Wednesday 24 November 2021

Purple Sandpiper and good news from Canada!

A fresh west wind, overcast all day with plenty of showers.

Heysham skear - low water 08:00 (MD)
Pale-bellied Brent goose 6 in the SE corner - this is the good news from Canada. On 12th November There were four adults including just one with red and blue rings. The two regular red/blue ringed birds from Axel Heiberg Island in the Canadian Arctic were ringed as a breeding pair in 2014, and I have never seen one more than 2m from its mate. Today, there were six adult birds including both the ringed birds. I don't suppose we'll ever know if the solitary red/blue ringed bird was a different individual or if somehow the two had become separated in transit, then reunited. Either way it's nice to have them back! Although this is the second year when they haven't had juveniles with them.
This is today's six, they were drinking from the groundwater run off as well as picking up the bits of sea lettuce. You can make out one of the ringed birds in the middle.

The light wasn't good, and it had started drizzling, I needed to get a little closer to check the letters on the rings. If you move slowly and keep quiet Brent will let you approach quite closely, but if you encroach into their comfort zone they sound warning "honks". It's a nice warm sound, not like the normal harsh goose honk. The other birds stop to see what the danger is, but if you remain still, they return to feeding. And so it was today, at the beginning of this clip you can hear four soft honks from of a couple of the Brent as I came "close enough". After a fifth honk, two ringed birds stopped feeding, unfortunately, one behind an Oystercatcher.

But, no matter, I was close enough, and managed to confirm both birds. This is a still from the above clip it shows the male bird VDRB (VD are the letters and RB the ring colours)
Canadian ringed Pale-bellied Brent goose

There wasn't a lot else around and the rain was getting harder.
Eider 13
Knot c500
Dunlin 15

Later Pete and Jean checked some key areas, and located some key birds! - report from Pete:
All 6 Pale-bellied Brent out from Knowlys Rd at 11:35
Mediterranean gull 1 adult behind the lunchtime ferry
Shag 1 juvenile exited Heysham Harbour late morning then headed north
Purple Sandpiper - 1 on Sunny Slopes groyne 13:30 - technically, this is a "seen from" the recording area, even so Pete managed this phone/scope shot.
Purple Sandpiper centre, flanked by Redshank and Dunlin 

After Pete sent me this shot, I went down for a look (MD). It was more or less in the same place at 14:45, but the beach was becoming exposed and the waders had started to drift off. The Purple Sandpiper was one of the last to leave at 15:00. Even then it only went further out along the groyne. 

All in all, quite a satisfying day.