Wednesday 30 November 2022

The mist clears

Almost breathless for much of the day, what little breeze there was came from the east. No sunshine, but at least the clouds were higher and visibility improved.

Heysham skear - low water 10:40 (MD)
Great Crested Grebe 8
Red-breasted Merganser 2 
Eider 28
Little Egret 8
Shag 2 - this immature (looks to be a juvenile) was feeding in the shallows. I aways describe this style of feeding as "snorkelling". Didn't see it catch anything 
Meanwhile this 2nd calendar year bird was resting and watching the Eider feeding 

Pale-bellied Brent goose 2 in the SE corner of the skear. This is the area favoured in previous years by visiting birds. There isn't a great deal of weed there this year, but plenty for two geese. Neither bird was ringed
Whooper Swan 2 flying low to the NW
Whooper Swans

You can just about hear then "whooping" towards the end of this clip.

Waders: Oystercatcher, Curlew, Redshank, Turnstone, Knot c500, Dunlin 25, Common Snipe 6.

This Great Black-Backed gull is pecking what it can from this Flounder. The Carrion Crows are making sure that nothing is wasted.

The rest of today's stuff from Steve Brown:

Ocean Edge

1 Rock pipit on shoreline, the 100+ Shellduck were still on the sands squabbling, 10 Linnets and 2 Dunock in the Saltmarsh, also , Curlew, Redshank,Little Egret. 

A lone Pink-Footed Goose flew over from the Sea towards Middleton.

Pink-Footed Goose

Nature park

was active with mixed flocks of Finches and Tits feeding, 20 + Goldfinch,4 Greenfinch, 2 Bullfinch, numerous Blue tit and Great tit, 2 Goldcrest, 2, Coal tit, 2 Dunock, Wren, Jay, 1 Redwing.

Foreshore out from horse paddocks 13:30

2 Pale-bellied Brent geese on the sea then flew towards the power station (almost certainly the same two as seen this morning)

Pale-bellied Brent Geese

1 male Red  breasted Merganser .

The shore was manic with feeding waders just ahead of the incoming tide. c100 Dunlin, Plus Knot, Turnstone, Redshank, Curlew and Oystercatchers.


Some of the waders, mainly Dunlin and Redshank 

Tuesday 29 November 2022

An interesting day's bird glimpsing.....(you couldn't describe it as watching)

Very light SE breeze. The extremely low cloud reached the ground leaving visibility between 100m to 200m.

Heysham skear - low water 09:30 (MD)
As I crossed the promenade to get to the beach I bumped into an old friend. He looked out into the greyness then back at me and burst out laughing......"you're not going birdwatching in this!". I laughed with him, it did seem ludicrous, but it proved enjoyable. It's a different world when you are inside a 100m radius visibility bubble. The sound is different too. It was a nice change. Of course not suitable for anyone unfamiliar with the shore and the tides.
Little Egret 6 - this one seemed disoriented 
Great Crested grebe 3 seen (just) on the sea
Red-breasted Merganser 1 flying around
Red-breasted Merganser 

Shag 1 x 2nd calendar year 
2nd calendar year Shag 

Waders: Oystercatcher, Curlew, Redshank, Turnstone plus
Snipe 1 
Dunlin 30
Knot c300

I reached the very western edge of the skear, there was something, two somethings, further out at the very edge of visibility. Turned out they were Pale-bellied Brent geese. Not feeding, there is no weed there, just resting. I eventually managed to get my camera to "focus" on them
As I approached the northeast corner, soft honking alerted me that there were more. I located them, 18, again not in an area rich in weed, although there was obviously some attached to the larger rocks, and disputes as to the ownership of these was the cause of the honking.

I wasn't expecting any Brent today. It's not the sort of weather to tempt the birds on the west side of the bay to fly over. But it was equally not the sort of weather for these to move on. The tide was coming in now and the combination of the tide and the trail of available weed would be likely to take them to the rocks beyond the children's play area, where there is plenty of sea lettuce and gut weed. So I returned 2.5 hours before high water. The tide was just 50m from the rocks and there were Brent geese on the water.
Pale-bellied Brent geese

Unfortunately, a lady was walking along the tideline and spooked them. What a shame, they were only a few minutes away from plentiful food. There were 10 of them, perhaps the large group split or possibly these were additional birds. This is them disappearing south into the mist.

South shore (MD)
There was no sign of the Brent 
Shelduck 100+
Wigeon c150
Kingfisher 1
Everything looked slightly different in today's "light"
Rock Pipit 1
Kittiwake 1 adult in the harbour 
Blackbird 2 male,  Song Thrush 3 grounded near the lighthouse 
Song Thrush 
Redwing 1 just before Ocean Edge entrance 

Middleton Nature Reserve 
Just a quick check saw Gadwall numbers increased to 28. Only the female Tufted Duck today

Best wishes to Janet, who is currently out of action with a broken ankle! Get well soon.

Monday 28 November 2022

Early seasonal record

A very pleasant, albeit short day, a very light south breeze and sunshine for much of the day.

South Shore
A mid morning walk along the wall then to saltmarsh (MD)
Kittiwake 2 adult on No.1 outflow. I have posted some detailed plumage pictures over the last few days, so today I decided to show what you typically see. There is at least one Kittiwake on show during this clip, two for some of it. It is a difficult seeing angle so you may need to watch the clip in slow motion. If you can't spot them, I'll provide clues at the bottom of this post.
Wigeon 160
Shelduck 120 - there was considerable bickering amongst the Shelduck today. Quite noisy too. I took this clip partly to capture the noise, unfortunately it was largely drowned out as I was pointing into the wind.

At the saltmarsh there was a flock of 42 Linnet flitting around, but no Reed Buntings seen. The tide was out and they would have been feeding on the marsh. A quick look later at high water located 5 again.
Steve Brown also was checking at this time, and in addition saw
Kingfisher 1 flew along wall towards small pool then into nature park
Some of the saltmarsh Linnet

Nature park
Chiffchaff 1
Greenfinch 3
Jay 1
Bullfinch 1
Goldfinch c10

Middleton Nature Reserve (MD)
Just another 10 minute stop by, but again I managed to hear a Chiffchaff calling and a Cetti's warbler singing - this clip is of a female Teal that had just come in, the Cetti's provides a short burst at the start of the clip.
Mute, Mallard, Tufted and Moorhen unchanged 
Teal 4
Gadwall 23
Little grebe 1

This is what today's title refers to. I'm pretty sure that this is the earliest ever record of a Father Christmas peddling down the sea wall on a Penny Farthing!

It wasn't easy spotting the Kittiwake on the outflow. If you didn't find them, the clip starts with one just right of centre at the top of the frame. It zigs to the right then zags to the left before zigging right again and leaving bottom right.
The second bird enters the frame in roughly the same position a few seconds later, this flies pretty much down the centre of the outflow and leaves the frame bottom left at the very end of the clip.
It's best just to watch one bird at a time (MD)

Sunday 27 November 2022

Kits still hanging around

Another dry day with a light mainly south to SE wind.

Heysham skear - low water 07:50 (MD)
Red-breasted Merganser 1 female - no sign of any males
Great Crested Grebe 1
Eider 3
Little Egret 6
Knot c450 - one flock split as they passed me. Not a great shot, but it does give a sense of what it's like being in the middle of a Knot Flock (and this is only a small flock!)
Knot racing past

Dunlin 15
Common Snipe 9 flushed from inner skear
Plus: Oystercatcher, Curlew, Redshank and Turnstone 

Later Steve Brown was on Heysham Head, there was only one Great Created Grebe showing from there too. But he managed this nice shot of it.
Great Crested Grebe 

Middleton Nature Reserve (MD)
Just a quick passing check of the two main ponds, but I managed to see/hear quite a lot in 10 minutes.
Mute pair plus 5 juvenile 
Mallard 6
Gadwall 14
Teal 5  - male and female on the "no swimming" pond plus three flying around
Tufted Duck 4 - 3 male and a female
The female was in association with the male who is not quite in full breeding plumage 
Both sporting diminutive tufts

All four Tufted with a Gadwall pair
Cormorant 1
Reed Bunting 1
Cetti's warbler 1 calling
Chiffchaff 1 calling 
A mixed Tit flock passed through including at least one Goldcrest 

South side
Pete checked the noon ferry in
Kittiwake one adult plus two 2nd calendar year, one of which just appeared behind the ferry and was probably already in the harbour. 

I checked the wall mid afternoon, just after high water (MD). One of Pete's 2cy Kittiwake was still in the middle of the harbour
2nd calendar year Kittiwake 
There were also three adult Kittiwake feeding on the outflows 
Adult Kittiwake 

Shag 1 at least - I couldn't be sure if the 2nd calendar year bird was in its favoured roost spot on the wooden jetty, the likely candidate refused to show its head. But this bird, possibly the juvenile was on the railings at the end of the wooden jetty. It should be worth checking out this roost spot again.
Other stuff:
Wigeon 100+ mainly out from saltmarsh 
Linnet 18 saltmarsh 
Reed Bunting 5 together on saltmarsh 
Rock Pipit 3
Turnstone - this was the only individual on the few remaining Red Nab rocks. It seems to have a weak foot, but it was still managing to turn some stones!

Saturday 26 November 2022

Still a few seabirds around

A relatively light south wind freshened during the day. Mainly overcast and dry with a few glimpses of the sun.

Report from Pete:
15 minutes seawatch awaiting the noon ferry:
Kittiwake 1 adult out
Razorbill 1 out
Greylag Geese 2 out

Behind Ben my Chree 12:05
Kittiwake 1 adult
Mediterranean gull  one 2cy with more black than usual on primary tips and not the 2cy which was on ocean edge grass briefly yesterday

I escorted a field trip organised by Deborah Woods (The Bay – Community & Engagement Officer (Morecambe)) (MD)
We started at Heysham Nature Reserve, along the dog walk path to Red Nab, then to the lighthouse and back again 09:30 - 11:30. This is the list of sightings:
Great Tit
Blue Tit
Long-Tailed Tit
Cetti's warbler 1 calling near the pond along the dog walk path
Wood Pigeon 
Carrion Crow 
Little Egret 
Rock Pipit 1 along the sea wall
Kingfisher 1 on Red Nab
Kittiwake 5 adult on the outflows
Black-Headed gull
Common gull
Herring gull
Lesser Black-Backed gull
Great Black-Backed gull
Shag 1 x 2nd calendar year at its favoured roost on the wooden jetty
Everyone seemed to enjoy the walk. This is the link to the webpage where Deborah posts upcoming events

Unfortunately, answering the many interesting questions left little time for photography, but I couldn't resist a couple of snaps of the Kittiwakes.

Adult Kittiwake 

A quick check in the afternoon fading light by Steve Brown saw at least two adult Kittiwake still on the outflows.

Friday 25 November 2022

The sea provides, and in return.....we return

A quite fresh west to SW wind. Some sunshine with the odd shower.

Report from Pete:
Heysham seawatch: 1100-1205hrs
Kittiwake 47
Little gull 1 adult in
Red-Throated Diver 1 out 
A check behind Ben my Chree 1200hrs
Kittiwake 14
Little gull 2 adult type
Mediterranean gull 1 adult

Mediterranean gull 1 2cy ocean edge on grass
Shag 1 immature wooden jetty high tide roost

I set off along the wall as Pete was leaving, just after high water (MD)
Reed Bunting 1 on saltmarsh 
Linnet 10 on saltmarsh 
Rock Pipit 1 on Red Nab
Wigeon c100 out from saltmarsh and Red Nab
Kittiwake 8 - at least 6 adult plus 2 x 1st calendar year - along the sea wall and on No.1 outflow. This is one of the adult, clearly showing location 
Shag 1 - I saw this bird flying to the wooden jetty. Turned out it was the 2nd calendar year bird, returning to its regular place on the jetty. It shows its profile at the end of the clip. Possibly the same bird as seen at considerable distance by Pete earlier, but unlikely as Pete's bird was at the very end of the jetty and suggested juvenile.

As I was walking back Steve Brown was walking out. We hadn't planned to work in shifts like this, it was just how it happened. As ever, Steve took some great shots - it is worth opening these to appreciate the detail.

First winter Kittiwake 

Adult Kittiwake 

This is what today's cryptic clue of a title refers to. This adult Kittiwake was "resting" on the scrub near the lighthouse, in the lee of the secondary sea wall. I presumed it was just exhausted, but as I took this clip it became apparent that it was ensnared by something.
So I went to help. It was tangled in fishing line which was also entangled to some brambles. It took some untangling as it was very fine line and convolutedly entangled, particularly around one leg. This is not the sort of fishing line typically used by anglers who fish near the lighthouse. I wondered if the bird was already entangled elsewhere and just became ensnared here, although this sort of line does not float, so it will not have become entangled at sea. Either way I removed the couple of metres of line and safely disposed of it later. I walked to the inner harbour to return the bird.
Soon to be returned Kittiwake. It had remained reasonably calm throughout,
clearly resigned to its fate being in my hands
I placed it on the inner harbour wall and it immediately flew off, showing no sign of being any the worse for its ordeal. 
Twenty minutes later as I was returning along the sea wall, this bird was fast asleep on the wall near No.2 outflow.

Birds often look to be asleep, but invariably have half an eye open. But I knew this one was asleep as it awoke with a start as I passed a couple of metres away (I couldn't have passed any further away, without falling in!). It didn't fly off just stood and looked at me.

I suspected that it might be the bird that I had released earlier, particularly as it took a couple of steps, it was clearly favouring one leg. If so, it suggests that it needed sleep more than anything else in order to recover. Had it been ensnared all night? I managed to pass by without disturbing it further, but when I looked back a little later it was just taking to the air and was hanging elegantly on the updraft from the wall - good luck! (MD)

Thursday 24 November 2022

Nothing special, but some nice stuff around

 A blustery south wind.mainly overcast with some showers around lunchtime. 

Report from Steve Brown:
A walk from Heysham Village across the Barrows to check the Head and the Heliport wall roost.
Half moon bay
10 Turnstone, 5 Meadow Pipits, 2 Rock Pipits, and a pied Wagtail.
Rock Pipit with what looks like a small pupa

Pied Wagtail 

The Heliport roost was a mix of mainly Oystercatchers, Redshank and Turnstone, also present were  a small number of Knott, at least 7 Dunlin and 2 Snipe.
Some of the waders on the old Heliport wall

Then the rain came so I decided to return via Barrows Lane, where as a bonus bird I got a Grey Wagtail, by the play area.
Grey Wagtail 

Rock Pipit, on the rocks!

I just managed a short outing this morning MD)
South shore:
Rock Pipit 3, saltmarsh, Red Nab and sea wall
Shelduck 23
Wigeon 200+ on Red Nab. They feed on the gut weed close to the sea wall when there is little disturbance 
Common Gull 4 - 2 on each outflow
Adult Common Gull

2nd winter Common Gull

This young Great Black-Backed gull was reluctant to move
I had to skirt around it!

Shag 1 x 2nd calendar year on the wooden jetty with Cormorants 

Middleton Nature Reserve 
Just a quick look at the two main ponds
Mute Swan pair with only five mature young seen
Moorhen 4
Gadwall 6
Tufted Duck just the one male, not quite in full breeding plumage 
Male Tufted Duck

Wednesday 23 November 2022

Not much over this rainbow!

A slightly fresher south - SW wind, some sunshine plus heavy showers

Report and pictures by Steve Brown:

I started at the nature park just before high tide.

5 Greenfinch. 2 Goldcrest, 1 Bullfinch calling( not seen), 12 Goldfinch, 4 Long~tailed tits


Red Nab to the Saltmarsh

tide was in by now, 150+Oystercatchers resting on red nab, 4 black-headed gulls on the water, on the salt marsh c100 wigeon, 5 Linnet, 2 Greenfinch, 1 Chaffinch, 2 Goldfinch 

North shoreline out from the children's play area on the ebbing tide.

Shag flying low towards Heysham Head, 10 Bar~tailed Godwit, c100 Knot as well as good numbers of Redshank, Curlew and Oystercatchers.


Bar-Tailed Godwit
Heysham skear (MD)
I checked what I could in the early fading light.
Eider 6
Red-breasted Merganser 5
Great Crested Grebe 3
Bar-Tailed Godwit 3 (probably some of Steve's birds)
Dunlin 20
Peregrine Falcon 2 hunting, probably why I didn't see any Knot

There were some very heavy showers

One was followed by the steepest rainbow I've ever seen.

This was the shore side

It ended just west of the exposed skear, so it must have been about a kilometre in circumference.

Tuesday 22 November 2022

North side Barwit numbers increasing

A light, mainly north to NW wind. High cloud with plenty of sunny spells.

South shore - high water 09:50 (MD)
A check from Red Nab to saltmarsh just before high water
Red Nab was almost covered but there were still c100 Wigeon milling around. Most ended up heading towards Potts Corner.
Kingfisher 1 - once again, it flew out of the freshwater culvert and rested on the pond nearest to the wall. These tides will be refilling this pond with seawater and fish.

Nothing along the foreshore but the saltmarsh was busy with passerines again.
Linnet c25
Greenfinch 28 
Chaffinch at least one with the Greenfinch 
Reed Bunting 2 at least
Rock Pipit 3

Common Snipe 28
Some of the Common Snipe flushed by the tide from the saltmarsh 
Jack Snipe 1 - the tide wasn't high enough to completely cover the saltmarsh so this was a bonus.

Heysham skear low water 16:40 (MD)
Low water was too late to check but the tide was already quite a way out in the late afternoon (late afternoon! 14:30 - 15:30)
Shag 1 x 2nd calendar year resting on Conger rock 
Shag - its unique profile is recognisable at long range

Eider 12
Great Crested Grebe 3
Red-breasted Merganser 10 - there are five males following this female (Great Crested Grebe in the background)

Little Egret 3
Knot c250
Dunlin just 2
Bar-Tailed Godwit at least 57 - there were a few individuals along the tideline plus this group in the skear corner.
I can't recall seeing this many on the north shore before. I managed to skirt around them without disturbing them. When I looked back a little later they had moved to the tideline halfway between the skear and the green marker post. When I was leaving there was still a small group in the corner plus a few smaller groups along the tideline. Then this flock arrived, not much to see but the light is interesting.

Monday 21 November 2022

You need to feed quickly when the opportunity arrives, particularly during these short days!

A cold and freshening east wind. Overcast all day with showers increasing in the afternoon 

Heysham Head (Steve Brown)
An hour after high tide this morning, it was cold, dark, windy and wet! 
There was a decent sized mixed flock of Knot, Redshank, Turnstone, Oystercatchers resting on the rocks, also 10 Curlew and a solitary Ringed Plover! 
Ringed Plover

Pete checked the noon ferry in:
Kittiwake 1 adult behind ferry
Shag 1 juvenile in the harbour

Heysham skear - low water 16:00 (MD)
It was still cold, darker and wetter!
Eider 3 female together
Red-breasted Merganser 2
Great Crested Grebe 2
No Knot seen today but there were c100 Dunlin feeding along the tideline. I couldn't see what they were feeding on, but presumably tiny crustaceans.
They were very flighty 

Bar-Tailed Godwit 7 were also feeding along the draining channels, but were soon spooked by the flighty Dunlin.

These Black-Headed plus a Herring gull with Redshank are almost certainly catching small shrimps. There are a couple of Dunlin on the fringe too, and I like the Oystercatcher sleeping through the clamour.

Sunday 20 November 2022

Not much variety today!

A light westish wind, with sunshine in the morning, but heavy showers in the afternoon

South shore
Just a quick morning check from saltmarsh to Red Nab, found the "cupboard" pretty much bare! (MD)
No passerines on/around saltmarsh, one day I'll see what purges them.
Greenfinch 3 and Rock Pipit 1 on Red Nab
No Shelduck but c150 Wigeon on Red Nab.

North Shore
Steve Brown checked Heysham Head whilst on dog walking duties and didn't fare much better, but at least he managed a couple of nice shots.
c25 Redshank, and 5 curlew on the shore,  1 Rock pipit, 2 Goldfinch and 5 Linnet over
Red-breasted Merganser 1 male

Male Red-breasted Merganser

Pete manage to find an immature Shag feeding near the skear

I checked the skear (MD)
Great Crested Grebe 3
Red-breasted Merganser 2
Eider 4 all individuals - 2 male + 2 female. This male was watching the world go by, and saw just about as much as I did!

Apart from the Oystercatcher, Curlew, Redshank and Turnstone there were:
Knot c250
Dunlin 5
Bar-Tailed Godwit 12

Saturday 19 November 2022

A decent variety

Very light SSE breeze.sunshine pretty much all day 

Heysham Nature Reserve 
Jean had
Water Rail 1
Woodcock 1
Brambling 1 over

Heysham Head
Red-Throated diver 1 on dropping tide (Pete)

South Shore
I just checked saltmarsh to Red Nab (MD)
Linnet 40
Greenfinch 3
Goldfinch 5
Reed Bunting 4
Rock Pipit 2
All the above on or around the saltmarsh 
Shelduck 140 out from foreshore 
Wigeon 185 on beach between Red Nab and No.2 outflow till flushed by a dog
Kingfisher 1 flew out from the freshwater culvert on Red Nab

Nature Park
Chiffchaff 1 calling 
Bullfinch 2 calling

Kevin Eaves checked along the sea wall
Grey Plover 1 briefly near wooden jetty
Red Admiral 1
Small Tortoiseshell 1

Steve Brown provided this detailed report and some very nice shots:
I had a decent walk today, starting from Heysham NR along the dog path to The caravan pk to the Saltmarsh back to Red Nab and back along the dog path 11:30 -1530

Dog paths:
Bullfinch 2, Greenfinch 3, Goldfinch 20+, Chiffchaff 1, Jay 1, Goldcrest 2 , Redwing 2, Sparrowhawk, Long-tailed Tit 5, Coal tit 2, Raven, numerous other woodland birds including Robin, Blackbirds, Dunock, Blue tit, Great tit, Magpies, Carrion Crow.

Ocean Edge, Salt Marsh and Red Nab
Rock Pipit 2, Snipe 7, Curlew 9, Shellduck 120+, Redshank c20, Black-headed gulls 12, Little Egret 3
Male Bullfinch 


Coal Tit

Heysham skear - low water 14:15 (MD)
Red-breasted Merganser 5
Great Crested Grebe 3
Eider 1
Little Egret 11
Pale-bellied Brent goose 4 - these behaved like visiting birds have in previous years. They were in the SE corner of the skear picking up the odd bits of sea lettuce around. Sometimes feeding while on the water, but when they emerged to feed it was clear that none were ringed. 
You can see a few patches of sea lettuce on the mud

There is a lot more gut weed closer to shore, including in the middle distance rocks out from the children's play area. Hopefully we will see them there soon, when high water occurs later in the day.

Shag 1 - the 2nd calendar year bird was resting on conger rock before starting to fish as the tide turned.
As well as the Oystercatcher, Curlew, Redshank and Turnstone there were
Knot c200 just resting not feeding
Dunlin 5
Bar-Tailed Godwit 16 - this one catches a small worm or, more likely, the tail tip from a large worm (they easily detach to stop the worm being dragged out by its tail). It then nicely displays its bared tail.

Finally, Kevin Eaves took this clip along the south wall. Like all predator prey sagas, the predators are reliant on the prey, the more prey available the more predators can survive. We have recently established that the in the right conditions the sea wall is the focus of a significant insect flight path. The spiders have known this for some while, and there are a lot of them!
"A mini safari played out on the sea wall this morning. The stalking and pouncing of this Zebra spider, was big cat like, but I didn't get my phone out in time to catch the action". (Not one for arachnophobes!)