Monday 1 November 2021

Perhaps no "stars" today, but at least some celebrities!

The strong overnight westerlies eased slightly by morning but continued to be strong all day. Heavy overnight rain continued till lunchtime. Only showers in the afternoon with sunny periods.

South Shore
I donned waterproofs for a walk along the wall just after high water (MD)
No Mediterranean gulls seen
Wigeon c90
Lapwing 6
Rock Pipit 1 on Red Nab
Thrush sp 2 over Power Station then south
Greenfinch 9 between Red Nab and foreshore. Fortunately the rain had stopped momentarily and I managed this clip of them feeding. They are finding large seeds, probably mustard, trapped in the crevices of the rough concrete.

Pete checked the lunchtime ferry coming in. He didn't find the "star" he was aiming for, but not bad.
Shag 1 1st calendar year flushed out of the harbour by the dredger.
Kittiwake 1 adult plus 1 juvenile out
Guillemot 1

Heysham skear low water 15:00 (MD)
As I was walking out, I noticed that a few pockets of sea lettuce had grown in the past month. I decided that there was enough to retain any visiting Brent, but probably not enough to entice them back. The picture below is just about as "lush" as it gets, nothing compared to last autumn's crop.
New growth sea lettuce 
14:15. I'd just reached the westernmost exposed section of the skear when 8 Pale Bellied Brent geese arrived from the west.
Pale-bellied Brent geese coming in to land by the skear

They flew directly to the area where the sea lettuce was most abundant last year, they found some there, but soon realised that there was more further up the beach, and they moved to the area in the SE corner of the skear that I had photographed earlier.
They fed here for almost an hour before flying to the NE corner just after high water. There is little natural weed there on this height tide, but today's conditions would have accumulated a lot of broken weed there. This is just a location shot of the NE skear corner, you can see the end of the Stone Jetty behind, but it is much further away than it looks.
Pale-bellied Brent Geese on the water in the NE corner of skear.
All the Brent looked adult and none were ringed. The question is will they return tomorrow? Possibly, the weather is more favourable, but the tide a little higher, I for one will be having a look.

Oystercatcher c750
Curlew 35+
Turnstone 20+
Ringed Plover 14
Knot 130
Redshank 250+ There was an obvious increase in numbers, initially on the receding water line, but flock after flock flew past me to feed further inshore. This is some of them feeding in what is basically just fresh surface water running down to the sea. They are obviously finding lots to eat, I can only think that the fresh water is driving saline dependent invertebrates out from the mud.

I like this next clip, probably because it's something I haven't seen before. The green tower between the skear and the Stone Jetty marks the end of a large surface water drain. There must be a hinged end cap to allow water out, but preventing surges from the sea passing up the pipe. The volume of fresh water coming out today was obviously under great pressure, but the tide must have been crashing waves against the end cap causing the fresh to come out in bursts. In a few minutes it was all over, as the incoming tide will have become higher than the end cap, so no more crashing waves. I was going to inspect this today, but it is a lot further away than it looks and even further to avoid disturbing the Brent. I'll have a look tomorrow, there won't  be the same back pressure effect as today as the wind will be lighter. But there will still be plenty of fresh coming through, and that is why the gulls were there, it must be providing some sort of feeding opportunity, perhaps something interesting will also be taking advantage.

Middleton Nature Reserve 
Just a quick check of the two main ponds on my way home
Main pond:
Mute 2 adult plus 9 cygnet 
Coot 1
Moorhen 4
Mallard 1 

No Swimming pond - this is now 50cm above it's normal height (regulated by pumps to draw off excess water - presumably activated by a very basic level sensor).
Gadwall 1 male
Moorhen 2
Little grebe 2