Tuesday 31 May 2022

Hobby and Canada Goose moult migration begins

The lightish winds swung round from NE in morning to NW by evening. Some heavy showers and sunny spells.

Hobby - adult low over Heysham Skear 0715 then climbed NW - thanks to David Kaye for this record

Middleton Nature Reserve 
Little grebe - Janet spotted an adult with two chicks on the main pond, she could only managed some distant shots as she was exercising a dog.
Adult Little Grebe (Dabchick)

Dabchick chicks

Rock Pipits - I went to check how the Near Naze and Half Moon birds are doing. The answer is, I'm not sure! (MD)
Near Naze - just one bird seen feeding, I saw it fly to a potential nest site, but couldn't see if it was carrying food.
Half Moon Bay - two birds feeding among the rocks near the cafe slipway. Both headed off over the sloping wall towards the industrial buildings, but again I failed to see if they were carrying food, but I suspect they were.
No sign of any birds near the rocks on the north edge of Half Moon Bay

House Sparrows rarely get a mention, largely as there are not huge numbers within the recording 
area, but there are colonies on both sides of Half Moon Bay. Newly fledged birds abound.

Canada Goose - 36 flew north low over the old heliport. The first record this year of their northward moult migration. No risk of not hearing these birds!

Heysham skear - low water 19:20 (MD)
As yesterday I went down 2 hours before low water, fortunately this coincided with a heavy shower ending.
Eider 13
Great Crested Grebe 5
Red-breasted Merganser 3 (pair plus a female) - this is the lone female, having a stretch, she flew off to the north not long after this.

Little Egret 9 plus Heron 1 - all shrimping again
Curlew 2
Whimbrel 1
Sanderling 20 - still in individual groups (7, 2 and 5 along north side. 4 and 2 along the south side). 

Monday 30 May 2022

Birds under foot........well........almost

NNW to W winds. Mainly overcast with some showers.

Report from Pete:
Seacheck heysham north wall 1005-1105: 
2cy Shag (later on Wooden Jetty)
5 Sandwich Tern (including two late unexpected bloggers on the yellow buoys)
2 Guillemot
1 very distant Gannet

Heysham Head (MD)
I just went down to check how the rock Pipits are doing. Only one pair found, below the high cliffs. I say found, but if you go down there the male finds you and gives you a good peeping at (I'm assuming male based on the behaviour seen by the lighthouse pair (MD)). He came within 3 metres of me and didn't stop calling till I moved away, although he didn't seem overly stressed, plenty of time for the odd scratch. He was so close that I had to zoom out to get him in frame.
Meanwhile the (assumed) female was waiting with a bill full of food. But she wouldn't fly to the young while I was watching. You can hear the male still peeping at me in this clip.
I looked away and then back, but she was gone, fortunately I saw her fly back down from the cliff tops. So either the young are still in the nest or perched atop the cliffs. I didn't want to disturb them any longer so left, the male ignored me as soon I started walking away.
I'll check out the Half Moon Bay and Near Naze birds tomorrow.

Heysham skear - low water 18:50 (MD)
Eider 6
Great Crested Grebe 5
Little Egret 3
Dunlin 4
Sanderling 34 - small groups 1 - 7 birds were making their way along the northern edge, they must have been working their way along the southern edge too as a large feeding group was forming on the western edge (as far as they could go). I paddled out beyond the western edge and watched as the feeding group grew and came closer to me. Initially it was raining, but fortunately it stopped and the sun came out briefly.
This in flight shot was before the sun came out.
Sanderling, there was quite a range of plumages, this was one of the less rufous ones

As the feeding group, now 32, passed me they came within 4m, the sun came out, allowing some better shots than I normally manage.
Quite rufous Sanderling 

Less rufous Sanderling 

Sanderling and Dunlin feeding

They were managing to catch shrimps, but perhaps some a little too large for them. This bird has a lively shrimp, but it appears to be pinched by the second bird, which also seems to let it go.

This clip shows where they were on the skear

As the tided ebbed further they started moving further west, these are some passing me. 
I didn't try to follow them but walked back along the south side, two more single birds past me heading west. I was really disappointed that you can't hear them calling in any of the clips. Their calls were very clear in real time and the breeze was behind me, I was sure my camera would pick them up. Still, a very nice experience.

Sunday 29 May 2022

Fledgling Rock Pipit

The wind pretty much covered all compass points today, but mainly east in the morning and west after lunch. High cloud with plenty of sunshine. Just the odd light shower.

Only my stuff so far (MD)
South shore late morning
Very little really, but good news with the Rock Pipits
There was a newly fledged bird above the nest hole in the harbour wall near the lighthouse. Both adults were calling, presumably to draw others out of the nest hole. Fortunately at this time the wind was from the north, which would help them in their first perilous flight to get over the top of the wall. Unfortunately it was suddenly very busy with a family party walking past. I hadn't realised that they had three dogs till this one nearly scared the young bird off. The female moves to the wooden structure still calling. 

Newly fledged Rock Pipit still with down on the left side

Both adult were calling from above the nest hole, this is the female.

I left them to it, but should have stayed closer, as the family returned, doing nothing wrong, just oblivious to what was happening. Unfortunately the dogs got too close this time and the fledgling flew out over the harbour, I was afraid it was going to end up in the sea, but the favourable wind helped it back and it ended up in the Power Station grounds. The adults returned to calling for the others to join them - Good luck!

No Rock Pipits seen on the foreshore or Red Nab, perhaps they too were at their nest sites. I'll see how Heysham Head birds are doing tomorrow.

Heysham skear - low water 18:20
I went down two hours before low water, just to check the NE corner for Sanderlings, success:
Sanderling 9 together - some now in quite advanced summer plumage.

A quick scan of other birds located:
Eider 10
Great Crested Grebe 3
Little Egret 3
Curlew 2
Plus the numerous Gulls and Oystercatcher 

Saturday 28 May 2022

Seed mussels beefing up

Light winds NNW initially moving to WNW by lunchtime. Sunshine pretty much all day.

Heysham Nature reserve (MD)
Just a stroll around with family groups as part of  "Family Day". Nothing unusual but quite a lot to see and hear.
Little Egret 1
Moorhen 2
Willow Warbler 
Reed Warbler 
Common Whitethroat 

No dragonflies but lots of Damselflies including:
Large Red
Common blue tail
Azure Blue

Brimstone 1 male
Peacock 1
Common Blue several 
Small Heath several
Burnet Companion moth several

Heysham skear -low water 17:50 (MD)
Eider just 10
Great Crested Grebe 3 - sorry about the jerky nature of this clip, I was stood on shifting sands, but I like it as it shows the grebe raising its "great crest"
Little Egret 6
Curlew 2
Ringed Plover 6 (one flock)
Three of the Ringed Plover, trusting their camouflage 

Herring Gull 1,000+ this clip shows some of one of the two main groups, they are just moving to the emerging outer skear.

They are still feeding on the seed mussels, but life isn't quite as easy as it was. This is how the seed mussels were when the gulls started feeding on them. This shot is the 13th May (note my hand still in winter plumage).
Note how all the seed mussels are similar sized and small

This is how they look today, surprisingly this is the first day out here this year that I haven't felt the need for my mitts. 
They are now variable in size, the larger ones to the right of my finger are the remaining earlier seed
mussels the smaller ones are newer seed mussels that have filled the gaps over the intervening weeks

This has two effects for the Herring Gulls, first the larger seed mussels are now too robust to be crushed open in their gizzard. Meanwhile the stronger threads the larger mussels use to anchor their position, also help to anchor the smaller mussels making it more difficult to detach them. On the plus side for the gulls, even the smaller mussels are larger than the earlier seed mussels and will contain a lot more protein.
These were today's gulls teasing out their meals.

Friday 27 May 2022

Quality sea birds

WNW fresh wind. Fine all day with sunny spells.

Seawatch report from Pete:
Summer plumage Black Guillemot flying out fairly close in c0936
Light morph adult or subadult Pomarine Skua wheeled in then climbed and headed NE just south of stone jetty c1026
27 Gannet
8 Manx Shearwater
1 Kittiwake  

Black Guillemot probably got off sea (or possibly in wave trough) - shades of semi resident bird a few years ago - so may still be in area south of harbour

South shore evening rising tide (MD)
I couldn't resist a stroll in the evening sun and always a chance of the Black Guillemot.
Nothing of note seen on the sea, but the Rock Pipits were active.
Both adult on Red Nab and Lighthouse taking food to the nest sites (Red Nab bird's nest within the Power Station grounds). Plus singles on Saltmarsh, sea wall between the outflows and  the waterfall.

This moth from Kevin's overnight trap.
A lovely Alder Kitten. It has spectacular antennae!

Thursday 26 May 2022

Murky morning hinders seawatch

Mainly WSW wind shifting to due west by evening. Quite a fresh wind early on accompanied with low cloud and steady rain.

Pete's "seawatch" was hampered by not being able to see much of the sea through the murk, but still managed:
Gannet 8
Manx Shearwater 1
Unfortunately, time was restricted as it was clearing slightly as he was leaving.

Kevin Singleton was pleasantly surprised by two Fulmer heading out at 11:15  - seen from Whinnysty Lane

South Shore around high tide 09:20 (MD)
Wheatear 2 along Ocean Edge Foreshore 
Linnet 3 saltmarsh/foreshore plus 2 near lighthouse 
Rock Pipit 1 on Red Nab and female feeding lighthouse young in nest
I tried my hand at seawatching, but neither my optics or patience are really up to it. Not too bad sheltering in the lee of the lighthouse, but little moving within my range. 10:00 - 10:30
Manx Shearwater
Gannet 2 out. 1 adult and this immature bird - sorry about poor definition but it was raining quite hard at this point.

On my way back down the sea wall I spotted a Guillemot being pushed towards Red Nab rocks by the waves. I managed to get my camera out just in time to see the last wave push it onto Red Nab.

Fortunately it was stronger than it looked and fought its way back through the waves and headed clear of the rocks.
Its wings seemed fine, but obviously not keen to use them to fly, presumably already exhausted.

Heysham skear - low water 16:25 (MD)
By this time the wind had eased and there were sunny spells 
Eider 36
Great Crested Grebe 1
Apart from the Oystercatchers there were only two other waders, fortunately both provided good views.
Dunlin in summer plumage. (I'll leave determining the subspecies to the more experienced (MD))

Summer plumage Dunlin

Summer plumage Sanderling 

The Sanderling managed to catch a shrimp, (the strong SW winds over the last couple of days have coloured the water sufficiently for more shrimps to venture close inshore). It seems to be as large a snack as it can manage, but manage it did.

Wednesday 25 May 2022

Good morning's seawatch

Fresher and more southerly westerlies and showers this morning. Moving to WSW later with sunny periods.

First another interesting sighting of one of our colour ringed ringed Grey Wagtails (see scheme details on the sidebar)
Record and picture by Keith Grafton - thanks

Grey Wagtail - ringed at Middleton NR on 16/09/2021. Seen as a breeding male on the river Duddon right by Duddon Bridge on 21/05/2022

Seawatch report by Pete:

This am seawatching: 

63 Gannet out

60 Manx Shearwater in

8 plus 9 Guillemot out

1 Arctic Tern out

1 Bonxie (Great Skua) out

1 Fulmar out

8 Common Scoter out

5 Sanderling out

14 Dunlin out.  

Outbound gannet and Manxies on the dropping tide were quite close inshore

The Gannet and Manx counts minimum figures assuming 32 Gannet in and 17 Manx out are some of the same birds as seen going the other way   

Heysham skear - low water 15:30 (MD)
I just managed a very brief check 2 hours before low water
Eider 31
Curlew 4
Sanderling 16 at least, including 8 seen flying in off the sea (groups of 8, 10, 12 and 4 seen feeding but there was some mixing going on, 16 was the most visible at any given time). Unfortunately, when the tide is still ebbing quickly all the birds are eager to get to the next piece of exposed shore first, so constantly and quickly mobile. It's better at slack water or on the incoming tide. This group of 8 was typical 

These flew past and landed further along the skear - all today's birds were seen along the northern side of the skear.

Tuesday 24 May 2022

Good Shearwater and Sanderling numbers

The fresher WNW wind dropped down to west by lunchtime. High clouds with sunshine and showers.

Seawatch report from Pete:
Sample sea passage in wind too NW off Heysham harbour 0645-0745
22 Manx Shearwater flying out (nothing else)
Rock Pipit feeding young in harbour wall nest 
2cy Shag on wooden jetty

Heysham skear - low water 14:20 (MD)
The current neap tides do not expose the outer skear so all feeding waders are restricted to inner and middle skear.
Shag 1 resting on a sand bar (presumably the same 2nd calendar year bird seen by Pete earlier)
Eider 41
Ringed Plover 3 on inner skear
Bar-Tailed Godwit 1 - this is a neat trick! It has caught a reasonable sized shrimp, I don't know if it was struggling to eat it, or deliberately "processing" it. If you watch closely you can see the shrimp start at the tip of its bill then raise to the base of the bill (I assume being moved by its tongue) before descending back down the bill to the tip. (It's only a short clip, if required, there is a slow motion replay option, click on the gear icon before selecting play)

Sanderling 34 minimum - I counted 34 feeding and I had already seen a flock of 13 fly west, but they may have doubled back. They seemed to be finding plenty to eat, but not Shrimps. They were scurrying around the mud like mice. They were all close to the waterline on the NE corner of the skear. In this clip, I pan out to show the location.

They should all be in this clip, but they can be difficult to spot and easily hidden behind, even small, obstacles. I can count 32, but that was checking frame by frame.

Sanderling coming in to feed

Monday 23 May 2022

A bit better variety

Light winds mainly from WSW to W, but a brief shift to NW after lunch before returning to west. High cloud with plenty of sunshine, but not especially warm.

Seawatch report from Pete
Bits on the sea off Heysham in unpromising clear conditions on dropping tide 0645-0745
Gannet 10
Razorbill /Guillemot  5
Kittiwake 5
Red Throated Diver 1
Common Scoter 1
also flock 5 Greylag geese north

we are approaching the time when Canada geese move through on their moult migration flights

Heysham skear (MD)
I went down early on the ebb tide, at the same point where I left it last night, but again no waders other than Oystercatcher.
Shag 1 feeding
Little Egret 3
Eider 30+
Great Crested grebe 4 (2+2)

Middleton Nature Reserve (MD)
Mute Swan the remaining pair again on the main pond, but only 8 cygnets remain
Coot 3
Moorhen 4
Little grebe 1 feeding on main pond
Mallard 2 male on main pond and the female with chicks on Tim Butler pond - couldn't make out how may chicks as I didn't want to disturb them. But she seems to be doing ok with them.

Warblers - 9 species heard singing: Willow Warbler, Chiffchaff, Lesser Whitethroat, Common Whitethroat, Sedge Warbler, Reed Warbler, Blackcap, plus
Grasshopper Warbler 1 reeling quietly from a bush near the southern entrance to the meadow between main and Tim Butler ponds
Cetti's Warbler - just the "no swimming" pond bird heard today.

Broad-bodied Chaser I saw 1 female and 4 male, plus Janet saw another 2 male on a different area.
The females are more difficult to locate as they tend to feed away from the 
ponds till they are ready to mate

Whereas the males tend to stay around the ponds waiting for the females to arrive.
This one and three others around the small ponds on the western edge of the west marsh 

Plenty of Damselflies including these two Large Red
Large Red Damselflies 

Butterflies were quite thin on the ground, just
Small Health 1
Peacock 1
Small White 2

Drinker Moth caterpillars are again plentiful, or more realistically appear plentiful, as they always seem to rest in the middle of pathways.

Two different Drinker caterpillars on two different paths

These are two of this morning's Great Crested Grebe doing a bit of displaying. I like the way they both just sink under the waves at the end of the clip.

Sunday 22 May 2022

Again the evening provides most interest

SSW wind. Overcast all day with several showers, fortunately the sun came out late evening.

Heysham skear 
Thought I would try a different tactic today. It told me something, but I have no idea what! (MD).
I went down 90 minutes after low water and watched the tide in as far as I left it yesterday evening, when the Sanderling were feeding. Today I didn't see a single small wader. Apart from Oystercatcher there were just 3 Curlew.
Great Crested Grebe 4
Eider 61 
Little Egret 3.
I watched this Little Egret for a few minutes and never saw it catch anything.

But there were things to catch, this other bird flew in to within a few metres of the above and immediately caught a Common Goby and a small flatfish (looks like a young Dover Sole - quite a distinctive elongated shape)

I returned on the ebbing tide 20:45. The sun was shining, but the wind was fresh and cold! We are moving to neap tides now which means they do not go out as quickly. I ended up leaving before the tide was out as far as I have been seeing small waders recently. Even so:
Sanderling 5 - this clip is quite distant but provides a short in flight view.

Knot 42 - this is them coming in, they landed just 10m from me. Note how the bird that ends up third from the left deliberately dips its belly into the water. Presumably cooling down, I wonder how far they have flown.

A few of them were quite red
They made little attempt to feed, they just wanted a rest. They were still where they landed when I left 15 minutes later.

This is the RNLI hovercraft this afternoon. It was interesting how the different birds reacted. The gulls, Oystercatchers and Grebes were largely indifferent. But all the Eider took flight and the Cormorant was undecided, but eventually took flight

Saturday 21 May 2022

Small waders, low numbers, but good fun!

Light west wind all day. Mainly overcast with light showers, but some sun in the evening.

Heysham skear (MD)
I did a full check at low water this morning.
Eider 58
Male Eider with a single female

Great Crested Grebe 4
Little Egret 3
There were no waders on the outer skears except Oystercatcher, but the inner skear was quite busy:
Curlew 7
Whimbrel 1
Ringed Plover 7 (4+3)
Ringed Plover

Turnstone 6
Turnstone in summer plumage 

Unfortunately no Sanderling seen this morning, so I had a look this evening. At 20:00 the skear just out from Sunnyslopes groyne was becoming exposed, and Sanderlings were around. I don't know if this is a time of day thing or time of the tide, but it might be worth checking out about 08:30 in the morning to establish.
Sanderling two groups of 4 and 5 plus several sightings of individual birds, which may have become detached from the larger groups. They were very mobile and very difficult to keep track of them, as they disappear behind the slightest rise. So at least 9, probably 11+. This was about the best clip I managed, one of these birds has well developed summer plumage.

Dunlin 5 - these flew in and landed only 4m from me. In contrast to the Sanderling they stood motionless and immediately disappeared into the background. These are two of them, obviously they have total confidence in their camouflage, and well founded too!
Two Dunlin

Friday 20 May 2022

Dragonflies out, but not about!

A cool south to SSW all day, sunny periods and heavy evening showers 

Just my stuff again, and I didn't have much time today (MD)
Saltmarsh to Red Nab 2 hours before high water.
Curlew 4
Linnet 6
Wheatear 2 - this saltmarsh bird was not welcomed by the Linnet.

Rock Pipit 1 on Red Nab - it seems to be fine moving around at the moment, but this bird too has some sort of growth on its foot. That makes three birds with something wrong with one foot, presumably a trait of the local population, I can't find anything to suggest it is a species trait. 
Rock Pipit with a growth on left foot

It didn't get over 14C today so very little insect movement. However there were 9 dragonfly nymph cases attached to the Flag Irises on the nature park pond. All empty, and I didn't see any yesterday so presumably they emerged this morning and are now resting somewhere. They look to be Broad-bodied Chaser nymphs.
Empty dragonfly nymph cases 

This shows the location of some of them, they should remain attached for a few days

Heysham skear
A check this evening as the inner skear became exposed unfortunately coincided with the heaviest shower of the day!
No Eider seen
Great Crested Grebe 2
Little Egret 7
Whimbrel 1
Sanderling 9 in one flighty flock
Turnstone 18 (13 & 5)
Knot 1

Thursday 19 May 2022

Sanderling still the main interest

Light WSW wind. Plenty of sunshine, but cool out of the sun.

Just my stuff so far (MD)
Wheatear 2 along Ocean Edge foreshore plus 1 on saltmarsh 

Heysham skear - ebbing tide this evening
Eider 46
Female and male Eider

Great Crested Grebe 6 (3x2)
Red-breasted Merganser 3 - this clip shows the merganser flying off, but also an indication of the wealth of birdlife on the skear.

Little Egret 7
Curlew 8
Turnstone 4
Dunlin 4
Sanderling 12 (2x2 + 8) very flighty this evening and the 8 flew off west.

This Herring gull has a Pipefish, probably a Greater Pipefish. 
Herring gull with Pipefish

Pipefish are effectively a straight seahorse, both are very closely related. Like a Seahorse, it is the Pipefish male that carries the eggs and young. This is either a female or a male with an empty pouch. Quite a large specimen, I expect it has died and washed ashore, rather than the Herring gull catching it, although, they are not uncommon in the bay. Anyway it wasn't prepared to share it.

Wednesday 18 May 2022

Evening Sanderlings

 Light wind SSW in morning SSE by evening, plenty of sunshine but cooler than yesterday.

Middleton Nature Reserve (MD)
Just a short circuit mid morning
Mute Swan 2 adult plus 9 cygnet 
Coot 4 adult
Moorhen 4 adult
Mallard 5 male 1 female
Little grebe 3 minimum - 2 feeding on main pond, plus one reeling from "no swimming" pond.

Singing warblers:
Cetti's warbler 1 on central marsh
Willow Warbler, Chiffchaff, Blackcap, Common Whitethroat, Sedge (several of each)
Lesser Whitethroat 1
This Sedge warbler on the main pond reeds was in full voice

Despite the sunshine it was only 15C. Still, warm enough for Dragonflies but none found. There were plenty of Damselflies though. The Large Red looking more impressive now they are mature.
Male Large Red Damselfly

Butterflies, in order of abundance:
Small Heath several
Small White - several small white butterflies, the only one seen closely was a Small White, I think they all were.
Orange Tip 4 male
Speckled Wood 3
Peacock 1
Plus day flying moths:
Common wave 2 
Burnet Companion 3
Burnet companion 

Heysham skear (MD)
I watched the tide cover the skear this morning.
Eider 39
Little Egret 7
Great Crested Grebe 5
Red-breasted Merganser 2 female type
Continued high numbers of Gulls and Oystercatchers. The only other waders were:
Dunlin flock of 7
Curlew flock of 5
Whimbrel 1

I went down early evening to watch the inner skear becoming exposed, nothing other than Oystercatcher and gulls at first, then the Sanderlings started to show up, 17 in total (4, 11 and 2). I couldn't stay long though, perhaps others followed.
These are 3 of the first 4, I could almost sense their disappointment! This time last year these little pools on the ebbing tide were full of shrimps - none today.

The flock of 11 tried a few different areas, including the mud beach, before settling on the waterline, probably their best bet for small invertebrates.

Tuesday 17 May 2022

Lighthouse Rock Pipits feeding young in nest

Light SE wind, high cloud with plenty of sunshine and the odd light shower

Nothing moving on the sea this morning, Pete had a single "Cabbage White" trundle past in an hour's check!

Heysham skear - low water 07:25 (MD)
I watched the tide come in and cover the outer skears. If there are any feeding waders on the outer skears, they often fly to the inner skear before moving on. But the only waders today, apart from the Oystercatcher, was a single Whimbrel and a Bar-Tailed Godwit, still in winter plumage. This is the Godwit, it doesn't matter how long your bill is, it isn't always quite long enough.
Little Egret 6
Grey Heron 1
Eider 36
Great Crested Grebe 5
Herring gulls - are still harvesting the seed mussels, strange that the Lesser Blacked-Backed gulls don't bother with the seed mussels, there are some around, but only feeding on crabs or dropping large mussels to open them. I took this clip of the Herring gulls as the outer skear was being covered. The clip was slightly longer originally, I counted 1,700 gulls on it and many had already flown off and many more were on the sea at either side of me, so at very least 2,000 birds.
The foreground birds are on the middle skear, the background birds being pushed off the outer skear.

Heysham Head 
Just a quick check on the way home, really to see how the previously territorial Rock Pipits were doing. Unusually, I didn't see any, but suspect that they were around somewhere.
Swift 3 feeding over the wood.
Swift - I don't often get an half decent shot of a swift (MD)

South shore late afternoon 
Wheatear 1 on saltmarsh 
Whimbrel 1 on Red Nab
Rock Pipit 3. The Red Nab bird was feeding and appeared to take food into the Power Station grounds.
Both the lighthouse birds were taking food to the nest.
This is the female, just above the nest site, but she will never fly to it 
when she knows she is being watched.

This is the male, you can't see it on this shot, but this is the ringed bird.
Unfortunately, he was limping. Hopefully just something temporary, but I
suspect it the same problem developing that the other lame bird has. (MD)

In this clip, I am sat on the low wall next to the lighthouse, looking back to the wooden frame over the steps. The male leaves the nest hole carrying a faecal sac. I then pan out to show the location of the hole.

If you go to watch them feed their young, please give them plenty of space, certainly 
no closer than this, I was sat on the lighthouse wall, almost behind the lighthouse.

Monday 16 May 2022

Fly day......and a Spotted one to order

Light east wind shifting to ESE by late afternoon and south by evening. The threatened overnight rain didn't materialise but heavy showers in the morning and some thunder showers early evening. Sunshine in between.

Sewatch report by Pete:
Sea this am 0810-0910.  
Good vis until 0850 yet no Scoter!  
Only saw 6 swallow, Great crested Grebe and Razorbill fly in

South shore (MD)
The rain had held off till 09:15, just before I set off. My forecast said "light showers", turned out they were light showers of biblical proportions! It chucked it down all the time I was out, only stopping when I got home about 11:00.
Little Egret 4
Wheatear 5 - too wet to use my camera today, this clip is from Saturday. Don't watch the Wheatear, watch the floor around, you can see it is covered in flies.

Today's Wheatear were all towards the slipway side of Ocean Edge foreshore, which is a little unusual as they normally favour the Red Nab side, where the above clip was taken. The answer presented itself as I approached Red Nab
Sparrowhawk 1 grounded on foreshore.
Rock Pipit 3 (Red Nab, sea wall and Lighthouse)
Linnet 4 between lighthouse and waterfall 
Willow Warbler 3 together, making their way along the brambles between lighthouse and waterfall 
Sedge Warbler singing near the small anemometer - there isn't usually one here.

Pete advised that Heysham Head for a Spotted Flycatcher was definitely on the cards today. So, mid afternoon, on my way to the skear, I stopped off briefly at Heysham Head, and wasn't disappointed.
Spotted Flycatcher 1
Spotted Flycatcher feeding above the wood on Heysham Head

By this time it was hot and sultry. This clip again shows the abundance of flying insects, the Flycatcher was spoilt for choice!

Heysham skear 
It was very pleasant on the skear the sun was shining and warm but the light breeze making it feel fresh. Unfortunately thunderstorms were forecast and you could see and hear them getting closer. I reluctantly cut short my walk. It's never a good thing to be the highest point for miles around in a thunderstorm!
Eider 42
Little Egret 7
Great Crested Grebe 1
Shag 1 feeding
Whimbrel 3
No Sanderling today
Black Headed Gull 34 - working hard to try and catch shrimps. They were in the right place, close to the shore near the mouth of a drain pouring sediment into the sea. I've shown clips before when shrimps are plentiful, the gulls heads bob up and down like a sewing machine, it wasn't like that today.

The term "drain" in this context, just means a natural channel draining water from higher up the shore into the sea. In this case markedly increased in volume with this morning's heavy rain. So, more sediment equals more shrimps and the gulls turn up.

Sunday 15 May 2022

Plenty of distant Scoter and a LRP bonus

East winds all day, freshening slightly in the afternoon. High cloud with sunny spells.

Seawatch report from Pete Crooks:

Three hours over the incoming tide (7.15 – 10.15 am) produced:
1 2nd CY Kittiwake
c.200 Common Scoter – numerous distant groups of 10 – 20 flying in or out so probably some duplication; largest group = c.35
c.55 Pink-footed Geese – 3 distant groups
34 2nd CY Black-headed Gull – flying into the Bay in a single group
4 Sandwich Tern
1 Arctic Tern
2 Red-throated Diver
c.20 Swallow & 1 House Martin – low over the sea in ones and twos
1 Harbour Porpoise

Red Nab (PM, JR)

Little Ringed Plover 1 flew from Red Nab to the Power Station non operational land (this area was checked recently, but this species can easily be missed)

Middleton Nature Reserve 

Ringing report from Alan:

The wind was variable in strength this morning and not great for mist netting. A small selection of species was caught including the 100th Lesser Redpoll for 2022.

The catch comprised:

Wren 1

Robin 1

Blackbird 1

Sedge Warbler 1 plus 1 retrap

Reed Warbler 1 plus 1 retrap

Lesser Whitethroat 1

Common Whitethroat 1

Chiffchaff 1

Blue Tit 1 retrap

Lesser Redpoll 5

Heysham skear (MD)

I walked the morning tide in then just did another quick check of the inner skear in the afternoon, before the outer skears were exposed.

Eider 55

Red-breasted Merganser 4

Great Crested Grebe 6

Shelduck 6 out ( morning)

Little Egret 4

Grey Heron 1

Shag 1 feeding (afternoon)

Swallow 3 (morning) 7 (afternoon)

Dunlin 1

Turnstone 6

Sanderling 2 (afternoon)

Sanderling - the one on the right is moving towards summer plumage,
but the one on the left is still, pretty much, in winter plumage 

Kevin took this shot yesterday on the south sea wall, its a gull pellet. Interestingly it includes what looks to be the claw of a small Edible Crab. A gull would not eat a crab this size whole, they normally remove the claws first, and when eating Shore Crabs, the claws are often discarded. I suppose the extra meat in an Edible Crab claw makes it worth swallowing. 

Gull pellet made up largely of  crab (looks to be an Edible Crab)