on the move nationally in big numbers and strong easterlies seem to be diverting them from the usual English Channel route 

Also:
1 Chiffchaff, 
1 Wheatear, 
Displaying Rock Pipit along wall 
Redpoll and Linnet overhead.

Pete also checked Red Nab and located 2 x 2nd calendar year Mediterranean gull 

Pictures of both Meds by Pete

Also on south shore:
Kevin took these three pictures:
Linnet with nest material 

Sandwich Tern

Two Whimbrel 
Grey Plover, there has been a couple hanging around the saltmarsh all winter, they are now well on the way to summer plumage.

Heysham skear - low water 17:00
Red-breasted Merganser 6
Eider 93 counted close in, there would have been more
Whimbrel 2
Teal 4 (2 male and 2 female preening before flying north)
Dark-bellied Brent goose - it was on the north side of the skear again 16:15. But further out, the same distance from shore as Conger rock (the largest rock of the skear located on the south side). It was still visible as I was making my way back at 17:00. No reason why it won't be there again tomorrow, but higher tides mean it will become increasingly difficult from the sea wall.
Just for the record - Dark-bellied Brent





Friday, 23 April 2021

Auk day!

Another almost breathless day with the gentle breeze making its way around the compass. The air was much warmer today so very warm in the sunshine.

Seawatch report from Pete:
Heysham north wall 0630-0830.  
Unidentified fest ie an auk day: 100 plus dots on sea/whirring wings in heat haze, 
125 identifiable as Razorbill or Guillemot, 
20 Guillemot
6 Razorbill
2 Arctic Skua (plus additional bird by Alan Physick) all dark morph
132 Sandwich Tern
3 singleton Arctic Tern (unusual)
8 Red-Throated Diver
71 Common Scoter
4 Gannet
1 Manx Shearwater
1 Harbour Porpoise

Later up to 0930, 
9 more Manx Shearwater 
1 Red-Throated diver
c6 Guillemot
1 Razorbill 

Heysham Nature Reserve 
Janet reported Great Spotted Woodpeckers drumming here plus along the dog walk track. Plus these nice butterfly shots.
 Brimstone

Peacock


South shore
Wheatear 2
Rock Pipits 3 - one displaying on Red Nab, the ringed bird on the harbour wall near the lighthouse plus this feeding bird that was closer to the lighthouse - it still isn't clear of the status of the ringed male.

White Wagtail 1 - this male was feeding on the sloping wall next to the lighthouse 

Whimbrel 2 - one north plus this one resting on the sea wall

Heysham skear - low water 15:30
I went down a bit earlier in the tide cycle today, the water was still ebbing.
Dark-bellied Brent goose 1 - it was already feeding in the same location as yesterday. So presumably it had been there a while, and I fully expected to stay till moved on by rising tide. So possibly another show tomorrow? If so 90 minutes either side of low water (15:30 - 18:30 tomorrow). If you want to see detail of the bird, see yesterday's post. Today's pictures are to help show where it was. 
Close in on the north side of the skear,  so no chance of seeing it from the south side. Best place from the sea wall would be the fishing platform near to where the Grosvenor hotel used to be (Grosvenor Rd)
This is just before low water, the Brent is on the water in the middle of the image.
It then moved in to the NE corner of the skear, it's to the left of this image.
That's the Stone jetty top right.

Eider c50
Great Crested grebe 1
Red-breasted Merganser 6
Whimbrel 5
Dunlin c20 - I really enjoyed this, I was just walking off the inner skear, when I had to stop to allow a small troupe of Dunlin walk past. An interesting variation of plumages from winter towards summer.

Just occasionally, to me special occasions (MD), the beach sings. Not really a song, more like the white noise when you play a record and the music has stopped. It tends to happen on warm calm days, I think of it as the sound of life, millions of invisible bubbles popping, presumably oxygen from the algae and carbon dioxide from the tiny creatures. Today was such a day, the sound although not loud completely surrounds you. I wasn't sure If I could record it, and at one level I couldn't, this recording although conveying the sound, falls way short of conveying the sensation. Turn up the volume and try and imagine the sensation (there is nothing to see in this clip, it's just for the noise).



Thursday, 22 April 2021

A good day - something for everyone to enjoy!

Very light east wind early on again switching to west by mid morning. Sunny for most of the day.
There was plenty of stuff moving over the sea, plus all 8 regular warblers are now around to be seen/heard.

Middleton Nature Reserve 
Report from Alan:
Another frosty start, was this the last one ??
Very quiet ringing session with only nine new birds ringed.
Lesser Redpoll  2
Willow Warbler  3
Blackcap  2
Robin  1
Grasshopper Warbler   1 (first of the year)

Plenty of Willow Warblers singing around the reserve plus at least two Sedge Warblers. No Whitethroats heard this morning.
A single swallow fed over the reserve and then moved on.
Two sparrowhawks circled high towards the northwest.
6 Carrion Crows that came from the direction of Ocean Edge and flew northeast were possibly part of the flock that Pete saw grounded in that area.

Jean and Pete had a fruitful morning seawatch then quick check of the reserves. Report from Jean:

We watched the sea from 0715-0915. I was on Heysham Head, Pete at Ocean Edge


Sandwich Tern 246

Arctic Tern 31

Manx Shearwater 11

Gannet 1

Fulmar 1

Auk sp 5

Razorbill 1

Guillemot 2 floating out

Common Scoter 11 (7 and 4)

Red-throated Diver 2 out

Whimbrel 8 on Red Nab plus 2 others flying past


Vis

Linnet 33

Lesser Redpoll heard 6 times

Meadow Pipit 2

Tree Pipit 1 (Ocean Edge)

Carrion Crow 28 on the shore and 5 flew inland.


Heysham NR

Grasshopper Warbler reeling 

Lesser Whitethroat singing (first of the year)


Middleton NR

Reed Warbler 1 (first of the year)


Ocean Edge 

Rock Pipit displaying


Heysham Head foreshore - mid morning (MD)

I just went down to see how the Rock pipits were doing, most of the sea passage stuff was beyond my range, but I did see several of the Sandwich tern.

Whimbrel 10 (these almost certainly additional birds to Pete and Jeans)

Whimbrel

Rock Pipits - there were at least two solitary birds "standing guard" between Half Moon Bay and the high cliffs.

This is the "I'm on guard" pose. This is the high cliffs bird.
The implication being there are two nesting territories along this stretch.
With, possibly, a female on the nest.

There were a pair just below the northern point of the Head. The male was very agitated and noisy (including displaying) at my approach, meanwhile the other bird was looking for food, hopefully for some nestling chicks, in what would be a third territory.

This one, is stalking a Whimbrel, I initially thought it was the male "seeing it off", and it may well be, but it is also taking advantage to eat the invertebrates disturbed by the Whimbrel.

It could be busy this year, if all three territories result in chicks!


Heysham skear - low water 15:00

Eider not counted but at least 50

Red-breasted Merganser 3

Wigeon 2 (male and female, presumably off passage)

Whimbrel 4

Dark-bellied Brent goose 1

This immature bird was feeding on, the now plentiful, weed on the north side of the skear


Sandwich Tern 10 - popular slabs appears to be a recurrent theme at the moment, most were resting on this one. Sometimes you see a male bring the female a fish, I got the impression that this returning bird is being told to go and do just that!


There are reports of further tern movement this evening, involving over 100 birds. But it isn't clear yet what species. This post will be updated when more details become available.

Wednesday, 21 April 2021

Manx Shearwater

A much cooler NE breeze first thing, moving due east by evening. Mainly overcast with a few sunny spells.

Jean made a valiant effort from Heysham Head, but there was nothing over the sea and not much moving overhead. Still she managed the following in 50 minutes.
Linnet 14
Redpoll 1
Siskin 1

North shore
An evening check by Nick Godden (18:15 - 19:15) located
Manx Shearwater 2 (first of the year)
Sandwich Tern 30


South Shore
Bar-Tailed Godwit flock of 3 heading in to the bay.

Nothing at all heard overhead, but there were 5 Wheatear grounded
These two males were near the lighthouse (I do like pictures of land birds
with the sea as a backdrop - you can see it's much choppier today (MD))
Rock Pipit 2 - the ringed male was standing guard at the nest site near lighthouse. 1 on Red Nab, possibly same bird as one displaying along the sea wall.
Linnet 2 on Red Nab eating dandelion seeds

There were c150 Turnstone on the rocks near No.1 outflow. This slab was particularly popular, they appear to be prising off small barnacles. There is quite a plumage range between winter and summer plumage.

Whimbrel 3 - two singles flying in plus one calling on Red Nab

Middleton Nature Reserve - afternoon 
Swallow 1 having a drink from the main pond.
Little grebe 1 on Tim Butler pond, they bred here last year
Common Whitethroat 2 - I'd bumped into Kevin earlier and he commented that we hadn't heard a Whitethroat yet. Later, on independent checks, we both heard them. This one was near Tim Butler pond - not quite full throttle yet.
welcome back

Tuesday, 20 April 2021

Redpolls and Redstart

Hardly any early morning breeze again. What there was came from the north. Early morning sea mist didn't clear till the breeze moved to west and freshened. Overcast for most of the day with some hazy sunshine.

Middleton Nature Reserve 
Report from Alan:
Ringing this morning produced:
Blackbird  1
Cetti's Warbler  1 retrap
Sedge Warbler  1 + 2 retrap
Lesser Redpoll   21  (12 caught together)
Willow Warbler   8 +  3 retrap
Blackcap  3
Wren   1 + 1 retrap
Long tailed Tit  1

11 Swallows seen moving north through the reserve.
Three Greylag Geese and two Canada Geese commuting noisily back and forth between the various water bodies.

North Shore
The early morning sea mist significantly reduced the viewing range
The buoys out from the north wall were just visible
(There are actually 4 Sandwich Tern resting on the buoy and another flying over)

There was no sign of any Arctic Terns again this morning, but the calls from Sandwich Terns were almost constant, occasionally drifting into view and flying in both directions so very hard to estimate the actual number passing through. Eight was the most I saw at once, but overall there seemed to be fewer than yesterday.

Swallow 2 singles flying north low along the water line.

Redstart 1 male in garden near the horse paddocks/sunny slopes (thanks to Dominic for this one)

South Shore
Wheatear 4 on Ocean Edge foreshore
A slightly unusual, albeit unmistakable, shot of two of theWheatears
Rock Pipit 1 displaying on Red Nab, no sign of the lighthouse birds