Spanish sun

Posted on - In Heysham Bird Observatory (LWT)
"Red Midday Sun" by Malcolm Downham The day was notable for two things a) a Pochard turned up at Middleton, almost the only one in the whole area and b) the unusual weather courtesy of the outer edges of Hurricane Ophelia.Heysham NREarly doors the skies were "normal" and a bit of vis got underway with alba wagtails and the odd Siskin and Reed Bunting then a huge yellow blob formed over Heysham and it went dark enough for the security lights to come on again. It felt rather threatening. Luckily the Saharan dust + Spanish forest fire smoke sucked up by Hurricane Ophelia stayed up in the atmosphere and moved off north. Eventually the skies went grey and rain lashed down for a short while, birds dived for cover. Late morning the clouds thinned enough to reveal a spooky red sun that just about everyone in the UK commented on....
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Demolished!

Posted on - In Heysham Bird Observatory (LWT)
Another little bit of Heysham Nature Reserve history disappears. This is all that is left of the old classroom. But, kids, never fear - there is a more modern classroom at the Reserve in the new building.Went up onto Heysham Head for an hour to see if anything was migrating. The light southerly wind was OK but the generally murky cloud didn't seem to augur well. But out of the murk came a few pulses of birds as follows:0830-1000hrs(in order of appearance and south unless stated)Grey Wagtail - 1Pink-footed Goose - 60 N, 38 SChaffinch - 33Greenfinch - 4Goldfinch - 4Mistle Thrush - 5Reed Bunting - 2 Starling - 13Brambling - 22 (two flocks of 6 and 16)Linnet - 4GroundedGoldcrest - 5Coal Tit - 2Robin - 3 (excludes the singing birds)Blackbird - 3Then went on to Heysham NR 1020-1120Vis - alba Wagtail 1, Chaffinch 4Blackbirds (9...
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A visit from Merlin

Posted on - In Heysham Bird Observatory (LWT)
It was a very mild day (15C) with thick cloud, apparently full of dust from the Sahara, and a force 4 wind from the SW. Disappointingly for National Moth Weekend there were no moths in the trap at Heysham but there is another night to go. At least 4 Goldcrests could be heard below the obs tower where it was relatively sheltered so I put a few nets up to try and catch them and in the hope of catching a Yellow-browed Warbler. Sadly, the latter species was still not around, nor any other warblers.Heysham NRRinging (new birds):Long-tailed Tit - 5 Goldcrest - 3Coal tit - 1Treecreeper - 1 (see mugshot)Dunnock - 1Greenfinch - 1Goldfinch - 2Retraps:Coal Tit - 1Chaffinch - 1 (first caught on 18 July as a juv)Great Tit - 1 (first caught on 30 June as a juv)Goldcrest - 1 (first caught on 10 September as a young un)The Goldcres...
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Out of the blue

Posted on - In Heysham Bird Observatory (LWT)
A bit of coastal birding in bright and breezy conditions degenerated into texting Lou Cross to see if I had just seen his van going along the Barrow coast road at the other side of the Bay...................then on the same text theme Malcolm informed of a vocal Yellow-browed Warbler near the steps on the SE side of the model boat pond.  No sign of it later but very little was actually calling and it was rather breezy with several potential corridors the bird could have made its way alongMiddleton NRYellow-browed Warbler - see aboveChiffchaff - 2Mute Swan - 7Migrant Hawker - at least 7Common Darter - 6+InshoreEarly stages of incoming tide & ferryMed Gull - 3 x 1CY, 2 x 2CY and a minimum of 6 Ads (inc 8 birds behind ferry as it entered port).  One of the 2CY has a lot of solid black on the outer primaries - not one which has be...
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Passerine migration gives it a miss

Posted on - In Heysham Bird Observatory (LWT)
Almost unbelievably bad this morning with not a single bird flying over heysham NR which could be deemed a migrant.   Typically this was the one day we could leave nets up from about 0900 to 1600.  This saw the grand total of obvious migrants limited to two Goldcrest and a 'three o clock' Chiffchaff with a small unringed LTT flock.   Amazingly, thanks to the bottomless trickle of unringed Greenfinch, the ringing produced about 20 new birds, or about 2.74 per hourOutfalls/ocean edge etc two hours pre tideLittle stint - juv with 85 Dunlin and 49 ringed ploverMed gull - two ads but many gulls had left the areaRock pipit - one by slipwayInsectsAt least three migrant hawker...

Better than staying in bed

Posted on - In Heysham Bird Observatory (LWT)
It was a shame the SW wind kicked in before dawn (certainly the upper wind) as there was obviously some eastern promise trying to reach this side overnight, led by quite a few redwing flight calls.   In reality night migrants were thin on the ground - probably mainly the final leftovers from the fall on the 1st and a few subsequent 'tricklers'.   At least rock bottom numbers highlight any new influxes!Coverage was very good today with dan putting in a stint around heysham head.   Most of the sightings will be added later:The night migrant possibilities lacked so little prospect that jean went and recorded the first Short-winged Coneheads from ocean edge saltmarsh whilst also checking what the tide kicked offRed nab and area mudflatsMed gull - 5 ad 2 2cyLittle gull - adHarbour wallRock pipit - 2More to add...

Under a cloud

Posted on - In Heysham Bird Observatory (LWT)
A mass of cloud hung over the Heysham area till late morning putting a bit of a dampener on the vis and ringing.VisPink-footed Goose - at least 335. Groups moving south throughout the morningSparrowhawk 1Redpoll sp 2Siskin 1Meadow Pipit 5Alba Wagtail 9Chaffinch 4Raven 1Grey Wagtail 7Snipe 2No sign of the Redwing heading NW from the Pennines.Ringing at Middleton NR consisted mainly of Long-tailed Tits, Chiffchaff, Goldcrests, Reed Buntings, Pied Wagtails and a surprise Willow Warbler.Two Cettiā€™s Warblers still on site at Middleton NR...
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Seawatching cameo

Posted on - In Heysham Bird Observatory (LWT)
Did the webs count a day early knowing that all the waders south of the harbour would be on their way to Garry at middleton on both today and tomorrow so no problem with double countsDid a bit of a seawatch from the back of the harbour and the first five minutes were amazing by heysham standards in breezy but not particularly promising weather:Sea 1255-1315Guillemot - 1Razorbill - 2 togetherGannet - adult outMed gull - adult outThen the rest of the seawatch consisted of a few large gullsMiscellanyMed gull - 1cy outfallsLittle gull - ad outfallsCormorant - 122 wooden jettyRedshank - 670 heliport wallOystercatcher - 6950 heliportRinged plover - 18 heliport,  30 south of oe on incoming tideLittle stint - probably two different individuals ( one definitely a juv )with other waders south of ocean edge on incoming tideMD, PJM...
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