Saturday 30 April 2022

Pomarine Skua tops the seawatch

The light winds started SE before swinging through south and ending up WSW by evening. The morning sun eventually gave way to light rain in the afternoon.

Seawatch report from Pete:
Sea Heysham: 
Adult summer plumage Little Gull
Adult light morph Pomarine Skua - picked out flying out (having floated in unseen on the sea?) just beyond the buoys then went further out before turning and gaining height whence flew towards the wooden jetty when I lost it behind fences.  At 0920, Dave Hawkins, who missed it high in the sky due to communication problems, picked it up flying low past him roughly down the shipping lane.  Didn’t fly back in again by 1100hrs. Presumably after the initial sighting, dropped down on the sea Lune deeps area and carried back in by the incoming tide
Arctic Skua
51 in Arctic Tern in 6 flocks
c35 Sandwich Tern
Kittiwake 2cy
12 Gannet
24 Common Scoter
8  Whimbrel.  
Hard work with a lot of birds flying high and fixed Half horizon wide angled scope not covering the flight zone.  Rewarded though!  

126 Eider
4 Great Crested Grebe (one flew in north wall, 3 in channel)
10 Red-breasted Merganser (3 flew in north wall, 7 on channel) 
6 Canada goose
c60 Swallow
2 Redpoll in 

Middleton Nature Reserve 
Ringing report from Alan:On my arrival at 05.30 I was a little surprised to find a sharp grass frost although this quickly cleared. The sky was very clear and a SE breeze got up by about 09.30 although the promised cloud cover did not really materialise. The catch was modest and comprised 
7 Willow Warblers
3 Lesser Redpoll
and singles of Robin, Common Whitethroat, Long tailed Tit, Great Tit and Reed Bunting.

There are plenty of warblers apparently on territory now. Only three Swallows were seen moving northwards. Two Kestrels were hunting over the reserve.

Janet took these shots of some of the Swallow moving through Middleton Nature Reserve.


This shot of a Lesser Black-backed gull was taken by Kevin Eaves yesterday, on the Near Naze.
Lesser Black-backed gull in nice contrast to the bright blue sea.
The sea here is only this blue on calm days or easterly winds.
Neither of which disturb the inshore sediments.

Friday 29 April 2022

Lots passing through, then the wind turned

 Light NE wind to begin with, but by lunchtime it had moved to west and freshened and more NW by evening.

Seawatch report from Pete:
Sea Heysham: 
133 Arctic tern in 12 small flocks
1 Common Tern
c50 Sandwich Tern plus 25 south of harbour
4 Teal in
6 Red-breasted Merganser in
15 Gannet
200 plus swallow - sample 75 in 20 mins. Main swallow line was in off near Red nab 
2 sand martin
1 house martin
7 2cy Mute Swan in

In scrub on north wall: 
2 female whinchat
2 willow warbler
one brief glimpse of prob grasshopper warbler.  
Big wheatear ocean edge. 

In addition two Arctic Skua LM singly past Stone jetty

South Shore - high water 11:20 (MD)
Almost breathless when I started but light westerly by the return walk
Whimbrel 8
Redshank 1
Turnstone 1
Dunlin c50 in one flock in
Wheatear 2 - not noticeably large
Common Sandpiper 1 feeding along sea wall
Common Sandpiper
The tide was still rising and the sandpiper was catching the insects displaced by the tide.

Just cutting trough the Nature Park from Red Nab located.
Singing Warblers:
Common Whitethroat 1
Lesser Whitethroat 1
Blackcap 2
Willow Warbler 2
Chiffchaff 1

Small Tortoiseshell 4
Orange Tip 3 male
Brimstone 1 male - here it is drinking nectar

Some nice shots from Kevin Singleton:
Rock Pipit - Near Naze

Common Whitethroat - Middleton Nature Reserve 

Male OrangeTip - Middleton Nature Reserve 

Heysham skear - low water 18:20 (MD)
Pete advised that the wind swinging round to the west would mean no passage terns tonight, and so it proved. Still it was a pleasant walk.
Eider 38
Red-breasted Merganser 6
Little Egret 7
Apart from the Oystercatchers, the only waders were:
Whimbrel 14
Turnstone 2
Knot 1
A solo Knot always looks strange

The large gulls (predominantly Herring) have started feeding on the seed mussels, there were c150 in this group, not all in the clip, plus a similar sized group further out.

The seed mussels are still tiny and embedded in mud.
There is very little meat in these seed mussels, the gulls will have to eat a lot of them.

One advantage, for the remaining waders at least, of having lots of gulls around, is that they do not tolerate the Peregrines.

Female Holly Blue on Moneyclose Lane - from Janet

Thursday 28 April 2022

Plenty going on

The light easterlies continue, ESE in morning NE by evening. High cloud with little sunshine.

Seawatch report from Pete:
Sea this am: 
Arctic Tern: 18 plus perhaps the same 8 into the Bay then distantly out then back in, 
Arctic Skua - two DM together (also seen SJ)
Common Scoter 30
Sandwich Tern c25
Red-throated Diver 3
Black Tern 1 (also seen SJ)
Swift 1
Swallow 5
Whimbrel 3
96 Eider
2cy Shag
3 Red-breasted Merganserlow tide channel

Ringing reports:
Middleton Nature Reserve - John.

Three nets were set at Middleton this morning, with not a very large catch, but a reasonable selection, with a first Grasshopper Warbler for the year being caught.

The catch comprised:

Willow Warbler          5 new and 1 retrap

Sedge Warbler            2

Goldfinch                    2 

Lesser Whitethroat     1

Grasshopper Warbler  1

Cetti's Warbler             1 retrap

Blackcap                      1

Dunnock                      1 retrap

Whitethroat                 1

The retrap Willow Warbler was ringed initially at Middleton in 2018 as a young bird.

Heysham Nature Reserve - Jean

Meanwhile at Heysham NR I caught 

Willow warbler 3

Lesser Whitethroat 1

Blackcap 1

Song Thrush 1

And it felt flippin freezing

South shore on ebbing tide (MD)

Wheatear 3

Rock Pipit 3 - Red Nab, Lighthouse. The bird that appears to only have one leg is still around, today between the lighthouse and the waterfall. But it does have two legs, presumably something is wrong with the right one. If you watch this clip carefully (near the beginning) you can see it try to correct its balance with its right foot.

Whimbrel 3 on Red Nab
Turnstone 1 one Red Nab and none on the wooden jetty. The only other waders seen were the Oystercatchers.

Heysham skear - low water 17:45 (MD)

White Wagtail 1 male flew north from promenade 

Pink-Footed goose 1 looking bedraggled on the shoreline 

Eider only 40 close in but the outer channels not checked.

Red-breasted Merganser 7

Shag 1 2nd calendar year seen flying to north side to feed. This clip is actually from yesterday, but this is the same area where it was feeding today.

Sandwich Tern 12 feeding

Arctic Tern 40 north 17:30

Whimbrel 6

Turnstone again the only other wader apart from Oystercatcher, and again just one seen on the skear. But c100 flew in from the south and started feeding amongst the rocks near the promenade.

From Kevin:

The sea wall continuous to deliver the goods ....... 

in this case a lovely little Figwort Weevil.

I certainly find this little creature interesting, and it has striking features, but I'm not sure that I could bring myself to call it "lovely" (MD)

Wednesday 27 April 2022

More Puffins and an exciting evening passage

The ENE light wind continues moving more to NE by evening. High cloud with plenty of sunshine.

Morning seawatch report from Pete:
Stone jetty this am had a flock of three Arctic Skua which descended from height before heading up the Bay towards the Kent Estuary 
one flock of 31 Arctic tern after we left Heysham.  
We ‘only’ had a couple of Puffin, two dark morph Arctic Skua 
and low single figures of
Red-throated Diver
Common Scoter
Only 10-15 Sandwich Tern.  
Pair of Canada Geese on mudflats off Red nab 

Heysham skear - low water 17:00 (MD)
Eider c60
Great Crested Grebe 2
Red-breasted Merganser 9
Little Egret 5
Whimbrel 11
Shag 1 2nd calendar year 
Kittiwake 2 flocks 24 and 11 flew into the bay before circling higher. One flock left east over Heysham Head, the other also headed east towards the harbour, but may have turned south and headed out.
Some of the Kittiwake gaining height
This is the larger group circling before, later, disappearing over Heysham Head, again they could have turned south later and headed back out.

Sandwich Tern 2 feeding
Arctic Tern 161, three flocks 65, 32, and 83 plus one hung around to feed
Arctic Terns

The first two flocks flew along the channels and gained a bit of height before crossing the skear, then dropped again and continued into the bay. The third flock was as the tide was flooding. They came in low, but quite close to the shore. When they approached the skear, they lifted high and kept getting higher. I lost them high to the east, but it wasn't clear which way they actually continued. This clip is where they started lifting, pretty much over my head. One of nature's special moments! I stopped filming and just watched.

Janet took this shot of the first Cinnabar moth of the year on Knowlys Rd

Tuesday 26 April 2022

Puffin through

The wind was much lighter than of late, but still predominantly from ENE. Plenty of sunshine.

Seawatch report from Pete:
Heysham: 0700-0930 on and off: 
2cy Shag on wooden jetty 
2 Puffin
2 Razorbill
4 Razorbill/Guillemot 
c35 Sandwich Tern
57 Arctic Tern
104 in 52 out Common Scoter
13 Whimbrel
7 Red throated Diver
1 male  Goosander
18 Dunlin in

Singing male Garden warbler HNR
3 Rook over HNR.

Janet also had a look around Heysham Nature Reserve 
Large Red Damselflies 

Grey Heron

Female Orange Tip
Both the two pictures above from a couple of days ago, but both also  present today.

I spent a fascinating day with a geologist around Heysham Head, so my only records today are from there (MD).
Whimbrel 4
Wheatear 2
White Wagtail 1 female
Rock Pipits 3
Sandwich Tern 2 feeding in the afternoon 

Monday 25 April 2022

100+ terns including Black and Arctic

The wind was much lighter today, but still mainly ENE. High cloud with some sunshine and very light afternoon showers.

Seawatch report from Jean:


Arctic Skua 1 in at 0925hrs

Black Tern 1 in at 0828hrs

Arctic Tern 9 in ( none till 0828 and largest group was 3!)

Sandwich Tern 95 in (eventually)

Auk sp 4 

Common Scoter 79 in, 71 out but given their locations and timings probably different birds

Red-throated Diver 1 out

Black-headed Gull 42 in

Dunlin 30 in

Knot 140 in

Shelduck 6 on the water

Swallow 4 

Two distant white things resembled Little Egrets  flying into the Bay.

Wheatear 1 at Ocean Edge

Middleton Nature Reserve 

Ringing report from Alan:

The forecast for this morning with clear sky and NE breeze did not promise any migrants.  However, after a week of poor conditions and blustery winds we were keen to get out and set some nets.

The catch was much as expected, that is very low numbers, but rescued by two groups of four and three Lesser Redpolls.

Lesser Redpoll  7

Willow Warbler  2

Blackcap  1

Sedge Warbler  1

Goldfinch  1

Dunnock  1 retrap

Long tailed Tit  1 plus 1 retrap

Plenty of warblers taking up residence but little overhead movement noted. Seven Swallows flew low over the reserve northwards.  Better conditions for migrants expected later this week.

I had a walk around mid morning (MD)

Mute 2 pairs, no sign of the Tim Butler pond bird.

Greylag goose 2

Shelduck 1

Coot 4

Moorhen 3

Mallard 5 (1 female)

Gadwall 1 male

Swallow 9, minimal overlap if any with Alan's.

As Alan said, there were plenty of warblers on territory. The following heard singing:

Cetti's, Willow, Chiffchaff, Blackcap, Sedge, Lesser Whitethroat and Common Whitethroat 

Singing male Common Whitethroat 

What Alan didn't say was that it was cold! Only two butterflies seen, a Small Tortoiseshell and this Green-veined White.
Green-veined White

Heysham skear - low water 14:45
Eider c80 close in
Red-breasted Merganser 6
Little Egret 3
Swallow 2
Oystercatcher c2,000
Curlew 1
Whimbrel 8
Redshank c10
Turnstone c100
Dunlin c120
The light was better for seeing the Dunlin today, but their current plumage (half way to summer plumage) is a perfect match for the skear. They trust their camouflage and just move out of your way as you walk by.

Sandwich Tern just two of this morning's passage remained. They had been preening, but the tide had turned and they were getting ready to go off to feed.

Just a quick evening check from the north wall located
Shag 1 2nd calendar year 
Sandwich Tern 1
Swallow 2

Just out of the recording area - Heysham Moss Nature Reserve 
Yesterday's fire was very destructive. This shot from Janet is just some of the devastation.
Reuben had to call the fire brigade again as some areas were still smouldering down into the peat, and could easily have flared up again. As Reuben said, all a bit depressing!

On a brighter note Janet managed to spot 4 Roe Deer in an area not affected by the fire.
Female Roe Deer

Sunday 24 April 2022

First Arctic Terns plus Little gulls and more pass through

Still quite fresh ENE wind, high cloud with plenty of sunshine.

Seawatch report from Pete:
A few bits on the sea off Heysham on dropping tide including:
4 Arctic tern 
2 adult Little Gull
1 Fulmar
1 Kittiwake
2 Gannet
17 Common Scoter
3 Sandwich Tern
1 Guillemot 
2 Razorbill/Guillemot 
82 Bar-Tailed godwit in 7 flocks
2cy Shag on wooden jetty early on
northbound Little Egret ploughing across the bay
3 White Wagtail low across the sea to the north 
No grounded landbirds

Whimbrel near outflows by Kevin

Heysham skear - low water 13:05 (MD)
Eider c80 close in, similar numbers further out
Red-breasted Merganser 5
Little Egret 3

Not huge numbers of waders, but an interesting selection.
Oystercatcher c2,000
No Knot or Curlew
Whimbrel 4
Redshank 6
Turnstone c100
Dunlin c80 including a tight flock of 40
Bar-Tailed Godwit 1

Both the Dunlin and Turnstone are moulting to summer plumage 

This Bar-Tailed Godwit was catching shrimps. This picture is a still from the clip below. You can just make out it tossing the shrimp up its bill. 
Bar-Tailed Godwit eating a shrimp
The above still is from very early in this clip. The long bill is ideal for probing deep in the mud for worms, but not the best for handling shrimps, it appears to drop this one, but quickly retrieves it.

There are always shrimps around the skear in varying size and quantity dependant on time of year and the conditions. But there does not seem to be the large quantities of small shrimps that all the waders were feeding on this time last year. Unless we get a sudden emergence, I am not optimistic of a repeat of last year's high numbers of Sanderlings feeding here next month. I sincerely hope that I'm wrong! (MD)

Just out of the recording area - Heysham Moss Nature Reserve
Grasshopper Warbler reeling - today heard by Janet.

This reserve was later a scene of a fire that required 3 Fire Brigade units to bring under control. Even small fires quickly spread in the current strong winds. Hope the result was not too much death and destruction.

Saturday 23 April 2022

Racing Pigeons, nearly topped the bill!

The fresh ENE winds continue. High cloud with some sunshine.

Just my stuff so far (MD), and that was precious little till an evening stroll.

A check from the waterline out from the north wall this morning located nothing except a sudden surge of racing Pigeons. They were fast, low over the water against the wind then over the shore past Heysham Head. About 100 passed in three tight packed groups no more than 30 seconds apart. I therefore assumed that they must have recently set off.
This is the leading group, the distinctive brown bird was setting the pace
The above was 10:45 and I didn't see any others till 11:30, when  4 and a single passed. So perhaps they had traveled some distance after all. I checked today's races, but couldn't find any race with this flight line, but clearly there was one.

An early evening check proved more productive. 
Shag 1 2nd calendar year feeding briefly at  the Near Naze at high water.

Before flying off north toward Heysham Head

A walk along the south wall:
Shelduck 3
Little Egret 5
Wheatear 2
White Wagtail another or same male near the lighthouse 
White Wagtail 

Rock Pipit 4
This Rock Pipit was keeping a close eye on the White Wagtail (right)
There were very few insects this evening.

Just out of the recording area - Heysham Moss Nature Reserve 
Grasshopper Warbler reeling from the willows by the railway line on the main reserve - ref Justine

Friday 22 April 2022

Enough to maintain interest

The fresh east wind continued moving to NE by evening. Plenty of high cloud with much less sunshine than yesterday.

North shore waterline - low water 10:30 (MD)
Eider 7
Dark-bellied Brent 1 flew out
Quite late Dark-bellied Brent goose

Whimbrel 4. 3 together on this clip, plus another in
Sandwich Tern 2
Wheatear 1

Middleton Nature Reserve 
Lesser Whitethroat 3 seen/heard by Mark Jones

South shore towards high water (MD)
Shelduck 2
Little Egret 5
Shag 1 2nd calendar year on wooden jetty 
Wheatear 5
Rock Pipit 5 (2 Red Nab, 1 at least along sea wall and 2 at lighthouse)
Willow Warbler or Chiffchaff (or both) 2 providing glimpses in brambles near waterfall 
Linnet 2
White Wagtail 2 near lighthouse feeding on the glut of incoming insects. Sorry about jerky clip, it was pretty windy here. Even so, you can still see the small "flies" flitting about.

There were insects, everywhere again, although probably not the profusion and variety of yesterday. It hadn't been as warm today and my visit was later in the tide than Kevin yesterday (the insects seem to focus more in this area when it is the only portion of sea wall directly in contact with the sea).
Even so, many of the "flies" proved to be beetles and bugs when they settled. Typically 4 to 6mm, but this small "bug" was only about 2mm.
It landed on my hand

Even zoomed in I can't identify it - I'm sure some of you will know (MD)
You have to wonder how far this tiny bug has flown over
the sea, against a strong wind to get here

Thursday 21 April 2022

Large and varied insect influx into the east wind.

East to ENE winds all day, high cloud with plenty of sunshine 

North shoreline low water 09:45 (MD)
No Terns seen this morning
Swallow 8 - all singles apart from 1 group of 3
Bumblebees at least 6 in off, but no other insects noticed.
There are always at leat 4 Eider around here, this male provided som nice in flight shots.

Drake Eider

Middleton Nature Reserve 
Janet, Tim and Kevin Singleton had a look at different times today, all reported plenty of butterflies, these are likely to be "home grown" and not related to the influx in today's title.
Cetti's Warbler 3
Several each: Willow Warbler, Chiffchaff and Blackcap
Male Blackcap 
Greylag Goose 2 - flew off towards Middleton while Janet was there but returned when Tim was watching.
Shelduck 2
Little grebe on main and "no swimming" ponds
Butterflies included:
Orange Tip
Speckled Wood
Holly Blue
Small Tortoiseshell 
Male Orange Tip - Janet

Female Orange Tip - Kevin

Female Speckled Wood - Kevin

South wall - this is where the main insect invasion was apparent.
Report from Kevin Eaves
Swarms of insects on the south wall this afternoon. Mainly beetles of quite a few species. 
The following pictures are just a few of the huge number and variety of beetles along the south wall today. I even managed to swallow one and get one inside my t-shirt! I've never seen anything quite like it. Alison identified those that she could. Like micro moths, some have to be dissected for a positive identification. 
Scarlet Lily Beetle.

One of the Cereal Leaf Beetles.

Sitona lineatus (a type of weevil).

Harpalus rufipes.

Gastrophysa polygoni (probably).

11-spot Ladybird.
Quite a haul!

North wall (MD)
Just a quick evening check
The large bumblebees were still coming in off - 3 seen
Swallow 2 singles 
Whimbrel 1
Sandwich Tern 2 fishing - both can be seen diving on this clip

They didn't appear to be catching anything, but on closer inspection they were catching quite small fish, probably Common Gobies which are common here. In this shot you can just make out a small fish at the base of the bill.

Sandwich Tern
After a few such dives they both had clearly caught enough and landed on the mud to preen.