Thursday 15 December 2022

Minus wouldn't want to be a bird!

Another freezing night with another to follow (possibly the last for a while), temperatures barely got above zero all day. Plenty of sunshine and a very light east breeze.

Kevin Eave's weather station (within the recording area) recorded a temperature of -7.8C at 07:00. It was still -4C when I set off at 08:30. This shot out from Ocean Edge foreshore is 09:30, it is unusual for two reasons. First, Golden Plovers are very uncommon here, despite being plentiful in the Lune estuary. Secondly, it is the first time I've seen a bird with frost on its head, back and tail! (MD)
Golden Plover, covered in frost.....goodness knows what it looked like at 07:00!

South shore (MD)
Two visits again today, a full check in the morning plus a brief check from saltmarsh to Red Nab in the afternoon.
Morning check:
Starlings 100+ I've been surprised that they haven't been here in numbers earlier.
Starlings with their feathers fluffed out

Greenfinch 9
Reed Bunting 4
Blackbird 2
Song Thrush 1
Song Thrush with its feathers fluffed out

Black-Tailed Godwit 4 - these were feeding in the creek just beyond the slipway, but I couldn't get a good look as other waders, including another Godwit (probably a Black-Tailed) were feeding in the middle of the creek, and I didn't want to risk spooking them. These are the birds in the middle of the creek, showing just how bleak it was. Oystercatcher, Godwit, Redshank and Curlew having to probe through the ice before reaching the mud.

Golden Plover 1
Shelduck c150

Red Nab:
Blackbird 1
Meadow Pipit 1 ( the Rock Pipit is still around, I saw them both in the afternoon, but I think the Rock Pipit is spending more time in the Power Station grounds, where I am sure it knows of plenty of warmer areas to feed and rest). The Meadow Pipit seemed to be finding food as well. You can just about hear it peeping a couple of times.

Kingfisher 1 looking forlorn. The only ice free water on Red Nab was the groundwater run off, but that is currently too shallow to draw the fish up it and the tides too low to back fill it. The Kingfisher was sat on the sloping wall. I managed not to disturb it, but suspect it will have had to go somewhere else to feed.

Sea wall:
Grey Plover 1
Wigeon c120. These tides aren't good for them either. The tide barely reaches Red Nab, and without the tide the gut weed is either under ice or frozen to the rocks. Nevertheless, when I checked in the afternoon they were feeding around Red Nab edges. But at this time some were resting in the channel next to No.1 outflow, with a nice shot of the SeaTruck sliding past.

But in reality, ships that size don't just slide past, they displace a lot of water. I knew what was going to happen next, and I expect it is something the Wigeon regularly experience.

Black-Tailed Godwit 26 - I 5 were feeding in the same section of shore as above, but closer in. Another 11 flew over high to SE making a daily count of 29. The mud was soft here, but I didn't see them catch anything, probably why in normal conditions you don't see godwits here.

But there are worms to be found. This Curlew near No.2 outflow has a decent sized lugworm. But it caught it very near the surface, just prior to this clip. It must have seen it casting its waste.

Afternoon check:
I got back to the saltmarsh just as the tide was reaching the creek. It wouldn't get much higher today and won't cover the shore out from the saltmarsh again till next Wednesday.
Black-Tailed Godwit 5 - not sure what they were feeding on, but they were each feeding like this. I can only think their food items are getting smaller and they use this technique to filter whatever it is from the silt.
Teal 4 female - I like this clip, it's not often you see a Dunlin, Redshank, Black-Tailed Godwit and a Teal feeding together. It does demonstrate just how small a Teal duck is.

Bar-Tailed Godwit 550 most arrived 14:30, but a steady influx continued while I was there.
Knot c100
Dunlin c300
Redshank 60

I didn't check the north side today, and have had no reports, so I don't know if the Brent turned up at the play area again. If they did, they must have remained undisturbed as they didn't show at Red Nab.
Janet very kindly posted Jean's comments from yesterday regarding disturbance on "Heysham dog friendly" page on Facebook, so more pet walkers will be aware of the concern.

These low neap tides are the worst possible combination with the freezing temperatures, as so much of the shore becomes locked in ice. Hopefully tonight could be the last deep freeze for a while, possibly a bit of rain over the weekend will free the exposed shore, making normal, feeding possible again.