Saturday, 18 April 2015

18th April 2015

Weather: E force 1, slight frost overnight, beautiful sunny day

The first few hours of the morning brought in less warblers than yesterday, just half a dozen Willow Warblers a Blackcap and of the course the compulsory Redstart; today's bird however was a full adult male with jet black throat, white forehead and blue-grey greater coverts (below).
 Later in the morning 3 Wheatears arrived, one of which became the first Greenland race ringed so far this year, likewise a few White Wagtails with a single also becoming the first of its race in the potter traps this year. An even greater prize of a Yellow Wagtail narrowly eluded us, but it stayed around the west side for some time giving hope, while a Grey Wagtail completed the trio of wagtails present.

Greenland Wheatear

White Wagtail
A Collared Dove stayed from early (at one time with a Woodpigeon), and was the first of this species to be caught and ringed this year when it was found in the Heli in the afternoon.  Apart from the Linnets, 6 Goldfinches were the only finches found and also passing through were at least 6 Swallows and 2 House Martins, 1 or 2 of the Swallows gave the impression they may be locals arriving back early to breed.

Shore and sea did not produce big numbers (apart from the distant 4,000 or so Scoters off Hoylake with 3 Velvets seen from the island) but varied species included 4 Red-throated Divers, 18 Sandwich Terns, 1 Guillemot, 1 Whimbrel, 1 Little Egret, 50 Dunlin, a Knot, and 40 Canada Geese seen flying up the West Kirby/Red Rocks shore and 2 on the sea off the island.

Two Rock Pipits are giving hope they may stay the summer, and a Skylark sang over the south end, a rare occurrence in the last few years.

Collared Dove

Meanwhile Hoylake RNLI Lifeboat was called out to rescue a Yacht that had broken down south of the island and west of Middle and was watched from the Obs.

Ringed: 4 Willow Warblers, 3 Linnets, 2 Wrens, 1 Blackcap, 1 Redstart, 1 Greenland Wheatear, 1 White Wagtail, 1 Collared Dove.   [ 205-29 ]

(JE, CJ+VB, PSW+5, NDW, SRW, TGW), + Tim Kinch, & Hugh
Photos: Skylark, Yellow Wagtail, Swallow & Dunlin by Tim Kinch, Rescue by PSW, others by CJ & SRW

Friday, 17 April 2015

17th April 2015

Weather:  SE 3-4, blustery and cold at times, 7/8 cloud, good vis

The first round of the morning just after 6am produced a small fall of phylloscs with 10 birds caught mainly Willow Warblers but including a male Redstart and a male Blackcap.

The small fall continued until around 9am at which time it disappointingly petered out but by the end of the day 26 birds had been caught the majority Willow Warblers.

Some small overhead passage was noted including a couple of Siskin, 2 Tree Pipits and a few wagtails and Goldfinches that included some that alighted in the blackthorn and a couple were caught and ringed.

A pair of Eider passed up the West Side and flew North and were closely followed by a second drake and 7 Canada Geese were noted.
(CJW(f), GIW, SRW and TGW (from over), CJ) [191-26]

Thursday, 16 April 2015

16th April 2015

Weather:  No wind first thing, backing ESE, then NNE later, 3/8 cloud, good vis; a glorious day!

Another glorious April day on the island began with an early morning flava Wagtail passing over calling and a small trickle of phylloscs with 2 Willow Warblers and 2 Chiffchaffs caught and ringed.

A Merlin was seen near the light and the male Kestrel showed well hovering at various points around the island (see below).

Kestrel - hovering over the Old Obs garden (note the ring, possibly the bird caught on 11 September 2014 which had been ringed 8 years previously at Meols, Wirral as a pullus on 2 June 2006)
 A male Blackcap was caught but attention soon turned to sea-watching with Little Gulls in good numbers in the mouth of the Dee with 63 counted.
Little Gulls - record shot (iPhone-scoped video grab) off the West Side of Hilbre
Harbour Porpoise - one of three seen off the West Side (following six yesterday in similar area)
Three Harbour Porpoises were seen on the flat calm sea following six seen briefly yesterday.  The sea also provided over 70 Red-throated Divers in various stages of plumage and a single Black-throated Diver in partial summer dress.

At around midday the highlight of the day appeared from the West and flew over the island pursued by gulls - our first Osprey of the year; a few calls, texts and tweets later and it was picked up at several locations further along the North Wirral.

Osprey - the first record this spring passes over the North End of the island

Wheatear - a first year male caught in the SK
Rock Pipit - the first to be ringed this year on Hilbre and quite late for this species on Hilbre
To top a great spring day a Rock Pipit was caught on Wheatear hill in a potter trap; the first to be ringed this year on the islands.

As the tide flooded in the evening the first flocks of spring Dunlin and Ringed Plover appeared below the Obs and Whimbrel could be heard calling down the estuary.

(CJW(f), CLW, FPW, GIW, SRW, TGW from over and DB) [165-26]

Wednesday, 15 April 2015

15th April 2015

Weather:  No wind first thing, backing West by lunch time with drizzle by late morning

A great April day with over 50 species recorded started quietly enough with a few wagtails passing over (including at least 3 Whites out of 11 alba noted) and a single Woodpigeon sat on the Telegraph Station steps.

Chiffchaffs outnumbered Willow Warblers 3 to 1 (literally!) but a male Blackcap was found in Telegraph House garden and was trapped later in the SK.

A female Blackcap was found at the South End and was presumably the same bird that was also trapped in the SK later in the day.

The main focus of the morning became the sea with 23 Little Gulls counted off the west side along with 7 Sandwich Terns and the first two Common Terns of the year.  The Scoter flocks remained impressive with an estimate from Hilbre of c8,000+ birds and despite no Surf Scoters being visible at least 6 Velvets were noted during the day.

The highlight of the day came at around 1pm when the first Grasshopper Warbler of the year was discovered in the Newton trap; a typical date, time and trap for this species at Hilbre.

(CJW (f), CLW, FPW, GIW, SRW, TGW (from over), ME) Photos SRW [156-25]

RAF Air Sea Rescue helicopter passing over Hilbre

Tuesday, 14 April 2015

14th April 2015

Weather: WSW 3-4, 5/8, good vis

20 Pale-bellied Brents were joined by a single Dark-bellied this morning but the surprise visitor again (particularly given the unfavourable wind direction) was a male Ring Ouzel seen several times around the South End during the morning.

Four Willow Warblers were noted mid morning along with single Chiffchaff and Goldcrest and a flock of seven White Wagtails alighted on the east side of the islands.

A couple of Swallows and a Sand Martins passed through and late evening brought the first Whimbrel of the year heard calling and seen near the North End.

Whimbrel - North End of Hilbre (SRW)

(SRW (from over)) [151-24]

Monday, 13 April 2015

13th April 2015

Weather: SSE force 3
Meadow Pipit   (CJ)
Wheatear  (CJ)
A much calmer day than yesterday, but a very cool breeze all morning, and judging by the relatively quiet day bird wise,obviously not to the liking of many small migrants. Five Meadow Pipits were ringed, well above normal for these birds even on a day with a passage of hundreds through the islands, but this was not the case, barely 25 were counted altogether. Two Chiffchaffs and a Willow Warbler were the only warblers to be seen and 4 Wheatears, 3 White Wagtails and 8 Goldfinches went through early, and later in the morning 3 Swallows, 3 Sand Martins and the first House Martin of the year passed over the east hoyle towards the Wirral shore. A Merlin was in the usual place on the ridge south of Middle while at the same time another darker bird was around the main island, and a Rock Pipit was at the north end.
A Canada Goose (seems to be a regular this spring) was seen very early on. On the sea 12 Red-throated Divers, 25 Great Crested Grebes and 2 newly arrived Sandwich Terns were off the north end, while the now famous massive Scoter flock off Hoylake was seen to good effect, but not near enough to find any Surf Scoters.
Ringed: 5 Meadow Pipits, 2 Chiffchaffs, 1 Willow Warbler, 1 Linnet.    [ 148-24 ]
(CJ et al)

Sunday, 12 April 2015

12th April 2015

Weather:  SSW 4 8/8 cloud, rain late morning

Surprising amount of south in the wind this morning produced a single Willow Warbler (which was caught and ringed) along with a couple of Goldfinches.

The surprise of the morning was a flighty male Ring Ouzel; presumably a different bird to any on Friday and continuing an excellent spring for this species at Hilbre (and elsewhere the UK).

A single Woodpigeon and White Wagtail were noted and 20 Pale-bellied Brents are hanging on.

The blustery start to the day with rain late morning gave way to a stunning evening on the islands.

(BT, SRW) Photos SRW