Saturday 23 January 2021

First Dark-bellied Brent of the winter

An overnight frost followed by a light covering of snow, a mixture of heavy snow showers and sunshine during the day. Very light early southerly breeze veered to the west and increased slightly

South wall ferry check (KE)
Treecreeper 1 on Moneyclose Lane, near the tall anemometer - not common in the recording area
A distant white winged gull was behind the ferry. The sun and its orientation not allowing clear views of the head, but most likely a Mediterranean gull 

Middleton Nature Reserve 
Just a very quick check to see if there were any Black-Headed gulls roosting on the ice, unfortunately the ponds were only partially covered and the gulls had opted to remain on the water.
Mute 2 adult 4 juvenile 
Coot 4
Moorhen 4
Little Grebe 2
Gadwall 28 (water level back to normal)
Mallard 7
Teal 7
Shoveler 2
Water Rail 1 calling 
Woodcock 1 accidentally flushed
I think this Reed Bunting was just wishing that it was spring, rather than thinking it actually was.

Heysham Skeer
Just a check in the SE corner at low water
Pale-bellied Brent goose 51 (highest count so far this winter)
Dark-bellied Brent goose 1 (first record this winter)
This shot shows the dark-bellied bird with two pale-bellied

Most of the birds are on this clip, unfortunately I can't see the dark-bellied one. Towards the end of the clip, you can hear the birds, about to leave the water, honking. To me it always seems a warm friendly sounding honk, unlike most geese!
Eider c50
Great Crested Grebe 1
The South Lakes hills provided a splendid backdrop.

This is something that I'm sure you have all seen, Whelk eggs masses (Seawash Balls). But the ones you normally find with the high water line flotsam are usually later in the year and are empty. This one, the egg cases are intact, the mass must have been dislodged from its anchorage, below the low water line, by Thursday's storm.
Perhaps what you may not know is that several Whelks, possibly both Common and Red, have produced this mass over several days. Each case is laid individually and glued to the others, plus any anchor point available. Every case contains hundreds of tiny eggs, but most are not fertilised and provide a first meal for the few that are, before the developing Whelks leave the empty case.