Thursday, 4 February 2021

Turf (actually weed) wars

Another mildish night, the wind still light and from the east, the rain managed to hold off for most of the day.

Heysham skeer - low water 10:15
Knot c2,000 - It was a tough day for the Knot, even before I left the promenade I could see flocks in tight balls obviously under attack. It lasted for 30 minutes. Closer to I saw three separate Peregrine attacks, at least two of which were unsuccessful. But eventually everything settled down, presumably minus at least one Knot.
Great Crested Grebe 5
Red-breasted Merganser 7
Goldeneye 1 male
Shelduck 2 - strangely uncommon on the north side of the harbour
Pale-bellied Brent goose 24 - at 09:00 there were just 5 feeding on the mud in the SE skeer corner. These included the two Red/Blue Canadian ringed birds.
At 09:05 another 19 came in from the north, these landed on the mud further inshore and included the/a white ringed bird (ringing details of this bird are still awaited). They immediately marched down to where the  5 were feeding and drove them off

Eventually, after a valiant stand, 6 birds were driven off. One must have changed allegiance, or perhaps, just annoyed the large aggressive bird.

Later, when I was walking off, all the birds were further up the beach, still in the same groups. Then something spooked the birds furthest inshore and they lifted the rest. They only flew as far as the water, but it gave me a chance to check the ground they were feeding on. The weed is much more patchy now and what remains is quite short - worth fighting for......
They've not been seen on the south shore yet this winter, I suspect it won't be long.

On the way home I just had a quick look at the waterlogged foreshore next to Red Nab. Quite a lot of birds were taking advantage including:
Oystercatcher 12 - I was hoping the missing yellow flagged Norwegian bird would be amongst them, but not.
Linnet 2 - not been common since the Merlin included this area in its range last autumn.
Pied Wagtail 13
A few of the Pied Wagtail 

Carrion Crow 3 - as ever the opportunists they were feeding on invertebrates forced to the surface by the high water table 
Not worms but they were catching and feeding on something. I looked where they were feeding, but couldn't see anything.