Saturday, 26 September 2015

White-winged black tern at Red Nab, Heysham

We set off for Wirral but hadn't even reached Queen's Drive in Liverpool when we received news of a white-winged black tern at outfall 1 of Heysham nuclear power station. Despite having already seen two white-winged black terns this year we decided that this was a better option than Wirral and I turned the car around and headed north. Just as we approached the Lancaster junction on the M6, we received negative news, the bird had apparently gone missing. Disappointing of course but we decided to press on regardless.  Many times in the past we've pressed on despite negative news and it often proves worthwhile because negative news is often put out a bit prematurely, and so it proved today. After parking up near the Ocean Edge caravan park we started to walk and passed two birders coming back who had just seen the bird, which obviously raised our spirits.

When we got to outfall 1 we found that we were the only birders present, but we saw the bird almost immediately, a moulting adult. It performed well, feeding around the outfall before flying 100m down the coast and landing on Red Nab in amongst the high tide wader roost. It stayed here for about 30 minutes and then headed back to the outfall and began feeding again.

Despite the very close proximity of the power station, this is actually a really nice place, especially Red Nab which is an excellent place for watching roosting waders.

This is my favourite photo of the bird flying in amongst the wader roost. I can't decide if I prefer this long narrow version or the chunkier version below. I think that perhaps long and narrow is better when you click on the photo.

The wader roost at Red Nab.

One of four Mediterranean gulls on the rocks.

The tern was found by Pete Marsh who arrived for a second look shortley after we got there. Apparently white-winged black tern is a first for Heysham. While we were talking to him, this kingfisher flew onto the rocks and is the first recorded at Heyham this year. Pity it's not a little closer but too close would spoil it in my opinion, because I love the colours of the rocks and the seaweeed on this photo. There's something different about seeing a kingfisher on the coast, almost like it loses its plastic toy appearance which they can sometimes have when they're sitting on a purpose made perch in front of a hide full of eager photographers. Suddenly when you see one on the beach, they seem much more wild and authentic!

Heysham nuclear power station.

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