Winter at Holme Bird Observatory (please click for clip)

Friday, 28 August 2009

Wryneck, Wheatear and Pied Flycatchers

A stunning Wryneck. Posing in the Hand 27 August

Wheatear 24 August 1 of 2 in the Dunes

Pied Flycatcher 23 August 1 of at least 6 between the Forestry and the Pines.

Young Common Seal loafing on the Beach Holme 26 August

Thursday, 27 August 2009


The first scarcity of the autumn was a bit of a surprise this morning, with a stunning WRYNECK trapped and ringed on the reserve. This is the first one caught at the observatory since 2002, although the species is a near-annual drift migrant to the recording area. Picture © Jed Andrews.

Wednesday, 26 August 2009

Pied Flycatchers

A small change in wind direction overnight to SE meant 6 Pied Flycatchers were found on 23rd August but they had all gone by the next day.

Pictures © Connor D. Rand.


This picture of a young Hare was taken recently from the hide at Redwell. Pic © Jed Andrews.

Tuesday, 25 August 2009

Green and Common Sandpipers at Redwell Marsh NOA

A group of 5 Green Sandpipers joined by a lone Common Sandpiper. Not the closest of birds but showing the difference between them quite nicely.

Wednesday, 19 August 2009

Fulmar action

These Fulmar shots were taken from a fishing boat offshore from the observatory that may soon be running pelagic trips up to a few miles of the coast - watch this space! Pictures © Jed Andrews.

Monday, 10 August 2009

9th August Some birds in the hand

Quality over quantity out of the nets ...

Juvenile Green Woodpecker

Another Cettis warbler, number ten for the year.

Juvenile Treecreeper. Treecreeper number four in an exceptional year for them.



1 of 2 BLACK TERNS on the beach at Holme 7th August

A rather long distance clip of 1 of the 2 Black Terns on the beach near Thornham Harbour, among large numbers of Common and Sandwich Terns

Saturday, 8 August 2009

First signs of Autumn

The 7th August was a good day of general movement, signalling the first tentative steps of autumn. This was headlined by 10 Spoonbills, with 7 east at 07:42hrs and 3 east at 17:30hrs, with the latter group shown below. Seawatching was reasonably productive at times, with 79 Teal west, 12 Eider, 96 Common Scoter, 1 Great Crested Grebe, 13 Fulmars, 3 Manx Shearwaters east, 66 Gannets and 1 Great Skua west.

Pictures © Jed Andrews

One of the notable events of the day was excellent numbers of terns throughout, first of all on the seawatch in the morning, then on the beach in Thornham harbour at low tide and again in the early evening, when large numbers were wheeling about catching ants with large numbers of gulls over the pines and observatory, resulting in counts (at any one time) of 364 Common Terns, 54 Sandwich Terns, 16 Arctic Terns (4 on the beach at Gore point at high tide, 5 past on the seawatch, 2 in Thornham harbour at low tide and 5 along the broadwater/over the pines in the evening) and best of all 2 moulting adult Black Terns loafing around in Thornham harbour at low tide amongst the masses of Common Terns, along with a smart and somewhat unseasonal adult Little Gull. An adult Mediterranean Gull was also hawking over the pines in the evening.

Picture © Jed Andrews

Passerines also featured, with the first autumn migrants being grounded by the overnight rain, headlined by a Spotted Flycatcher in the Forestry and 3 Garden Warblers, of which one was trapped and ringed, but also including 15 Willow Warblers and 4 Lesser Whitethroats.

Picture © Connor D. Rand

4 Cetti's Warbler were noteworthy on the NOA reserve. Waders were again a key feature, with 14 Golden Plovers, 20 Snipe, 12 Black-tailed Godwits, 28 Whimbrel, 1 Spotted Redshank west, 2 Greenshank and 8 Green Sandpipers noted, while a trickle of hirundines flying west along the dunes consisted of 75 Swallows and 10 Sand Martins.

Words by Connor D. Rand.

Insect influx headlined by massive Ladybird arrival

The most obvious event of a trip down to the observatory on the 31st July was a superb influx of insects, with 9000+ 7-spot Ladybirds counted around the observatory and dunes in front of the pines, although the true total will have been considerably higher, as well as 500+ Syrphus ribesii hoverflies, with around 50+ hoverflies of other species also noted. Many species of butterflies were seen coming in off the sea, with 320 Large Whites, 50 Peacocks, 90 Painted Ladies, 20 Red Admirals, 4 Common Blues and 35 Small Tortishells in off the sea and in the dunes, with 30 Small Whites, 25 Small Heaths, 3 Brown Argus, 30 Meadow Browns, 3 Speckled Woods and 1 Gatekeeper around the reserve, as were 20 Common Darters and 10 Migrant Hawkers. The true scale of the ladybird invasion was just awesome, with swarms of 100s regularly moving through the area - I've never seen anything like it! The influx of Ladybirds continued into the next day (1st August) with over 15,000 estimated, together with 1200 Hoverflies, 100+ Painted Ladies, 50 Large Whites, 10 Red Admirals, 20 Peacocks, 5 Small Tortoiseshells and a Common Blue. Birds noted over this period included 2 adult Yellow-legged Gulls and a 2nd-summer Mediterranean Gull on the beach on the 31st July and a Grey Wagtail on the 1st August.

hoverfly sp.

7-spot Ladybird

Migrant Hawker

Painted Lady

Common Darter

Words and photos © Connor D. Rand

Wednesday, 5 August 2009

Black Tailed Godwits Redwell Marsh

Groups of Black Tailed Godwits are now regular visitors to Redwell. This group of 72 was an imprssive sight in the late afternoon sun


At least 2 Greensahnk and several Green Sandpipers feeding on the pools on Holme marsh - with the Greenshank taking small fish and not alaways finding it easy to swallow them !

Tuesday, 4 August 2009


Redshank bathing and preening among the flock of Godwits on Redwell marsh.


one of several snipe feeding on the marsh


snipe feeding close to the hide on Redwell 29 July

Waders Shearwaters and an Invasion of Ladybirds ...

With Autumn migration tantalizingly close, Holme continues to throw up surprises. The first Skuas have appeared off the Dunes and the 30th July produceded a good passage of Manx Shearwaters - including an impressive group off 19 cutting through the waves. Seawatching for several days the end of July coincided with a major influx of Ladybirds - counted in the 10s of thousands -that carpeted the Dunes.

Greenshank .31 July. Busy catching small fish in the pools on Holme Marsh

Black Tailed Godwits Redwell Marsh 30 July. With Redwell regularly holding good numbers of Godwits, this flock of 72 was an impressive sight in the late afternoon sun

Snipe Redwell Marsh 29 July - on this occasion feeding very close to the hide