Thursday 30 June 2022

Clouded Yellow

Very light winds from all directions till lunch, then settled from the west. A warm sunny afternoon.

South Shore (MD)
A morning check on the rising tide.
Mediterranean gull 9+ - there was just one adult on the beach near the jetty, but at least 8 adult/3rd calendar year on Red Nab with the Black-Headed gulls.
Rock Pipit 7 - Red Nab was quiet today with just one, there were three together along the foreshore. 
Both the ringed male and the female were above the lighthouse nest site, but not going down to feed them, looked like they were trying to entice the young to come out of the nest. It was ideal conditions with almost no wind. The third "helper" bird had not got the message though and was still taking food to them. Anyway it confirms that this is the second brood this year for this pair.
This clip is the female, she was distracted by a small passing fly, it wasn't passing for long!

Middleton Nature Reserve mid afternoon (MD)
Mute Swan 2 adult still with 7, now quite large cygnets 
Little grebe 3 adult
Warblers singing 
Cetti's Warbler - just the "no swimming" pond male
Willow Warbler, 
Lesser Whitethroat 2 singing today, not heard them for a while
Common Whitethroat 
Reed Warbler 
Sedge Warbler 

Stock Dove 2 flew east, later a single bird, probably one of the earlier two flew to water treatment works.

There weren't lots of butterflies, but a good variety of species.
Ringlet - by far the most common
Meadow Brown several
Gatekeeper - just one probable 
Speckled Wood just 1
Large Skipper several
Small Skipper 4
Red Admiral 1
White - probably green-veined 1
Clouded Yellow 1 female was flitting around to the west of Tim Butler pond. Unfortunately a pack of dogs passed by mid flitter and I lost sight of it. Possibly heading for the grassland to south of Tradebe.

Clouded Yellow

This shot with the sun shining through its wings shows the dark upper wing pattern
Narrow bordered Five-Spot Burnet - everywhere!
Silver Y, 3 - this one was feeding frantically 

Again a decent variety
Emperor 6

Male Emperor Dragonfly 
Black Tailed Skimmer 8
Broad Bodied Chaser 6
Four-Spotted Chaser 1 
Male Four-Spotted Chaser
Common Darter 2

All the regular Damselflies were active too including this Common Emerald Damselfly
Damselflies do not normally rest with their wings spread, but Common 
Emerald Damselflies are actually part of a subgroup called Spreadwings.
Their other name is Common Spreadwing

I think these are Cardinal Beetles, whatever they are they seemed to be enjoying the sunshine.

Wednesday 29 June 2022

Midsummer Knot

Light South to SSW winds, mainly overcast till late afternoon, some showers.

South Shore
Pete checked the meds:
Mediterranean Gull - At least 26 outfalls/Red nab with birds departing to the Lune estuary at least as soon as I arrived at 1100 (8 3cy, 7 2cy, 11 ad) - no rings seen.

I had a walk along the shore and sea wall mid afternoon. I set off in full waterproofs in the pouring rain, and ended up sweating when the rain stopped and the sun came out (MD).
Goldfinch 7 feeding next to saltmarsh 
Linnet 4 feeding next to saltmarsh plus 2 at Red Nab and 3 near lighthouse - these are the saltmarsh birds.

Rock Pipits 7 - one on foreshore. Four on Red Nab, I'm not sure what was going on, there was a lot of bickering and chasing going on, possibly a new male in the breeding birds territory. I suspect these two are males in conflict.

These are the other two and appear to be an adult (presumably the female) and a juvenile 

There were two taking food to the lighthouse nest again. This one has another sand eel. She is probably the breeding female. We have seen these abnormal feathers on the back of a female nesting here before, Pete suspected it was the result on many hours sat in the hole with her back in contact with the damp stone.

Curlew 61 north
Redshank 2
Shag 1 2nd calendar year resting on the rocks almost out of sight at the end of the wooden jetty. But even at this range its profile identifiable 

The Mediterranean gulls weren't in a rush to return from the estuary only 3 adults were seen this afternoon.

Heysham skear - low water 19:00 (MD)
Little Egret 8
Grey Heron 2
Grey Heron

Great Crested grebe 2
Eider 1 female
Not a great shot, but I managed to get the Eider and GC Grebes in the same frame

Knot 2  together - no sign of summer plumage. Pete advises that they will likely be summering 2nd calendar year birds.
One of the two Knot

Curlew, many more than the  61 seen flying this way earlier. This clip gives a flavour of the activity.

The seed mussels are now too large for the Herring gulls to eat whole. This is a typical bed.

These are the smallest mussels around. Too large and too well anchored 
for the Herring Gulls to eat.

Finally, yesterday's "Sea Mouse" has now been correctly identified as a Sea Potato Echinocardium cordatum - thanks Angela (although I should have known, I am familiar with them! MD)

Tuesday 28 June 2022

More Meds

A SSE wind. Overcast all day with showers starting about lunchtime 

South shore - low water 06:20 (MD)
The tide was still well out when I set of at 07:00. 
Mediterranean gulls minimum 26 possibly as many as 32 - including 6 x 2nd calendar year and 3 x 3rd calendar year 
They were resting in several locations on the shore. On the way out there were 11adult, 3 x 3cy and 3 x 2cy on Red Nab, 5 adult and 2 x 2cy near No.2 outflow and 3 adult and 2 x 2cy near wooden jetty, although there may have been some slight overlap as some of the Red Nab birds moved. 
On my return there were 10 adult and 4 x 2cy near No.2 outflow. I didn't recheck Red Nab (wish I had now!)
These are some the Red Nab birds, sorry about the pause in the middle, but I couldn't decide if one bird had black in its primaries or if it was wrack (it was one of 3cy).

This clip is just to show location of the Meds near No.2 outflow on the way out
On the way back the Meds were more scattered on the beach with the Black-Headed gulls

Rock Pipits - at least one taking food to lighthouse nest

Herring gull chicks on one of the platforms in the harbour

North shore
Janet had a quick around below Heysham Head Cliffs 
Rock Pipit 2
Rock Pipit

Sea Mouse 1?
Not sure about this, the "fur" looks right for a Sea Mouse, but shape 
suggests an urchin, but an urchin has spines, albeit fine ones on some
species. We'll go for Sea Mouse for now, it's such a good name! (MD)

The above has now been relegated from a mouse to a potato (Thanks Angela). I am happy that it is the remains of a Sea Potato (Echinocardium cordatum)

Monday 27 June 2022

Another wader

WSW wind. Heavy overnight rain stopped about 08:30, after that it was largely sunny.

South shore on ebbing tide in afternoon 
I went down to watch the beach near the wooden jetty become exposed, but it was largely deserted (MD).
Mediterranean gull just 3 adults seen on No.1 outflow and later 1 on beach next to jetty.
Shag 1 2nd calendar year landed in the harbour mouth, unfortunately no sign of it when I reached the harbour

Common Sandpiper 1 briefly on sea wall - before taking an early bath

Curlew 140 flying north including one flock of 120
Rock Pipit 2 - one on sea wall and at least one taking food to lighthouse nest
Linnet just two seen near lighthouse 
Female Linnet 
There were no insects moving in the WSW wind, but as I sat on the terraced wall on the roundhead, this Meadow Brown "settled" beside me (settled isn't really the right word). Unfortunately I didn't see where it came from, but it flew off east towards the waterfall.

Heysham Nature Reserve 
I'd bumped into Kevin, so we decided to check out the high plateau
Dark Green Fritillary 2 - they can be difficult to spot for such large, bright and mobile butterflies. It took us several minutes to confirm that there were at least 2
Other butterflies on the plateau
Large and Small Skipper
Meadow Brown 

Narrow boarded Five Spot Burnet
Burnet Companion 
Silver Y

Sunday 26 June 2022

21 Meds plus Gannets.

A very strong SSE to SSW wind. Overcast all day with some heavy showers 

South shore
Sightings by Shaun:
Gannet 7 milling about in the bay
Mediterranean gull 21 on outflows (14 adult/3cy plus 7 x 2cy)

I went to check the high water roosts (MD). Most of the Meds had already moved on, those that remained were hunkered down against the wind.
This is Red Nab, there are two adult a 3rd calendar year and a 2nd calendar year Med in this clip.

Wader species increased to three with the return of a solitary Redshank joining the Oystercatchers and rapidly increasing Curlew numbers.
Redshank on saltmarsh 

Hopefully more stuff tomorrow.

Saturday 25 June 2022

A fly fishing opportunity

A surprisingly cold south wind all day. Some brief sunny spells, heavy showers starting after lunch.

Middleton Nature Reserve 
Kevin Singleton "got a buzz" out of locating the Bee Orchids yesterday (his diabolical pun, not mine (MD)). This excellent shot shows they are still worth seeing, the top flower looking splendid but the lower flower is fading.
Bee Orchid - you can see that it still has one package of pollen to attach to a visiting bee

There are still Drinker moth caterpillars roaming around.
Drinker moth caterpillar by Janet - watch how you tread. 

South shore - high water 09:30 (MD)
I didn't have much time today, so I just went down to the saltmarsh to check the high water gull roost.
Two things surprised me. First how cold the south wind felt, I would have put my gloves on if I'd had them with me!
Second, the gulls weren't roosting, they were feeding!

It took me a few minutes to work out what was going on, but as ever, when I did work it out, it was obvious. It was mainly overcast with some short sunny spells, when the sun shone long enough a piece of shore would dry enough for the strong south wind to dislodge a grain of sand, this in turn dislodges others setting off a chain reaction. The significance was that these events occurred in waves and each wave would collect the myriad of Kelp flies that settle on the mud, plus any other small invertebrates. When the waves reach the waterline, the sand sinks leaving the flies on the water surface. In this clip, I managed to film a sand wave reaching the waterline. The end of the clip is the end of the wave, leaving a few minutes before the next wave, giving plenty of time for more flies to settle on the shore.

Mediterranean gulls - no adults seen, 1 x 3rd calendar year resting on the mud. 5 x 2nd calendar year (2 feeding with the Black-Headed gulls on the waterline plus 3 on the saltmarsh)
These are two of the saltmarsh birds. They also appeared to be picking tit bits off the water surface.

A nice comparison shot of three gull species 
2cy Common Gull (left), adult BHG (right), 2cy Mediterranean gull (bottom)

Friday 24 June 2022

10 Meds, but still no rings

 WSW wind till mid afternoon, when it became variable ending up south having been north! Still warm, but overcast for most of the day with a couple of light showers.

Middleton Nature Reserve 
Ringing report from Alan:

After a longish break and some extensive ride maintenance work in the last few days, a ringing session this morning managed to capture 17 birds. Unfortunately, only two nets could be set.

Wren 2 (both juvs)

Dunnock 1

Robin 1 juv

Song Thrush 1 juv

Reed Warbler 2 + 1 retrap

Lesser Whitethroat 2 (1 juv)

Common Whitethroat 2 + 2 retraps (2 juvs)

Blackcap 1 juv

Willow Warbler 2 (one adult in advanced primary moult plus 1 juv)

Janet had a short walk:

Common Darter
Common Hopper!

South shore (MD)
There were c180 gulls remaining on the high water roost on the mud just south of the saltmarsh. Mainly Black-Headed gulls but included 2 adult and 3 x 2nd calendar year Mediterranean gulls.
Later as I walked past No.2 outflow there were 3 adult, 1 x 3rd calendar year and 3 x 2nd calendar year Mediterranean gulls resting on the mud
3 adult, 1 x 3cy and 3 x 2cy Meds with BHG
Resting on the mud to the west of No.2 outflow

When the tide left the beach near the wooden jetty 3 adult and 4 x 2nd calendar year Meds arrived, including the noisy pair. There were still 2 adult and a 3cy near No.2 when I returned, so the absolute minimum number was:
Mediterranean gulls 5 adult, 1 x 3cy, 4 x 2cy
Curlew 97 in several small groups north
Some of this morning's Curlew heading north

Rock Pipit - 2 birds, not the ringed male, feeding the chicks in the lighthouse area nest. Again, someone was stood over the nest site watching the ferry, so two birds were waiting to get to the nest, both with food. The chicks must be growing fast, this one has a sand eel to feed them. A young tern would be pleased with this!

Hummingbird Hawkmoth - one was on the pebble shore next to the saltmarsh. Unfortunately, it wasn't feeding, just resting on the stones. Although very distinctive when they fly, they "disappear" when they land amongst pebbles, as this clip demonstrates:

Hummingbird Hawkmoth looking drab amongst the pebbles

Thursday 23 June 2022

The east wind tried, but could have tried harder!

According to the regional weather report the ESE breeze continued till lunchtime. It wasn't like that locally. After 09:30the breezed swirled around, veering from easterlies to westerlies and back again! Hot and sunny for most of the day, but a very heavy shower by evening.

First an update from yesterday on Middleton Nature Reserve. Pete saw:
Stock Dove 2 flew into the water treatment works
Lunar Hornet Moth attracted to pheromone lure near the gate opposite the water treatment works

South shore (MD)
This light wind was from the ESE when I started at 09:30. As soon as I got to the saltmarsh an Emperor dragonfly came in off the sea - I started a tally chart - needn't have bothered, I didn't see another dragonfly!
All along the sea wall the wind was predominantly SSW, but by 10:10 when I'd arrived at the roundhead there was a short period of east wind.
There was nothing coming in off the sea, but quite a few butterflies feeding.
Meadow Brown 12
Painted Lady 2
Common Blue 1
Small Tortoiseshell 2 - these actually flew out to sea in a period of west breeze, shortly followed by a Red Admiral that had flown along the sea wall.
I was wondering if the Meadow Brown were just the result a successful breeding, but I did eventually see one come in off. The only other insect seen coming in was a moth, probably a Silver Y.

Rock Pipits 4 (foreshore, Red Nab, waterfall and just one bird (not the ringed male) taking food to the chicks in the lighthouse nest hole).
Linnet pair with 4 young plus 2 other pairs at least.
Today's newly fledged Linnets were quite downy
 I suspect this is a second lot to be fledged here (MD)

Curlew c80 - 62 in two groups flying north, but a steady stream of individual birds too

I hung around a bit, as I wanted to watch the beach next to the wooden jetty become exposed, to see if it attracted any Meds. I wasn't disappointed, but a bit surprised!
Mediterranean gulls 2, possibly 3 adult. 1 x 3rd calendar year. 3 x 2nd calendar year.
The first surprise was a feeding technique I've not seen before. The water was so clear, the Meds were diving for Sandmason worms feeding under water.
Adult Mediterranean gull diving for Sandmason worms
The reality wasn't as dramatic as the above picture suggests. Here is the full sequence. You can see the adult looking for available worms while the 3rd calendar year bird watches on. The dive is successful, but the gull has the worm's tube as well as the worm. Not easy to sort out without risking it being pinched, so it ended up Flying off.

The second surprise was the noise the adults were making. There was an adult pair calling, not sure if the above adult was one of them. Normally the only noise they make are soft "keep away" grunts when they are defending their feeding patch. Today's calls were loud and haunting, you can hear them in the next clips.
This is the 3cy bird trying out what it learned by watching the adult. But not quick enough, it just ended up with an empty piece of tube.

The 2cys were also trying to feed this way, but I didn't see them catch anything. Not a lot happening in this clip, but you can hear the adults calling.

These are the calling adults. They appear to be a pair, I assume the calling is associated with bonding. But I don't really know (MD)

A nice shot of the 3rd calendar year Mediterranean gull
showing the black markings on the primaries 

Heysham Nature Reserve (KE)
Dark Green Fritillary 2 in South West corner of the plateau

Janet took this shot of a "grass moth" here yesterday. Don't know if it's laying an egg or just a bubble of waste, I suspect the latter (MD)

Wednesday 22 June 2022

Ringlet abound and a Fritillary bonus

WNW light winds and plenty of sunshine

Janet had a walk around Heysham Nature Reserve including the dog walk and Nature Park. She saw Ringlet butterflies everywhere, it's not long since they were rarities here. Typical were seven around the small area of long grass between the newt pond and the Power Station perimeter.
Other butterflies included:
Large Skipper
Small Skipper (first records this year)
Small Skipper

Meadow Brown 
Common Blue
Red Admiral 
And, most intriguing, a brief sighting of a large orange butterfly on the high meadow of Heysham Nature Reserve.
Moths included this Straw Dot
Straw Dot moth

I was busy today and didn't get a chance for a walk till late afternoon, still it proved to be an enjoyable walk (MD)
Middleton Nature Reserve 
Mute Swan 2 adult 7 cygnets 
Moorhen 3 adult 1 chick
Mallard 1 female 3 chicks plus 7 males
Little grebe 2 adult 2 juvenile 
Stock Dove 1 flew to south from scrub near Tradebe - first record since early in the year

Warblers singing
Cetti's Warbler 1 ("no swimming" pond)
Willow Warbler only two or three
Chiffchaff several 
Common Whitethroat 4+
Blackcap 3

Dragonflies in order of abundance 
Black-Tailed Skimmer
Broad-Bodied Chaser (only in second place as the small ponds not checked)
Four-Spotted Chaser
No darters seen today

There's an east wind forecast for the morning, perhaps it will bring in something more interesting.

Large Skipper 
Speckled Wood 
Red Admiral 1
Green-veined White 1
Common Blue 1
No small Heath seen, again partly a result of today's shortened route.

Heysham Nature Reserve 
I called in to see if I could locate the butterfly Janet glimpsed this morning. There were several possibilities, all interesting. And so it proved.
Dark Green Fritillary 2 - Feeding on the clover on the high meadow, they were very flighty and presumably the same sex as neither wanted the company of the other.

Dark Green Fritillary 

Other butterflies on this plateau:
Meadow Brown
Large Skipper 
Small Skipper
Common Blue

When I first arrived at the meadow, this Roebuck was feeding (the background buzzing if the overhead electricity cables)

Eventually it moved on but as I was leaving and approaching the car park, it was in the Power Station non operational land. It was a mute point as to who was watching whom. Until a family party with well behaved, but noisy kids approached.
We both quietly tiptoed away!

Tuesday 21 June 2022

Rock Pipit puzzle perplexes

SW to west light winds, plenty of long sunny spells.

Middleton Nature Reserve 
Janet had a look at dawn. It was misty over the ponds.
Too early for the Swans

But these Mallard were active

Meanwhile, this large male Fox was on the prowl

Hummingbird Hawkmoth 1 - located early afternoon by Janet at the corner of Moneyclose Lane. Unfortunately at that point Janet didn't have her camera with her - shame, but still a nice record.

Pete managed to complete the gull nest survey this year, the first one practical since 2019. Numbers have increased, largely it seems down to the higher numbers on the new custom's building roof, which replaced the old Fishers roof.

The counts are definite breeding birds - so the figures are numbers of confirmed breeding pairs 

2019 gull nesting survey

2022 gull nesting survey

South shore (MD)
I really just went down to sort out what's happening with the Rock Pipits near lighthouse. And the answer is......I don't really know!
Two Rock Pipits are definitely taking food to chicks in a nest hole near the lighthouse. They won't go to the nest if anyone is close, and there were a few visitors around watching the ferry arrive. So two birds were waiting above the site with food for the chicks.

But neither of these birds is the ringed male. So, either this is a different pair, or the female has a new partner, or a third bird is helping the female, perhaps one of last year's chicks.
I didn't see the male today, but he was around on Sunday. I can't imagine him tolerating another male on his territory, he's been chasing off all and sundry since his return to territory. So my guess is that another female is helping the original female (MD)
The current nest is in a different hole, not too far from the earlier one, and easier to locate with fading vegetation in the mouth.
Current nest site, just below the metal bollard 

After the visitors left the lighthouse area, I was positioned further down the wall I saw them take food to the nest several times. Some of those visits may have been by the ringed male, but I didn't see him for certain. That's what it will need to confirm that this is the original pair's second brood.

The food they were taking to the nest was again quite small portions. But this bird is collecting Sea Slaters like someone taking food from a supermarket shelf! (Perhaps a consequence of this morning's mist wetting the wall, then the hot sun quickly baking it dry?) It eats the first one, but seems to decide it can squeeze the second one through a chick's gape, although it didn't take it directly to the nest.

Another two Rock Pipits on Red Nab
Mediterranean gull - just one 2nd calendar year seen, but the tide was a way out

Ringlet butterfly 3 along the Nature Park

Monday 20 June 2022

First Darter

A bit of SSE early on but quickly shifted to west by mid morning. The sun shone for most of the day, making it quite warm.

Middleton Nature Reserve - late morning
Both Janet and myself (MD) checked different areas this morning. First a nice set of pictures from Janet, as ever with Janet's pictures they should be opened to see the detail.

Ringlet were suddenly abundant 

Female Broad-bodied Chaser ovipositoring - the male was buzzing around above her

Narrow-bordered Five-Spot Burnet Moth

Juvenile Little Grebes, acting juvenile!
Meanwhile the adult was fishing 
Lesser Whitethroat 

The following lists are a combination of what we both saw and heard
There weren't many singing warblers, just:
Willow Warbler, Chiffchaff, Balckcap and a solitary Common Whitethroat 

Butterflies, quite a variety, but with the exception of the Ringlet not high numbers. In order of abundance:
Common Blue 
Small Heath 
Meadow Brown 
Whites (either Small or Green Veined or both)
Large Skipper
Speckled Wood 
Red Admiral
Painted Lady
Small Tortoiseshell 

Silver Y
Narrow-bordered Five-Spot

Broad-bodied Chaser
Four-Spotted Chaser
Black-Tailed Skimmer
Male Black-Tailed Skimmer with a male Common Blue Damselfly
Darter, there were a couple flitting about, but didn't manage a totally conclusive view, but pretty sure they were Common (MD)
Looks to be a Common Darter
Large Red Damselfly
Unusual for a damselfly, resting with its wings spread
Swift 3 and House Martin 2 feeding over the main pond 
Mute 2 adult with 7 cygnets 
Moorhen 2 adult 1 chick
Mallard 7 male now in eclipse 2 female with 1 and 5 young
Little grebe 3 adult 2 juvenile 

The Bee Orchids have had a good year and can be found all around the reserve, but they are already getting past their best.

On her way off the reserve, Janet ventured too close to a nesting Lesser Black-Backed gull, and was duly dive bombed!