Sunday 31 December 2023

Glossy Ibis for the New Year?.......albeit slightly beyond the recording area

A day of two halves, pleasant and sunny for most of the morning, rain for most of the afternoon. A SE wind.

Pale-bellied Brent goose 22 off Knowlys Road, 11 adults, 11 juvs, but none with colour rings - ref Pete Crooks. 
Later in the tide there were at least 12-13 on Red Nab, but none were seen flying from the north side.

Also along the south sea wall 
Immature Shag on platform in harbour - by Clay Garland

It turned up just after midday, and disappeared again after a few minutes

Pink-footed goose 45 low to the south, 59 high to the north. These are the southbound birds.

Red-breasted Merganser 2 - there was a female type near the wooden jetty and a male feeding in the harbour. This is the female/immature
This is the feeding male
Wigeon c300
Curlew 120+ in smallish groups heading for the mud on the south side.
One of the larger groups of Curlew

Redshank c150 - this in one of two groups looking for a roost.
Rock Pipit 1

Near Naze (MD)
Just a quick look in passing late afternoon, a heavy downpour had just eased.
Bar-Tailed Godwit 1  - it and the Oystercatchers were becoming agitated, you can hear the Godwit call out in this clip.
The agitation wasn't at the noise of my windscreen wipers, but at the immanent arrival of a small flock of Knot.
Not one colour coded!

Just out of the recording area - Middleton Parish Hall - thanks to Howard and Beth for putting this out.
Glossy Ibis 1 - in the horse paddock just behind the hall. When Howard checked the light wasn't great, but he still managed these excellent shots:
It moved to field closer to Middleton Rd while the owner fed his horse

It then moved back to the paddock

It was in the same location when I checked late afternoon (MD). By that time it was lashing down! This clip includes one of three Little Egret also feeding in the paddock.

This is a location shot, the arrow points to the Ibis

Saturday 30 December 2023

A bit of a dampener

Quite a fresh south to SW wind. Heavy showers for most of the day.

South Shore (MD)
A mid morning walk along the south wall on the rising tide. It rained constantly!
Pale-bellied Brent goose 21 - there had been 14 feeding on the rocks, then something spooked them and the waders and they flew further east, now 21 so perhaps another 7 coming in had lifted them. Although they don't normally.

Wigeon c200
And that was it really, no sign of the Shag in the harbour.

These shots by Janet in the Nature Park yesterday 
Long-Tailed Tit enjoying suet left by the visitors 

Middleton Nature Reserve (MD)
Just called in for a quick check of the two main ponds.
Main Pond:
Mute pair plus 7 immature 
Mallard 12
Gadwall 1 male
Tufted Duck 1 male
Coot 6
Moorhen 4
This is the Tufted sorting himself out, before a Coot (just out of frame) moves him on. A Mallard and a  Moorhen glide past too. The soft grunting are the immature Mute Swans "begging".

No Swimming Pond
Mallard 2
Gadwall 20
Grey Heron 1
This short clip is a Gadwall duck and drake with a Mallard duck and drake.

Another couple of shots by Janet yesterday 
Gadwall flying to the "no swimming" pond

A passing check of Imperial Rd at the same time as yesterday failed to see a single Jackdaw!

Friday 29 December 2023

Gulls needed to be ferried in!

A fresh SW wind. Not many showers, but when they arrived they were heavy and included hail.

South shore 
Pale-bellied Brent goose c35 flew towards Red Nab. Later just 18 remained before flying off to the south.
All the Brent arrived together, these are just some of them

Wigeon c200
At least 5 observers checked the outflows but there were no gulls of note, but Pete and Jean managed to check behind the incoming lunchtime ferry.
Kittiwake c40 all adult 
Little gull 1 probably 2 adults

Even after this arrival, none were seen on the outflows

Ringed Plover 28 plus Dunlin 2 resting on Ocean Edge grass
Ringed Plover flying out from the saltmarsh no doubt heading for Ocean Edge grass.

Common Snipe 5 flushed by tide from the saltmarsh 
Rock Pipit 2 - saltmarsh and Red Nab
Red Nab Rock Pipit

Harbour Porpoise also on Red Nab, and as Janet says, it makes for a sad picture.
None of its scars look fatal, although there is some damage around its mouth,
and it does look a bit thin.

These are the conditions along the sea wall at 11:00
Bullfinch 1 male by the white barrier in the Nature Park

Imperial Rd
Jackdaw 140+ gathering on the field to the east of the road. This is just one of two groups, also present are Starlings and a couple of Carrion Crows.

Thursday 28 December 2023

Brents toing and froing

Very heavy overnight rain eased to heavy showers during the day. Driven by a strong SW wind

South shore (JP, MD)
Pale Bellied Brent goose 21 at least, but they were difficult keeping track of.
I saw this group of 15 heading towards Red Nab
Janet was nearer Red Nab and she saw the 15 and another group of 6 arrive.
Not easy to count, but there are 15 here, there are 4 in the leading group

This is the second group, 2 adult with at least 2 of the others first winter 
Janet also saw a group of 12 flying west away from Red Nab. Which should leave 9, but there were still 15 on Red Nab before the tide moved them on.

Brent geese and Oystercatchers on Red Nab

Shelduck 4 south

Wigeon c150
Wigeon coming in to land at Red Nab

Rock Pipit at least 1
Peregrine Falcon 1
Peregrine Falcom zipping past Red Nab

This dead Harbour Porpoise was being washed in by the tide, it will end
up on Red Nab. The body looked fresh, but the scarring seemed old.
Possibly not the direct cause of death.

Bullfinch 4 near the white barrier in the Nature Park

North shore (HS)
A couple of nice shots from Howard today 
Colour coded Knot 
Ringed at Porsanger Norway 21/05/19. It has subsequently been seen at Heysham in February 2020, then the Netherlands September 2020, before returning to Heysham December 2020. Last seen back in Norway May 2021 before Howard's sighting today.

This Knot has a cockle clamped to its toe. It will hurt!
It's unlikely the cockle will relax its grip until it is under water or in wet mud.

Wednesday 27 December 2023

Wet, but not a complete washout

Constant rain throughout the morning, driven by a freshening SE wind. By afternoon the rain was more showery and the wind shifted to SW

South shore (MD)
A morning walk along the sea wall on the rising tide.
Pale-bellied Brent goose 16 - a group of 3 arrived and left separately.
Pink-Footed goose 51 - one flock flying low through the driving rain to the SE. They had a small "duck" in tow. 
Wigeon 200+
Red-breasted Merganser 3 - a pair on Red Nab plus a male in the harbour.
Male Red-breasted Merganser in the harbour 

Kittiwake - a single adult was seen on both outflows and inside the harbour, but probably just one mobile bird.
Shag 1 immature in the harbour. This clip begins with it between two Cormorants.

The Cormorants headed back to the wooden jetty, but the Shag just milled around in the middle of the harbour. It made no attempt to feed, so presumably it was already full. It is likely that it and the Cormorants had been feeding at the waterfall.
Rock Pipit 2 - sea wall and lighthouse 

We are back to spring tides now and Howard managed to read three colour coded Knot on the Near Naze yesterday. These are two of them.

Unfortunately, before Howard could check all the Knot someone disturbed them, just to get some in flight shots!

I was saving this next clip for a rainy day, and today is as good as any. Again, it is one prepared by Howard earlier this month on the Near Naze. It shows how the flag is free to move on the Knot's leg with the wave action. In this case the bird was ringed in Ireland.

Tuesday 26 December 2023

Awaited Brent ringing data now available

A dry and largely sunny day. The weakening west wind fizzled out to nothing.

Red Nab to Saltmarsh towards high water (MD)
Pale-bellied Brent Geese 12
Steve Dodd forwarded a link to the Irish colour ringing scheme - thanks Steve. It includes Brent Geese and has now been added to the links on the sidebar.
Pete Crooks has used this to report the white ringed bird he saw 17/12/23. 
We now have a ringing date of 15/5/2018 at Grunnafjordur, Iceland and the latest record is the only subsequent sighting so far. 
This bird has been seen here on several occasions at least since January 2021, we will add other dates. 

Pink-Footed Geese 60 north at 10:20
Wigeon 180 ended up out from the saltmarsh 
Common Snipe 7 flushed from saltmarsh 
Grey Plover 1 sat by the edge of the saltmarsh, this clip is therapeutic (I love the sound of waves), but it also demonstrates how a bird's plumage can appear different when the background changes from bright to dark.

Grey Plover
Reed Bunting 1
Linnet 2

Imperial Rd (MD)
A lunchtime check
Pink-Footed goose 105 (78 & 27) north
Greylag goose 11 at least feeding in a field to the east of the road. Largely obscured by hedgerows.
Jackdaw 31 flew NE

There has been a lot of "slurry" spreading recently, presumably what was driving this large group of gulls (mainly Black-Headed and Herring) to swarm over the fields like locusts.
You can hear a Robin singing during the above clip. Here it is staking out its winter territory. Note the number of winter midges early in the clip.
Little Egret 5
Buzzard 1

Water Rail 1 squealing from the pond area on the SW side.

At least 1 Redwing and 10 Fieldfare were in the trees just next to the recycling centre gates.
Winter Thrushes in the trees just east of the recycling centre gates

There were also c50 Starlings feeding in the adjacent field and they kept flying to this tree too. Making counting the thrushes difficult.
One Redwing surrounded by Starlings

One of the Fieldfare

Fox 2 - one seen each side of the road. This one was being followed by a Magpie, but the Magpie legged it when the Fox started scratching. It clearly didn't want any fleas. Try and watch this without feeling itchy!
These weren't the only foxes showing well today, this from Pete Crooks:
A family walk across Heysham Barrows this lunchtime produced good views of a Fox on the rocks above the main path, which plenty of passing walkers were also able to enjoy. 

Monday 25 December 2023

Knot Christmas

A largely overcast day with showers in the morning. The west wind continues 

South shore (MD. KE)
I had a walk along the sea wall on the morning flood tide, Kevin checked later on the ebb. No sign or reports of the Ibis or Shag today.
Pale-Bellied Brent goose 18 left Red Nab towards high water, 16 had returned on the ebb, of which 11 flew towards the north side. These are two adult and three youngsters.
Wigeon c200
These are a few of the Wigeon, plus the Brent towards high water.

Kittiwake 1 adult, patrolling the sea wall towards high water still feeding on No.2 outflow later.


The only birds on the platform in the harbour this morning were these four Cormorants.
Looking like the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse, or at least the four horses.

Imperial Rd (MD)
Again just really checking if the Ibis was around, no sign but all the regulars were on show.
Buzzard 1

Raven 1 calling from the top of the pylon nearest the roundabout 

Roe Deer 2 - looked to be the male and female youngsters filmed 19/12. Unfortunately, they saw me today, and I only managed a couple of shots of the male.

Male Roe Deer

Today's title is a bit spurious. Howard provides some lovely shots and clips over the year and I have kept some back, anticipating that they would embellish the post over the Christmas period, when other coverage is minimal. This clip from earlier this month is some of the Knot below the Heliport wall on the rising tide.

Sunday 24 December 2023

Glossy Ibis for much better than turkey!

Overcast all day with several showers. The west wind had eased somewhat.

South Shore (MD)
I had planned to go along the sea wall at first light, but after yesterday's exertions I didn't really feel up to it. Fortunately, I went anyway and was very pleased that I did!
Glossy Ibis 1 - it was still quite dark when I reached the harbour, it was resting on one of the platforms near the waterfall and having a preen. The gulls were quite happy to share the roost with it, but they were getting restless and moving on, leaving it alone on the platform.

Glossy Ibis, the first record for the recording area
It decided to move on, and as soon at it took to the air the large gulls were unhappy. Initially they chased it to the east, but it returned a few minutes later. It looked to be heading for the Heliport then the sand works, but the gulls wouldn't let it settle again, and eventually "chased" it to the south.  Although the gulls weren't happy the Ibis pretty much ignored them as it was so much quicker than the gulls. It is more accurate to say the gulls followed it to the south.
Here it is zipping around the harbour before passing overhead and heading south.

A very distinctive profile when seen side on

Yesterday I had a brief, distant glimpse of a gull chasing off a dark "heron like" bird high over the Power Station to the east. I did wonder then if it could have been a Glossy Ibis. Today's record suggests that it almost certainly was. The significance being that it is hanging around. 
And it was still around this afternoon. Seen by Pete and Jean flying over Middleton Nature Reserve. So hopefully it will be around to be found again tomorrow.

Shag 1 - amazingly the Ibis wasn't the only bird of interest on the platform in the harbour. This shag was also resting there first thing. This is the first Shag record since July.

Immature Shag
Rock Pipits 2 (Red Nab and Waterfall)

Imperial Rd (MD)
An early afternoon check really just to see if the Ibis was feeding in the fields to the east. Not even a Little Egret today!
Buzzard 1

Saturday 23 December 2023

Perimeter fence de-railed.

A very heavy early morning shower, after that mainly dry with occasional light showers. The west wind continues but not quite as fresh.

South shore (MD)
A more interesting late morning walk along the sea wall than yesterday.
Pale-bellied Brent goose 22 flew south along the shipping lane
Goose sp 11 -  probably Pinkfoot, were even further out heading south
Wigeon 250+ they were more happy to settle on open water today. These are some of them coming in to land by No 2 outflow.

Kittiwake at least 1 adult and 2 first calendar year behind the lunchtime ferry, although they didn't follow it into the harbour.
The Manxman approaches the harbour more quickly than the Ben my Chree did

Great Crested Grebe 1 in the harbour. It normally favours the area near the waterfall, but today it was in the middle of the harbour. Possibly taking advantage of the silt disturbed by the dredger. The dredger is the smaller red and white boat at the end of this clip.

Nature Park:
Finches 100+ around the small anemometer. Mainly Goldfinch but also several Chaffinch and at least 2 Bullfinch.

Water Rail 1 - this is what today's title refers to. Unfortunately, it had somehow become ensnared on the barbed wire on top of the Power Station perimeter fence.
Water Rail 3m high and the fence surrounded by brambles.
At this point I wasn't certain if it was alive or dead

This short clip shows it to be alive and struggling (I stopped filming as soon as I knew it needed help). You may find it harrowing, but don't worry it has a happy ending, for the Rail at least!

I needed to find something to lean against the fence for me to climb on to allow the Rail to be in reach. I eventually found a fence plank that had been dislodged. Even so, I could only just reach the bird with one hand while I pulled the wire down with the other. It was well entangled, but no sign of any blood, I eventually managed to free it with only the loss of a few under feathers.
A weary, but largely unharmed Water Rail
It would never have managed to free itself
Fortunately, the ideal release site was close by. The Nature Park pond is protected with dog proof fencing. I released it there, it didn't try to fly but scurried for shelter by the water, had a drink then a preen and found somewhere to settle down.
Looks so much better than dangling on a wire!

All the above was on the way out at 10:40. It was still resting at the water's edge when I returned at 12:15.
Although I would never have found it if I hadn't have known where to look

The blue circle shows where it had been, you can just make out the few remaining under feathers.
The arrow points to the plank I scrambled up. Not the best exercise for someone just recovering from
 sciatica, but if it sets me back, so be it. I couldn't have left the Rail as it was - Malcolm 

Imperial Rd (MD)
Just a quick afternoon stop off in passing.
Buzzard 1 
Little Egret 6

Friday 22 December 2023

Great clouds! But today's rain was just having a laugh.

Quite a fresh west wind. Overcast all day with showers, some very heavy.

South shore (MD)
I had a walk along the sea wall, timed to watch the lunchtime ferry arrive. I timed it perfectly, and so dod the rain. Fine all the way out and the way back, but the heavens opened just as the ferry rounded the wooden jetty. No chance of looking out to sea, but I don't think there was anything of interest, certainly nothing other than Herring, Lesser Black-Backed and Black Headed gulls followed it into the harbour.

There were several cormorants feeding in the harbour, these are two flying out. You can see the wind catching them as they reach the harbour mouth.

This is one of this year's youngsters having its wings blow dried.

First calendar year Cormorant 

Wigeon c150
Wigeon about to settle out of sight in the lee of No.2 outflow

Middleton Nature Reserve (MD)
There were a couple of light showers in the afternoon, it was raining when I called in at the main pond, so I didn't bother leaving my car.
Mute Swan pair plus 7 immature 
Coot 6
Moorhen 3
Mallard 14
Tufted Duck 2 male.

There isn't a need to leave your car to check the main pond, but I had to get out to check the "no swimming" pond. As soon as got there the heavens opened again and in the 50m walk back to my car I was completely sodden!
Gadwall 27
Moorhen 1
Grey Heron 1

This is the star of today's post, indeed it would be the star of most posts.
Nacreous clouds
Kevin Eaves took these beautiful shots yesterday "evening" (15:30).

Kevin also provided this explanation of the phenomena, courtesy of Chat GPT:

Nacreous clouds, also known as polar stratospheric clouds, are a rare and breathtaking meteorological phenomenon that occur in the winter polar regions. These ethereal clouds are known for their vibrant and iridescent colors, often resembling mother-of-pearl or nacre. Unlike regular clouds that form in the troposphere, nacreous clouds form in the stratosphere at altitudes of around 15 to 25 kilometers. They are composed of tiny ice crystals that create dazzling displays of colors when sunlight passes through them at specific angles. Nacreous clouds are not only a magnificent sight to behold, but they also play a role in the depletion of the ozone layer, as chemical reactions occurring within them contribute to the breakdown of ozone molecules.