Wednesday 17 January 2024

High Brent numbers, and some cold weather movement

What a difference to yesterday! Another freezing night, but not as deep a freeze as expected (coldest point was -1.9°C just after 08:00). A dry and sunny day with a light and sometimes nonexistent north breeze.

Heysham skear - low water 10:00 (MD)
Pale-bellied Brent goose 48 flew from the play area, circled and landed in the SE skear corner at low water. Probably spooked by dog walkers, but I have noticed previously that they seem to like to confirm that the tide has turned. More Brent later. This clip isn't great visually as the light was behind them, but you can hear them calling as they fly towards me. I love their soft grunting call!
Eider 25
Wigeon 1
Red-breasted Merganser 3
Great Crested Grebe 4
No Little Egret

Waders - just the inner and middle skear checked, there were many more, particularly Oystercatcher on the outer skear.
Oystercatcher 1,000
Curlew 125
Redshank 150
Knot 200 in several small feeding groups.
Turnstone 60
Ringed Plover 23
Dunlin 8
Grey Plover 3 - I can't ever recall seeing Grey Plover on the skear before. No obvious reason why, their camouflage is perfect and they seemed to be finding plenty to eat. This one was taking a rest from feeding and was just watching the world go by. Its world in this instance comprising, Oystercatcher, Turnstone and Dunlin.

Turnstone, Ringed Plover and Grey Plover

It was a beautiful morning for my first proper walk on the skear for three months!
At least there are plenty of rocks to rest on when my legs got weary. Malcolm

Imperial Rd (MD)
I called in on my way home from the skear. No sign of the Glossy Ibis (both here and a quick check of the horse paddock at Middleton). But where it had been feeding the other day were:
Curlew 75
Lapwing 15
Mistle Thrush 4
I called in again later in the afternoon and the above where all gone. The culprit was a Fox patrolling the field, no doubt what flushed the Curlew and Ibis the other evening.
Buzzard 1

South shore
I just checked from Red Nab to the saltmarsh as the tide was covering both (MD)
Pale-bellied Brent goose 68 - these included the two Canadian ringed birds with a first winter bird. Also a white ringed bird, probably the Icelandic ringed bird seen before. These are just some of them just before they began leaving to the south.
They didn't all leave together, in order of departure: 39, 15, 6 and 8
Shelduck 20
Wigeon 200+
Grey Heron 1
Little Egret 3
Waders included:
Oystercatcher, Curlew, Redshank, Turnstone, Knot 1 and Grey Plover 1
The Knot (left) and Grey Plover had been resting on a rock together, before being moved on by the tide

Common Snipe 5
Reed Bunting 3
Wren 6 (typically no more than 3 seen)
Dunnock 5 (typically 2)
Rock Pipit 3 - 1 plus these 2 together

This is the lone Rock Pipit

Song Thrush 2 - this one breaks open a snail shell. They normally have a stone chosen specially for this (a thrushes anvil), but this one must be newly arrived, not only was the stone it used not ideal, there were no other discarded shells around it (the whistles in the background are Wigeon).

Robin just the single regular bird - I thought it slightly unusual that there were no more (as the Wrens and Dunnock). But Janet provided the answer.

Nature Park
Janet purchased some peanut chips in error. Her garden birds weren't impressed, so she has been leaving some on the posts near the white barrier. This is the area that other visitors also leave food. The Nature Park birds gather there in numbers and seem to particularly like Janet's peanut chips:
Robin 6 at least - they do seem to forego their territorial behaviour in cold weather.

Male Bullfinch waiting in the wings

A particularly handsome Great Tit

Male Blackbird 

Female/immature Blackbird