Friday 30 September 2022

A splash of colour on a grey day!

Strong SE wind in the morning moved to SW by afternoon and W by evening. Thick low cloud in the morning inevitably gave way to heavy rain which continued till evening.

Only a fool would venture out, only my stuff (MD)
South Shore
I managed to walk along the wall and half way back before the rain started. The tide was fully out and I wasn't expecting to see much, and indeed I didn't see much. But it was a bit better than expected.
Rock Pipit 1 on Red Nab
Kingfisher 1  - it actually flew out from the freshwater culvert in the sloping wall on Red Nab. It had a small fish, so it must have caught it in there. The water reaches there in large diameter pipes, no chance of it fishing in them (no perch (pun not intended, but I like it!)). So it must have fished in the pool just below the pipes. So either a freshwater fish or at least one that tolerates freshwater. Unfortunately I can't tell the fish species from my shots, but not a round body of a goby. 
After it had swallowed the fish it flew over to a rock along the freshwater stream. It didn't try to fish again while I watched it, but it seems to be well fed.

Pink-Footed Goose a solitary bird heading south, initially it was very high but lost height and appeared to land on the mud between here and Fylde. Presumably it had become detached from its skein and needed a rest. When a hundred Pinkfoot go over calling they are unmistakable, but one silent bird wasn't initially obvious.
Solitary Pinkfoot - you can tell it's a slow news day!

Mediterranean gulls 4 adult on the seaward end of the beach near wooden jetty.
Eider 2 feeding around the end of the wooden jetty. The tide was a long way out so the crabs in the deeper water here will become accessible. This is the last upright of the jetty.

As the tide was so far out, I took the opportunity to take this clip of No.1 outflow. This outflow attracts more gulls etc to its seaward end than No.2 outflow does. This is why. Towards the end of the outflow there are two sharp, high, drop offs. The effect of this is that the water becomes turbulent again and any sunken bits of food are brought to the surface, even when the water is quite deep. No.2 outflow has a very shallow drop off, so does not provide such a redistribution of food bits (the fish take advantage here, probably why the recent Osprey was feeding there). There are some distant Black-Headed gulls in this clip, more than were feeding along the outflow.

Grey Wagtail 1 colour ringed bird on the newt pond. Unfortunately it was tipping down by this time and all my optics were stashed, so I failed to get the full combination. But a reminder to check all Grey Wagtails, there have been a lot colour ringed, both this and in previous years.

Thursday 29 September 2022

Quite a lot going on today

The morning north light wind drifted to NE by the afternoon. High cloud with some sunny spells

South Shore
Report from Pete:
Little Stint 1 juvenile with 250-300 small waders inshore off south end Ocean edge then flushed by Sparrowhawk and landed south of Potts corner - only about half the flock grilled in time.  
Mediterranean gulls 5 outfalls and area (2 2cy, 3 ad)
Late common whitethroat in brambles sw corner Heysham harbour
Barnacle Geese 2 south (they are barely annual here)

I had a quick look at high water (MD)
Only the closest Red Nab rocks still exposed
Sandwich Tern 2 (adult with juvenile)
Adult with juvenile Sandwich Tern

Also on the rocks:
Ringed Plover 30 - this one got a rude awakening 
Dunlin 12
Redshank 10
Turnstone 5
Rock pipit 3 - this one was acrobatically catching flies lifted by the rising tide.
On the, largely covered, saltmarsh:
Linnet 17
Common Snipe 1
Wigeon 2
Mediterranean gull 1 - sat on the water with Black-Headed gulls, this clip shows the Med, then location 

Heysham Nature Reserve 
Summary from Pete:
Four grounded redwing flew inland 0703, later two more.
A small goldcrest arrival, a few Chiffchaffs
Tree Sparrow migrant flock of  9 south

Detail report from Jean:

Ringing today

New birds:

Wren 1

Robin 1

Goldcrest 1

Great Tit 1

Blue Tit 1

Goldfinch 2

Grey Wagtail 2

Greenfinch 2

Chiffchaff 1

Treecreeper 1

Long-tailed Tit 1


3 Robins, one of which was first ringed in 2017. It was looking its age, very tatty looking because it was moulting wing, head and tail feathers. The longevity record for Robins is 8 years so the Heysham one is getting there! 

2 Goldcrests, one ringed at Middleton NR as a youngster last October, the other first ringed at Heysham in 2019.

2 recent Blue Tits.

Just 2 Pied Wagtails to add to Pete's vis above

Heysham skear - low water 08:45 (MD)
Eider 11
Wigeon 7 south
Pink-Footed goose 33 high north 09:10 + 30 high south 10:00
Little Egret 11
Great Crested Grebe 11
Red-breasted Merganser 21 - 19 ended up in the NE corner of skear which is their favoured feeding area on the rising tide. There are 16 in this clip.

Shag 1 x 2nd calendar year. It had been feeding in the NE corner, then someone walked along the far bank.  The walker was totally oblivious to the Shag, but this clip shows the Shag's reaction, not spooked, but it wasn't prepared to lose sight of the potential threat. It also provides a good size comparison to the equally wary Eider.

After the walker had moved on, it returned to feeding

Waders : Oystercatcher, Curlew, Redshank, Turnstone plus
Ringed Plover 13
Knot 35 + 4 south

Half Moon Bay towards high water (Kevin Singleton)
Swallow 2 heading north
Rock Pipit 2
Rock Pipit
Jay 1 over Tranmere Crescent 

Middleton Nature Reserve (MD)
Mute Swan pair plus 7 cygnets on main pond plus another adult on Tim Butler pond
Heron 1 - this was interesting, the Heron normally feeds near the peninsula on the north side. But today it was in the water where the swans are regularly fed. There was no one around (I don't count!), but the swans were still feeding. What the Heron has obviously "worked out" is that the same food that attracts the swans also attracts the fish, which in turn attracts the Heron! Unfortunately a visitor arrived before it could catch anything.
Heron at the swan feeding point on the main pond.

Mallard 7
Gadwall 7 on "no swimming" pond plus 1 on Tim Butler pond
Moorhen 7
Coot 1
Little grebe 2 on "no swimming" pond

Common Darter 7 (4males)
Migrant Hawker 5 (4males)

Speckled Wood 4
Red Admiral 1

Common Field Grasshopper - not heard any calling for a while, but they are still around. This one has quite an rufous end to its abdomen.
Common Field Grasshopper 
It's not easy to see in the above shot, a bit easier when it moves. In this short clip, its abdomen is throbbing, I know almost nothing about grasshoppers but guess it's part of the getting warm process (MD)

Wednesday 28 September 2022

First Redwing!

A sunny start with lightish N to NW wind. Overcast by mid afternoon, but remained dry till late evening, when the rain started.

Middleton Nature Reserve 
Ringing session summary from Pete
Bit of a shock this am with a ‘dark’ bird with a well defined white supercilium half hidden in the shade of a blackthorn. It came out a bit further and obviously a solitary grounded redwing.  The supercilium contrasted with really indistinct malar and general smudged darkness of the breast feathers with quite a broad ‘pectoral band’.  Overall dark and heavily streaked/smudged on the underparts.  I would go for coburni, the Icelandic form.  
Other stuff included another unringed Cetti’s, migrant Robins prominent and a handful of chiffchaff, meadow pipit, Reed bunting on the move.  

Detailed report from Jean:

Blue skies made vis invisible unless the birds called or flew low enough but we winkled out the following:


Swallow 2

Grey Wagtail 8

Pink-footed Goose 470 in 5 flocks 

Meadow Pipit - 4 seen but 8 caught so probably in double figures

Dunnock 6

Reed Bunting 5

Chaffinch 2

Goldfinch - a flock of 8

Jackdaw 6

Raven 1 



New birds

Cetti’s Warbler 1

Meadow Pipit 8

Grey Wagtail 4

Reed Bunting 3 

Chiffchaff 4

Robin 4

Goldcrest 2

Long-tailed Tit 5

Blue Tit 1

Great Tit 1

Dunnock 2

Wren 1


Blue Tit 

Janet took these shots late morning:
Heron, leaving its favoured fishing spot on the main pond

Male Migrant Hawker

Male Common Darter

Speckled Wood 

The Alder Leaf beetles, continue to wreak havoc 

South shore - high water 13:30
I just had a stroll along the sea wall towards high water (MD)
Wigeon 5 feeding out from the covered saltmarsh 
Eider 1 between the outflows 
Mediterranean gull 1 adult flew west after resting on sea beyond the saltmarsh 
Mediterranean gull
The faux castle in the background marking the southern boundary of the recording area

Linnet 22 around saltmarsh 
Starlings c150 around saltmarsh 
Common Snipe 1 along foreshore, presumably flushed from saltmarsh 
Rock Pipit 2 (Red Nab and Lighthouse)

A nice selection of waders remained on the last rocks at Red Nab, making for easy viewing.
Ringed Plover c30
Dunlin c25
Redshank 8
Turnstone 6
This clip includes all the above species 

Curlew, bracing itself against an incoming wave

Sanderling - later, Alan Physick saw one on Red Nab when the tide was even higher!

And the rarest of all sightings, a gull on No.2 outflow superstructure (birds hardly ever rest here, it is assumed the vibrations are not good!)
Black-Headed gull on No.2 outflow

Tuesday 27 September 2022

Pinks Heading south again

A cold NW wind all day, it started bright but after 09:00, mainly overcast but it remained dry.

Report from Pete
from heliport roost vigil over the tide.  
Male Merlin heading south over sea 
Mediterranean gulls -  at least three distantly seen following in IoM ferry 
Nothing of note in the roost

Heysham Nature Reserve 
Report from Jean:

30 Pink-footed Geese flew south at 10:40

Ringing 11:10-12:55

8 new birds

4 Greenfinch

1 Goldfinch

1 Robin

1 Dunnock

1 Blue Tit

6 retraps

2 Great Tits

2 Blue Tits

2 Dunnocks 

Rest of stuff mine, but  not much of that. (MD)
Heysham skear  - low water 07:40
Pink-Footed goose 493 in 10 skeins between 08:00 and 09:20.
All but one skein high and heading due south, but this one started low in an unstructured flock, before adopting a flying formation and heading west. I suspect they had been resting on a sand bar and had been flushed by the rising tide.
Pink-Footed geese, these are the ones that ended up flying west

Pink-Footed geese, as  the rest of this morning's birds were,
 in high skeins heading south

Eider 16
Male Eider looking splendid in his fresh breeding plumage 

Great Crested Grebe 8
Red-breasted Merganser 8
Little Egret 18
Waders, just: Oystercatcher, Curlew, Redshank and Turnstone 

Middleton Nature Reserve 
Just a very brief look at the two main ponds
Mute 1 adult on the main pond the pair with their 7 cygnets on the "no swimming" pond
The Mute family on the "no swimming" pond
Moorhen 3
Coot 1
Mallard 16 all on main pond
Gadwall 15 on "no swimming" pond
Little grebe 1

Insects seen in 10 minutes 
Speckled Wood 3
Red Admiral 1

Migrant Hawker 2 (male and female)
Female Migrant Hawker

Common Darter 1
Aged male Common Darter

Monday 26 September 2022

A bit of a boat day

The very strong overnight NW wind soon eased, although it remained quite strong all day. Some showers and sunny spells 

South shore
I had a walk along the wall early on as the tide was starting to rise (MD)
Lots of small stuff on saltmarsh and Ocean Edge field.
Linnet 20+
Greenfinch 8
Pied Wagtail 35 - there are always some here but there was a lot today, presumably ex Power Station roost.
Shelduck 26 resting on mud
Eider 3 feeding in the harbour mouth. They catch quite large crabs here (don't read on if you are squeamish). Their technique is to hold the crab by one claw and shake it till it breaks of. They then grab the other claw and repeat. When declawed, it is swallowed "whole".

Mediterranean gulls 4 adults feeding on the Sandmason worms on the beach near the wooden jetty. The only ringed bird was metal ringed only. They and c10 Black-Headed gulls were catching worms, but only quite small ones. This is the metal ringed bird catching a small worm and chasing a BHG off its patch.

Rock Pipits 2 including one that appears to be holding territory near the lighthouse - not the previous territory holder which was ringed.
Rock Pipit on sloping wall near lighthouse 

I was just about to head back when I noticed the SeaTruck heading in. I checked its wake and there was a cloud of gulls following it.

About 5 minutes out, so I decided to wait. But it stopped, turned and started heading away again!

Strange, I've only ever seen them do this when the tide is running in fast and the wind is driving them in too, so a risk of overshooting. But the tide had only just started to come in and would not be running quickly, and the wind was against them.
This is part of what today's title refers to, although I've used "artistic license". All today's boats are actually ships!
The ship in the distance is moored outside the shipping lane and has been for a while, surplus to current requirements and cheaper than a berth in the harbour. So I thought the Seatruck was going to moor there too. But when I checked from the shore at high water, I couldn't see either ship.

Janet had a walk along the wall at high water and took these shots:
Dunlin and Ringed Plover
The Eider were still milling around the harbour entrance 
But not feeding now, the water is deep at high water

I couldn't resist a quick look as the tide reached the saltmarsh (MD) There were plenty of waders being driven quickly south towards Potts corner, and wave after wave of others flying from the north towards Potts/Lune estuary. The birds still within the recording area were mainly Knot, Dunlin, Grey Plover and Redshank. 
Juvenile Grey Plover left, adult right

I was sitting on a rock watching the breaking waves when the SeaCat was approaching the harbour. Even at this range, with the wind blowing and the waves crashing I could still hear its roar. But not really hear, more sense, like a loud bass line resonates in your chest. In this clip it is still on full power as can be seen by its wake. You can't "hear" it in this clip.

Just after this clip it throttles back for its approach to the harbour. This shot shows the much reduced wake. The building just before it is Barrow Shipworks.
SeaCat approaching the harbour - it's a lot further away than it looks!

Sunday 25 September 2022

The calm before the storm

Very light variable breeze till late morning when a fresh west wind began. Some light showers. The winds getting strong by 21:00, and forecast to increase significantly for a while overnight.

Middleton Nature Reserve 
Report from Alan:

There was a very sharp grass frost at dawn this morning but no wind in spite of the forecast 8-10 mph.

Ringing was disappointing with few grounded birds and little overhead movement except for Pink footed Geese.

This morning's ringing was just:

1 Cetti's Warbler plus 1 previously ringed elsewhere (details now received - ringed at Woolston Eyes as a juvenile on 22/7/22 (near/below the M6 Thelwall viaduct))

1 Reed Warbler

1 Chiffchaff

2 Grey Wagtails.

Vis: Pink footed Geese - 24 + 60 northwards high and early. Rest of morning saw 9 groups south totalling c586.

Mistle Thrush - loose group of 9 birds moving north over east side of reserve were probably this species

Meadow Pipit - just 3 NW to SE

Alba Wagtails - just 2 W to E

Starling - Three groups totalling 30 south

Pete's morning records:

Red throated diver flew out of Bay 

2cy Shag wooden jetty

Just 5 Mediterranean gulls outfalls area (1 1cy, 1 2cy).

Off Heysham Head:

Great Crested Grebe 8

Red-Breasted Merganser 6 

only 5 Eider seen! 

I had very little time today so just managed three brief stop offs (MD):

Imperial Road

Plenty of covids:

Carrion Crow 5 feeding/resting 

Magpie 4 feeding

Jackdaw 23 originally feeding in harrowed field to east of the road (out of recording area), but then flew over the road and settled in the large stand of trees.

Cetti's warbler 1 calling near the pond near the recycling centre gates. There has not been a bird recorded here over summer. Not contact calls, there were some unusually long combinations, that seemed to me to be a bird practicing its repertoire.

Middleton Nature Reserve main ponds

Mallard 8 on main pond plus 2 on "no swimming" pond

The mute family have shifted to "no swimming " pond again

Moorhen 5

Little grebe 1

Gadwall 16 - this male has a particularly prominent dark crown and pale face.

Shoveler 2 (male and female)

Male and female Shoveler top, female Gadwall below

Migrant Hawker 1 male

Ocean Edge

Rock Pipit 1

Linnet 22 

Shelduck 113 resting behind rocks in the lea of the freshening wind, east of Red Nab. These are some of them.

Just out of the recording area - Potts Corner (Middleton sands)

Report by Pete Crooks

A very impressive wader spectacle with the incoming 9.1 metre tide:
2 juvenile Little Stint
1 juvenile Curlew Sandpiper
2000+ Dunlin
170 Grey Plover
100 Bar-tailed Godwit
Plus Knot, Redshank, Curlew, Oystercatcher, Ringed Plover (but not counted!)
1 adult Mediterranean Gull
1 Sandwich Tern heard calling while I was scanning through the Dunlin, but not seen.

Saturday 24 September 2022

Is the lamppost Med back in town?

Very light north to NNE wind. High cloud with sunny spells.

Middleton Nature Reserve 
Report by John
Three nets set this morning from 7am to 10.30am. No Geese and little overhead movement of birds recorded, with a just a few Grey Wagtails and Meadow Pipits responding to mp3 lures.
Ringing List:
Grey Wagtail         5
Meadow Pipit        6
Blackcap              3
Bullfinch               2
Cetti's Warbler      2 (Quite a few dispersing Cetti’s around - four ringed this week)
Goldcrest              2
Chiffchaff              2
Reed Bunting         1
Great Tit               1

South Shore - high water 11:25 (MD)
Wigeon 11 on Red Nab plus 4 south
Little Egret 11 most on saltmarsh 
Lapwing 53 on saltmarsh 
Rock Pipit 1
Linnet 13 on saltmarsh 
Goldfinch 4 on saltmarsh - this youngster is eating Sea Aster seeds.
Meadow Pipit a steady movement NE into the wind - 43 between 09:45 and 11:15
Swallow 5 east
Peregrine 1 probably more, were flushing the waders all the time I was checking, most waders ended up towards Potts Corner.
The only semi stable group of waders were the ones just in front of the saltmarsh, and they were very jittery.
In this group:
Dunlin 160
Knot 150
Redshank 28
Grey Plover 3

The tide brought the Knot and Dunlin close to me, but I couldn't see any ringed birds today.

There were 294 gulls resting on the mud, most Black-Headed gulls.

This one has a recent injury, but although it looks nasty, it never once tended to it, which it would if it was causing discomfort. Also when the tide reached it it flew off normally. I suppose white feathers will spread a little blood a long way.
BHG with what is hopefully a superficial injury 

Mediterranean gull 1 - was the only one in this group. Its face and bill pattern match the one that took to resting on the lamppost near the junction of Oxcliffe and Heysham roads last winter. But, even more telling is that the tips of its bill appear to be crossed, as was the lamppost bird. 

Adult Mediterranean gull 

Just out of the recording area - Heysham Moss Nature Reserve 
Janet took these shots of Roe Deer this morning. There must be at least 5 deer involved, as the first image has a Buck with antlers in the background 

Friday 23 September 2022

Peregrine stirs up the waders!

Heavy overnight rain cleared early. Very light breeze early on freshening slightly in the afternoon. Plenty of sunshine for most of the day.

Middleton Nature Reserve 
Report from Alan,

Ringing this morning produced a decent catch of 29 birds. After a very misty start with a particularly heavy dew the morning was calm and mild with a clear sky.

No Pink footed Geese were seen or heard today. A slow trickle of Meadow Pipits responded to the mp3 lure, probably about 50 in total but not systematically counted. They were dropping from height out of the clear sky and not seen passing over. Two further Grey Wagtails only were colour ringed.

Ringing list:

Grey Wagtail 2

Chiffchaff 4

Wren 1

Goldcrest 5

Blackcap 5

Long-tailed Tit 2

Dunnock 1 + 1 retrap

Cetti's Warbler 1 (adult)

Robin 2

Meadow Pipit 5

South Shore - high water 10:55

Mediterranean gull 1 one Red Nab - Pete

I had a walk along foreshore then on to the beach out from the saltmarsh (MD)

Grey Wagtail 1 low to east (towards Middleton Nature Reserve)

Wheatear 3 (only one on the way out, three on the return)

Rock Pipit 3 - 1 near rocky outcrop 2 at slipway end of foreshore trying to chase off....

Meadow Pipit 8 grounded near slipway plus 6 over to south

Meadow Pipit 

On saltmarsh 
Linnet 16 
Lapwing 44
Ringed Plover 21
Swallow 1 south

By the time I was on the shore, all the waders were spread all over the beach, not just along the waterline. I took this clip while I was thinking how to best check the birds without spooking them.

I needn't have bothered, just 20 seconds after this clip, the beach was empty! A Peregrine had lifted everything and had driven them south. So I stayed were I was and waited, sure enough the waders started returning, but the attack had left them flighty. By this time Howard was also on the shore and took this shot of me. I was checking birds already returned, the birds behind me are also returning.

The significance of this shot is how far from the birds I was at this point, but the tide was coming in and bringing them closer, no need to move. The returning birds split into two groups as yesterday, I stayed with the southern group while Howard checked the ones near the saltmarsh.

Neither of us attempted a detailed count but species same and numbers very similar to yesterday. Although in my group there were

Sanderling 7 - I counted 6 in real time, but this clip shows there to be at least 7.

I like this clip as the youngster hops to catch the adult up

Both groups kept lifting and reassembling, I didn't see the Peregrine again, but when they are flighty like this, it just takes one bird to take flight and they're all off. Anyway, my group moved further south, so I walked off.
This is Howard checking the close in group, you can see the slipway behind him. But also not a bird in sight, Howard was a good distance from the birds.
Here are a couple of Howard's pictures:
Knot and Dunlin

The Dunlin bottom centre here is colour ringed
Unfortunately just too distant to read the ring, but enough
to identify the scheme as being from mid Wales

Heysham skear 
I just had quick check in the evening sun (MD)
Eider 2
Male Eider just coming out of eclipse

Red-Breasted Merganser 13 (5, 6 & 2). This is the six

Little Egret 6
Pink-Footed goose 23 came high from the north before turning to head west towards Barrow.
Waders: Oystercatcher, Curlew, Redshank, Turnstone, Dunlin 1, Bar-Tailed Godwit 1
It's strange, there were 50+ Godwits on the south side this morning, but I was really pleased to see this one.
Bar-Tailed Godwit in the evening sun