Saturday 8 May 2021

First (possibly only) Spotted Flycatcher of the year

Strong early ESE wind with heavy rain, the rain eased off by early afternoon as the wind moved more to the south.

Heysham Head - report from Dan:

A number of us were there at six for the LDBWS seabird spectacular that wasn’t!

Two Swifts, two Harbour Porpoise and a Guillemot was the best we could manage looking seawards, but a walk in the wood looking for night migrants paid dividends with an off-passage,

Spotted Flycatcher (these have been barely annual in the recording area recently)

Incidentally, Shaun totted up the species list for last Sunday’s session in that area: a grand total of 83.

South shore.
First a couple of records from yesterday (I was expecting a washout, at least picture wise, today so held a couple back, just in case (MD))
At the moment, there seems to be many more Whimbrel around than Curlew, but this group of 15 Curlew were out from the saltmarsh again.
They had the decency to wait till the SeaTruck was in frame before flying south.
The previous day there were 14 here which then flew north

When the mud hasn't been covered for a few days it is effectively barren of accessible food. This has been the case with the recent neap tides, but as soon as the tides start to rise and wets it again, the invertebrates return to the surface. These, mainly 2nd calendar year, Common Gulls waited till the tide was ebbing back before taking advantage. These are just some of the 34 birds in this group.

Back to today.......this wasn't here yesterday morning!
This is just beyond the slipway from Ocean Edge, the car is actually in the creek that
drains the saltmarsh. Hopefully they will be able to tow it out with a tractor. I'm sure 
the vehicle will already be a right off, but there will be oil and fuel that will leak out!
Whimbrel 6 on Red Nab
Sandwich Tern at least 6, including two on Red Nab.
Two Sandwich Tern with a Curlew and Oystercatchers

Linnet 4 on Red Nab plus a male over nest site near lighthouse.
Rock Pipit 3, probably 4 (1 on Foreshore, 1 fending off Wheatears near lighthouse and two between the outflows, one of which could have been the lighthouse bird)
Wheatear at least 7. One on foreshore may have also been one of the two on Red Nab. Five near the lighthouse.
One of the lighthouse area Wheatears. All today's birds looked plump and dark,
suggesting Greenland race, but it might just be down to the wind and rain (MD)

As the rain eased in the afternoon I did a quick circuit of both reserves.
Heysham Nature Reserve 
Singing warblers in order of abundance:
Chiffchaff  6+
Willow Warbler 4
Reed Warbler 1
Sedge Warbler 1
Common Whitethroat just one female seen

Middleton Nature Reserve 
Willow Warbler 
Common Whitethroat 
Lesser Whitethroat 
Sedge Warbler 4
Reed Warbler 2
Cetti's Warbler at least 1 ("no swimming" pond bird heard at close range, later one sounded like it came from central marsh, but just possibly the NW extent of "no swimming" pond bird's territory)

Swallow 5 
Swift 1
House Martin 2
All the above feeding 

Little Grebe 3 adult plus 2 chicks - there are two adults feeding two separate chicks on the Tim Butler pond. Another adult on the main pond.
The chicks are growing fast

Otter signs:
This rock, half way along the western edge of the main pond, has been used while eating a Signal Crayfish. 
There are broken crayfish remains, bottom right of the rock, and three droppings.
Unfortunately heavy overnight rain had pretty much leached the droppings.

I picked up one of the droppings, the colour and structure was right for an Otter. Possibly a bit small, but I think most of it was washed away. Otter spraints are supposed to have a distinctive odour. "Between new mown hay and rotting fish" (quite a range to be defined as "distinctive"!).
Anyway, I smelt smelt of, well....hand.
On a personal level I am satisfied that at least one Otter is feeding here after dark.
But, not quite enough evidence to be conclusive yet. I'll keep checking (MD)