The observatory was set up in 1980. It involves ringing,'vis mig' counts (including seabirds) and general monitoring in the Heysham Nature reserve/power stations/harbour area. The statutory moth trap is in place and also a daily log for butterflies, dragonflies etc.
We share an office, kindly provided by EDF Energy, with the County Wildlife Trust. This is located next to the Nature Reserve car park. Do call in. Please leave sightings in the letterbox, ESPECIALLY 'fly-by' seabirds.
Another overnight frost with a sprinkling of snow on top. Cool north breeze and only occasional sunshine, the temperature barely got above 3C all day.
Heysham Village Bay - Pete Crooks
Pale-bellied Brent goose 58 - a new high count here for this winter
Dark-bellied Brent goose 1
Saltmarsh area mid morning (MD)
On these neap tides, the water doesn't reach the mud out from the saltmarsh, although there is still running water out of the creek. When it's cold, as now, the mud freezes and when really cold the saltmarsh does as well. In these conditions, Jack Snipe take to feeding in the creek, allowing clear views (they've never done it since I've been carrying a camera!). Today was no exception, probably because the saltmarsh wasn't completely frozen, plus the disturbance by the amorous foxes (see below) wouldn't have helped.
Still as I was walking around the edge I did flush:
Jack Snipe 1 - feeding where surface water was seeping onto the saltmarsh
I walked back over the mud just beyond the creek, it was rock hard with frost. But, surprisingly, Common Snipe were still in the pockets of sea grass, they could have only have been roosting, not feeding. Unfortunately I flushed:
Common Snipe 13
7 of the Common Snipe
Rock Pipit 1
Reed Bunting 1
January is the time of year that a fox's mind turns to "starting a family". This clip, shows a dog fox following a vixen across the saltmarsh (the sharp eyed amongst you should be able to spot a Common Snipe, Oystercatcher and Curlew). This is the same dog fox that I videoed the other day, and I thought then that it was carrying a limp, although it made a mighty fine effort.....
.....but the vixen was only at a canter and easily outpaced him, although she didn't really want to escape. She ended up waiting for him at the top of the hill.
At which point, I made my excuses and left.
But it isn't just the foxes on the edges of our community, they are more common than you might imagine throughout the area. I know that my Heysham garden is regularly visited by at least one fox. These two were in a garden on School Lane at 09:00 one morning earlier this week. This is the first fox sighting in this garden, I suspect it won't be the last.
Thanks to Janet Aldren for the picture and Janet Packham for forwarding it to me