Recent sightings late June to mid September

Seabirds/gulls and terns

Once again, Storm Petrels stole the headlines.  One, which may have followed a rather slow-moving Seacat in, was seen briefly around Heysham outfalls (28/6).  A major seawatch on 21/7 produced up to 15 off Heysham, with the majority in the late afternoon on the ebb tide.  Unlike the previous influx in late May, none were seen off Jenny Brown’s Point.  Other seabirds were a bit thin on the ground, with no onshore September gales as yet.  Fulmars were recorded on 30/6 (one), 21/7 (34), 14/8 (one), 27/8 (8) Manx Shearwaters were recorded on: 14/7 (2), 20/7 (6), 21/7 (one), 27/8 (3).  The only Gannets were on 21/7 (11).  A single Sandwich Tern was on Red Nab on 5/7, along with the usual dwindling numbers of Common and Arctic around the outfalls in the absence of prolonged spells of strong onshore winds.  No Black Terns have been seen in the area this autumn.  Mediterranean Gulls were in short supply with a returning adult (which remains to moult) at Heysham failing to appear.  The usual wintering bird reappeared (for its 10th winter) but there were only two other records from there:  2nd summer on 15/7 and juvenile on 11/8.  An adult was at Borwick Lane Pit (28/6) with two adults together seen on two occasions at Leighton Moss in early July.  The adult returned to the Stone jetty area at the end of July.  Up to 3 Little Gulls remained on Heysham outfalls throughout much of the period.    The usual returning Western Yellow-legged Gulls were back at Arnside and the Bazil Creek area of the Lune Estuary by mid-July and up to four other birds were observed on Lancaster Tip/adjacent Lune mudflats by Pete Crooks.


A Scaup frequented Leighton Moss for much of August.  A single female Eider was off Morecambe and up to 7 females in the Cockersands area (at least early July).  Garganey appeared from 30/7 with two on the Allen/EM Pools.  There were intermittent reports, mainly from the Jackson Hide of up to two until at least the end of August.  A long-stayer remained at Dockacres from 25/8 to at least 11/9.  More interesting were up to three on ‘Bowie’s Pool’ at Sunderland from 5/9 to at least 16/9 (one). 


An excellent month with the space available unable to do full justice.  Highlights were an adult Pectoral Sandpiper on the Allen/Eric Morecambe Pools (27/7-2/8) and up to 7 Wood Sandpipers on the Allen Pool during easterly winds in early August, peaking on 7th.  An additional bird frequented the new ponds on Aldcliffe Marsh (4-5/8).   A very early influx of juvenile Curlew Sandpipers graced most of the estuarine sites (from 20/8) , peaking at about 15 at both the A/EM Pools & Bank End and 7 at Sunderland (including the only moulting adult).  A few Little Stints were recorded, notably one on the Bowie’s Pool during late August.  In contrast, Black-tailed Godwits were down to single figures at the favoured sites at the A/EM Pools and Bank End.  Unremarkable numbers of Ruff, Spotted Redshank and Greenshank were recorded.  Green Sandpipers included a long-stayer at the Aldcliffe new pools throughout at least the whole of August.


Quite a lot of odds and ends.  Two Little Egrets graced the Lune Estuary, an adult at the Sunderland end (20-21/8) and a juvenile at Aldcliffe Marsh, on one occasion roosting amongst the mass of gulls by Lancaster Tip! (23-early morning of 27/8).  The best bird of the period was a juvenile Woodchat Shrike frequenting the hedge alongside the Allen Pool fields (28/8).  Juvenile Black-necked Grebes put in one-day appearances at the Lilians Hide (21/8) and Dockacres (29/8).  An elusive Spotted Crake appeared to the left of the Griesdale Hide (22/8) with a more obliging bird appearing to the right of the hide in early September.  Finally, a very early redhead Smew appeared in front of Lilian’s Hide (10/9), perhaps the bird seen off Pilling Lane Ends a few days previously. Heysham passerine summary in Dec. issue.

Pete Marsh

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