Monday, 27 July 2009

Struggling On.

Still struggling with the birds in late July but a juvenile Ruff on the Lune Estuary from Glasson Dock this morning was both excellent and a bit like finding a rarity these days for this species in the area, also to note were 10 Bar - tailed Godwit, the Redshank number here today I would estimate at around 1,000 birds with a red'ish Knot amongst one of the groups, c.130 Dunlin were also to note, I saw no evidence of any Lapwing or Curlew numbers of note. Earlier I had seen a 'record' number of 8 Greenshank on Conder Pool along with a roosting Spotted Redshank which has now almost assumed its winter plumage, a Little Grebe was also present on here today. In the Conder channel downstream from the old railway bridge c.250 Redshank and 22 Dunlin were noted, and in the creeks at least 11 Common Sandpiper continued to maintain this location as one of the best in the area for this early returning wader which have been showing here for over a month now.

With limited time on my hands today for birding I decided to do another one of those calorie burning exercises and legged it to Cockers Dyke from Fluke Hall - hoping to find 'something' on the way - to see 2 adult Mediterranean Gull, up to 650 Dunlin, and 65 Golden Plover. From the sea wall back to Fluke Hall I noted a single Small Tortoiseshell and 8 Painted Lady butterflies, and at Pilling Lane Ends butterfly life seen here consisted of 16 Gatekeeper and at least the same number of Painted Lady, 2 Common Blue - if my memory serves me right - were my first this summer.

The pic is courtesy of Peter Guy and is not only an excellent image of these birds but is also one of my favourite waders, the male of which must be regarded as one of our smartest in its fine breeding plumage. The Turnstone isn't a species found in large numbers in our area and my personal best ever count to date was on 3 December 2008 when I did a steady walk from Teal Bay to Broadway and counted 170 birds on the various groynes which they appear to have taken a liking to as opposed to the wooden jetty at Heysham Harbour where they used to roost in large numbers.


Pete Marsh said...

The Turnstone population north of the jetty is, as far as can be ascertained, independent of the Heysham birds (based on 20+ years of WeBS counts along there). There ARE still reasonable counts on Heysham wooden jetty, especially on spring passage and accompanied (again, after thinking they had been lost) by up to 3 wintering Purple Sandpiper. Whoever provided the information that they had gone from the wooden jetty - very odd? They ARE more difficult to count these days, with bits of storm-tossed wooden obscuring views on the main roosting area.

Brian Rafferty said...

Pete. You are keeping fit with all this calorie burning and wader counting !! Nice to see you enjoyed another good day out on your favourite patch. Love the turnstone image. I have yet to see them in full breeding plumage.

Pete Woodruff said...

Pete the most important thing to me here is that you are viewing my blog on a daily basis which please me no end as it is hard evidence I'm not wasting my time in maintaining it.

Quote....'Whoever provided the information that they had gone from the wooden jetty - very odd?'....unquote.

I think the best reply to this is to re-write part of the post ( in these comments at least ) to now read......The 'largest' numbers used to roost on the wooden jetty at HH but birds returning to the area are now using the groynes as roosting area's also.

No suggestion that the Turnstone has 'gone' from HH in the wording now, nor was there any suggestion they had 'gone' in the original wording. Thanks again for looking in.

Thanks for your contribution BR, wll be in touch.

Pete Marsh said...

There have always been Turnstone at either end of the Heysham-Hest Bank stretch. For example, they used to roost many years ago, on the section of the prom. next to Bubbles which was mysteriously closed off for quite a time.

I'll send you the WeBS data when have some time. I appreciate your count of 170 was a high one, but I suspect it was because it was an all-inclusive count. The reason some of the WeBS counts are a bit low relate to the wind direction. On a NW wind, ALL are in view due to wave action on the seaward side of the groynes, on SE/E winds the opposite is the case (and no chance of finding an angle to see them, although the Bubbles groyne 'seaward' birds can be 'scoped from the top of the lifeboat slipway). This makes the groynes a bit of a pain in the backside to count consistently! The occasional ideal count conditions, as you experienced have thrown up 160-190 midwinter birds for that stretch



Pete Woodruff said...


Had a couple of hours to 'kill' at M'cbe today and called into the library and found two file cases full of what was initially called Heysham Migration Station Reports as far back as the very early 1980's. Some fascinating reading in them which - as long ago as almost 30 years - no doubt you'd need reminding of some of the details/contents. Can't go into this too deeply just now but was intrigued to find in the 1983 report (I think it was) on the 15/16 October the wind increased to storm force following a fortnight of strong westerlies which had already pushed birds into the Irish sea, the extra push on these two dates brought about the best sea-watching autumn on record in M'cbe Bay.

I also noted your comments re wintering Tunstones in 2002/3 (for example) between Red Nab and the Heliport as 'A further decline' and 'In serious decline' in those years respectively.

Thanks for your comments.

Pete Marsh said...

Yes, the winter population has declined at Heysham wooden jetty area from the early 1990s to about 2005, paralleled by a terminal disappearance of the wintering Purple sandpiper population. However, the Turnstone numbers, when they ARE all together (its not easy to count the wooden jetty these days as opposed to when you could walk along it and count the birds below you) are still in the 110ish region in midwinter and there has ben some evidence of a slight upturn in the last two winters, mirrored by the reappearance of wintering Purple Sandpipers. There is also a very marked passage of Turnstones in the spring.

AS regards documentation in the Heysham Obs reports; perhaps wrongly, the earlier reports concentrated on migration data and didnt tabulate the WeBS data, c/f the more recent reports. This was probably a mistake but the aim of the Obs (and still is) is to act as a consistent dataset for coastal migration.

Therefore you would be better accessing the WeBS counts if you want to see the trends with this species

Finally re-past seawatches, you should have been there on 14th Sept 1987 - 5+ Sabs milling around either side of the wooden jetty, 140 Leach's & loads of other odds and ends such as Black Tern & Little Gulls. An impressive seawatch 'held together' by Shaun Coyle with my contribution involving racing down there after morning school, then extending the 'lunchtime' by nicking off the first afternoon lesson which was a "free" period (teachers dont seem to get these any more) & a race back down to Heysham after having to go back to school & teach the last lesson of the day!