Tuesday 31 August 2021

Passing Canadas

The light NE continues, overcast but dry.

Middleton Nature Reserve 
Ringing report from Alan:

The catches can't get much lower!  This morning was overcast with a light NE breeze. Only six birds ringed comprising 2 Chiffchaff, and singles of Willow Warbler, Common Whitethroat, Meadow Pipit and Goldfinch.

I had a quick look around mid morning (MD)

Mute "pair" (the male is starting to distance himself) plus 9 cygnet. Plus 1 adult on "no swimming " pond.

Coot 4

Moorhen 12 including 5 juvenile 

Mallard 9

Gadwall 14 - all on "no swimming" pond.

Little grebe 1 adult  also on "no swimming" pond

Cetti's warbler 2 singing males. One on Tim Butler, which is a known territory, although no singing heard since spring. The other was in the SE corner of the main pond, easily heard from the bottom car park. This is likely to be the bird singing and calling from the car park last week. This area is not an historic territory.

The only dragonflies seen were a couple of Common Darter and an Emperor.

Only two species of butterfly too. Green-Veined White 2 and Speckled Wood 30+. The Speckled wood were more active today than through the warm spell, they seem to appreciate the cooler weather. Both species were quite fresh looking.

Green-Veined White, showing how effective the veins are at breaking up its outline.

Speckled Wood - looking fresh

Red Nab and Foreshore 
Just a quick check on the way back from Middleton 

Rock Pipits 3 on the small beach between Red Nab and the foreshore. Pete advises that any movement at this time of year will just be the local population mixing and matching (more mixing than matching going on yesterday).

Wheatear 8 - at this time of year I find it very difficult to decide what age and even what sex they are. This clip is actually one of yesterday's birds. It very kindly displayed both profiles, but I'm still not confident, so I'll say nothing....((MD)

One thing I have noticed though. In spring, all the birds pass through in silence, but some of the adult retuning birds in autumn produce a click. I've always taken this as a warning call to youngsters, presumably as result recent habit, as they do it when they are alone as well as in groups.

A flock of 37-38 Canada geese came in off the sea and landed on the mud out from the foreshore, they only hung around a few minutes before setting off again to the east.

In contrast to Middleton, the only butterfly in the nature park was a single Meadow Brown 

Monday 30 August 2021

Knot and Grey Plover arrive in numbers

NE to ENE breeze all day, overcast.

Just my two checks of the south shore so far (MD)
Common Sandpiper 2 together briefly on the foreshore before leaving south
Linnet 32
Mediterranean gull 5 adult 1 juvenile on beach next to wooden jetty,
Robin 1 near the lighthouse 
Wheatears none on the out leg, first one seen flying in across the harbour near the waterfall then another 2 had come in near the lighthouse and 6 on the foreshore - so minimum 6 individuals, probably 9
Rock Pipit, again none seen on way out, but 4 arguing on foreshore on return. Suspect 2 were passing through.
Rock Pipits in "dispute"

High water 17:15
Wheatear 4 on foreshore 
Rock Pipits at least 5, that was the highest single count, but they were all along the foreshore.
I really just went down to see what was on the saltmarsh and foreshore, I had expected it to be busy, but unbelievably for a Bank Holiday Monday there was no one walking on the beach out from the saltmarsh, and better, the water line was full of waders.
It was good to see flocks of waders again, even if you couldn't tell what they were! This first clip is just a flavour of the evening with a flock of small waders coming in to land on the waterline.

I walked out on the beach, but didn't want to get too close and spook them, so images not great. But this isn't a bad clip. It includes: Curlew, Bar-Tailed Godwit, Grey Plover, Knot and Dunlin.

Estimate of numbers, these are woefully undercounted as I couldn't separate the species of the more distant birds.
Mediterranean gull 6 with roosting BHGs
Oystercatcher c3,000
Curlew c200
Bar-Tailed Godwit 40 
Grey Plover 150 minimum 
Knot 650 minimum 
Dunlin 240
Many of the above 4 species in summer plumage 
This clip is part of one on the groups of waders, this is the one where most of the Grey Plover were. Also Knot and Dunlin.

I managed not to spook them, but as the tide ebbed, more and more groups flew along the shore to feed. This flock contains Bar-Tailed Godwit, Grey Plover Knot and Dunlin, it ends as we started with silhouettes of waders against the evening light, but at least this time we know what they are!

This is just a still from the above clip, not a great shot but you can make out:
 Bar-Tailed Godwit, Grey Plover, Knot and Dunlin

Sunday 29 August 2021

Afternoon Wheatears

NE to NNE breeze all day, mainly sunny but some overcast spells.

Heysham skear - low water 10:45
Great Crested Grebe 5
No Eider seen
Little Egret 8
Mediterranean gull 1 adult, again occupying a small island on the north side of the skear.
Curlew c40
Whimbrel 1 at least
Oystercatcher c1,000
Redshank c100
Turnstone c40
Ringed Plover c20

Juvenile Ringed Plover (both pictures)

South Shore 
A walk along the sea wall mid afternoon located nothing on the way out, but on the return this Wheatear was feeding on small insects on the wall, allowing some close views.

Northern Wheatear 

I hadn't checked the foreshore on the way out, as it was very busy with holidaymakers, but did check on the way back and was surprised to find:
Wheatear 9 (4 + 5) so 10 in total and the one on the wall, at least, had just arrived from somewhere.
Rock Pipits 2 on Red Nab.

The object of the walk was to see if today's NE breeze and sun had brought any insects in off the sea. There was nothing around the lighthouse area. A couple of Small White in off along the sea wall and around Red Nab.
Interestingly, but not obviously why, the demographic of the butterflies around the Buddleia was completely different today. The only large butterfly was a single Painted Lady (no Red Admiral, Peacock, Large White, Comma, Meadow Brown or Small Tortoiseshell). All that remained were:
Small White 5
Speckled Wood several
Common Blue 2
Female Common Blue looking quite faded.
This picture is actually one from here yesterday
Dragonflies near small anemometer 
Common Darter 4
Migrant Hawker 1
Hawker sp 1 (pretty sure it was a Southern, but it wouldn't settle in view)

Pete managed a check of Red Nab towards high water. Not easy, many of the birds had already been flushed to the western edge, by holidaymakers. Further complicated by two Peregrine flying around and a drone being flown, spooking the waders (drones are becoming an increasing problem (MD)). 
Mediterranean gulls 5 adult 2 juvenile 

Saturday 28 August 2021

Plenty of balloons!

Almost no wind early on, what air movement there was from the NE, by the afternoon it had moved to WSW and freshened. Mainly sunny.

Middleton Nature Reserve 
Early morning Vis/audio report from Jean:

Nothing much to report today. 

7 Grey Wagtails flew over in 2 hours. 

Green Woodpecker heard again. That was it!

Pete also managed 

Garden warbler 2 together

Teal 3 in flight

Janet paid a quick visit

Painted Lady, one of many butterflies on the Buddleia 

Male Brown Hawker

South Shore
At 09:30 near the small anemometer, there were two Chiffchaff singing, none recently. Plus two Robin singing (normally one maximum) and this one, between the two sining birds, making the most pathetic call I've ever heard from an adult (looking) Robin (MD). The guest appearance of butterflies are Small Tortoiseshell and Red Admiral.

Towards lunchtime Kevin located this Red-legged Shieldbug.. or Forest Bug ..halfway along the sea wall

Red-Legged Shieldbug

A check of the lighthouse area in the evening
Mediterranean gulls - there were 2 adult/3rd calendar year and 2 juvenile on the sea out from the harbour, presumably the same 2 + 2 that came to the beach as it became exposed. This is one of the juvenile meds coming into the beach just before the mud was showing. It had a swim around with the impatient Oystercatchers.
Rock Pipit 1 - on the sea wall
Whimbrel 2 - high and vocal to the south

The light was fading when I was leaving and the birds were heading to their roosts
Pied Wagtail 40+ into the Power Station
Starlings c1,500 to the wooden jetty although some were making the most of the last of the sun. This small groups was moving along the sea wall like locusts.

Finally, there were several hot air balloons drifting over the south lakes. It occurred to me that they are the airborne equivalent of jellyfish, in that all they can only control movement up and down in the atmosphere. Although, unlike jellyfish, they can decided when and where to start from. I doubt they would have started from there in a strong east wind. Unfortunately, it was quite hazy in the distance so the best I can say about this shot is that "it is enigmatic" (rubbish really! MD).
Oystercatchers making their way to the skear,
with 2 of 5, at that time, hot air balloons drifting over the South Lakes

Friday 27 August 2021

Another Purple Sand sighting, plus kids with attitude

The breeze started NNE but NW by mid afternoon. Mainly sunny.

Heysham skear - low water 09:45
Great Crested Grebe 10
Eider 6 - the males are now coming out of eclipse. I'm posting this clip of a male preening, not for the Eider, but if you watch behind it at the beginning of the clip, you'll see a fish breaking the water. This is almost certainly a Garfish feeding on Whitebait  or Sand Eels. You can't see the fish, but I am familiar with the way they feed. If you are unfamiliar with a Garfish, Google it, they are pretty unique! (MD)
Little Egret 15
Grey Heron 2
Oystercatcher c500
Redshank c100
Curlew c50 
Whimbrel 1 at least 
Dunlin 4
Turnstone 250+ - a large increase in this species, I'm tempted to say 250 more than the regular birds

South shore 
An evening check 4 hours after high water.
Mediterranean gull 3 - turned up on the beach as it became exposed - none ringed
Purple Sandpiper 1 - on the sloping wall next to the lighthouse at 18:15. It seemed to be finding plenty to eat, so hopefully will hang around.

Purple Sandpiper - this is just a still from the clip, in case you can't view videos.

The juvenile gulls along the sea wall seem to be developing attitude, I suppose they are now the equivalent of a cocky teen!
This young Herring gull steadfastly refused to move out of my way. I had to walk around it, still it gives a nice opportunity to see the plumage in detail.
Juvenile Herring gull 

This juvenile Lesser Black-Backed gull was pestering an adult for food.

It continued pestering when they went on the beach. Finally the adult relented, but the juvenile only wanted the bit that the adult had!

Finally I really like this clip. I've no idea if these two Redshank are juveniles, but their behaviour certainly appears childlike. They reminded me of a couple of kids visiting the seaside for the first time, and possibly they were (MD).

Thursday 26 August 2021

An Old Lady and rodent control

The light breeze started off NE but had drifted to NNE by late morning. An overcast start but sunny for the rest of the day.

Middleton Nature Reserve 
Ringing report from Jean:

Ringing 0640-1015

New birds consisted of:

Reed Warbler 1

Whitethroat 3

Lesser Whitethroat 2 (1 was an adult)

Grasshopper Warbler 1

Robin 1

Retrapped birds:

Blue Tit - First ringed on 13th May this year at Middleton as a bird born in 2020. So middle aged for a Blue Tit as the average age they live to is 2.7 years, although the oldest recorded was over 21 years old! 2/3 do not survive the first year of life but the odds on surviving longer increase after that. 

Not much overhead:

2 Kestrels hunting over the Reserve and a Sparrowhawk lurking in the bushes

2 Grey Wagtails over

9 Goldfinches

A Greenshank heard in the distance.

South Shore

Wheatear 3 on foreshore

Rock Pipit 2 on foreshore 

Whimbrel 2 near Red Nab

No Mediterranean gulls seen feeding on the beach near the jetty

Both myself and Kevin checked for any insect movement, but there was almost nothing near the lighthouse (just a single Small White and a Small Tortoiseshell in the evening). There were a few more Small Tortoiseshell and Small White at Red Nab and they did appear to be coming in off. There were plenty of insects in the nature park behind Red Nab, including:

Migrant Hawker at least 3 

Common Darter 2 - this male Common Darter appears to be eating at the start of the clip, but I can't see anything, perhaps it was just "working its jaws".

Butterflies - these numbers represent the highest count at any one time

Painted Lady 4

Peacock 4

Red Admiral 5

Small Tortoiseshell 8

Meadow Brown 5

Large White 2

Small White 6

Common Blue 2

Speckled Wood 3

Faded and worn Comma

This is the Old Lady, not an uncommon moth, but quite splendid. This one has unfortunately lost a chunk of one wing. 

Old Lady moth, from Kevin's light trap last night

........and this is the rodent control. Janet took these shots of a Fox with a rat in the horse field next to Knowlys Rd.

Wednesday 25 August 2021

Nostalgia isn't as good as it used to be!

Very light air movement early on, initially from NE before moving west and freshening slightly. Mainly warm and sunny.

Heysham Skear - low water 08:45
Great Crested Grebe 9
Eider 24
Little Egret 23 - at least.
Grey Heron 3
Oystercatcher only a few hundred on middle skear but many more on outer skear
Redshank c150
Curlew c60
Turnstone c40
Ringed Plover c30

South Shore,
Sandwich Tern 2 towards high water (ref Kevin)

Just a quick check of foreshore and saltmarsh mid afternoon.
It was very busy with holidaymakers, kites abound and quad bikes on the beach. It was nice to see everyone enjoying themselves, but I didn't hold out much hope for wildlife and wasn't disappointed (MD).
Wheatear 1 on saltmarsh 

Plenty of butterflies on Buddleia though:
Red Admiral 6
Painted Lady 2
Peacock 2
Comma 2
Large White 1
Small White 3
Small Tortoiseshell 8
Common Blue 4
Both Painted Lady looked quite fresh
As did most of the Red Admiral, but this must be the tattiest one I've ever seen!

Middleton Nature Reserve 

John carried out a ringing session this morning and the results were much the same as yesterday. The weather conditions were calm and clear sun again with little evidence of birds moving around the reserve or overhead. The disappointing capture total was just:

Chiffchaff 3

Willow Warbler 2

Dunnock 1

Great Tit 1

Heysham Nature Reserve 

Just a quick look in the evening 

Migrant Hawker 1

Common Darter 15+

I like this shot of a male Common Darter,
resting on one of the many informational notice boards around the reserve.

I know today's title is an old joke, but it's one that I've always liked, plus new jokes aren't as good as the old ones! (MD)

Pete dug this shot out from somewhere. It's looking out over the Heysham Reserve marsh in 1984. Two things are striking, the amount of vegetation in the marsh and the lack of trees and shrubs around.

The good news is that both of these observers still regularly 
provide excellent records for the observatory.

It wasn't possible to take a shot today from the same location, as this slope is now covered in shrubs and trees obscure the view of the marsh, but this shot is looking in roughly the same direction.

The recent work on the marsh has proven very effective 

Kevin had a couple of nice moths in his light trap last night, both good records for the Heysham area.


Barred Hook-tip

Tuesday 24 August 2021

Not a warbler day

A clear night and a bright start. Very light variable breeze, but mainly from the west. Cloud cover after mid morning then sunny again in the afternoon.

Middleton Nature Reserve 
Ringing report from Alan:

After yesterday's excellent catch, this morning was very poor, the only highlight being the first Grey Wagtail capture of the year.

Grey Wagtail 1

Wren 1

Reed Warbler 2

Lesser Whitethroat 1 retrap

Blackcap 1

Willow Warbler 3 + 1 retrap

Blue tit 1

Great Tit 1

Chaffinch 1

No swallows seen and the only passage birds seen were 2 alba wagtails.

I had a walk around mid afternoon (MD)

Mute and Mallard unchanged 

Gadwall 6 - a male with 4 female/immature on "no swimming" pond plus a male on the main pond.

Male Gadwall on the main pond coming out of eclipse 

Green Woodpecker 1
Swallow c10 SW

Otter - spraints now also marking the track the wildlife takes to the "no swimming" pond.


Common Darter everywhere - at least 30 seen

Emperor 2

Brown Hawker 4

Migrant Hawker 6 (3 + 3)

Butterflies - not as abundant as yesterday but more variety. In order of abundance:

Meadow Brown

Speckled Wood

Common Blue

Red Admiral 3

Gatekeeper 2

Peacock 1

Small Heath 1 ( first one for quite a while)

Brimstone 1 - a particularly pale female

Unfortunately, Brimstone invariably settle with their wings closed, showing only the underside.
Not a great shot as it took off, but it does reveal how pale the upper wings were.

South shore
A check of the beach near wooden jetty 4 hours before high water revealed..........nothing. At least at first, eventually 1 Mediterranean gull turned up, but didn't feed and quickly left.
Bar-Tailed Godwit 1
Lapwing 10 on the saltmarsh 
Rock Pipit 3 Red Nab
Wheatear 6 together on foreshore 
Song Thrush 1 high to the east
Eider 1 solitary juvenile (I think (MD)) just out from harbour mouth
Juvenile Eider

Grey Seal 1 - briefly

Monday 23 August 2021

Ten warbler species ringed!

Light westerly breeze varying slightly. Long sunny spells.

Middleton Nature Reserve 
Ringing report from Jean:


10 species of warbler caught today:

Whitethroat 10

Lesser Whitethroat 5

Willow Warbler 8

Chiffchaff 1

Sedge Warbler 6

Reed Warbler 2

Grasshopper Warbler 1

Cetti’s Warbler 2 (1 was a retrap from 10/7)

Blackcap 1 (retrap)

Garden Warbler 1

Odds n ends

House Sparrow 1

Great Tit 1

Dunnock 1

Wren 1

Almost all were young birds. Just 2 adults - a Lesser Whitethroat and a Sedge Warbler


Almost non-existent:

Chaffinch 4

Goldfinch 6

Swallow 5


Great Spotted Woodpecker 2 

Green Woodpecker 1 - only the second record this year

Tree Sparrow - uncommon here

Mediterranean gull 1 to east

I had a stroll around mid morning (MD)

Gadwall 5 - these appeared to be the female with her three young plus a male. There were 19 yesterday evening, obviously there are some transient birds.

Teal 1 - first this autumn 

Teal - there was one in spring whose speculum always looked blue

Jay 3 together

Cetti's warbler - one in the corner of the bottom car park (where the fridges have been dumped), going through its repertoire of songs and calls, albeit quite quietly. This is the first time that I have heard one here. Pete advises that it is too early for a general dispersement, so it probably wandered from one of the local breeding territories. It was still singing on my return 90 minutes later, so may hang around here.

Butterflies - not large numbers. These in order of abundance:

Meadow Brown 

Common Blue 

Speckled Wood 

Small White 2

Large White 1

Red Admiral 1

Dragonflies more plentiful 

Common darter 20+

Brown Hawker 5

Emperor 4

Black-Tailed Skimmer 1

Migrant Hawker 1

This is a rubbish record shot of a male Common Darter, but I like the picture.
This is looking down on to the "no swimming" pond. The sky is just a reflection.
Slightly more informative, this clip shows a pair of Common Darter ovipositoring, until chased off by a second male.

South shore
Just a quick walk with my daughter's dog.
Wheatear 7 on Ocean Edge foreshore 
Rock Pipit 3 on Red Nab.

Plenty of insects near Buddleia in the Nature park
Red Admiral 5
Brimstone 1 male
Peacock 1
Comma 1
Speckled Wood 3
Common Blue 3
Meadow Brown 3

Common Darter dragonfly 2

It was just after high water when I was at Red Nab, there were only a few rocks exposed with a few Oystercatcher resting on them. A juvenile Peregrine Falcon decided this was the time to hunt. This clip shows its approach. Towards the end of the clip, you can hear the waders reacting.

It selected one of the Oystercatcher to chase. No chance! Not only does the Oystercatcher get away, but it circled round and chased it off. 

As the juvenile Peregrine flew away, it was followed by an adult (presumably mum, heaving a sigh! (MD))

Sunday 22 August 2021

Purple Sandpiper tops the bill

The light NW breeze freshened slightly and moved to the west. The sunny periods increased as the day progressed.

Pete and Jean conducted their Webs survey today the highlight being,
Purple Sandpiper 1 on sloping heliport wall
A summary of the other Webs records from Jean:

This is the count from Heysham Village Bay to Ocean Edge saltmarsh:


Oystercatcher 5854

Redshank 761

Turnstone 96

Lapwing 1

Knot 2

Bar-tailed Godwit 1


Black-headed Gull 120

Mediterranean Gull 2

Lesser Black-backed Gull 58

Herring Gull 85

Great Black-backed Gull 3


Cormorant 93

Other stuff from south shore
Pied Wagtail 25 on Ocean Edge field in the morning
Linnet 12 on foreshore before moving along sea wall to join the resident 5 near lighthouse 
Rock Pipit 3
Wheatear 1 - none in the morning but one came in near the lighthouse in the afternoon then moved to Red Nab.
Bar-Tailed Godwit 2 
Whimbrel 1
Both the above on the beach near wooden jetty in the afternoon.
Mediterranean gull 4 on the beach near jetty in the morning 3 arrived shorty after it became exposed again in the afternoon plus 1 juvenile on sea out from the harbour

Insects near Buddleia in Nature Park behind Red Nab
Common Darter dragonfly 1

Red Admiral 7
Large White 1
Comma 2
Small Tortoiseshell 8
Meadow Brown 4
Speckled Wood 1
Common Blue 2
Red Admiral and Meadow Brown 

Middleton Nature Reserve 
Just a very brief check of the two main ponds
Mute Swan pair plus 9 cygnet
Coot 4
Moorhen 4
Mallard 7
Gadwall 19 

Swallow 15 SW in 15 minutes 
House Martin 2 also SW

Dragonflies :
Brown Hawker 1
Black-Tailed Skimmer 1 
Still at least one male Black-Tailed Skimmer can be found on the main pond peninsula.

This very worn Gatekeeper was the only one seen in a brief visit