Monday 27 May 2024

Brent surprise and the small Hawker lingers

Plenty of sunshine after early showers. A light west wind.

Heysham Skear
Two checks today (Malcolm)
First as the tide covered the outer skear on the morning rising tide.
Eider, Mergansers and GC Grebes all present in similar numbers to of late.
No waders other than Oystercatcher seen till the tide covered the outer skear, then a flock of c2,000 Knot lifted and instead of moving inshore to rest or continue feeding they flew off to the NW.
A little later a single Sanderling landed on the middle skear to feed and a flock 9 flew past.
Solitary feeding Sanderling

Turnstone 1 also flew by at this point

A second "quick" check in the evening as the inner skear rocks were becoming exposed (turned out not to be as quick as planned)
Curlew 1
Oystercatcher 300
Knot 400 feeding.
Dunlin 8
Dunlin trust their camouflage, and for good reason, when they freeze they are very difficult to spot. I almost trod on this pair.

I managed to skirt around them without them moving

A little later they were surrounded by Knot. You can just make one out in this clip.

I was just starting to head back, when the unmistakable honk of Brent geese was behind me. Turned out that they were:
Dark-bellied Brent geese a flock of 32 (Pete advises that this is the largest flock ever recorded in Lancashire)

They landed on the sea, everything they need is here, freshwater running off to drink and bathe plus abundant gutweed. Whether their instincts guide them or one or more has been here before is impossible to know. The dominant goose at the end of this clip seems to be in charge.

Gutweed is now easy pickings here, although they didn't feed for long,
they seemed to have plenty of fat reserves already

So it was time for a rest and preen

Little Egret and Dark-bellied Brent geese

Middleton Nature Reserve (Janet and Malcolm)
These shots from Janet
First Bee Orchid of the year

Burnet Companion

First Small Heath of the year

Janet spotted a "small hawker" halfway up the hill on the west side. I'd been on the reserve for 90 minutes looking for the hawker without success so I made my way there (Malcolm). 30m west of the bridge to the road the ringers use a small stubby hawker flew past me to the west. So, again decent but extremely brief and mobile views combined with long range impressions suggest the identity as Hairy Dragonfly, but some photo evidence is really needed.  This is a potentially significant record, and the required rigour to verify it must be maintained, shame the weather isn't looking good!
This is the area along the central path that I had my "Brief Encounter" (Malcolm)

I did manage some dragonflies

Two of 10+ Broad-bodied Chasers

One of three Black-Tailed Skimmers

Four-Spotted Chaser 10+