Rare sightings attract attention in Heysham

The Chough. Photo by Jack Morris.
The Chough. Photo by Jack Morris.
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Birdwatchers and photographers have been flocking to Heysham to catch a glimpse of two rare bird sightings.

A red-billed Chough and an Iceland Gull have been spotted in and around Half Moon Bay and at Heysham Harbour respectively, causing a stir in the birdwatching community.

The Chough was discovered last November by Helen Wallwork as it fed alongside the fence by the horse paddocks alongside Knowlys Road.

After a month or so it then discovered the fields and cliff edge alongside Half Moon Bay and became a familiar sight for the daily dog walkers.

Pete Morris, from birding tour company Birdquest, said: “Inevitably word spread amongst the photographic community and latterly the best way to notice it was to look for a gang of people lying on the grass pointing their cameras at an unconcerned black bird sticking its lengthy red beak into the soft ground looking for earthworms.”

More recently a gull from Greenland has discovered the ample food provided by the waterfall in the southwest corner of Heysham Harbour. The Iceland Gull breeds in the Arctic and winters as far south as the UK and New York.

Pete said: “This is an Iceland Gull in its third winter.

“In February-March 2017 there was an Iceland Gull in whiter second winter plumage using this waterfall and we think it is the same bird. Obviously it has wandered around for most of the winter, before homing in on this rich food source to sustain its long journey home back to Greenland. Again many photographers and birdwatchers have combined a visit to the Chough with the long walk along the power station seafront.”