Friday 23 June 2023

The silent skear

 A light east breeze till mid morning, then a freshening south to SW wind. A few light showers in the morning with heavier ones late afternoon.

Heysham skear - low water 10:00 (MD)
There wasn't likely to be much around at this time of year, but what struck me, as I walked out, was how quiet it was. Not a single Oystercatcher to be heard. There were a few Curlew calling (ended up counting 24), and at least 1 Whimbrel calling.
I presumed the Oystercatcher were elsewhere, but then I started seeing them spread around the skear edges, c100. It then dawned on me why they were so quiet, there was nothing to squabble over. The skear is covered in mussels this year and at the moment, most are the ideal size for Oystercatchers.
It is this size of mussel that the Oystercatcher seek out amongst the larger ones later
in the year. Often when they find one they fly off with it so as not to be robbed

They must be an ideal size for them to open easily, but large enough to contain plenty to eat. So, no need to squabble, all the food they need for the day is readily available. 
Oystercatchers just standing around. Literally, fed up.

Little Egret 6
Great Crested Grebe 5 individuals 
Red-breasted Merganser 1 male
Eider 3 male together and 1 female - these are the three males, watch the gull in front of them. You can see when it spots a small crab, it watches for a couple of seconds then times its leap to perfection. 
It seems there is plenty of food for all at the moment

This smallish Barrel Jellyfish, c30cm diameter, was stranded in a pool. At least like this they show that in the water, they are actually quite graceful.
Barrel Jellyfish, about to be freed by the rising tide

Middleton Nature Reserve 
Ringing report from John for yesterday:
Not the best conditions for ringing, bright and warm from early.
Three nets set on Thursday morning.
Only twenty birds caught and processed, but a few more young birds evident.
Blackcap          3 juveniles
Reed Warbler    1 juvenile and 1 retrap adult
Whitehroat       2 juveniles and 1 adult
Great Tit          1 juvenile retrap and 1 adult
Cetti's Warbler 2 adults with one a retrap
Blue Tit             2 juveniles and a retrap adult
Chiffchaff           1 juvenile
Willow Warbler    1 juvenile
Lesser Whitethroat  1 juvenile
Sedge Warbler    1 juvenile
Goldfinch             1 adult

I just had a quick look on my way home (MD). No sign of the Red-Veined Darters, but Common Darters were emerging in numbers.
Female Common Darter, one of ten female/immature seen
The ducks have done very well rearing their young this year. There were 3 female Mallard with a total of 21 quite large young. Originally there were 22 chicks (8, 8 & 6). A significant improvement on last year's 100% mortality. This must be the female who lost one of her chicks as she is giving 7 young "up ending" lessons.

Unfortunately, a Coot believes that the patch of weed they were practicing on belongs to it, and sees them off.

The female Gadwall still has five growing chicks. An eclipsed male is also around.

These shots are from Peter and Rosemary from yesterday:
Mute Swan

Male Black-Tailed Skimmer

Female Common Blue Damselfly 

Male Common Bluetail Damselfly

Froglet being returned to safety 

South shore - high water 15:25 (MD)
Mediterranean Gull 13 - 2 adult plus 11 first summer 
Three of the first summer were on Red Nab. This one had a striking black head and quite a red bill.
First summer Mediterranean Gull
the small dinosaur on the left is just a distant descendant, a female Eider.

The rest were with 250 gulls resting on the mud out from the saltmarsh.
Gulls resting on the mud out from the saltmarsh 

The metal ringed adult Med landing with the gulls

Just out of the recording area
Mark Jones took this clip of a Barn Owl flying around the marshes at Potts corner, unfortunately turning back short of the southern boundary of the recording area.
It came up the coast from Sunderland point and quartered right around me then headed back off inland towards Sunderland point