Sunday 12 December 2021

Duck diversity improving, but still no Pochard (plus BRS just OOA)

 Light wind from SSW, very low cloud and rain for most of the morning, brightened up in the after lunch.

Middleton Nature Reserve (MD)
Just a quick check of the two main ponds, hoping for an, increasingly scarce, Pochard. We've managed at least one annually until 2020, this would be the second blank year, unless we get a late arrival.
Getting closer today, two diving ducks (Tufted) appeared on the "no swimming" pond.
Mallard 3
Gadwall 6
Shoveler 1 male
Tufted duck 2 male
The Shoveler was trying to steal the show, again. The Tufted didn't seem impressed. Sorry about the soft focus but there was a lot of very fine rain.

Heysham Harbour 
From Kevin Eaves
The R-t Diver still in the harbour.
The dredger wasn't active so it was in the waterfalls area.

North shore
Pale-bellied Brent geese 16 - just north of the children's play area, no reports yet from any close observers, this count was looking back from the skear.
No Great Crested Grebe seen
Red-breasted Merganser 1
Eider 89 in one close inshore raft
No Knot, but small flock of 14 Dunlin, plus Oystercatcher, Redshank, Curlew and Turnstone 
Carrion Crow - there are always plenty on the skear, and they are largely indifferent to me (MD). But today particularly so, I was less than two metres from these two groups of two birds.
This first clip shows one bird select a suitable mussel then fly off to a rockier area to drop and open it. But this must be its feeding spot as when it flies off, its companion finds the remnants of its last meal and manages to find some morsels.

In contrast, these two were prising barnacles from a rock, don't know if they wanted the small amount of meat inside, or the shell for their crop, or both. You can see the rain dripping from their backs, it was that fine stuff that gets you wet! You can tell just how close I was, as you can hear the barnacles breaking off. I also like, that when it hears an alarm call, it looks to me for reassurance.

This is slightly unusual, and I don't really know why. It is the imprint left in the mud where a Thornback Ray has been resting, on the ebbing tide. I know it was the ebbing tide as fish always rest facing the water flow direction. I say unusual as Thornback are quite common here, but I think this is only the second time I have seen an imprint. Partly today, that will be because the waves were slight so not so likely to smooth the imprint out, but I also think that the ray must have left it late in the tide to leave its resting place, perhaps it was injured or unwell, or just lazy!
Clear and unmistakable imprint of a Thornback Ray left in the mud

Just out of the recording area:
Pink-Footed goose "thousands" feeding in fields between Oxcliffe Rd and Heysham Moss Nature Reserve.
Ref Dave Tregidgo

Black Redstart 1 female/immature on fishing platform at the end of Rydal Rd. - Pete let me know that one had been recorded there today, originally seen by Nick Godden, the sun had just come out so I went for a look (MD), and was later joined by Jonathan.
Unfortunately, by the time we had relocated it the sun had gone. I had already checked the area thoroughly, but no sign, then it suddenly turned up, so if you go for a look, hang around for a while.
Female/immature Black Redstart 

This clip isn't great, but shows the location, the railings at the end of the clip are at the very end of the Fishing Platform. Unfortunately two cyclists arrived just after this and flushed it to the south side, where we only managed a couple more glimpses in the quickly fading light.