Thursday, 21 March 2019

21st March 2019

Weather:SW force 1
The first Wheatear of the spring duly arrived this morning at the north end soon after dawn, always an eagerly awaited event, for most birders it is the harbinger of spring.
It was soon joined by another individual, both flying about together, even landing on a bungalow roof.

They moved on after an hour or so, then another arrived around midday which in turn was joined by a fourth bird soon afterwards. It is not often that the first is involved with a multiple arrival. Visible migration was less than yesterday although a White Wagtail was another first of the year. There were no Goldcrests or Skylarks this morning but a small passage of Meadow Pipits went through and single Chaffinch, Greenfinch and 3 Goldfinches were about, also a Reed Bunting and a new Chiffchaff. A fine looking male Stonechat was a new arrival and it stayed throughout the day.

A Merlin had been seen perched south of Middle early on.
The sea was relatively calm but the best birds seen were 35 Great Crested Grebes and 3 Red-breasted Mergansers.
Wader numbers were predictably low, the best being 114 Curlew, 1,500 Oystercatchers, 2 Purple Sandpipers and 60 Redshank.

Brent were counted at 211 and 2 male and 2 female Eiders swam into view as the tide flooded and ebbed, and 2 Wigeon flew down the estuary off the east side.
A Small Tortoiseshell butterfly rested in the watery sunshine.
Ringed: 1 Chiffchaff, 1 Robin        [ 24-9 ]

photos AS,SRW

Wednesday, 20 March 2019

20th March 2019

Weather: WSW 0-1 
A spring like day brought spring like birds to the island. Small species included 5 Goldfinches, a Chaffinch, a Reed Bunting, a Goldcrest, 2 Skylarks and a Chiffchaff that had been ringed elsewhere on 5th October last year, we await further details.

Larger visitors were a Merlin, 2 Woodpigeons and a Greylag Goose, while 200 Brent and a few Shelduck were around the islands. Meadow Pipits were displaying and a Dunnock was singing.

Best of the sea watch was a Great Northern Diver which is probably the same bird that hss been about recently. Also seen were 18 Great Crested Grebes and 350 Common Scoter.

An afternoon visit brought two good friends of the Obs Margaret Rawlins and Mike Archer (from the Bird Observatory Council) who are helping us input our 62 years worth of sightings data!  The least we could do was provide a brief trip over via Landrover to break the monotony of paginating our old log books in a local West Kirby office.
It was a stunning afternoon on the island with hardly any wind and temperatures soaring it felt more like May than March.   Two colour-ringed Pale-bellied Brents were present on the whaleback (Canadian and Icelandic ringed birds) plus four Eiders.  Margaret and Mike even managed to ring a bird each (Meadow Pipit and Robin) before a Short-eared Owl was seen flying east from Middle towards the Royal Liverpool Golf Course being mobbed by gulls.
A great end to a lovely day.
Ringed: 2 Wrens, 1 Goldcrest, 5 Linnets, 1 Meadow Pipit, 1 Robin.    [ 22-9 ]
photos JE,CS,SRW

Tuesday, 19 March 2019

19th March 2019

Weather: W  1-2  vis 3 mls with mist but increasing later as the mist lifted.

As observers arrived at Middle Eye 5 male and 3 female Mallard were noted below the cliff on the east side, upon reaching the Obs a Goldcrest was calling in the Pittospurum and a Chaffinch twinked further down the island.
A Skylark was put up from the south end and remained around the island all morning, a Rock Pipit was at the north end and in addition to the  Meadow Pipit on territory there was a small passage, 60 in total.   
 Five Starling landed on the mast briefly, 3 Pied and 1 Grey Wagtail flew over as did 4 Goldfinch, with at least 1 coming down in the Gazebo garden.
 A Jackdaw was heard calling and was then seen being chased away from the island by the resident Crows, 14 Linnet , a Blackbird and 3 Dunnock were logged.
A first winter Dark-bellied Brent was with the other Brent Geese, 2 male and 2 female Eider were east of Middle after the tide. Nine Common Scoter, 3 Red-breasted Merganser and 2 Great Crested Grebe were on the sea.
 Some of the waders noted were 4 Purple Sandpiper, 10 Ringed Plover, 64 Turnstone, 60 Knot and 63 Curlew.
 A Kestrel was spotted over the south end but did not stay and a Grey Heron was in the lagoon.

Monday, 18 March 2019

18th March 2019

Weather: WSW 3-4, 8/8 cloud, drizzle, moderate vis

An after tide visit on a family dull day produced some interesting records not least the re-appearance of a Dark-bellied Brent Goose with the Pale-bellied Brents which numbered 230.

A pair of Mallard were off Middle Eye as the tide ebbed as were three of the five Eiders present (two males and three females).

The Stonechat was still present in the gardens on the east side late morning and a couple of Pied Wagtails were noted.

A Scandinavian Rock Pipit (Anthus petrosus littoralis) was noted on Middle Eye on the way off the island but did not hang around long enough to be photographed (presumably headed to the main island).  There have been three recent March records (2014 and 2018) of this sub-species at Hilbre (they are clearly more readily identifiable in spring) and one bird caught in October 2016 which had a Norwegian ring!  Photo below from 2018 (

Sunday, 17 March 2019

17th March 2019

Weather: W 7-8, 6/8 cloud, moderate vis

A very blustery day still produced some very noteworthy records.

An Oystercatcher has taken to the top of the main island, which is unusual, and it is ringed - it would be very interesting to find out where and when it was ringed.

Six Eiders were seen today including three drakes (two adult and an immature) and three females.  Three Mallard were also noted including two drakes and duck.

A good passage of Meadow Pipits was noted over the sea flying east to west totalling 135 birds.  Four Pied Wagtails were also recorded as was a single Rock Pipit.

The sea produced two Red-throated Divers and a single Great Northern Diver (possibly the bird seen several times in recent weeks) as well as two Gannets and 150 Common Scoters.  A Harbour Porpoise was noted again off the east side of the island from the Obs and is perhaps the individual which has been seen several times recently.

Wader numbers were reasonable but only a single Grey Plover was seen (and photographed).

Photos by CJW

Friday, 15 March 2019

15th March 2019

Weather: W  5-6  vis 8 mls

As observers arrived on the main island a Peregrine was seen with prey, hovering left of the slipway on, at the top of the slipway a pile of feathers showed the prey to have been a Knot.
The female Stonechat was re-trapped and was seen to have increased weight by 2 grams in the fortnight that she has been on the island. Also noted were 9 Linnet, a Blackbird and 2 each of Dunnock, Robin and Pied Wagtail.
 A surprise was an adult Shag floating up the Gutter with the tide.
Brent Geese were counted at 196, 4 Common Scoter were on the sea and the regular 3 Eider were present and joined by another 3 (total of 2 adult males, 1 immature male and 3 females).
Waders noted were again in low numbers and included 300 Dunlin, 10 Ringed Plover, 2 Purple Sandpiper and 88 Curlew.

Thursday, 14 March 2019

14th March 2019

Weather: NW  6  vis 5mls with mist around the estuary and showers, improving later.

A good count of 228 Brent Geese included 3 colour ringed birds, the male and 2 female Eider are still here and the pair of Mallard on the pond.
Two Red-throated Diver were spotted on the sea along with 3 Great Crested Grebe, 9 Common Scoter and a single Guillemot.
The female Stonechat is still on the island and a lone Starling landed briefly in the Heli garden, 2 Goldfinch flew over but did not land. There was plenty of Meadow Pipit activity with 20 counted but only a single Rock Pipit.
Only 1850 Oystercatcher were logged and other waders were also noted in smaller numbers than of late.
A Peregrine was present around the island, as were the maintenance team who completed a few jobs despite the blustery weather!