A decent weather forecast for Thursday saw me take off to Heysham for some therapeutic escapism. I decided to look in on the promenade off Knowleys Road as the Brent Geese had been reported back there on 11 November, be nice to see them there again this winter.
The geese hadn't returned there, but I saw 8 Little Egret foraging the pools, and 2 Whooper Swan flying across the bay heading south. Then I was off to Heysham Harbour to spend a couple of hours of nothing to note to be honest. But n'er mind, a quite enjoyable birding experience was about to unfold and fire up my passion.
As I arrived at the seawall, I approached a birder looking over Red Nab. As a conversation piece, I asked 'any Meds about', he replied 'no but I saw a couple of Black Redstarts about an hour ago, they were flushed by dog walkers, and flew off '. I thought to myself, hopefully these birds will have gone to the area of rough ground or the scrub at the south wall of the harbour, or perish the thought, maybe onto the non-operational land within the power station....Whatever, no luck, they've disappeared.
I'd earlier seen Malcolm Downham along the seawall, he had also seen the birder who also reported the redstarts to him. Malcolm takes up 'A Redstarts Tale' here....
Towards high water a visiting birder reported 2 female/immature Black Redstart on Red Nab, which had then been flushed along the wall by walkers. Myself (MD) and Pete Woodruff were in the area, we split up, and after an hour, relocated them just 30m from the original sighting, on the rocks east of Red Nab. They were very mobile and kept disappearing then reappearing, sometimes two together other times a single bird. By this time we had been joined by Kevin Eaves, and between us managed some record shots. Kevin had "both" birds together at Red Nab and looked over to me and Pete who were photographing another 100m away, there were three Black Redstarts.
Later we learned another had been found at Bank End, there was 4 Black Redstart in our recording area, same day, same time....Another first!
I wanted to feature this excellent creature, discovered on the seawall at Heysham Harbour on 9 November. A species primarily found in Africa and the Middle East, it is a highly migratory dragonfly, capable of traveling long distances, there are records from Iceland, and even the Caribbean.
The Netherlands were flooded with large numbers of Vagrant Emperors in 2019. The influx was unique for more than one reason, the number of Vagrant Emperors was higher than all previous sightings combined, and it was the first time a real influx was seen before summer. Mating and ovipositing was observed at many Dutch locations, and for the first time in history the Vagrant Emperor emerged in The Netherlands, in August 2019.
Malcolm's header image though small, shows how startling the birds rusty-red tail is when taking to flight. Many thanks to Malcolm and Kevin for their images, they are much appreciated.