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Checklist of the Birds of Lancaster & District 1989-1999



Copyright Lancaster & District Birdwatching Society, 2000

Part 2: Grouse to Auks


Grouse, Partridge, Pheasants
Rails, Crakes, Coot, Crane
Waders
Skuas
Gulls
Terns
Auks

Grouse, Partridge, Pheasants

Red Grouse Lagopus lagopus

Status: A common breeding resident found exclusively on the heather moorland in Bowland, with smaller numbers in the north east of the recording area.
The Abbeystead Estate bag figures show a steep decline in numbers, with 1999 having the lowest count for 19 years. During the last 10 years, numbers have reduced from 8,000+ in 1989 and 1991, to 2,200 average over 1992-98 and a low of 1,576 in 1996. The reasons for this change are complex, but heavy rain in the breeding season is a contributor. A further cause of mortality has been infestation by nematode worms, which normally occur at 1,000 per bird, but have recently risen to 10,000. One bird was found dead carrying 18,000 worms. North West Water, along with Abbeystead Estates, have reduced sheep numbers, fenced off areas to promote heather growth, and with regular rotational burning, grouse numbers should increase in the future.

Black Grouse Tetrao tetrix

Status: Probably extinct in the recording area.
Hague (68 Checklist) recorded birds being present in the Barbon, Kirkby Lonsdale and Whitbarrow areas. Marsh (78 Checklist) published a record of 15 to 20 birds at one site near Leck in 1988 and low numbers of single birds in various locations in Bowland. Subsequent sightings were mainly in the early 1990s and related to Thrushgill and Beatrix Fell areas. No definite sightings since 1997. Abbeystead Estates report no birds seen since 1985. Serious discussion between the Game Conservancy Council and landowners are taking place, with a view to a reintroduction at Abbeystead. Loss of suitable habitat caused by overgrazing, drainage and disturbance are recognized as the probable reasons for the species rapid decline.

Red-legged Partridge Alectoris rufa

Status: All records are of released birds and there is no evidence of long-term self-sustaining populations in this area.
Few records during the period 1989-1994 and these were related to local introductions in isolated areas such as Arnside and Harris End/Forton. Most birds related to either pure Chukar or Red-legged/Chukar hybrids with their small populations being short-lived, inferring poor survival in the wild. With the outlawing of Chukar introduction in Britain, evidence of Chukar genes has quickly been lost from the local Red-legged populations, but some hybrids were still noted at Quernmore in 1997. Since 1995, the numbers of birds released has increased, notably in the Abbeystead area where 500 were released in 1998. Other sizeable releases have occurred at Fluke Hall. Red-legged Partridge is now not uncommon in our area, with the main areas being fields adjoining the lower slopes of the fells such as Birkbank, Tarnbrook, Dunsop and Roeburndale. Present more sparingly in the fields of the north Fylde. Even so, despite the large introductions in recent years, it is doubtful whether the populations could be self-sustaining for very long.

Grey Partridge Perdix perdix

Status: Uncommon and local resident, except in the north Fylde part of our recording area where it is more common.
Red listed declining species. However, reasonably common in the north Fylde part of our recording area, especially just south of Glasson. Population on the lower slopes of Bowland bolstered by introductions as well as much larger numbers of Red-legged Partridge (and formerly Chukars and hybrids). Numbers in the Sunderland/Overton area seem to have increased slightly since the comment in the 1996 LDBWS Report that they were ‘verging on extinction’. Very rare in the northern part of our recording area.
There appears to be some doubt as to whether the last 10 years has seen a general decline in our area from what was already a low point in 1989. For example, an analysis of local CBC farmland plots shows little change from an already low base. There has definitely been an improvement in numbers in the Overton peninsula with successful breeding on at least 5 sites in 1998/99. However, the species is in dire straits in the north of the area. Habitat change with modern farming practices seems to be the main reason for this long-term decline. It has been demonstrated by the Game Conservancy Council that appropriate measures, such as leaving field edges as set aside, can increase numbers of this species.

Quail Coturnix coturnix

Status: Rare summer visitor.
There were only four records prior to the period under review, with no mention at all in Hague (68 Checklist). No great evidence of people driving round the north Fylde part of our recording area checking cereal fields on a regular basis during the early part of the period under review. Records from elsewhere suggested that there were two major Quail years (1989, 1997) and this was reflected in a scattering of records in this area. We do suffer from a paucity of suitable barley fields but this does of course mean that the ones we do have can be regularly checked. As a result, the field at SD451553 has come up trumps during 1998 and 1999. The record published in the 1992 LDBWS report was in fact just outside the recording area and has been ignored here.
1989: Large numbers to the south of here but probably grossly under-documented within the recording area. One male at Conder Green on 8/6. One male at Birkbank, Clougha, on several dates in July. Two males Heysham Moss on 22/6 and one still calling on 5/9. Also at least one male in the Heversham area.
1990: One calling at Leighton Moss on 13/6.
1997: One at Middleton 1/6. One male northern end of Crimbles (SD473882) 23/6-19/7, then field cut. One or two males in cereal field on Bank End road at least 24/6. One male Lyth Valley at Brigsteer Moss 14/5-23/6, with at least one other in mid-June.
1998: One male in barley field near Glasson (SD451553) on 22/7-25/7, then calling from fodder beet on 27/7 (barley harvested). This field was regularly visited prior to 22/7 (Corn Buntings) and the bird was almost certainly displaced from elsewhere by harvesting operations. N.B. Two separate records from the same field in spring/summer 1999.
1999: Single male called in the Glasson barley field (favoured in 1998) both morning and evening of 14/5. The field was then checked regularly for Corn Bunting etc. and the next record involved a calling male from 30/6-4/7. It was seen in flight on the last date. In addition, one was heard calling in the Lyth Valley (SD882474) on 4/7.

Pheasant Phasianus colchicus

Status: Widely distributed as a ‘natural’ breeding bird where suitable cover occurs. Numbers greatly increased by the widespread release each late summer of hand reared birds.

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Rails, Crakes, Coot, Crane

Water Rail Rallus aquaticus

Status: A common breeder at Leighton Moss and occasionally elsewhere. More widespread as a winter visitor.
A recent change in censusing techniques at Leighton, from mapping calls to using tape lure, has increased the population figures considerably. At the same time, the reedbed has become wetter, a change favouring this species. The former population estimates were for 30-45 pairs, but recently tape lure has suggested a population of 90+ pairs. The same census technique was used at Haweswater, which is a dry reedbed, and no calling birds were found. Has also bred at Heysham Nature Reserve. Winter reports are mainly confined to the above locations, with occasional birds at Dockacres and Carnforth Inner Marsh. An interesting ringing recovery was of an adult ringed at Heysham Harbour on 5/11/90 which was killed by a cat in Verkhnedvinsk, Vitebsk, Byelorussia, on 13/6/91.

Spotted Crake Porzana porzana

Status: Very rare visitor to Leighton Moss.
No real change in status since the last checklist. No proof of breeding despite birds calling at Leighton Moss in three years during the period. Five to seven birds in autumn during the period.
All records Leighton Moss unless stated:
1989: One found dead under wires on 23/9.
1990: Male calling 28/5 to 2/6.
1992: Male calling 20/6 and 22/6.
1995: One Griesdale Hide 12/8 to 26/8, another Lower Hide on 24/8. One reported Griesdale 30/9.
1996: Adult 8/8, 16-17/8. One Middleton 19/8.
1997: Male calling 4/5.
1999: What were considered to be two different individuals frequented separate areas visible from the Griesdale Hide on 21/8-30/8 and 4/9-12/9.

Corncrake Crex crex

Status: Very rare summer visitor and passage migrant.
The previous Checklist documents the end of regular occurrence in 1970, followed by nine years (1971-79) without a single record. About six records during 1980-88, with one record suggesting a returning calling male to a suppressed location 1980-82. Just two transitory individuals during the period under review.
One calling from a hayfield bordering the canal at Thurnham on 5/6/92 only (JWB). Presumably displaced due to cutting for silage from an unknown location, as it was rather too late for a passage bird. Equally unusual was one reported on the Lower Hide path on 5/9/97. This would definitely have been dismissed as a young Pheasant, but for a photograph which revealed it to be this species! (per JW).

Moorhen Gallinula chloropus

Status: A common and well distributed breeding bird.
The Atlas survey showed it to be well distributed throughout the river valleys and coastal plain, but totally absent from the eastern fells and the limestone areas. Because of its preference for vegetated habitats, it is a difficult species to census. The Lune population is the only one that figures are available for, during the previous ten years it had declined to 11-13 pairs and by 1997 it was back to 35 (the 1981 level). There is little evidence of migratory movements, or of a winter influx.

Coot Fulica atra

Status: A common breeding bird on most of the larger waters and the wider slower stretches of the Lune.
Its distribution closely mirrors that of the above habitats. The largest population is at Leighton Moss, where they have increased following the provision of more open water areas, from 65-75 pairs in the last decade to 125 pairs in recent years. Up to 20 pairs have colonised the brackish Inner Marsh pools during the period under review. Population figures are not available for other breeding waters except the River Lune from Crook o’Lune to Kirkby Lonsdale, where the population has increased from c.15 pairs, to 37 in 1997. The major part of the breeding population at Leighton Moss disperses from July onwards, at the same time there is a build up of numbers on the Dockacres complex and some other pools. Counts over the period under review suggests an increasing wintering and passage population, with peaks of 400-700 early in the period, increasing to 850–1,100 by the late 1990s. The breeding population starts to arrive back at the breeding haunts during the first mild spell in the New Year.

Common Crane Grus grus

Status: Vagrant. Two previous records involving three individuals.
A first summer was seen by many hundreds of people as it frequented a ploughed field along the A588 just south of Cockerham 24/4-1/5/92 (Ms I Timmis et al.). A Crane spp., thought to be this species, soaring over Lancaster, then heading south on 29/4/99 (J Walker).

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Waders

Oystercatcher Haematopus ostralegus

Status: Common winter visitor to coastal areas. Common breeding bird with expanding range.
Possibly the commonest breeding wader in the district as it can now be found from coastal saltmarshes, through arable and pasture agricultural land, gravel pits and river gravels to upland streams and moorland pastures. Numbers are increasing as birds spread out from semi-colonial breeding grounds on the saltmarsh and riparian gravels to nest singlely on more isolated streams and agricultural land. The Waterways Bird Survey of the Lune between Kirkby Lonsdale and Lancaster peaked at 189 pairs in 1985 and then gradually stabilised to an average of 116 during 1981-91. Subsequently, there has been a further decline, but within the district compensated for by pairs occupying new habitats.

Oystercatcher Breeding Pairs

Pairs/site

1989

1990

1991

1992

1993

1994

1995

1996

1997

1998

A

185

177

145

135

123

133

137

133

133

133

B

83

79

87

88

86

82

94

109

95

n.d.

C

61

65

66

62

36

34

54

55

94

n.d.

 

A: Waterways survey B: Arkholme C: Morecambe Bay R.S.P.B

n.d. = no data

The Arkholme study plot had stabilised during the early 1990s, averaging about 89 pairs, but recently increased as winter flooding improved the required breeding habitat of gravel. After the heavy erosion of the saltmarsh during the mid-1980s, the Morecambe Bay RSPB Reserve has shown some considerable variation, possibly due to tidal flooding. Passage movement and wintering numbers have continued to increase over the review period, with February and March holding 8,000 to 3,000 more birds than a decade ago. The summer passage period also holds 2,000 more birds in July and August. The peak population in September/October has increased by 4,000 birds, but this may just be related to food availability within the region.

Estimates of typical monthly peak coastal roost numbers for the review period:-

Oystercatcher - Monthly Peak Roost Counts

Jan

17,500

May

3,400

Sept

22,800

Feb

18,000

June

2,530

Oct

24,600

Mar

11,000

July

7,300

Nov

19,600

April

5,700

Aug

18,500

Dec

19,000

Black-winged Stilt Himantopus himantopus

Status: Vagrant. The following is the first record for the area, unless a strong claim from 1986 is belatedly fully documented.
French-ringed adult female on the Eric Morecambe Pool 4/6-5/6/93 (many observers). Dismissed by many as a ‘grotty first year bird’, it was somewhat of a surprise to find it had been ringed in Vendee on 17/6/89 as a nestling. It was previously seen in the Netherlands in spring 1993 and subsequently at Kidlington, Oxfordshire, on 6/6/93.

Avocet Recurvirostra avosetta

Status: Very rare visitor with four previous records.
A wandering individual appeared within our recording area for three distinct periods: at Hest Bank late afternoon on 6/2/91 (PJM, DJS); on the Bela Estuary 22-23/2/91 (several observers); and on the Lune just north of the Conder Estuary 15/3-17/3/91 (JWB, JW et al.). It spent the intervening periods in the south Fylde. One on the Kent Estuary, just north of the railway viaduct, 5/5-9/5/92 (IK et al.). Two together were in the main creek along the Sunderland-Overton tidal road on 17/3/96 (JR et al.) at the same time that a singleton was on the open mudflats nearby. A single bird remained in the area until 20/3 with the final sighting on the Cockersands side of the estuary. One off Carnforth outer slag tips on 20/5-23/5/97 (JS), visiting Jenny Brown’s Point mudflats on 21/5 (MEG). Adult on Allen/Eric Morecambe Pools 13/6-3/9/98, then transferring to the creek at Jenny Brown’s Point where it was last seen on 12/10/98 (many observers).

Collared Pratincole Glareola pratincola

Status: Vagrant. This is the first record for the area.
A worn adult on the saltmarsh off Pilling Lane Ends from 1340hrs on 7/7/97 (ASh et al.), moving to Pilling Water creek, half way to Fluke Hall for most of the rest of the day.

Black-winged Pratincole Glareola nordmanni

Status: Vagrant. The first record for both Cumbria and Lancashire.
Adult found hawking insects over the Allen Pool at 0805hrs on 25/8/96 (SJD, KG). It remained until about 1430hrs on 28/8/96, usually favouring the saltmarsh or a ploughed field, accompanying Lapwings. However, it was absent for long periods and not seen at all in Lancashire on 27/8. It also visited the Kent Estuary at the following times: Fishcarling Point area and nearby ploughed field (with a Dotterel) 1300-1640hrs on 25/8, Arnside Marsh area briefly on 27/8, Arnside Marsh 0900-1110hrs on 28/8. It is worth noting that, by general consensus, the same individual was accompanying Lapwings around Martin Mere 22/8-16/9/97.

Little Ringed Plover Charadrius dubius

Status: Rather scarce summer visitor and passage migrant.
Since becoming a regular breeding species in the early 1980s, the expected colonisation has not really occurred. Some 6-8 pairs bred at 7 sites in the mid-1980s and the records in the period under review are spasmodic, with an apparent decline as a breeding bird from its peak of 10 pairs in 1987 to a regular 5-7 pairs in the period under review.

Little Ringed Plover - Breeding Pairs

 

1989

1990

1991

1992

1993

1994

1995

1996

1997

Pairs

9

6

4

5

5

3

6

6

8

Sites

6

4

4

4

3

1

4

6

4


Birds arrive from 15th March and territories are established rapidly in early April in a wide variety of habitats. Proof of breeding is difficult, as feeding and breeding sites can be several kilometres apart. Predation or flooding of first clutches can lead to pairs relocating to territories 5km, or further, away. This is typical of the many records for late April and early May in the area where pairs occur, but do not apparently breed (Kellet TV mast pool and Dockacres). The main strongholds are gravel pit islands such as Street Bridge in the Wyre Valley and riparian gravels and shingle banks of Arkholme in the mid Lune Valley. Autumn passage birds and juveniles occur on coastal lagoons and mudflats from late July until mid-August, with stragglers up to early September. Breeding success may be the key to increased colonisation of the area, as gravel pit pairs average 2 young, but riparian pairs less than 0.5 young because of flooding during a run of wet summers.

Ringed Plover Charadrius hiaticula

Status: Declining breeding bird.
Previous reviews have given this species as being a fairly common breeding bird of coastal and riparian habitats. There has been a significant decline in territorial pairs located in most of these habitats in the last 10 years.

Ringed Plover - Breeding Pairs

Pairs/site

1989

1990

1991

1992

1993

1994

1995

1996

1997

1998

CM

12

14

10

7

8

8

6

6

10

8

RL

26

24

24

22

18

14

18

13

13

11


CM: Carnforth Marsh RL: River Lune (Waterways Bird Survey)

Carnforth Marsh peaked at 16 pairs in 1987 and has showed a steady decline since. Similarly, the Lune has held 41 pairs in 1985, averaged 31 pairs 1981-90, but shows a rapid decline to an all time low of 11 pairs in 1998. Natural processes causing the silting over and vegetational cover of gravel beds, as well as poor productivity after successive wet summers, could be reasons. Gains have been made with increases in coastal pairs at Heysham, inland pairs at Dockacres and on the Hodder. Average counts at high tide roosts during a typical year in the period under review show a decline in the spring passage numbers (3,000 1978-88, 2,000 1989-92 and 250 1993-97), but a slight increase in the wintering population (110 in 1979-88)

Ringed Plover - High Tide Roosts

Month

Jan

Feb

Mar

Apr

May

Jun

Jul

Aug

Sep

Oct

Nov

Dec

Number

162

164

52

205

992

28

59

373

253

189

167

186


Colour ringing has reinforced the view that many of the wintering birds are local inland breeders, whilst juveniles winter in Southern Ireland. Indeed an intense study of part of the Lune population shows a healthy population of 10-15 pairs (1991-96) over a 2km stretch indicating the difficulty of census work on what would appear to be a simple species.

Kentish Plover Charadrius alexandrinus

Status: Vagrant. This is the first record.
The returning wintering female from Rossall Point was located on the groyne at Teal Bay on 19/11/94 (PW). It was then disturbed by a windsurfer and arrived back at Rossall for the winter about 2-3 hours later.

Dotterel Charadrius morinellus

Status: Scarce but regular spring migrant. Very rare autumn migrant.
Probably regular spring passage migrant to the Bowland fell tops, most notably Hawthornthwaite and Ward’s Stone. No lowland spring records. A handful of autumn records of immatures at lowland sites.
1991: A ‘trip’ of 15 on an unspecified Bowland fell top within our area on 15/5-16/5.
1992: None reported.
1993: Four on Ward’s Stone 1/5. 12+2 on Ward’s Stone late evening of 6/5. Three on Clougha on 7/5. There were also three blank visits to Ward’s Stone 2/5-10/5. More unexpected were three on the saltmarsh by the Cocker Estuary on 28/8.
1994: Two on Clougha before flying off towards Grit Fell on 7/5.
1995: None reported from the fell tops but Ward’s Stone was only searched on one date.
1996: Ward’s Stone: 11-12 on 5/5, what appeared to be flocks of 13 (which flew off) and 11 which remained all day on 6/5, 2 on 7/5, 6 on 11/5, 3 on 17/5, different 3 (sex ratio) on 18/5. No information received from Hawthornthwaite. Juvenile/1st winter in a ploughed field near Fishcarling Point, Kent Estuary 25/8-27/8.
1997: Three on Hawthornthwaite 25/5. One reportedly on Ward’s Stone on or about 25/4 but the weather during the first two weeks of May deterred further visits. Winter adult/juvenile heard calling, then seen in flight at Bank End, Cockerham Marsh, on 22/9.
1998: 8-10 Queen’s Chair, near Ward’s Stone on 5/5. Perhaps separate groups totalling c.19 birds on Ward’s Stone on 9/5-10/5, or possibly just the same 9 which regularly fragmented into smaller groups. If so, they completely disappeared during the afternoon of the 9/5. The reported sex ratios also suggested different groups. Inclement weather prevented further visits. Four on Hawthornthwaite /Langden Head on 3/5, 13 there on 8/5, with none on 9/5.
1999: Uncooperative, with Ward's Stone proving rather cool and windswept during the peak passage period. All records on 2/5 with 5 on Hawthorthwaite (WH, WM) and one near the summit of Grit Fell (Billy Aspin).

Pacific Golden Plover Pluvialis fulva

Status: Vagrant. This is the first record.
Adult in breeding plumage on the saltmarsh and fields around Pilling Lane Ends 22/7-4/8/90 (WeBS counters et al.). Presumably the same, as an adult in body moult, just to the east of Lane Ends on the saltmarsh on 24/8/90 (ED, PJM, TW et al.). After 90 minutes observation, the small Golden Plover flock flew high inland towards Nicky Nook and it was never seen again. Both time periods accepted by BBRC as referring to the same bird.

Golden Plover Pluvialis apricaria

Status: Well-distributed, but local breeding bird on the Bowland and Abbeystead Fells. A common winter visitor and passage migrant from breeding areas in Britain and Northern Europe.
The Bowland population was estimated to be 40 pairs in 1982 and there is no definite evidence of any change during the period under review. WeBS counts show that a few birds arrive in the Bay in July and numbers increase steadily in October/November with an average count of 2,000. This is followed by a slight decline in December, increasing to an average of 1,950 in January, with maxima of 4,296 in 1990 and, exceptionally, 6,200 in 1994. Thereafter, there is a steady decline until mid-May, with less than 10 birds remaining during the latter half of May and into June. Inland flocks, for example in the Lune Valley, have not found their way into the count data. Note that this species does not lend itself to ‘easy’ WeBS counting, given the number in coastal fields. See Pacific Golden Plover for an example of the problem with counting this species. Reading of colour rings in recent years suggests that certainly a proportion of the early autumn birds originate from the Pennine Chain and the evidence suggests that they move on later in the autumn (to Ireland?). Birds were ringed as breeding adults or pulli at Black Ashop Moor (Derbyshire), Hope Woodlands (Derbyshire) and Widdybank NNR (Teesdale, Durham).

Grey Plover Pluvialis squatarola

Status: An increasingly common passage migrant and winter visitor to mainly the southern coastal areas from breeding grounds in Arctic Siberia.
WeBS counts show that few birds remain during the summer months, on average 13, and then numbers increase throughout July/August and more rapidly in September, reaching an average of c.900 in October (maximum 1,940 in 1989) followed by a decline to an average of c.400 in November and December. There were three January counts of over 1,000 birds. Numbers decline during February, show a slight increase in March, then a further decline leaving the tiny summer population referred to above. In comparison with previous years, the average winter counts were 200-400 in the 1970s, 400-800 in the 1980s and 500-1,800 in the 1990s.

Lapwing Vanellus vanellus

Status: Common resident, passage migrant and winter visitor. Recent decline in breeding pairs, but nowhere near as drastic as in some parts of the country.
Very widely distributed as a breeding bird throughout the lowland areas and river valleys, with only the higher areas (above 170 metres) either unoccupied or occupied at low density. There is evidence of a decline in breeding numbers on low-level farmland, especially in the Quernmore/Dolphinholme and Forton areas, reflecting both field drainage and early grass cuts for sileage. The Waterways Bird Survey of the Lune shows a decline from 70–90 pairs in the late 1980s, to 35 to 40 in recent years, while the saltmarsh breeding population on the RSPB Morecambe Bay Reserve has declined from a peak of 103 in 1988 to 50-70 recently. Habitat degradation, especially silage cutting, and low chick survival, are probably implicated in the decline. There has been an apparent increase in the upland areas, notably Littledale and Hawthornthwaite, where the sheep grazing is at a relatively low density. A population of 1,000-1,300 pairs was estimated for the area in the local Atlas. Post-breeding flocks of several hundreds start to build up in June and passage is evident from July onwards, with the large wintering population usually present by October. A difficult species to count during conventional WeBS counts, due to a preference for fields, but over 10,000 has been estimated during winter for the Lune Estuary/north Fylde area. WeBS data (for the whole area) reveals the highest numbers to be in December and January e.g. 23,700 in January 1989 and 19,638 in December 1997. No long-distance recoveries received of pulli ringed during the period under review. During short cold spells, birds frequent the intertidal area, but during prolonged cold spells, ringing returns prior to the period under review show they move to Ireland, France and Spain. Numbers decline rapidly in March as birds return to the breeding areas.

Knot Calidris canutus

Status: Common winter visitor and passage migrant.
Although still one of the commonest waders on the Bay, its distribution has changed markedly over the decade. At the start of the period, high tide roosts were found around the Bay, but now 95% of birds roost at Middleton Sands and Heysham heliport. In the 1970s, 10,000 to 15,000 Knot moulted in the Lune Estuary in late summer; in the 1980s figures were down to 4,000-5,000; but in the 1990s numbers returned to 1970s levels again. The largest numbers, up to 70,000, occur on passage in late winter or early spring. This passage usually starts in late February and continues in some years until early May if there is a cold spring with "blocking" northerlies. The return passage starts in late August. The breeding area of both the passage and wintering birds is mainly Greenland.

Sanderling Calidris alba

Status: Late spring and late summer migrant. Small numbers in winter.
A late spring and late summer migrant from high Arctic breeding grounds in Greenland. Small numbers regularly seen off Fluke Hall during the winter. This is a difficult bird to count as they pass through the area very rapidly at the end of May and beginning of June. The WeBS counts at this time usually miss the main passage, but on occasion have shown 2,500-4,000. Return passage starts in mid-July and 1,200 were recorded in that month in 1990. This passage is more protracted than during the spring, with a peak in August and smaller numbers in September and exceptionally October. A few birds (maximum of 190 in December 1991) can be found in SD35 off Fluke Hall during the winter. The average winter count is about 50.

Little Stint Calidris minuta

Status: Very scarce spring passage migrant and regular autumn passage migrant in variable numbers.
Recorded almost annually in spring, usually only 1-2 birds, but a peak of 6 birds in 1992. Numbers on autumn passage are variable, in some years there are barely 10 records. 1996 was the best year with peaks of 130 on Carnforth Inner Marsh, 20 on the Lune and 29 on the Upper Kent. Other good years were 1993 and 1998, with smaller but still significant numbers. In the influx years, birds start to arrive in late August and reach a peak in September, with numbers declining through October. Appears to have increased as an autumn passage migrant, the peak count in the previous ten years was 25 in 1988. A wintering bird at Arnside in January 1990 is only the second wintering record.

Temminck’s Stint Calidris temminckii

Status: Vagrant. Four previous spring and one previous autumn record (1974).
Summer adult on the flood (eastern end of the Eric Morecambe Pool) during the late afternoon and evening of 29/5/91 (PJM et al.). One in the seawall channel just north of Lane Ends during the morning of 24/5/92 (PS et al.). Juvenile on the Eric Morecambe Pool evening of 5/9 and early morning of 6/9/95 (SJD et al.). One at Halforth early morning of 28/5/97, flying off high north at 0835hrs (SJD).

Pectoral Sandpiper Calidris melanotos

Status: Vagrant.
This species was inexplicably absent from this area until 1982 (Cockerham) and 1984 (Winster Estuary). The records during the period under review redressed the balance and were more of a reflection of the national status.
First summer female at Sampool, Upper Kent Estuary, 9/5/89-16/5/89 (AFG et al.). First spring record. What was probably a first summer was on Kellet TV mast pool on 25/7 and 26/7/90 (PJM et al.). One on the Eric Morecambe Pool on 10/5/95 (P Golborn et al.). Juvenile on the Allen/Eric Morecambe Pools 1/10-13/10/95 (JS et al.). Juvenile on the Allen/Eric Morecambe Pools 18/9-20/9/96, possibly 21/9 (many observers). Juvenile on Carnforth Inner Marsh 5/9-7/9/98 (JW et al.), possibly the same at Bank End, Cockerham, on 8/9/98 (PJM). Adult Allen/Eric Morecambe Pools 27/7-2/8/99 (SJD et al.).

Curlew Sandpiper Calidris ferruginea

Status: Very scarce spring passage migrant and regular autumn passage migrant in variable numbers.
Recorded in spring in three years with peaks of 3 in May 1989, 4 in May 1992 and 3 in May 1993. Autumn passage starts with a few adults almost annually in late July/early August, with larger numbers of juveniles appearing from late August onwards and peaking in September and moving on in October. Good years were 1991 with peaks of 27 on Carnforth Inner Marsh and 12 at Halforth on the Upper Kent Estuary; 1993 with peaks of 25 on Carnforth Inner Marsh; 1996 with peaks of 32 at Conder Green, 12 on Carnforth Inner Marsh and 11 at Halforth and 1998 with 19 on Carnforth Inner Marsh. Like the Little Stint, appears to have increased as an autumn passage migrant, or is this the result of better coverage, or more suitable habitat, for example, on Carnforth Inner Marsh?

Purple Sandpiper Calidris maritima

Status: Former winter visitor to Heysham Harbour area, extinct there in the 1998/99 winter. Occasional wintering birds elsewhere. Scarce spring passage migrant, usually accompanying migrant Turnstones at Heysham.
Appropriate music to accompany the evaluation of the winter status of this species at Heysham during the period under review would be ’10 green bottles’. The main reason for the decline was probably the gradual dying-out of a returning elderly population (one bird early in the period had been ringed there in the 1970s), although this was definitely at least accelerated by Peregrine predation. The wooden pier roost at Heysham was regularly targeted during the winter periods from 1992/93 onwards and the Purple Sandpipers were vulnerable, as they did not join the compact evasive manoeuvres performed by the accompanying Turnstone flock. It was not surprising, therefore, that there was one documented record of a Purple Sandpiper being taken. The numbers wintering at Heysham, commencing with the 1988/89 winter and finishing with the 1998/99 winter were as follows: 13, 13, 14, 12, 13, 9 reducing to 8, 6 reducing to 4, 2, 1, 1, 0. The only other wintering birds were a 1st winter at Morecambe Stone Jetty during 1998/99, which appeared to have returned in November 1999. There was also a passage juvenile at the Stone Jetty in October 1999, which returned during the 1999/2000 winter. One was present on the rocks by Heysham One outfall on at least 13/12/99. Most of the documented passage birds have been accompanying Turnstone at Heysham in late April/May. Counts of up to 17 in the early part of the period presumably included at least some of the wintering population and therefore perhaps just 4-5 extra birds. Casual observations produced at least one at Heysham during spring 1998 (and 3-4 during 1999 when there were definitely no wintering birds). Some of the claims published for the RSPB properties have been discounted here (e.g. three at ‘Hest Bank’ on 1/2/96).

Dunlin Calidris alpina

Status: Common winter visitor and passage migrant.
A scarce breeding bird on the Eastern Fells with only 1 or 2 pairs still present. Like Knot, peak winter numbers have changed from concentrations at Flookburgh, outside our area, in the 1980s, to large numbers at Morecambe in the mid-1990s, and more recently to the Wyre Estuary. This is possibly related to changes in feeding areas, as fewer sites now discharge untreated sewage into Morecambe Bay. Count data and ringing returns in the 1980s established that 3 races use the Bay. The wintering population is made up exclusively of C.a.alpina, which breed in Russia and upland Scandinavia. The majority of these arrive in October, having moulted mainly on the southern North Sea coasts. Many leave in March with some birds lingering until May. There is a marked influx in April and May of C.a.schinzii, which have wintered south in Mauritania and are heading for the breeding grounds in northern Britain, Iceland and southern Greenland. With them are small numbers of C.a.arctica which breed in northern Greenland. These return during late July to September, individual birds probably spending very little time before passing to the mainly West African wintering grounds

Buff-breasted Sandpiper Tryngites subruficollis

Status: Vagrant. Two previous records; this is the first ‘twitchable’ individual.
Adult Pilling Lane Ends, usually with Ruff on the saltmarsh, 26/9-4/10/92 (BD et al.). Probably the same adult returned there and was seen intermittently 18/8-30/8/93 (many observers). An adult was seen briefly on 18/10/94 (BD et al.) and reported on two subsequent dates.

Ruff Philomachus pugnax

Status: A widespread passage wader in most years, a few birds winter.
Usually commoner in autumn than in spring, although the record count for any locality was 33 on Carnforth Inner Marsh in May 1994. Spring passage is usually from mid-April to early June. Adults often return in late July, followed by an influx of juveniles in August, peaking in September and declining in October to leave just a scattering of wintering birds. Favoured areas are Carnforth Inner Marsh, Conder Green and Halforth. This species can, however, turn up almost anywhere there is temporary flood water, moving quickly between sites, so co-ordinated counts are difficult, but peaks of c.25-30 in autumn are quite usual.

Jack Snipe Lymnocryptes minimus

Status: A difficult wintering species, location depends mainly on flushing by trampling across the habitat, something that disturbs many other species, so is not often practised.
In 1992 S P Coyle censused the Lune saltmarshes and recorded 34 being flushed off by the high January spring tides. This perhaps best illustrates what may be being missed in other areas. Reported in small numbers from most saltmarshes and inland at Leighton Moss, Heysham Moss, Haweswater, Street Bridge and a site near Heversham.

Snipe Gallinago gallinago

Status: Declining breeding bird, also falling numbers in winter.
Atlas studies reveal that this species has continued to decline as a breeding bird. This is especially the case in the lowland areas where improved land drainage has driven it from many former nest sites. Still widely but thinly distributed on the lower moorland and unimproved areas. Has also declined as a wintering bird and, although still widely distributed, it has further declined at Leighton Moss with only 50-75 in most winters, compared to 100-150 during the previous ten years. However, it increased again in 1998 with 300-400 for much of the early winter.

Long-billed Dowitcher Limnodromus scolopaceus

Status: Vagrant. These are the first records for the area.
Juveniles on the Eric Morecambe Pool and area 5/10/98-1/11/98 and 22/1/98-21/4/99. (the late PB, A & J Rimmer et al.). Recent evaluation of photographs of the first individual has led to some experts claiming that it was a juvenile Short-billed Dowitcher, ostensibly a first for Britain (but not Britain and Ireland). Another view suggests that were this to be the case, there have been several other candidates with, for example, poorly marked internal markings of the tertials, which deserve to be reviewed. Other opinions continue to assert that it was a Long-billed Dowitcher. Unfortunately, the most clear-cut diagnostic feature, the call, was never heard from this individual. Indeed, its silence apparently favours the Short-billed camp. We await a proposed article with interest.

Woodcock Scolopax rusticola

Status: Scarce and declining breeding bird. Widespread winter visitor.
A possibly declining species in our area, with the local Atlas showing concentrations in the Warton, Arnside, Beetham areas and the eastern river valley woodlands. Because of its crepuscular habits, under recording is a problem. Winter visitor and passage migrant from eastern and northern Europe, arriving in late October/early November and departing in March. The local CBC results show few changes in breeding bird numbers. The latest National CBC results show a 50% loss between 1997 and 1998 from a small CBC sample. At the migration monitoring site at Heysham, probably under-recorded with maxima of just 3 in spring and 6 in autumn. Reports from Abbeystead show good bags for 1997 and 1998! Hopefully future bags will include some ringing recoveries.

Black-tailed Godwit Limosa limosa

Status: This species has seen a remarkable change in its status, moving from a ‘surprisingly scarce passage migrant’ (Marsh 88 Checklist), to a regular spring and autumn passage migrant with a small wintering population.
Peak count in the previous ten years was 36 in 1984. Since then, numbers have increased, especially on Carnforth Inner Marsh where the peak spring count was 96 in April 1997 and the autumn peak 70 in August 1998. Other regular sites with smaller numbers include Halforth, Dockacres, Hare Tarn and Conder Green. This passage increase has spilled over into the winter and during the last two winters 15-20 have wintered on Carnforth Inner Marsh, except during frosty spells. This increase is probably a range expansion, as this species is common in winter on the Ribble and Wyre estuaries. All birds sub-specified were of the Icelandic race.

Bar-tailed Godwit Limosa lapponica

Status: Declining winter visitor. Small numbers in summer.
The major haunt remains the Lune Estuary, with smaller numbers at Hest Bank. The wintering population has declined from 3,000-4,000 in the 1980s to 1,500-2,500 recently, with the peak count being 2,895 in January 1996. There is a small summering population of usually up to 50 birds on the Lune. Numbers build up slowly from July onwards, but in recent years the full wintering population has rarely been present before early January. Although this is a difficult species to count, the variations in winter counts suggests a mobile population and there is some evidence of movement from and to the Ribble Estuary.

Whimbrel Numenius phaeopus

Status: Large numbers on spring passage. Autumn passage migrant in small numbers.
Prominent spring passage migrant, but evening roosts, which have produced some phenomenal counts on Barnacre Reservoir (only a mile or so outside our area) and on the Ribble Estuary, are under-researched in this area. More widespread in autumn, geographically and temporally, but numbers at a given site rarely exceed 20. Dockacres used to be a significant passage site during the early period under review, with daily maxima of 44 on 2/5/89, 41 on 5/5/91 and 85 on 3/5/92, with birds coming and going all the time. In recent years just single or low-double figures have been intermittently recorded there. Other high (daytime) counts included: 65 at Abbeystead Reservoir on 3/5/89, 53 at Ellel on 23/4/94 and 70 on Kellet TV mast pool on 6/5/94. Casual observation in 1998 suggested that Blea Tarn Reservoir is used as an evening roost and it would be worth checking the likes of Abbeystead Reservoir in the evening (especially if the mud is exposed at the south west end). In this respect, the night-time roost on the spit at Wyreside fisheries in 1998 produced 80 on 28/4 and 90 on 29/4. As implied, no dramatic autumn counts.

Curlew Numenius arquata

Status: A common breeding bird throughout the area.
The Atlas study showed it to be absent only from built-up areas and the immediate coastal strip. Much of the upland areas are eminently suitable for this species and here it is at its most abundant. The Atlas suggested a breeding population of c.2,000 birds in the nine 10km squares surveyed. The Waterways Bird Survey suggests that it has declined along the Lune from 25–28 pairs ten years ago, to 15-18 pairs now. An abundant wintering bird along the coast, with little evidence of any recent population changes. A small summering population of 1,000-2,000 birds is joined by returning breeders in July and reaches a peak of 6,000-10,000 in August or September. Mid winter populations have averaged c.5,000 and a small passage is evident in March or early April with 5,000-7,000 at times. Coastal counts though are difficult to interpret, as there can be complex inland movements, especially during passage periods and when the ground is waterlogged in winter. Ringing just outside our area suggests that unknown proportions of birds at all times are of Scandinavian origin.

Spotted Redshank Tringa erythropus

Status: Rare spring and rather scarce and local autumn passage migrant. Usually small numbers in winter.
Prone to lengthy stays, even during the autumn passage period, with birds wintering in most years. Regularly recorded from Carnforth Inner Marsh, Conder Green and the Lune and Kent estuaries. The wintering birds often remain until late April or early May, often assuming summer plumage before moving on. Small spring passage in most years in April and May. Autumn passage starts slowly in July and peak numbers are usually from late August through to early October. At the main site, Carnforth Inner Marsh, peak counts of 9 in both August 1991 and October 1996. In most years the total numbers for the area rarely reach double figures. There were indications that numbers had declined in the mid-1990s, but numbers have recovered over the last few years. Record numbers of juveniles were recorded at the Allen/Eric Morecambe Pools during Autumn 1999, reaching a peak of 13 birds.

Redshank Tringa totanus

Status: Common winter visitor and a well distributed breeding bird.
Still a common breeding bird in the Lune Valley where the Waterways Bird Survey recorded 45–50 pairs in recent years, only slightly down on the populations recorded during the previous ten years. Increased sheep grazing on many of the saltmarshes (such as Aldcliffe) in recent years has denied the birds nesting cover and the populations have declined. The Atlas survey revealed a widely distributed, though rather small population on the wetter parts of the uplands. Outside the breeding season it is a common winter visitor with 2,500–3,500 in recent years, with usually somewhat larger numbers during the passage periods from early March to mid-April, and the return passage in late July to September. Numbers are found inland during prolonged spells of wet weather. Wintering numbers are similar to those found during the previous ten years. This is one of the wader species that has taken wholeheartedly to using the sea defence rock groynes off Morecambe as a high tide roost.

Greenshank Tringa nebularia

Status: A scarce spring passage migrant, but widely distributed on autumn passage. A few birds occasionally winter, although none in recent years.
Occurs all along the coast, favoured sites are Carnforth Inner Marsh and almost all areas on the Lune and Kent estuaries, also recorded inland along the river valleys. Because of its wide distribution and regularity, full records are not submitted each year. However, the best site, Carnforth Inner Marsh, has been covered almost daily during the passage periods. Here the spring passage starts in mid to late April and through May, the peak was only 6 in May 1996 and birds move through quite quickly. Return passage starts with adults in early July and reaches a peak in August or early September as juveniles move through. Peaks are regularly between 25–30, with an all time peak of 39 in September 1997. Peak numbers have certainly increased in recent years to levels mentioned above, from 11-15 in the late 1980s. The WeBS counts suggest that the total population for the whole area may at times reach almost 60 in September.

Lesser Yellowlegs Tringa flavipes

Status: Vagrant. The first records for this area.
A juvenile/first winter was present on the Eric Morecambe Pool during the last 45 mins. or so of daylight on 18/10/95 (SJD, PW et al.). Juvenile at Leighton Moss and Allen/Eric Morecambe Pools 12/9-14/9/97 (JL, PW et al.). This was misidentified as a Wood Sandpiper for much of its stay. Both accepted by BBRC.

Green Sandpiper Tringa ochropus

Status: Rare spring and rather scarce autumn passage migrant, but frequently long-staying in autumn. Regular wintering birds.
Each year produces a small number, usually under 5 records, in April and May. Larger numbers recorded from July through to early October, favoured sites are Carnforth Inner Marsh, the Lune between Arkholme and Claughton, Street Bridge, the Cocker Estuary and the Cockerham/Pilling seawall channel and the Upper Kent Estuary. Wintering sites have included the Lune Valley oxbows and the Kent and Lyth Valleys.

Wood Sandpiper Tringa glareola

Status: Uncommon passage migrant.
Uncommon passage migrant, probably due to the lack of suitable habitat prior to the ‘scrapes’ at Leighton Moss and latterly the Allen/Eric Morecambe Pools and the developments in the Pilling Lane Ends area (mainly facilitating viewing and therefore documentation). Numbers had been on the low side since 1991, that is until 1999, when easterly winds and unsettled (grounding) weather produced record numbers during the first week or so of August! Almost all records are from the Allen/Eric Morecambe Pools.
1989: One Street Bridge 29/4. One in the seawall channel between Pilling Lane Ends and the Cocker Estuary on 20/7. One Conder Green 20/8 and two Pilling Lane Ends on 3/9.
1990: One Abbeystead Reservoir 3/5. Adult Allen/Eric Morecambe Pools 26-28/7, juvenile/1st winter there 19-20/8 with probably the same on 26/8.
1991: One Scorton gravel pits 30/5. One on the Eric Morecambe Pools 24/5-4/6 with at least one other on 28-29/5 and 3/6. One Allen/Eric Morecambe Pools 31/7-6/8, another on 3/8, one 23-25/8 and one 5-17/9. Adult Halforth 25-26/7. One Pilling Lane Ends on 4/8.
1992: One just north of Lane Ends on 24/5. Adult Allen/Eric Morecambe Pools 29/7-1/8.
1993: Adult Allen/Eric Morecambe Pools on 2/8 and juvenile there 12/8-24/9.
1994: Singles on the Allen/Eric Morecambe Pools 2/5, 18/5, 23/8 and 15-20/9.
1995: Singles on the Eric Morecambe Pools 8/9 and 18/9 with another at Sunderland on 17/9.
1996: Singles on the Allen/Eric Morecambe Pools on 18-19/5, 7-10/8, 23/8 and 26-28/8. Adult on Conder (above A588) 5-7/8.
1997: Rather ‘iffy’ records from the Allen/Eric Morecambe Pools on 1/5, 28/5, 2/8 and 17/9. Well-documented records there on 17-18/8 and 2/9.
1998: One at the Allen/Eric Morecambe Pools on 23-25/8 with another claim there on 23/9.
1999: The Allen/Eric Morecambe Pools produced: 2 on 3/8-4/8, 5 on 5/8-6/8, 7 on 7/8-9/8, 6 on 10/8-18/8, 2 on 19/8-27/8, one on 28/8. One on Aldcliffe new pools and adjoining saltmarsh 4/8-5/8.

Common Sandpiper Actitis hypoleucos

Status: A widespread breeding bird on rivers that have some exposed shingle and also breeds around some gravel pits where a suitable beach occurs.
The Lune Valley Waterways Bird Survey from Lancaster to Kirkby Lonsdale has averaged 57 territories, much the same as in the previous 10 years. There has been no noticeable change on the various tributaries of the Lune or on the smaller rivers in the area. During July the breeding birds are moving away and parties build up at the mouths of the Kent, Conder and Cocker, where fresh and tidal waters intermingle. The largest counts are in mid-July (e.g. 35 at Halforth on 20/7/91). Some birds at the Conder site have been colour-ringed and many of these have stayed for around 10 days and put on extra weight for migration. Several have been seen again in subsequent Julys. These birds have not been seen again up the Lune Valley. A bird ringed in Northumberland was controlled at this site. By mid-August only late migrants remain, probably from outside the U.K., and some of these may stay. There has been at least one winter record from the River Lune in all but the last two winters under review.

Turnstone Arenaria interpres

Status: Winter visitor and passage migrant.
Recent counts show a marked decrease in both passage and wintering birds. Passage birds at Morecambe averaged c.600 in 1990, but have decreased to c.400 in 1995 and c.250 in 1997 and 1998. Wintering birds show a similar decrease, with an average of c.400 in 1990, but only c.270 in 1998. The largest numbers used to roost on Heysham’s wooden pier, but birds returning to Morecambe are also using the new groynes as roosting areas, where they can be difficult to count. There is a marked passage of birds during April and again in September. Birds ringed in this area have been found on the breeding grounds in Arctic Canada, Greenland, Sweden, Finland and Norway. Passage birds winter as far south as Mauritania.

Grey Phalarope Phalaropus fulicarius

Status: Very rare visitor; usually in autumn, but also quite a few winter records.
A first winter along the seawall by Heysham outfalls hide 4/11/89-5/11/89 (PCw et al.) was the first ‘twitchable’ record in this area and only the third definite sighting since the publication of the 68 Checklist. One off Pilling Lane Ends on 6/10 (JWB). One off Heysham outfalls hide during gales from 30/12/90 visited Hest Bank on 2/1-3/1/91 before returning to Heysham on 4/1/91 (DT,TW et al.). A first winter floated up and down the River Kent on the tide on 8/10/91. It was seen at Arnside, then Halforth and finally Arnside again (RI, IK, DBT). It or another appeared on the Allen Pool in the evening of 14/10/91 (several observers). One in juvenile plumage on the Allen Pool 14/9-16/9/92 (many observers).

Phalarope spp.

What was definitely a phalarope, and almost certainly a Red-necked, was present off Arnside Marsh for 15 minutes on 10/6/95 before flying off down and across the estuary. Distance and silhouette prevented other than ‘impressions of bill structure’ (RI, IK).

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Skuas


Pomarine Skua Stercorarius pomarinus

Status: Uncommon, but regular, passage migrant.
Still in the ‘uncommon’ category, but annual during the period under review, mainly due to increased spring seawatching. This was partly prompted by the discovery of a major overland passage of this species via Bowness-on-Solway and the Tyne Gap. In theory, could a little push by westerlies produce some moving up the Bay?
Read on:-
Spring seawatching revealed this species to be tolerably regular during the period under review but only if at least moderate south-westerly/westerly winds were blowing, preferably with regular squalls. Prior to the period under review, the strongest onshore winds at this time of year occurred on 3/5/82 and a distant flock of five light morph skuas recorded on that date were retrospectively almost certainly this species. Remember that this was prior to the discovery of the Bowness-on-Solway situation and Pomarine Skua passage in spring was considered to be ‘either through the Channel or off western Ireland/north-west Scotland’. All observed sightings involved birds entering the Bay and some were seen and all thought to have gone overland, gaining height either on reaching Carnforth Marsh/Jenny Brown’s Point or during progress up the Kent Estuary. Autumn records are a little frought with documentation problems, especially claims of immatures early in the autumn. Recently extreme caution has been shown and it would be fair to say that the late autumn juveniles in 1996 and 1998, for example, would probably have been recorded as ‘definite Poms’ earlier in the decade. On the other hand, there was little or no doubt attached to the winter-period sightings.
1989: Light morph adult south off Heysham on 24/10.
1990: Almost a repeat; light morph adult south off Heysham 29/10.
1991: There were a lot of claims during 1991, some of which involved unseasonal immatures. Some of these were not described and would probably fail assessment by current standards. All off Heysham:- light morph sub-adult north on 28/3, two light morph adults together north on 11/5, light and dark similarly on 15/5. Dark first summer multi-observed on 11/6. Light morph adult accompanied by a juvenile on 24/9. Light morph sub-adult on 16/10 (also seen at Stone Jetty). Juvenile(s) on 2/11 and 7/11 with a juvenile following in the Isle of Man ferry on 24/12 (also seen in early 1992).
1992: See above; seen from several vantage points on 3/1. Good year for light morph adults on spring passage. All seen from Heysham: Two at 0730hrs, 3 at 0820hrs, 2 at 0825hrs and 2 at 1700hrs on 26/4. 3 at 0840hrs on 1/5. Two at 0650hrs and 5 at 0725hrs on 8/5 (the 5 were distant ‘almost certains’). Probably the same light morph adult off Heysham on 1/9 and 7/9. Juvenile reported on 2/9. Juvenile seen well off Jenny Brown’s Point on 13/9 and a juvenile skua, probably this species off Heysham on 14/10.
1993: Three light morph adults north together off Heysham on 15/5. Two light morph adults milling about off Heysham on 31/5.
1994: One north off Jenny Brown’s Point on 26/4, one north off Heysham on 4/5. Juvenile on the sea off Sandylands on 11/9. Light morph adult north up the Bay off Heysham on 27/9. Juvenile lingering off Heysham before flying into the Bay on 30/12 and a winter adult also flying into the Bay on the same date.
1995: Probably the above-mentioned juvenile was seen off Morecambe/Heysham on 9/1 and 5/3. Two light morph adults flew up the Bay off Heysham on 28/4.
1996: Light morph adult into the Bay on 29/4. A juvenile skua, probably this species, off Heysham on 6/11.
1997: Two light morph adults flew up the Kent Estuary, as observed from Jenny Brown’s Point on 6/5. Juvenile skua spp. Carnforth Marsh area on 13/12 thought to have been this spp.
1998: Three light morph adults milling around off Heysham late afternoon of 7/5. Juvenile skua off Heysham on 28/10 considered to be probably this species.
1999: Immature/1st winter during gale off Heysham on 3/1. 1st winter north into the Bay off Heysham during strong winds on 4/1.

Arctic Skua Stercorarius parasiticus

Status: Passage migrant in small numbers in both spring and autumn.
Prior to the period under review, with only a small amount of seawatching, very rarely recorded in spring. During the period under review it was found to be a regular spring migrant in small numbers. Most birds were considered to have gone overland on reaching the inner Bay, except in very unsettled weather with low cloud (e.g. the two on 31/3/96). Several records during fairly calm conditions. In autumn, the vast majority of records are on seawatches during prolonged periods of WSW-WNW winds with very few cases of birds remaining off-passage, despite the regular presence of tern spp. on Heysham outfalls in those conditions.
Spring records (31/3-1/6) during 1989 to 1999 comprised:- 3, 1, 5, 2, 12-18, 9, 9, 13-18, 14, 7, 4. 1993 saw the commencement of very regular spring seawatching. Relatively few during the summer months (2/6-15/7), with just nine records in four of the years under review. Most of these were during windy conditions in early July. In autumn, eight of the years under review produced between 5 and 15 individuals, all from mid-July to late October. The lowest numbers were in 1998 and the highest in 1997. 1999 produced no midsummer or autumn records whatsoever during completely unfavourable winds. There have been no complete blanks in autumn since 1980, but 1981 only produced a single record (see Great Skua). The other two years, 1991 and 1992, produced prolonged periods of excellent seawatching conditions during late August/September. In 1991, this was mainly during the latter half of September with an estimated peak of 35 on 24/9 out of c.55 bird/days for the whole autumn. In 1992, it took the form of sustained westerlies between 26/8 and 15/9 with no obvious ‘big day’. Therefore documented as 84 bird/days with a daily maximum of 15. Perhaps the same individual seen in December 1994 and February 1995 was the only winter-period record.

Long-tailed Skua Stercorarius longicaudus

Status: Very rare visitor during autumn gales with 4-5 records prior to the period under review.
1991: On 22/9, one of the highlights of the decade was a juvenile which meandered around the inner end of the outfalls and along the wooden jetty, giving views as close as ten feet. Unfortunately no-one had a camera (JWB, JAG, PJM, DJS, TW et al.). This was followed by a major gale on 24/9 and the Bay seemed to be full of small skua spp. (see Arctic Skua). At least 3, possibly five juveniles were identified off Heysham (perhaps including the bird of 22/9), one-two juveniles were seen off the Stone Jetty (SPC) and at least one juvenile off Jenny Brown’s Point (DAS). However, some of the more distant skuas may have been this species.
1992: An adult with a full tail was around Heysham outfalls on 7/9 (PC, DT). Juvenile on several dates at the end of August/early September (SPC et al.).
1997: Light morph juvenile flew out of the Bay off Heysham on 14/9 (PJM). An adult frequented the saltmarsh between Lane Ends and the Cocker Estuary 20/9-24/9 (RL et al.).
1998: Juvenile meandering around off Pilling Lane Ends for 15 minutes on 10/9 (PJM, JR).

Great Skua Catharacta skua

Status: Scarce on passage, usually during autumn gales. A few wintering birds.
Unlike Arctic and Pomarine Skua, this species has virtually ‘dried up’ on spring passage, following quite a few records during the first three years of more intensive spring seawatching (1992-94). Two records during ‘midsummer’ gales. Most regular as a product of autumn onshore gales, mainly late August-mid-October. There have been a few records of birds wintering or spending part of the winter in the Bay. These have always been highly mobile. Rapid transit individuals very occasional in winter gales.
1989: One north on 9/3. 9 in autumn 29/7-5/11. One 25/12.
1990: Above bird seen at various sites until 27/2. 8 in autumn 19/9-1/11. One 29/12.
1991: Above bird at various sites until 20/1 (Lane Ends). 5 in autumn 22/9-17/10.
1992: One on 12/4 observed to spiral high and disappear inland to the north (from Carnforth Marsh). Other northbound birds on 21/4, 27/4 and 12/5. 10-15 in autumn 13/8-23/10.
1993: One south during a severe storm on 24/1. Northbound individuals on 6/4, 21/4, 23/4 and 1/5. The 21/4 individual was seen to spiral high and go overland to the north. 2 in autumn 10-11/9.
1994: Northbound birds on 6/4, 24/4 and 1/5. One during a gale on 18/6. 11 in autumn 28/8-27/9. One behind the Isle of Man ferry on 30/12.
1995: The above bird at various sites until 23/1. In autumn; one on 25/8 and one at various sites 27/9-10/10.
1996: Northbound reports on 23/3, 28/3 and 6/5. 7 in autumn 28/9-27/10.
1997: Dead bird found at Morecambe on 14/4. Northbound individual 4/5. c.13 in autumn 29/8-17/9.
1998: Very poor. One on 12/7 during strong winds. 3 in autumn 10/9-19/10.
1999: The smallest number since 1984 (with 1981 being the only blank year since Heysham Observatory came into operation in 1980). Single off Jenny Brown's Point on 27/10. Presumably the same bird flying into the Bay and out again about 1.5hrs later, as viewed from Heysham north harbour wall on 31/10.

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Gulls

Mediterranean Gull Larus melanocephalus

Status: Significant increase between 1989 and 1992, then a levelling off in numbers. Rare breeding bird.
Virtually ubiquitous in one category or another by the end of the period under review, with an increase from 6 in 1989 to 30-45 from 1992-1998. No obvious increase since 1992 which could not be accounted for by more comprehensive coverage (e.g. Kent Estuary). A decline in the number of spring passage 1st summers at Heysham outfalls was counterbalanced by an increase of this age category at the gulls colonies, especially Babydoc. The categories of occurrence comprise: wintering birds, spring passage birds, summering/territorial birds associated with the Black-headed Gull colonies, late summer/early autumn birds undergoing full moult, autumn passage birds. The first record in this area was 1976, then 1979, then another gap before annual occurrence (1-5) 1983-87, then at least 7 in 1988.
Winter status
The only wintering bird during the early part of the period was a very elusive adult on the old Sandylands sewer outfall. This was last seen at the end of the 1991/92 winter. Two second winter birds remained on Heysham outfalls during the 1991/92 winter. One subsequently returned there for all winters during the period, the other returned only for the 1992/93 winter. However, it was considered to be the individual which appeared every early July during the remainder of the period under review, remaining only until the full moult had been completed in early September. A first summer located off Morecambe during 16/3-13/7/95 was considered to be the second winter off Heysham outfalls during 12/8-29/9 (when there was an ‘outage’, therefore food supply reduced) and then the second winter off Morecambe (Clock Tower/Stone Jetty area) at least 29/10 to March 1996. This bird has subsequently returned and become an obliging ‘bread Med’ during all the remaining winters in the period under review. In addition, there have been two-three mobile adults in the region, one of which regularly visited Blea Tarn Reservoir, another was tolerably regular in the Hest Bank evening roost and another (?) was an occasional visitor to Heysham outfalls. What was probably a third winter bird was seen twice on Heysham outfalls during December 1998 before being located as another ‘bread Med’ along the Grosvenor Hotel-Battery car park section of promenade in early 1999. First summer birds were absent in winter apart from a long-stayer on Heaton Marsh and area from at least 15/2-28/2/95.
Territorial/breeding status
Unbeknown to many whose reading was restricted to RSPB publications, the first breeding attempt in this area was actually on Dockacres. The male which had been returning to the Allen Pool/Leighton Moss since 1988 paired with a second (or third?) summer and settled down on the spit at the back of Dockacres. The female sat for at least 9 days before a human was observed in the region of the nest. The Mediterranean Gulls were the only birds to desert the colony and egg theft would seem the most likely reason. In the latter half of May, they settled again in front of Lilian’s Hide and three eggs were laid. These were eaten by a Grey Heron at the end of May. Following intermittent visits by displaying pairs to the Black-headed Gull colonies on the gravel pits and at Leighton Moss/Allen/Eric Morecambe Pools, breeding took place on the Allen Pool in 1997, with two young being reared. 1997 also saw an adult on territory at Babydoc (now Tewitfield fishery) 23/3-12/4. 1998 produced the male on territory at the Allen Pool, possibly successfully paired to a Black-headed Gull and also a second summer, probably male, on territory for the whole breeding season at Babydoc. 1999 produced a fleeting visit from the darvic-ringed 1997 breeding female to the Eric Morecambe Pools, but a disappointing outcome left just one territorial male for a short time on the Eric Morecambe Pool and another on the Borwick Lane pit (where the ex-Babydoc gulls moved to).
Other records
By far and away the majority of the remaining sightings have been during the late summer/early autumn at the Kent Estuary gull roosts and Heysham outfalls. More difficult to cover roosts, such as the Keer Estuary and Hest Bank/Bolton-le Sands have also produced small numbers of individuals. Up to 17 per year have been recorded at this time on the Kent Estuary and up to 10 on Heysham outfalls with adults predominating at both sites. However, Heysham outfalls has received at least one juvenile during most of the years under review and some of these (especially 1998) have been long-staying. A Dutch-ringed juvenile appeared there in autumn 1990. A scattering of first and second summer birds also recorded virtually annually at both sites at this time of year. The other major category of occurrence is in April/May and involves first summer birds. These are found at Heysham outfalls and accompanying the Black-headed Gull colonies at the gravel pits and Allen/Eric Morecambe Pools. Early in the period, a majority of records were from Heysham outfalls (peak of 7-8 in 1992), latterly on the gravel pit colonies (peak of 7 on Babydoc in 1998).

Little Gull Larus minutus

Status: Regular on spring passage. Autumn passage in small numbers. Largest numbers occur in January/February during gales.
Regular visitor in various (fairly clear-cut) categories. It is most numerous during strong onshore winds January-early March, in association with large numbers of Kittiwakes. However, this does not happen every year and the most consistent time to see this species is on the gravel pits/Leighton Moss area during spring passage, with the occasional lingering first summer bird. Recently, small numbers of individuals have appeared on Heysham outfalls in late summer and completed the full moult there. Finally, autumn passage is characterised by small numbers, including juveniles, usually after strong winds and mainly on Heysham outfalls, followed by larger numbers during late October/early November gales. It does not appear to be within the catchment area of onshore gales between mid-November and the end of December. Occasionally none of the categories really produce the goods and this happened in 1995 when there were only 14 individuals seen in the area during the course of the year.
Winter gale-blown sightings
The previous checklist suggested that large numbers were only within the catchment of winter gales from 1984 onwards. Hence a major gale on 30/1/83 produced large numbers of Kittiwakes but only one Little Gull. There is less conclusive evidence to suggest that the reverse happened during the current ten years. Therefore it was rather surprising that a major gale on 3/1/98 only produced 14 birds off Heysham and numbers during February 1997, peaking at 23 on 20th, were perhaps lower than might have been expected compared to similar conditions in 1991/1993. Following several high counts in the late 1980s, peaking at 126 on 10/2/88, 244 were recorded during a major gale on 6/1/91. The next major January/February gales were in 1993 and a series of influxes culminated in a count of 80 on 24th January. As suggested, the key lies in how many birds are within the catchment of the gales. There has been a long history of birds moving into the southern Irish Sea during the late winter (e.g. records from the Wicklow coast during SE gales in 1970s); it all depends how far up they come. Note that the gale-blown influxes are after the turn of the year, the only exception being a relatively small count of 11 on 23/12/91.
Spring passage
Most records, as stated, from the northern gravel pits or the Leighton Moss complex with a peak of up to 25 at the same time during 1990. Other records of interest included variable numbers on seawatches from Heysham with a maximum of 7 separately in 1996. There was also a most unusual sight of a flock of 5 descending from the heavens off Morecambe Town Hall just ahead of a thunderstorm, settling on the water for a bit before heading off north-east at a similarly steep angle and being lost from view very quickly. This indicates that sizeable numbers may be passing over the area and only ‘brought down’ on to the likes of the gravel pits/Leighton Moss by inclement weather.
Late summer/Autumn passage
Following ones and twos in most years, a group of 7 (5 adults, two 2nd summers) appeared on Heysham outfalls on 24/7/97 and remained until the completion of moult in early September. No significant numbers on early autumn passage (annual totals below 15) but late autumn passages during gales occurred as follows: 10 on 6/11/96, 10 on 28/10/98 and 25-30 on 29/10/98.
Wintering individuals
Just the one site. Single 2nd winters definitely present on Heysham outfalls during the whole of 1992/93 and 1993/94 winters. Adult definitely present there the whole of the 1994/95 winter. Three other possibilities of wintering birds, assuming the same individuals were returning inshore, following long absences (in the outer Bay?).

Sabine’s Gull Larus sabini

Status: Very rare wind-blown autumn migrant, with one record referring to about 6 individuals on 14/9/87.
A full summer adult (showing no trace of moult, albeit at long range) flew purposefully out of the Bay along the approximate position of the outer Kent channel at 1500hrs on 1/9/92 (PJM). Watched from the high vantage point at ‘The Cliffs’ (Heysham) and not visible to observer(s) in the seawatching hide. Winter adult, or more likely a first summer, did a circuit of Heysham outfalls before flying out of the Bay on 29/8/97 (A Stockhausen et al.).

Black-headed Gull Larus ridibundus

Status: Local breeding bird and abundant winter visitor.
The history of the Leighton Moss and Inner Marsh colony was detailed in the 1997 LDBWS Annual Report (Wilson 1998). In recent years, numbers have ranged between 1,005 and 1,515 nests. This variation may be linked to movements to the colony on the Dockacres complex. This is probably an overflow from Leighton. Census details are not available for this colony, but an estimate of 500 pairs at Babydoc. Numbers appear to have increased in 1997/98 after the move to Babydoc, although in 1999 the birds moved again to a nearby site. The Atlas also recorded small colonies on Colloway Marsh and on the eastern fells. Outside the breeding season, thousands roost on the mudflats of the Lune, Keer and Kent estuaries. Some remain to feed along the coast, but especially in winter, most move up the river valleys to feed on farmland. Recent ringing recoveries show the wintering population to be made up partly of birds from north of England colonies and partly from Scandinavia, with birds reported from Denmark (2), Sweden (3), Finland (3), Latvia (1), Lithuania (1) and Estonia (1).

Ring-billed Gull Larus delawarensis

Status: Vagrant; just one previously accepted record; a second summer on the Kent Estuary in 1987.
A most unexpected first winter was present on Red Nab for at least 15 minutes on 28/12/92 (ED, PJM). It was the only bird to fly to the north as the incoming tide displaced everything. Summer adult in fields near Sand Villa and on the saltmarsh near the Cocker Estuary on 21/3/99 (EH, JR et al.), also reported two days later near Lane Ends. Unfortunately, four records which have been published in various places need erasing from the records. These include a claim by the author of this account, involving distant and brief views of a second summer on the shore near Heysham outfalls on 27/5/91. Similarly, a second winter reported to BNW as being on Heysham outfalls on 19/1/92 never saw the light of day, observer or description-wise. A claim of a first winter/summer on Dockacres during spring 1996 was generally perceived to be a small 2nd summer Herring Gull (e.g. by Lancashire Records Panel) and an adult claimed from the Stodday area of the Lune during late spring 1996 by P Massey (via information lines) was never submitted to the local/county recorder.

Common Gull Larus canus

Status: Mainly winter visitor with a few 1st summer birds all year.
Very little quantitative data on this species. Huge nocturnal roosts on the Keer and Kent Estuaries of birds which feed in fields and upland pastures to the north and east of the area. The only passage ‘data’ involved a few comments concerning northbound spring and southbound autumn movements during seawatches off Heysham. There were no passages recorded which were anything like as obvious and dramatic as the 1,000 in two hours north on 6/4/87. Good numbers of first summer birds on Heysham outfalls during late spring passage, occasionally over 200.

Lesser Black-backed Gull Larus fuscus

Status: Breeds in large numbers at the Tarnbrook gullery. Also roof-nesting in the Morecambe/Heysham area.
There is a large colony in the Forest of Bowland, which occupies parts of the Abbeystead, Brennand and Mallowdale estates. It has been known variously as the Abbeystead, Tarnbrook or Pennine gullery. In addition, there has been irregular breeding on the Lune Estuary and Carnforth Marshes, as well as on buildings such as Heysham Power Station and Pontin’s Holiday Camp in Morecambe. The breeding on the power station has ceased as a result of culling because of the fear of pollution. The Tarnbrook Gullery is situated on moorland ranging in height from 450 to 515 meters and occupies land on three estates: Abbeystead, Brennand and Mallowdale (SD614595). The predominant vegetation is heather, but there are also areas of bilberry, grass, rushes, bare peat, with some stony outcrops. The area occupied by gulls has varied between 6.5 to 8 km2 in recent years. Gulls are first reported breeding at the site in 1936, when Joe Bowman, a previous head-keeper, confirms 3-4 pairs were killed, and killing continued until keepers were called up for the war. Then the colony expanded rapidly so that there were over 16,000 pairs by 1965 and up to nearly 25,000 pairs by 1981. An annual census has been conducted since 1981 (with the exception of 1989). In addition to the breeding pairs it is estimated some 10-15% of non-breeders, mainly sub-adults, are in attendance at the colony for all or part of the breeding season. Some 96% of the colony are Lesser Black-backed Gulls, with 4% Herring Gulls, though this percentage may be declining as the colony increases in size. There are also in the region of 6-8 pairs of Greater Black-backed Gulls, usually dispersed near the margins of the colony or on slightly higher ground. In recent years an increasing number of pairs of Canada Geese have also bred within the gull colony.
In most years since 1971 there has been an annual cull. This has been licensed successively by JNCC, English Nature and DETR, on the basis of the high bacterial contamination of the Tarnbrook Wyre, which is part of the catchment area for the water supply to the Lancaster area. The average cull is of the order of 6,000 per annum, although the size of the colony has continued to increase, despite the culling, through the 1990s. This may in part reflect immigration into the colony from other gulleries in North West England, especially those at South Walney and on the Ribble Estuary National Nature Reserve. In order to study this and the interaction of gulls from the three colonies, a five year project using colour rings was started in 1998. Initial sightings confirm use of common feeding areas, including local landfill sites. There are also many recoveries/sightings that show that birds from all three colonies are migrating to south west France, Liberia and Morocco. However, there is also evidence that a proportion of the juvenile gulls are not migrating beyond the UK. They are increasingly seen at landfill sites along with other species of gull. There is speculation that this may be linked to the availability of food and/or the milder climate associated with global warming.

Pairs of Breeding Lesser Black-backed Gulls 1990-1999 (D Sowter)

Abbeystead

Mallowdale

Brennand

Non-sanctuary

Sanctuary

Non-sanctuary

Sanctuary

Total Sanctuary

Total Colony

1990

6975

1938

2167

400

634

2338

12114

1991

1737

1705

1606

465

212

2170

5725

1992

2306

1729

1602

635

714

2464

6986

1993

3016

2024

1834

611

961

2651

8462

1994

2084

2654

1990

664

1512

4218

8904

1995

1926

2406

2234

612

1650

3018

8828

1996

1324

2910

1960

694

1500

3559

8343

1997

664

4663

1509

855

1394

5518

9085

1998

797

5457

4631

1281

2053

6738

14129

1999

577

8451

3244

2452

2431

11003

17255

Status: Breeds in large numbers at the Tarnbrook gullery. Also roof-nesting in the Morecambe/Heysham area.
There is a large colony in the Forest of Bowland, which occupies parts of the Abbeystead, Brennand and Mallowdale estates. It has been known variously as the Abbeystead, Tarnbrook or Pennine gullery. In addition, there has been irregular breeding on the Lune Estuary and Carnforth Marshes, as well as on buildings such as Heysham Power Station and Pontin’s Holiday Camp in Morecambe. The breeding on the power station has ceased as a result of culling because of the fear of pollution. The Tarnbrook Gullery is situated on moorland ranging in height from 450 to 515 meters and occupies land on three estates: Abbeystead, Brennand and Mallowdale (SD614595). The predominant vegetation is heather, but there are also areas of bilberry, grass, rushes, bare peat, with some stony outcrops. The area occupied by gulls has varied between 6.5 to 8 km2 in recent years. Gulls are first reported breeding at the site in 1936, when Joe Bowman, a previous head-keeper, confirms 3-4 pairs were killed, and killing continued until keepers were called up for the war. Then the colony expanded rapidly so that there were over 16,000 pairs by 1965 and up to nearly 25,000 pairs by 1981. An annual census has been conducted since 1981 (with the exception of 1989). In addition to the breeding pairs it is estimated some 10-15% of non-breeders, mainly sub-adults, are in attendance at the colony for all or part of the breeding season. Some 96% of the colony are Lesser Black-backed Gulls, with 4% Herring Gulls, though this percentage may be declining as the colony increases in size. There are also in the region of 6-8 pairs of Greater Black-backed Gulls, usually dispersed near the margins of the colony or on slightly higher ground. In recent years an increasing number of pairs of Canada Geese have also bred within the gull colony.
In most years since 1971 there has been an annual cull. This has been licensed successively by JNCC, English Nature and DETR, on the basis of the high bacterial contamination of the Tarnbrook Wyre, which is part of the catchment area for the water supply to the Lancaster area. The average cull is of the order of 6,000 per annum, although the size of the colony has continued to increase, despite the culling, through the 1990s. This may in part reflect immigration into the colony from other gulleries in North West England, especially those at South Walney and on the Ribble Estuary National Nature Reserve. In order to study this and the interaction of gulls from the three colonies, a five year project using colour rings was started in 1998. Initial sightings confirm use of common feeding areas, including local landfill sites. There are also many recoveries/sightings that show that birds from all three colonies are migrating to south west France, Liberia and Morocco. However, there is also evidence that a proportion of the juvenile gulls are not migrating beyond the UK. They are increasingly seen at landfill sites along with other species of gull. There is speculation that this may be linked to the availability of food and/or the milder climate associated with global warming.

Pairs of Breeding Lesser Black-backed Gulls 1990-1999 (D Sowter)

Abbeystead

Mallowdale

Brennand

Non-sanctuary

Sanctuary

Non-sanctuary

Sanctuary

Total Sanctuary

Total Colony

1990

6975

1938

2167

400

634

2338

12114

1991

1737

1705

1606

465

212

2170

5725

1992

2306

1729

1602

635

714

2464

6986

1993

3016

2024

1834

611

961

2651

8462

1994

2084

2654

1990

664

1512

4218

8904

1995

1926

2406

2234

612

1650

3018

8828

1996

1324

2910

1960

694

1500

3559

8343

1997

664

4663

1509

855

1394

5518

9085

1998

797

5457

4631

1281

2053

6738

14129

1999

577

8451

3244

2452

2431

11003

17255

Herring Gull Larus argentatus

Status: Breeds in small numbers at the Tarnbrook gullery, Carnforth Marsh and Middleton/Heysham areas.
Herring Gulls have traditionally been recorded as about 4% of the breeding pairs on the Tarnbrook Gullery (Lesser Black-backed Gulls), though there is evidence that this percentage may have reduced in recent years as the colony has continued to grow steadily. The Herring Gulls tend to nest in small groups on slightly higher ground and often nearer the edge of the colony. They are usually seen as the first breeders at new locations within the territory, or conversely, it may be that they are being marginalised by the greater numbers of Lesser Black-backed Gulls. Has also bred on Carnforth Marsh (c.5 pairs) and on rooftops in the Middleton/Heysham area (30-40 pairs). A few (less than 10) adult Scandinavian L. a. argentatus are to be found on Lancaster Tip during mid-winter. Immatures have not been studied and identified yet.

Western Yellow-legged Gull Larus michahellis

Status: Scarce but increasing in numbers.
This former sub-species of Herring Gull (or should it have been Lesser Black-backed Gull?) was drawn to our attention in this area by the late John Barnes et al. with reference to the arrival of the Arnside individual. Since then, two other semi-residents have been discovered and the Kent Estuary in particular produced quite a few passage birds. Still suffers from lack of clear definition in many popular field guides, so the records have been a product of ‘gull specialists’. The next 10 years should see the appearance of the eastern (nominate) Caspian Gull, a possible/probable of which was seen on Lancaster Tip in early 1999. Evidence suggests that this race is most likely as a winter visitor, whilst the western race is most regular during post-breeding dispersal, plus or minus using sites for the late summer/autumn full moult.
Adult at Arnside from at least late summer/autumn 1987 to 1999. Usually present last week of July to first week of November. Adult on the Lune Estuary, roosting on Overton Marsh and feeding around Bazil Creek and Glasson Basin, during late summer/early autumn from at least 1993. Once its routine was sorted out in 1995, it appeared to be present from about the last week of July until the end of September with a later than usual departure on 6/10/98. An adult male was located at Dockacres in association with, but never seen actively displaying to, a female argenteus Herring Gull from March 1995 until the present. In this respect, there were many occasions when the Herring Gull was observed trying to ‘gain attention’ and the Yellow-legged Gull responded by flying off or moving away. This bird was quite regular during winter 1995/96, but has subsequently been an erratic visitor to Dockacres, mainly between March and November, frequently in association with the Herring Gull. This has to be tempered by reduced coverage at this site due to the disappearance of the winter diving duck flock and also the parking difficulties. This presumably accounted for very few 1998 sightings.
Additional records:
1991: 3rd summer Halforth 20/7 and adult there 21/8.
1992: Adult Lancaster Tip 17-18/4. Adult on Red Nab, Heysham 12/7. Adult Colloway Marsh 3/9. Adults at High Foulshaw 21/7, Arnside (additional) 29-31/7, Low Foulshaw 11/10 and Halforth 13/10.
1993: Adult Lancaster Tip 13/2 and 19/2 (cachinnans not ruled out in retrospect). Adult Red Nab 23/8.
1994: Adult Heysham 7/10.
1995: Adults on the river by Lancaster Tip 20/2, Hest Bank gull roost 23/3, additional bird at Arnside 30/7 and Red Nab, Heysham 9/9.
1996: 3rd summer at Sandside 22-29/7, two adults at Sandside 27/7 and 31/7, one adult Sandside 19/8. Adult Red Nab, Heysham 16-17/7.
1997: Adults at Halforth 23/9 and 21/11.
1998: Adults on Lancaster Tip 7/1 and 11/3 with a 4th winter there 19/4. Adults at Sandside 14/8 and 26/9.
1999: One of the highlights of the period under review was the identification of a 1st winter michahellis Yellow-legged Gull in the river next to Lancaster Tip on 13/9 (PC), which then proceeded to walk out of the water revealing a darvic ring. This was eventually traced to a scheme in the Carmargue and represents the first southern European-ringed juvenile to be recorded in Britain. Two adults were on Lancaster Tip on 23/2 and up to 5 different 4th winters, or adults, were recorded on the river, next to the tip, during late summer/autumn by PC.

Iceland Gull Larus glaucoides

Status: Scarce visitor (i.e. total number of records probably still under 50, but difficult to be certain about pre-1959), almost exclusively late December to mid-May, most regular January-mid-March.
Most records from Lancaster Tip and found by the same 3-4 observers. On average, shorter stays than Glaucous Gull.
1989: 3rd summer on Sandylands outfall flew across the Bay and landed on Cartmel Wharf, thus entering the record books for two counties!
1991: 3rd winter Lancaster Tip 29/12 into 1992.
1992: See above. Remained until 19/1.
1993: 1st winters Lancaster Tip 12/2 and 5/3. 1st winter (with newly returned Lesser Black-backed Gulls) Teal Bay 15/3. 1st summer Clarke’s Wharf, off Heysham, 8/5. 2nd or 3rd winter on river by Lancaster Tip 22/12 and 24/12.
1994: 1st winter flying over Heysham Nature Reserve on 2/1. 1st winter Lancaster Tip 19/3.
1995: 1st winters Lancaster Tip 4/1 and 16-18/3. Adult (the first record of this age for the area) over Lancaster en route from Lancaster Tip to Blea Tarn Reservoir on both 4/11 and 5/11.
1998: Record year. 1st winter Halforth 10/2-12/2. Adult intermittently at Halforth 10/2-14/2. 1st winter showing characters of kumleini Halforth 14/2-18/2 and Carnforth Tip at least 16/3 and 18/3. The Halforth birds fed on Kendal Tip for much of the day. 1st winter Lancaster Tip 10/3-11/3 and very elusive first summer there 18/4-19/4.

Glaucous Gull Larus hyperboreus

Status: Uncommon visitor, mainly during the winter months.
Scarcer than during the previous 10 years with a similar level of observation at the rubbish tips. As well as fewer passage birds, there were no returning individuals (adult at Lancaster Tip each winter 1983/84-1986/87 and 1st winter-3rd winter similarly 1984/85-1986/87). A probable 1st winter Glaucous x Herring Gull was in Hest Bank evening roost on 5/2/91.
1989: 1st winter south off Heysham 22/12.
1990: Winter plumaged adult was a nice starting point for an organised outing as it sat on the main island at Dockacres for at least 45 minutes on 17/3. Adult or sub-adult Lancaster Tip 2/4.
1992: 2nd winter Lancaster Tip 21/3 was seen later off the Stone Jetty whence it headed over to the Cumbrian side of the Bay and landed on a distant sandbank.
1993: Adult on the river by Lancaster Tip 20-21/12.
1994: 1st winter roosting on Heysham heliport on 30/1, drifted off south. 1st winter flew south through the harbour at Heysham on 6/3. Adult on skeer off Morecambe Broadway (evening roost) on 15/2. 1st winter Carnforth Tip 23/12 into 1995.
1995: Carnforth Tip 1st winter remained until 5/3 but was quite possibly the bird which roosted at Halforth and fed on Kendal Tip 26/5-7/6. Another long staying 1st winter on Lancaster Tip 4/1-28/2. Additional 1st and 3rd winters there on 19/2 (only). Adult off Morecambe on 26/2.
1996: Sub-adult on the skeer off Morecambe Broadway on 28/1. 2nd winter various Kent Estuary sites 18/2-23/2 (and feeding on Kendal Tip).
1997: 1st/2nd winter north up the Bay off Heysham on 10/2. 1st winter on the Kent Estuary (Sandside-Halforth) 16/3. 1st summer Heysham early morning only on 28/3. Very early juvenile/1st winter Teal Bay on 10/10.
1998: 1st winter at Glasson Dock 5/1/98. 1st winter Lancaster Tip 24/3-26/3, transferring to Carnforth Tip at least 29/3-30/3. Adult Lancaster Tip 25/3. 1st summer Lancaster Tip 18-19/4 (definitely not the late March 1st winter).

Great Black-backed Gull Larus marinus

Status: Breeding bird in small numbers. Winter visitor.
Very small numbers breed on Tarnbrook and are occasionally noted on territory elsewhere (e.g Lune Estuary). Winter visitor in moderate numbers to Lancaster rubbish tip. However, the largest numbers used to be on the now closed Carnforth (Cotestones) Tip and it is too early to determine whether we have lost these birds or whether there has been a proportionate increase at Lancaster. Preliminary evidence suggests to obvious increase at Lancaster.
In the region of 6 to 8 pairs breed within the Tarnbrook gullery. They are well dispersed within the colony and tend to favour the higher ground near the margins of the gullery. Early in the period, when the vast majority of birds of the year at the nearest large colony at Walney were colour-ringed, observations suggested that less than 10% of our non-breeding season birds were from that source. During the breeding season, however, Great Black-backed Gulls were regularly seen flying over Heysham Observatory to and from Lancaster Tip and Walney. The only recovery from elsewhere reported to us involved one ringed as a pullus at Gatehouse of Fleet, Galloway. However, recoveries from previous years have included Great Ainov Island in north Russia and Stronsay, Orkney. There is no reason to suppose we are not still receiving birds from north British and north European sources, giving a winter population of perhaps 250-300 birds.

Kittiwake Rissa tridactyla

Status: Passage migrant. Winter sightings during strong gales.
Various categories in this area. The most numerous and consistent is the spring passage of extremely cohesive flocks between the end of February and mid-late May. During the peak passage mid-March to mid-April, these have been recorded during calm conditions. A majority of records, however, are during onshore winds but there is obviously observer-bias during those conditions. In every observed case, this has been a wasted journey. In other words, whilst half-hearted attempts to spiral high in preparation to travel overland have been seen at inner Bay sites, all have returned to a low level and either flown or floated out of the Bay. The other major period of occurrence is during strong/gale onshore winds during October-February. Whilst most birds pass straight out of the Bay, a stormy winter can produce quite an accumulation of waifs and strays on Heysham outfalls and these eventually find the lucrative food source around the power station intake in the south-east corner of Heysham harbour. During March/April there is often an overlap between the synchronised spring passage flocks and dwindling numbers of mainly immature hanging around the intake. Ones and twos occasionally summer. Strong winds between June-late September rarely produce large numbers of Kittiwakes but single figures are often attracted to the outfalls, some of which linger, especially if they ‘find’ the intake. Occasional singletons on the gravel pits and Leighton Moss.
Detailed tabulation of the above categories for each year can be found in the Heysham Observatory reports. The highest counts at the intake/outfalls were 63 around the intake on 6/3/97 and 95 around the outfalls/intake on 3/1/98. The highest winter storm counts were 341 on 6/1/91 and 400 on 23/12/91. The highest seasonal total for spring passage birds was 1,171 between 17/3 and 23/5/96, whilst the highest day count was 419 in 13 flocks on 6/4/93.

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Terns

Caspian Tern Sterna caspia

Status: Vagrant. Three, possibly four (two well-spaced 1966 sightings) previous records, all from Leighton Moss.
An adult which had been frequenting Killington Reservoir was seen to fly south-west into our recording area from the Service Station vantage point on 14/6/89 (JAG et al.).

Sandwich Tern Sterna sandvicensis

Status: Regular spring passage migrant in small numbers, mainly off Heysham.
It seems that individuals and small groups often hang around for a few days, hence documentation as bird/days. Occasional June/July records, then usually under 20 bird/days in autumn, with two exceptions during the period under review. The numbers in autumn 1992 were unprecedented. Rare in the inner Bay and just one inland record during the period.
The highest counts in spring were 107 bird/days during April-May 1991 and 206 bird/days during April/May 1996 with most on 5/5 (50) and 6/5 (55). Otherwise varied between 6 bird/days (1998) and 33 bird/days (1995). The only really early record was on 13/3/90. One was on Dockacres on 12/5/91. A scattering of records during June/July usually involved single birds or pairs at the Red Nab high tide roost. In autumn, single or low double figures were recorded each year, usually on seawatches. The major exception was an unprecedented influx during persistently strong winds 25/8-17/9/92 where variable counts, suggesting quite a degree of ‘through-put’, reached a maximum of 75. The counts were of birds roosting on the heliport. A much smaller influx occurred in 1998 when a maximum of 13 roosted on Red Nab at high tide during late August to mid-September. The latest record during the period was an adult, which remained around Heysham outfalls 19/10-26/10/96.

Roseate Tern Sterna dougallii

Status: Vagrant. The fourth record for the area and the first since 1982. At least one of the previous records is dubious by present-day standards of record assessment.
Adult on Heysham Two outfall on 15/5 (STR et al.).

Common Tern Sterna hirundo

Status: Spring and autumn passage migrant. Breeds in small numbers.
Attempts to breed in much reduced numbers on the Lune Estuary, very few recent records suggesting any success. One or two pairs bred at Wyreside fisheries each year, latterly on a tern raft constructed by Ralph Lockwood. Variable passage migrant with some sizeable influxes during strong winds in autumn, but no really noticeable spring passage (c.f. Arctic Tern). Numbers on Heysham outfalls in late summer/autumn were very high during the first 2-3 years of Heysham Two operation (which included 1989), but drastically reduced as the feeding and especially roosting areas were constantly disturbed by ever increasing numbers of bass anglers. Peregrines were also partly responsible and induced a mass exodus out of the Bay on at least one occasion.
One of our collective failures during this last ten years has been the lack of proper monitoring of the Lune tern colony(s). There has been a rather negative ‘they always fail’ attitude and also there have been considerable difficulties re-access (which is perhaps best achieved by boat) as well as vague distant interpretations of the situation from the cyclepath across the river being allowed to ‘do’ for the year. There was no evidence of any breeding success during the period under review other than ‘possibilities’ in 1998, including recently fledged young on Heysham outfalls, the main feeding site for the adults. Wyreside fisheries:- two young reared in 1991, one pair ‘bred’ in 1992, two pairs ‘attempted to breed’ in 1993, four pairs bred ‘successfully’ in 1994, at least two pairs bred in 1995, at least two pairs in 1996, at least one on raft in 1997 and at least one attempt on the raft in 1998. All autumn passage records of any significance came from Heysham outfalls. Passage numbers were far and away the highest in 1989 with a staggering 7,729 bird/days covering 22 days on Heysham outfalls during autumn, with a maximum of 1,200 on 15/8/89. In addition, ‘hundreds’ were considered to be passing out of the bay on 15/8, 17/8 and 21/8/89. At least moderate onshore winds required to ‘hold’ birds on the outfalls from the end of July onwards and these quickly move on when calm conditions materialise. Not surprisingly, the later in the autumn, the more strong and persistent the winds have to be to produce and then ‘hold’ birds on the outfalls. Late individuals on the outfalls on 29/10/89 and 5/11/90.

Arctic Tern Sterna paradisaea

Status: Noteable spring passage migrant. Breeds in small numbers. Scarce in autumn.
Spring passage migrant in considerable numbers, with Heysham outfalls being a focal point for temporary feeding flocks. Evidence that some birds arrive from overland (from the south-east) and there have been instances of flocks rising to a great height and disappearing off to the north or north-east. A majority of the flocks continue into the Bay at a relatively low level and we are still not sure what happens to these although the evidence suggests that at some point they spiral up and head overland. Rare breeding bird with unsuccessful attempts by up to 15 pairs on the Lune Estuary (see Common Tern). On occasions when they breed on Foulney, there have been feeding movements between there and Heysham outfalls. This has not happened in the last four years at least. Not common in autumn with most records, after the local birds have disappeared in late July, being of juveniles. Some of these have remained very late into the autumn.
The first real hint of spring passage flocks arriving overland from the east came on 27/4/89 when a compact flock of 109 ‘leaf-fell’ on to the old Sandylands outfall, did 5 feeding circuits before progressing north up the Bay. Confirmation that this was not a ‘one-off’ came with intensive spring seawatching at Heysham in 1991. The evening of 24/4/91 produced flocks of 106, 115, 124 and 74 flying up the Bay and subsequently a total of at least 400-500 passed through the outfalls during late April to mid-May. This set the tone for regular recording of this passage and the highlights from subsequent years comprised:- 527 north in 12 flocks in one hour on 3/5/96, 653 north in 14 flocks in two hours on 9/5/97, flock of 187 heading off high to the north east from Heysham outfalls (towards Ingleborough) on 12/5/97, 221 in 8 flocks in 45 minutes on 3/5/98. Usually scarce and outnumbered by Common Tern from late July onwards, with fresh/strong onshore winds required to ‘hold’ any individuals on the outfalls from the end of July onwards. Late individuals on 29/10/89 and a first winter which remained from late September 1995 to 2/11/95.

Little Tern Sterna albifrons

Status: Declining passage migrant.
The decline continued with no records at all in 1993, 1994 (Allen Pool record on 11/9 was an immature Arctic), 1998 or 1999. Most recent records have been of birds recorded in spring during seawatches, or on Heysham outfalls after onshore winds. Only occasional records from the Lune Estuary, which used to host substantial post-breeding gatherings, the last of which were in 1982/83. Some of the autumn Heysham sightings were discounted as 1st summer Arctic or Common Terns; there were a number of observers having problems.
1989: One Sandside 15/5. Two on Lune Estuary mid-July. Heysham: one on 7/8, 3-4 on 9/8 and one 16/8.
1990: Heysham: Three on 1/7 and one on 9/7. Vague reports of ‘ones and twos’ on Lune Estuary.
1991: Heysham: 3 on 15/5 and perhaps same adult on 13 and 15/7.
1992: Heysham: One on 24/4, 3-5 on 26/4, one on 8/5, one on 1/9. One multi-observed inland at Dockacres 26/4.
1995: Heysham: one 8/5, juvenile there 24/8. Three Cockersands 10/8, the last known Lune Estuary records.
1996: One Heysham harbour entrance 23/5.
1997: All Heysham: One on outfalls 24/4, 5 reportedly there 4/5 and three similarly 10/5.

Whiskered Tern Chlidonias hybridus

Status: Vagrant, with one previous record (Leighton Moss 1977). All three Lancashire records have been during the first week of June.
2nd summer on Babydoc (currently Tewitfield Fishery) from at least 1110hrs to 2130hrs on 6/6/96 (PJM et al.). It was last seen flying off high to the south-east. This gravel pit was not well-watched prior to this occurrence (it was afterwards!) and it may have been present from much earlier than 1110hrs.

Black Tern Chlidonias niger

Status: Annual spring and autumn (except 1999) passage migrant.
Spring overshoot, sometimes in dramatic fashion, during south-east winds. At other times, apparently similar conditions fail to produce. Most autumn records are either from Heysham outfalls or during seawatches, especially if the wind is more south-westerly than westerly. A few at Leighton or on the gravel pits at this time. A majority are birds of the year. Occasional during midsummer.
1989: 7 in spring, one at Sunderland 15-16/7, 4 in autumn.
1990: Major influx with the following maxima on 2/5: Leighton Moss (95), Dockacres (90), Wyreside fisheries complex (15), Cleveley Mere (5) and Heysham outfalls (9). There were at least 92 other bird/days in spring, partly a result of some birds lingering following the main influx (contra 1997). A very early juvenile at Dockacres on 15/7 followed by just 4 in autumn.
1991: 11 in spring and just 2 in autumn.
1992: Two small influxes. On 14/5: Leighton Moss (32), Eric Morecambe Pool (21), Dockacres/Pine Lake (9). On 24/5: Dockacres (9), Leighton Moss (23), off Jenny Brown’s Point (18). A further 58 bird/days were probably a product of plenty of suitable arrival weather during spring 1992, rather than birds hanging around from these influxes. There was a major influx on 11/9 to the south of our region and 10 birds associated with this made it to Heysham outfalls. A further 15 bird/days during autumn.
1993: Just 2 in spring and 5 in autumn.
1994: 29 in spring and 12 in autumn, including a long-stayer at Wyreside fisheries 26-31/8.
1995: Just one in spring and 6 in autumn.
1996: 8 in spring and 3 in autumn.
1997: Major influx on 3/5: Leighton Moss (75), Babydoc (6), Dockacres (7), Pine Lake (1), Wyreside fisheries (4), off Morecambe Town Hall (3), Heysham outfalls (7), Conder Estuary (2), Stodday (2). These were seen to depart in the evening and the 27 other bird/days of the spring were separate from this influx. 13 in autumn.
1998: 15 in spring and 6 in autumn.
1999: Very poor year, with just 4 reported in spring and none in autumn.

White-winged Black Tern Chlidonias leucopterus

Status: Vagrant. This is the fifth record for the area.
Second summer (briefly) at Leighton Moss, before spending the rest of the day on Dockacres on 15/7/90 (JWB et al.).

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Auks

Guillemot Uria aalge

Status: Winter visitor in very variable numbers, usually to outer Bay sites such as Heysham.
In recent years there have been very few and this may be partly due to the lack of a really severe spell of onshore gales compared to early in the period. Occasionally recorded on passage in small flocks. One of the larger and darker nominate northern race trapped and ringed at Heysham Power Station intake reservoir, the first known occurrence of this race in this area.
What was described as an ‘unremarkable’ year, referring to 1989, would have been described as ‘good’ or even ‘excellent’ in 1999! In 1989, there were 20-30 off Heysham in the first winter period and 10-15 in the second winter period ‘the lowest for many years’. Two influxes in autumn, producing 27 on 8/8 and c.35 on 16/9. Contrast that with the excellent seawatching conditions and coverage during autumn 1997, especially the windy period 29/8-16/9, which did not produce a single record. The start of the decline in numbers was in 1990, when only low single figures could be found off Heysham at both ends of the year. Indeed, the only double-figure counts during the remainder of the 10 years were during the 1992/93 winter and during persistent onshore winds during February 1997. Numbers during the 1992/93 winter were probably mainly a product of strong winds at the end of October 1992 (note that similar conditions in October 1998 failed to produce any). A maximum of c.50 was recorded on 24/10 with up to 40 remaining during November and c.15 during December, 8 of which ended up in the power station underground reservoir. A further small influx during January 1993, reaching a maximum of 21 on 21/1. The northern race individual referred to above was trapped on 3/2/93. The highest count during February 1997 was c.24 on 24/2. The last two years have seen very few records at all and no evidence of consistent presence off Heysham Harbour. Unusual records during the period under review included one remaining on Pine Lake from at least 18/4-14/5/90, oblivious to intensive water sport activities. Also one summered in Heysham Harbour for the first and only time to date in 1989.

Razorbill Alca torda

Status: Erratic visitor during the non-breeding season.
Probably under 150 records in total in this area and certainly recent status would warrant inclusion in one of the rarity categories, certainly records of live birds. A majority of records the product of onshore winter gales with many individuals in poor condition or found dead. Only the occasional pallid reflection of the sizeable passage flocks recorded off the Fylde/Cumbrian coast but the circumstances do suggest that one day all the factors will be in place to divert large numbers into the Bay. We shall see; it has happened with every other species recorded in sizeable numbers off the Fylde/South Cumbria.
1989: Single intermittently in January and a flock of at least 6 on 3/9 (including a half-grown young). One January corpse.
1990: One found on a roof at Corless Mill, Dolphinholme (later died) during a gale on 27/2. One found on the canal at Bolton-le-Sands following unseasonal mid-summer gales in early July. Eight records throughout the year at Heysham, including two on 8/6.
1991: 5 seen off Heysham January to May.
1992: 10 individuals from various coastal sites, maximum of 4 at Jenny Brown’s Point on 25/10.
1993: Just 5 records in January and December, including one corpse.
1994: 4 records in January (3 corpses) and an unusual flock of 7 flying around off Heysham on 18/6.
1995: About 10 sightings from coastal sites, mainly January-February.
1996: 4 winter period sightings and a number of spring sightings off Heysham: 5-6 on 24/4, 5+3+1 out on 25/5, 2 out on 27/5.
1997: 6 records off Morecambe/Heysham, all in January-February.
1998: The only record was a single off Morecambe Town Hall on 31/1.
1999: There was no reflection whatsoever in our recording area of the record numbers in autumn off Walney and the Fylde (over 1,000 on at least one date). One off Heysham on 19/2. One in the Lune Estuary 5/12.

Black Guillemot Cepphus grylle

Status: Vagrant. Just three previous records, therefore increased regularity is suggested during the period under review, mirroring the situation in the Walney/Foulney area at the other side of the Bay.
What was probably a juvenile flew south past Heysham wooden jetty on 16/9/89 (PJM & Lancaster RSPB group). Summer adult off Heysham during strong winds on 9/7/90 (JWB, DT et al.). 1st winter around Heysham Harbour and area 25/9-7/10/95 (PJM et al.). 1st winter, bearing a ring, off Heysham outfalls 16/3-22/3/96 (Stockport RSPB et al.). One in non-breeding plumage, presumably a juvenile, flew out of the Bay at close range (viewed from Heysham) on 13/8/98 (JR). On 9/12/99, during stormy conditions, a first winter close inshore by Morecambe Stone Jetty was later observed flying out of the Bay off Heysham.

Little Auk Alle alle

Status: Storm-blown visitor, probably ‘scarce’ rather than ‘uncommon’ if corpses are included, ‘rare’ referring to just live birds.
As implied, many are found as corpses or in an emaciated condition from which they rarely appear to recover. Above average numbers during the period under review, compared to just 3-4 records in the previous ten years, two of which do not inspire any confidence in the identification.
1990: One off Heysham 30/12-31/12 (D&MC, DT, TW et al.).
1991: Singles off Heysham 2/1-3/1 (1990 bird) and 6/1 (many observers). Other on 6/1: one at Carnforth, one at Caton and one on Glasson Marina. All alive when found but succumbed later. One dead on Hest Bank shore on 22/12, one off Heysham 23/12 (PJM) and a long-dead individual in the reedbed at Leighton Moss on 31/12.
1993: One picked up dead at Yealand Redmayne on 17/1. One found alive, but died soon afterwards, in a garden at Beaufort Road, Bare on 20/12 (per BVH).
1996: One was taken from the sea and eaten by a Great Black-backed Gull off Heysham north harbour wall on 27/10 (E Gibb). One found exhausted at Jenny Brown’s Point and released at Arnside on 1/11. One off Heysham north harbour wall on 2/12 had apparently been released there earlier by the RSPCA! It had been picked up at Cleveleys.
1997: One close inshore (and photographed) at Heysham on 8/2 (AMcC, JL, PW et al.). One probable at long range off Jenny Brown’s Point on 4/11 (TWh).
1998: On 5/11, the same individual alighted briefly on the Allen Pool (J Gilligan) before heading off towards Jenny Brown’s Point where it was independently noted by T Wheeler as it flew out towards Humphrey Head.

Puffin Fratercula arctica

Status: Very rare visitor with five records during 1979-88, none 1968-79 and described by Hague (68 Checklist) as ‘very rare’, relating to pre-1968.
This is an extremely difficult bird to connect with in Lancashire as appearances on seawatches are few and far between and not related to any ‘obvious’ weather synopses. There is a suggestion, however, that extreme patience during strong winds in late October/early November may eventually produce the goods! Other records were mainly ‘during the spring’.
Summer adult seen in flight and on the sea off Heysham wooden jetty on 14/5/89. Juvenile or winter adult south off Heysham on 31/10/89. One north at Heysham on 13/6/91. Two together off Heysham seawatching hide on 2/11/92 before lifting off the sea and flying out of the Bay. Adult summer south off Heysham at close range during strong winds on 6/4/93.

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Checklist Introduction

Part 1: Divers to Raptors

Part 3: Pigeons to Buntings

Notes, References etc.

Map of the Area Covered by the Checklist



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