Friday, 21 January 2022

New(?) Brent behaviour

A WNW light wind, overcast all day.

Pale-bellied Brent goose 67 - the question mark on today's title is to signify that although today's behaviour was new to me, it might not be new for the Brent, although if it has happened before it can't have been often (MD).
11:18 - 34 flew from the north side of Heysham Head and began feeding on broken weed in Half Moon Bay. Here they are invading the beach.

11:30 - a further 14 flew from the north and joined the birds on Half Moon Bay
11:50 After checking around the Head I returned into view of Half Moon Bay, the Brent were all in the corner near the cafe, 20 flew off south, I presumed to Red Nab. But the others, now numbering 47 remained in the corner.

12:00 - they were still tight in the corner near the cafe. This was as close as I dare go, and most were obscured by the rocks and waders.
I've not seen them feeding here before, and there isn't a huge amount of gut weed here, although I suppose what there is will be quite long. One possibility, is that this group is not familiar with the feeding options in the area, a faction of them took flight when the 20 left towards Red Nab, but returned when the others remained. Janet later saw c20 on Red Nab. Or perhaps they were just taking advantage of relatively few dog walkers today to feed in this normally inaccessible area. It will be interesting to see if they attempt the same behaviour tomorrow, when it is bound to be busier.

Earlier on Half Moon Bay, I watched the tide cover the rocks in front of the old heliport. In previous winters 100+ plus Common Snipe have been typical here, but today only 30 were flushed from the rocks, plus another 3 came in from further afield. These are some of them, I didn't manage to locate any Jack Snipe.

Even later Keith took this nice shot showing the density of the Oystercatcher roosting on the old Heliport wall.

South shore 
Jean had a walk along the south wall:
Shag 1 in harbour
Mediterranean gull 1 adult behind ferry
Rock Pipit 3 on Red Nab 2 near lighthouse 
Wigeon 306! On Red Nab
Pale-bellied Brent goose 43 north from Middleton (not sure how these fit in with my sightings (MD))

This is one of Janet's shots of 20 Pale-bellied Brent goose feeding with Wigeon on Red Nab.
Brent geese and Wigeon

Kingfisher 1 - it was the male on show today. Keith put together this montage 
I have heard visitors saying that you normally see the Kingfisher close to "the" Little Egret. That's because they are both after the same food. When the Egret shifts from the large pond to the freshwater stream, it means that there are now fish moving up the stream, and that is when a Kingfisher is likely to fish there too. As per this shot from Keith today.
This is the freshwater stream from the culvert - Kingfisher on rocks to the 

Janet took these good comparison shots of the juvenile Shag with a Cormorant 
Immature Cormorant 

Immature Shag

Shag left - Cormorant right

Middleton Nature Reserve 
Just a quick evening check.
Wildfowl pretty much unchanged 
Wood Pigeon at least 30, almost certainly many more, coming in to roost in the wooded area just below the pylon to the south of the main pond.
Both Gulls and Starlings heading west in large numbers, to their roosts.
Pink-Footed goose c150 SW to their roost.
Jackdaw c300  - none would go to the previous favoured pylon to the south of the main pond, presumably something was either waiting for them tonight, or had scared them off last night. There were over 130 on the two pylons further south. The rest of the Jackdaw were trying to find somewhere to settle and were actually on the other side of Middleton Rd when I left, still looking for a safe roost.

Plus just out of recording area - both the lamppost Mediterranean gull and Sandylands Black Redstart seen today.

Thursday, 20 January 2022

Stock Dove.....albeit a red one!

Heavy overnight ground frost. Sunshine all day with a light NW breeze

South shore towards high water
Pale-bellied Brent goose 48 arrived at Red Nab at 10:50, all but 1 flew off towards Potts corner at 12:20.
Pink-Footed goose  83 SE at 10:45
Wigeon c150
Shelduck 44
Rock Pipit 2 on Red Nab
Common Snipe 2 flushed from saltmarsh, quite early in the tide
Jack Snipe 3 together amongst a small clump of marsh grass near the southern boundary of the caravan site. Accidentally flushed, but they landed on the saltmarsh.
Grey Plover 1 in the same area
Song Thrush 1 on the saltmarsh 

Kingfisher - the female at least was on show on Red Nab today, they are always more likely to be seen c2 hours either side of high water - Keith's picture below and Howard's below that are all high resolution and merit opening to appreciate.
Female Kingfisher - thanks Keith
North shore
Howard was frustrated by works operations on the old Heliport causing too much disturbance for the waders to settle, but he managed these excellent images of Common Snipe and Lapwing on the Near Naze.

Common Snipe

Lapwing (Green Plover)

Middleton Nature Reserve 
A late afternoon check to see what the Jackdaw were doing
The "no swimming" pond was partially ice covered
Gadwall 36 (24 on main pond)
Mallard 14
Wigeon 2 (pair)
Tufted Duck 4 male
Shoveler 2 (pair)

Jay 2
Sparrowhawk 2 waiting in trees below Jackdaw roost
Jackdaw 120, but the birds were still coming in to roost as I left. They arrived from all four directions, so no single source, it just appears to be the roosting area for the local birds (MD)

Stock Dove 2. One rested briefly on the power cables before both moved off south. Not obvious at first glance as the setting sun made it look blood red! This is the first record in the area since February last year.
Stock Dove looking particularly rosette in the light from the setting sun

Wednesday, 19 January 2022

First Woodcock and a Butterfly!

Sunshine pretty much all day, coolish WNW wind

 South shore mid morning rising tide
At 09:50 the only birds on Red Nab were:
Shelduck 24
Little Egret 2
Kingfisher 1 male
Rock Pipit 2
220 Wigeon arrived at 10:00 
43 Pale-bellied geese arrived from the north side at 10:20
Brent geese flying past the south wall roundhead 

No Shag seen this morning

I like this shot from Janet taken this evening from more or less the same area and the Brent picture above. It has everything, sun, sea, "sand" and Starlings preparing to roost on the wooden jetty. Please open to appreciate it.
Starlings preparing to roost

Middleton Nature Reserve 
A quick check in the morning, really just to see what the Jackdaw situation was - answer. As normal just 7 birds blogging around the main pond area.
No swimming pond:
Gadwall 35
Wigeon 2
Tufted 2 male
Shoveler 2 male in breeding plumage (so at least four birds over the past two days)
Little grebe 1
Coot 1
Moorhen 5
A patch of weed near the surface of the pond had concentrated the wildfowl this morning, this short clip captures most of the above.

I returned in the late afternoon, primarily to try and understand what was going on with the Jackdaw, but a short walk proved fruitful (MD):
Woodcock 1 - first record this winter period - flushed from strip to the east of the golf course
Common Snipe 4
Raven 2 just east of the reserve, but within recording area
Redwing 1 
Solitary Redwing in the evening sun

Pheasant 1 male 
Male Pheasant seems strange without a white collar, presumably some colchicus ancestry.

Jackdaw - when I first arrived there were still just 7 around. By 16:00 small flocks started arriving from the north, 63 in total by 16:10, although they seemed to have moved straight through. But they must have been arriving from other directions too, at 16:30 they flew up from behind the trees to roost on the south side pylon.
By 16:40 there were 130 on the south side pylon with another 38 on the north side pylon, so 168. Not as many as yesterday, but there could have been more a Sparrowhawk flushed them all, and it was getting too dark to watch them reassemble. I'll have a look again tomorrow and see if I can find where they are feeding pre-roost.

Finally Kevin was delighted to find this Small Tortoiseshell sunning itself on his garden wall.
Small Tortoiseshell looking fresh, but it seems to
have slept awkwardly on its antennae. 

Tuesday, 18 January 2022

Two Kingfishers, and Jackdaws darken the sky.....

The light breeze drifting round again, starting NW and ending SE. A misty start, but the sun broke through by mid morning. After that high cloud with some sunshine.

South shore - mid morning towards high water
Pale-bellied Brent Geese 42 on Red Nab they remained over high water. Today's tide was 8.9m tomorrow is 9.0m, with a fresher west wind forecast, they will only remain over the tide tomorrow if there is minimal disturbance at high water.  
Shelduck 52
Wigeon c200
Song Thrush 1 on saltmarsh 
Rock Pipit 1 - only the waterfall bird heard today
Shag 1 juvenile in the harbour
Two Cormorants, the rear bird is a mature adult in breeding plumage.
The younger bird in front is just developing its breeding plumage 

It will be a few more years before this juvenile Shag sports its breeding plumage.

Kingfisher 2 - on the way out this male was feeding on Red Nab
Male Kingfisher with a fully black bill
On my return from the harbour, this female was fishing
Female Kingfisher with red at the base of the bill
At that point they were both around, this one (male I think but the light was difficult) managed to catch a common goby

This is interesting, they often fish at the freshwater culvert outlet, but this one, looks like the male, actually flew inside the culvert. I expected it to return quite quickly, but it didn't. Presumably the low sunlight was allowing enough light into the culvert for the Kingfisher to fish inside (MD)

Middleton Nature Reserve 
Just a mini circuit before dusk
Mute Swan 8 adult 9 immature 
Coot 1
Moorhen 15
Mallard 17
Gadwall 33
Teal 2
Shoveler 2 a female with a male in partial breeding plumage 
Today's female with male Shoveler 
No sign of Tufted Duck or Wigeon
Common Snipe 8

Roe Deer 3 - a buck with presumably a female on central marsh plus one on the west side hill (thanks to a passing dog walker for this record)

Jackdaw c220 - it felt like "The Birds". There has been an increasing presence over recent years, but no idea where these have come from (MD). Jean proposed the possibility that local farmers may have been spreading slurry on their fields and the Jackdaw had been feeding there. Does anyone know if there are fields around Middleton being slurried?
They came in to roost on the two pylons either side of the main pond. This clip is the south side pylon.
There were as many, if not more around the north side pylon, but more distant. This is the north side pylon after the birds settled.
Jackdaw roosting on north side pylon

Just out of the recording area:
Both the Lamppost Mediterranean gull and the Sandy Lands Black Redstart reported today.
Janet took these shots just south of the recording are near Middleton sands:
Waders concentrated by the rising tide, many of these
would have started just out from the saltmarsh

It wasn't just Janet keeping an eye on the waders

Meadow Pipits

Monday, 17 January 2022

Where's the Groucho Marx convention?

Another day of calm to very light variable breeze. High cloud for most of the day.

Red Nab and saltmarsh area towards high water 
Pale-bellied Brent Geese 34 located on Red Nab, there were probably more
Wigeon c160
Shelduck 115 - most to the south of the saltmarsh 
Curlew 180 - also south of the saltmarsh 
Common Snipe 6 flushed by the tide from the small pockets of saltmarsh grass south of the saltmarsh  
Redshank c50
Lapwing 4

Heysham skear - late afternoon on ebbing tide
Eider c80
Red-breasted Merganser 2 (pair)
Great Crested Grebe 4 (2+2) - they are starting to move to summer plumage (at least the one on the right is)

Knot, a big increase in numbers today, at least 2,500

Pale-bellied Brent 37 - as per Friday evening they were "feeding" along the inner skear. The inverted commas are because I am not sure that they are actually feeding here, possibly just collecting grit/broken shells for their gizzard (MD). I haven't checked this area for over a week, but when I last looked there was hardly any weed. I took this clip of a few of them today, from quite a distance in the fading light. Unfortunately it isn't possible to see what they are picking up, but the area does appear to be weed free.  I'll check again, next time they are elsewhere.

Once again the sun made its only appearance just before sunset. No wind today, so I took this short clip to share the beauty and sounds of the skear on an evening like this. It's a Cormorant on conger with mainly Oystercatcher and Redshank on the skear.

Just out of the recording area:
Heysham Moss Nature Reserve (MD)
I had a nice peaceful walk around in the afternoon. I had expected some wildfowl and snipe among the peat bog, but nothing. There were plenty of small birds in the wooded area, Tits, Goldfinch, Robin, Dunnock and Wren.
This Dunnock wasn't happy about a mixed tit flock passing through its patch

One of the reasons I went to the Moss today was to try and establish just how many Roe Deer there are in this area. Although the Moss is just out of the recording area, it is just across the bypass from Imperial Road where I saw the three Roe Deer yesterday. I wasn't disappointed, one deer cut across my path, too quickly to see if it had antlers and its rump was not visible. But there was a second one following, its white rump patch is just visible amongst the branches on the right, you'll see it when the deer moves. The clip shows two things, no sign of antlers an no tail like white tuft on the white rump. So a buck, but only a young one, so presumably the first deer would have been mum.
Unfortunately, all it tells us is that there are at least three bucks in the area, the one with well developed antlers, one with small antlers and this one with no antlers. These two deer, could be the same two that I saw with the buck yesterday.
My reference book says that Roe Deer, both sexes, have a dark moustache stripe. I'd have gone for, comedy false moustache à la Groucho Marx!
Roe Deer showing its distinctive moustache 

Sunday, 16 January 2022

Just a lazy Sunday.......chewing the cud.

A steady west wind all day, mainly high cloud with a bit of light rain early on.

Red Nab towards high water
Pale-bellied Brent goose 40 at least
Wigeon c200 including a flock of 164 in from the SE
Shelduck 26

Middleton Nature Reserve 
Just a mid morning check of the main ponds
Mute 8 adult 9 immature 
Moorhen 8
Coot 1
Mallard 10
Gadwall 35
Wigeon 2 (pair)
Shoveler 2 (pair)
Tufted Duck 2 male

Heysham skear towards evening low water
Pale-bellied Brent goose 42 (at least) - they were well spread this evening and the quickly fading light didn't help. There were 8 out from play area, 6 in the skear corner and a flock of 28 that were in the middle of the skear (there is absolutely no weed here) before flying off north. 
Pink-Footed goose 50 - 17:00 came from the south did a circle and headed back south. This clip shows nothing other than the light contrast at that time, still some light to the SW but black overhead when they pass over.

This is the same flock of Pinkfoot heading back south
The two lights are atop of the buoys out from the north wall

Knot 1,000+  The tides are going further out now so the Knot are back, this clip is 16:30, so it's reasonably clear considering the fading light, but nowhere near clear enough for me to read the yellow flagged bird towards the end of the clip.

Imperial Rd
This is the road off the bypass that leads to the "Waste Technology Park", west of this road is within the recording area. It's nice and quiet here on a Sunday as the "Park" is closed. So I went prepared at lunchtime today rather than just checking in passing (MD).
Teal 2
Raven 1
Sparrowhawk 1
Roe Deer 3
There was a buck and a smaller deer sitting, but I couldn't tell if the smaller one was a doe or the small buck I saw on 4/01/22, but the tranquil scene suggested the former. Fortunately it stood up briefly revealing herself to be a doe.
Roebuck with velvet over his developing antlers on the left. Roe deer do not have tails,
 but the Does do have a tail like tuft of white hair on their rump, as this one on the right 

This is what today's title refers to, the buck, and presumably the doe with her back to camera were chewing the cud.

Did you see what I said was in the clip, or did you see what was actually there? Well done if you spotted there were actually two deer sat on the right side. The shot below is a still from the clip, the third deer (you can only see it's head behind the reedmace) is not a mature male, so either another doe or last year's youngster.
Doe Roe deer back with another deer's head just above the reedmace.

Saturday, 15 January 2022

Same stuff, but different views

The light breeze started from NNE and was quite cool, it later moved round to the south. Mainly high cloud with occasional sun.

South shore
The only records so far today are from my morning and Kevin Eaves afternoon walk along the sea wall.
Shag 1 juvenile (at least) in the harbour both morning and afternoon. This is a nice shot from Kevin as it flexed its wings.
Juvenile Shag in the harbour this afternoon 
Mediterranean gull 1 second winter on outfalls in the afternoon.
Pale-bellied Brent Geese 49 - they were on Red Nab at 09:40. The water had barely reached the rocks and the Brent had to compete with the Wigeon for the tightly cropped gut weed on the rock surface. 
But they didn't just come here to eat. At the end of the above clip you can see the freshwater stream that runs though Red Nab. Many of the Brent were taking advantage of this to drink and bathe. One thing all birds seem to have in common is that they all look like they really enjoy taking a bath, I think it is the gusto that they throw into it.........some more so than others!

Two to four birds at a time were having a bath and when they finished others moved in, presumably this had been going on before I'd arrived, and continued as I moved on, so most, if not all, of the birds would have had a drink and a bath, plus a nibble of gut weed. My return from the harbour at 10:40 coincided with them moving to the north side. Nothing spooked them and the water level was similar to when I'd arrived, although it was now ebbing. Presumably they were off to the children's play area, where the gut weed is much longer, but the disturbance is much greater!

49 Pale-bellied Brent geese flying to the north side. Watched on by two
Black-Headed gulls braving No.2 outflow superstructure in the calm weather
Wigeon c150
Shelduck 72
Lapwing 120
Rock Pipit 2

Kingfisher - not seen today, but Jean has been reviewing last year's records and identified a male bird photograph posted 22/12/21, this with the female bird picture posted 5/01/22 means there have been at least two birds visiting Red Nab over this winter.

Roe Deer 1 buck - I stopped on imperial way in passing this afternoon. What I took to be the larger of the two bucks photographed 4/01/22 was feeding in the high reeds, unfortunately it dropped out of sight before I could get my camera.

Friday, 14 January 2022

Fifty up, but it includes two byes

Almost no air movement and what there was was swirling around in the morning. A steadier light east breeze by the afternoon. Mainly overcast till evening.

Pale-bellied Brent goose 50 - there were at least 23 on Red Nab at 09:00, even though the tide was only just high enough to reach the rocks. At least 44 out from the children's play area, as I walked out to the skear at 15:15 and 48 on the inner skear just west of Sunny Slopes groyne on my return at 16:40 (I don't think they come to this area to feed, there is much less weed here than out from the play area, which was deserted at this time. I suspect that it is a better area for them to find suitable grit material, perhaps another reason why they ventured to the north of the groyne the other evening, there is lots of coarse sand there as well as the gut weed (MD)). The 50 was made up by 2 birds flying north up the bay while I was on the skear.

South shore 
Shelduck 33
Wigeon c160
Knot 150
150 Knot (and a Redshank) waiting for the flat calm sea to ebb a little further to expose the mud.
We are coming to the end of this set of neap tides. This area of mud, just out from the saltmarsh hasn't been covered for 3 days, the Blow Lugworm casts, that are normally erased each tide have grown. These casts are made by relatively immature (small) worms, even so the casts have become impressive. You can see the line where they end towards the slipway, this is as far as today's tide reached. Earthworms produce similar casts, but with no tides to wash the soil away it just builds up over time, burying anything on the surface (Charles Darwin was fascinated by this process and conducted experiments with earthworms over a 25 year period!)
An impressive three day accumulation of Lugworm casts. Each cast represents  one worm, the casts
get taller each day when not erased by the tide. You can see the line where today's tides has erased
them, towards the slipway. They will all be gone tomorrow, and return to modest sized intertidal casts

Middleton Nature Reserve 
Just the two main ponds checked, pretty much a full house except for no Teal
Mute Swan 9 adult plus 9 immature 
Coot 1
Moorhen 8
Gadwall 41
Wigeon 2 (pair)
Shoveler 2 (pair)
Tufted Duck 4 male
Little grebe 1

Heysham skear
Eider c80
Great Crested grebe 2
Red-breasted Merganser 4 (2 pair)
One of the Merganser pairs in the fading evening light

The only time I saw the sun today was when it was setting.....I went all arty! (MD)
The StenaLine arriving at the harbour 

Sunset behind conger rock

Sunset reflected in from the Stone Jetty
in theory you should be able to see my silhouette in the windows!

After the sun set the light quickly disappeared, revealing another indicator that we are moving from neap to spring tides.
A waxing gibbous moon - waxing gibbous come between:
First Quarter moon = neap tides
Full moon = spring tides

Just out of the recording area:
Jean managed both the Sandy Lands Black Redstart and the Lamppost Mediterranean gull
Janet saw 15+ Redwing along Carr Lane towards Middleton sands.

Some of Janets Redwing

Thursday, 13 January 2022

Brent, one off a half century

Mild WSW light wind, mainly overcast, but it remained dry.

North shore
Pale-bellied Brent 49
They were well scrutinised today by Tim Woodward and Kevin Singleton.
In the late morning Tim went to check what yesterday evening's birds could have been eating:

I went to where we estimated that they were last night. There are some fairly substantial clumps of weed around but it’s not widespread

It may not be widespread, but this gut weed is like a banquet compared to any
other area around here, no wonder they sneak in under cover of darkness (MD)
At that point there were 40 Brent out from the play area. Later in the afternoon when Kevin checked, they had grown to 49. These are some of his pictures:

Tim returned in the evening to check their movements at dusk, unfortunately somewhat thwarted by some "late" dog activity.

45+ were down by the playground until just after 16.10 when flushed by a dog. All previous times I’ve seen them put to flight they’ve landed pretty close by, but this time they flew 600m and landed on the water in the armpit of the Skear. 20 minutes later there were only three still in the water, the rest were a few metres away on land. At 16.40 they took to the air and initially headed towards Morecambe, but switched direction and landed in the water maybe 50-100m from shore. No dogs seen to be involved. 16.50-16.55 they were just visible through binoculars- some in the water at the end of the spike of the Skear and some on the Skear itself. At this point I ran out of light!

Little Egret in the same area - picture by Kevin

Middleton Nature Reserve (MD)
When I checked the east side on Tuesday I couldn't locate any winter thrushes, so today I checked the west side too. The only thrushes seen were Blackbirds and probably no more than typical resident numbers. The Hawthorn berries are pretty much stripped from the trees, but there is still some to be found if we get any cold weather displacement.
Mute Swan 7 adult 9 juvenile 
Moorhen 11
Coot 2 - a new(?) bird on Tim Butler pond - this is it leading the lone Mute. It looks like the tug towing the Fighting Temeraire up the Themes.

Gadwall 40
Tufted Duck 6 male
Shoveler 2 (pair)
No Wigeon or Little grebe seen
Water Rail 2 heard

There are still lots of Elder cones in the trees, but perhaps they are now empty, or perhaps rising buds just taste better, either way, that is what the Goldfinch are now eating (this clip is actually from earlier in the week, but they were still at it today)

Just out of the recording area:
Mediterranean gull 1 adult on top of usual traffic light lamppost. 10:00, I was just going to take a picture when it flew and joined Black-Headed gulls feeding in a bungalow back garden. I think they are fed here regularly, so perhaps just before 10:00 may be a good time, if the feeding is punctual. As ever be mindful of privacy, but on the lamppost it is fair game.