Thursday 8 April 2021

Much better seawatch!

The wind had strengthened and moved round to WSW. It continued windy all day, but not as strong as forecast and the expected rain held off.

Pete and Jean checked the sea 08:00 - 10:00. The bulk of these sightings by Jean from Heysham Head:

Red-Throated diver 40 (inc flock of 16)

Gannet  9

Common Scoter 42

Kittiwake 100 exact 4 flocks 

Fulmar 1

South shore

Linnet 28 at least near saltmarsh plus 2 near lighthouse 

Wheatear 3 on foreshore south of Red Nab

Rock Pipit - minimum 5 (1 saltmarsh, 1 Red Nab, 3 between lighthouse and waterfall, including the ringed bird at the mid point, with another bird)

This is the lighthouse territorial bird bracing itself on sea wall - no ring.

Middleton Nature Reserve - Janet
The Canada geese seem to be making themselves at home.
Cetti's warbler - one "shouting" from "no swimming" pond area. (Janet's words, but I like them, although technically the Cetti's is singing, you do feel that you are being shouted at! MD)

Heysham skeer low water 17:00

Eider - scattered, no more than 40 seen.

Red-breasted Merganser 2 (pair)

Little Egret 2 again easily catching common gobies.

Turnstone c150. Less today than yesterday, one of the problems with an evening feeding opportunity, is that it depends on how many birds are still hungry.

A few are starting to mount into summer plumage, this one also has a metal ring.

So, yesterday I got excited as the Turnstone were feeding on the honeycomb worms. I speculated that they had worked out that the worms were briefly available as they moved towards the end of their tubes as the tide was rising. Like most, if not all, theories, that is only a factor of a more complex explanation, I know a little more today, but there is more to be learned (MD)

I got down before low water, the Turnstone were all on the honeycomb bed on the southern edge of the skeer, a few were poking around, but most were just resting. By the time the tide was making, I was on the western edge of the exposed skeer. There were Oystercatcher and Redshank feeding on the honeycomb worm beds here, but feeding on whatever they were finding in the crevices, not on the worms themselves. On the north side there were very few waders and most of them just resting. But by the time I got back to the southern edge, everything was trying to feed on the worms! By that time I had already realised the main factor was that the beds on the southern edge are the most exposed and most damaged. The rough weather over the last few days, although mainly from the north, will have weakened them further.

This is the most encouraging clip, the Oystercatchers seemed to be catching lots.

The Redshank were trying, but I didn't see any catch a worm. But this young Lesser Black-Backed gull did

But, in these conditions, it seems the Turnstone are best suited to catching the worms. This one eats three in just over 10 seconds.

I'll be keeping an eye on these beds, but at the moment, you'd have to expect the waders to continue weakening them, and possibly eradicate them completely from here. Also, you would think that the Oystercatcher's strong bill would allow them to get to the worms in less damaged beds. That could be very significant as there is a large contingent of Oystercatchers throughout the year.

Let battle commence!