Saturday 18 March 2023

Three "first of the year" and an unprecedented 25 migrant Stonechat......after a delayed start!

 Another very mild night and warm day. The light wind initially from south moving to SW late morning.

Pete and Jean made an early start, and it paid dividends, not so much for what they saw early on, but for what they didn't see.
While Jean conducted a visible migration survey from Heysham Head, Pete made a careful check of Heliport plus Ocean Edge/Red Nab. All before 07:45. No migrant passerines seen or heard, except for:
Sand Martin 2 in off at Ocean edge - first records this year
Pale-bellied Brent goose 20 at least on Red Nab.
Shag 1 immature on wooden jetty
Kittiwake 1 2cy on pipe in harbour
Redwing 2 HNR
Goldcrest 2 HNR

I arrived at the saltmarsh at 08:00 (MD). By this time Pete was back at the Heliport and was starting to see:
Wheatear 5 male - first record this year plus a trickle of Meadow Pipits.
The cloud was low and it was hazy and now the migrants were piling through.
A walk from saltmarsh to Red Nab 08:00 - 08:20 located at least
Wheatear 12 (all male)
Stonechat 8 (3male)
Meadow Pipit 32
Pied Wagtail 4
By this time the low cloud had morphed into light drizzle (which Pete identified as "perfect").
The flight line must have been narrow, nothing passed over or was grounded as I walked along the wall beyond Red Nab to the lighthouse (and no Stonechat seen in a later check at Imperial road).
On the return trip there were over 10 male Wheatear between Red Nab and saltmarsh, and they were moving through quickly. As were the Stonechat 3 male and 3 female were near the slipway and appeared to have just come in. Another male and 3 female on the east side of the saltmarsh.
Skylark 2 north
One of the 25+ male Wheatear through this morning

Female Stonechat resting on one of the "birds to look out for" notices. - No mention of Stonechat!
This female Stonechat was particularly obliging
Rock Pipit 6 - saltmarsh 1, 2 together on Red Nab, 3 between lighthouse and waterfall 
Common Snipe 35 flushed from marsh grass just south of saltmarsh 
Red- breasted Merganser 1
Whooper Swan 4 NW
Whooper Swan
Report from Jean:
Vis Heysham Head 0740-0940
North unless stated
Meadow Pipit 123
Pied Wagtail 2
Lesser Redpoll 1 (E)
Skylark 14
Chaffinch 3
Linnet 1
Stonechat 1M (NE)plus M&F grounded
Chiffchaff singing nr car park - first record of the year

I met Shaun checking out the Stonechats and Wheatears on Ocean Edge, he then continued his walk north:
Chiffchaff 11 -2 singing Moneyclose Lane + 3 singing HNR. Silent/feeding Chiffchaffs 4 Water Tank next to OBS and 2 at Dipping Pond. A decent arrival!
Wheatear 5 males & 2 females. 
Stonechat 3 females. 
Meadow Pipit 35 (grounded). 

With all the various reports Pete estimates at least 25 Stonechat were seen this morning, and, unfortunately, no one checked the horse paddocks at Knowsly Rd. Still not a bad tally, and unprecedented for the recording area.

Janet heard a Chiffchaff near the golf course but none on her walk around the east side of Middleton Nature Reserve.
Male Kestrel
Also from Janet - Brimstone butterfly - Londonderry Rd - think this is the first butterfly of the year, it's certainly the first Brimstone.