Thursday, 5 May 2016

26th - 30th April 2016

Northerly cold winds did little for encouraging migration of any sort and despite daily coverage in this period there was very little of note seen apart from the odd Willow Warbler or Swallow and 4 White Wagtail on 28th and a good count of 35 Bar-tailed Godwit on 29th.

Sunday, 24 April 2016

24th April 2016

With the wind in the North observers didn't expect much visible migration today or many grounded migrants. They weren't disappointed!

However, an increase in wader numbers kept the interest going with good numbers of Dunlin and Ringed Plover roosting on Middle Eye. These were joined by 12 Bar-tailed Godwits including two summer plumaged birds and a flock of 18 Sanderling. Most were in winter plumage but there were a few transitional  birds and one summer plumaged individual. Meanwhile on the West Side 12 Whimbrel roosted over the high tide. 

Of interest on the sea was a single Red-throated Diver, 2 distant Gannets and just a solitary Sandwich Tern.

On the passerine front there were a few Swallows after the high tide and two Siskins passed over.  A single House Martin was also logged.

The Obs hosted a visit from a local wildlife group, led by Jeff Clarke and the visitors were given a talk by the Secretary about the Obs and its work.

Saturday, 23 April 2016

23rd April 2016

Weather: ENE 2, backing NW 3 (by mid afternoon) 1/8, good vis, sunny all day but cool breeze

Bright skies and North in the wind is not normally conducive to good passerine migration at Hilbre and so today proved, although 3 Wheatears passed through as did 3 Willow Warblers.

Visible migration was marginally better with a single flava Wagtail heard and 5 White Wagtails, 4 House Martin, 5 Sand Martin and 12 Swallows (including the 'summer residents') all noted.

Waders were again much in evidence with the Dunlin (650), Ringed Plover (35), Whimbrel (9), Sanderling (105) and Bar-tailed Godwit (19) counted; the latter included three summer plumaged individuals - a fine sight indeed. Amongst the Dunlin flock a partially albinistic bird was found.

Highlights of the day included a single summer plumaged Scandinavian Rock Pipit, complete with pink suffusion, seen briefly at the North End of Middle early morning, but it could not be relocated despite searching.

A telephone call early morning from the mainland prompted telescopes to be trained above the Old Nursing home at Red Rocks from the Obs balcony and prompted the second highlight of the day.  Remarkably the migrant Nuthatch present at Red Rocks could be seen first circling above the building and the lone observer at Red Rocks but then landing on the chimney stack.

Of course almost as soon as it was seen the discussions ensued as to whether it could be counted for the Obs; whilst it was seen (and could be identified) from the recording area it was at that point not in or over the recording area...then it took flight again and flew some distance SW out over the shore towards Middle before turning back and re-landing on the chimney.

Nuthatch is an extremely rare bird at Hilbre with only two previous records - the first on the near coincident date of 22nd April 1962 and the second, another spring bird, on 6th May 2009 (

Photos: Nuthatch @ Red Rocks (JET) Dunlin (SRW)

Friday, 22 April 2016

22nd April 2016

Weather: ENE 2-3, 5/8 cloud, sunny afternoon

The day started well with another stunning male Whinchat seen early morning on the walls and fences along the West side.

A few Wheatears also arrived and small numbers of Willow Warblers (6) moved through.  Visible passage was a little lighter than the last couple of days but still included a flava Wagtail, White Wagtails and 3 House Martins (although they were seen late afternoon).

The Whinchat found its way into the potter traps on the West Side mid morning as did a female Greenland Wheatear.  

Whimbrel were much in evidence today with flocks of up to 9 birds seen and a total of 18 estimated.  A fine summer plumage Bar-tailed Godwit joined a non-breeding plumaged bird on the tideline and Dunlin, Sanderling and Ringed Plover were well represented today.

Later a Short-eared Owl was watched being pursued by gulls between Hilbre and Red Rocks and finally a drake Goosander flew over the island right over an observers head before heading off North.

The hard work of our maintenance team continued today with gates and doors being mended along with the Obs balcony and roof.


Thursday, 21 April 2016

21st April 2016

Weather: ESE 2, 3/8, slight mist around estuary

One of the first birds noted this morning was a Grasshopper Warbler which moved along between clumps of daffodils in the top paddock before briefly alighting in 'Little Bunting Bush' before being trapped in the Heli.  The first to be caught and ringed this year.  It had a fairly high fat score so could have been yesterday's bird having fed up.  Later in the afternoon a Gropper was heard singing down the east side but was not seen so we do not know if there were two birds present.

Willow Warblers were a steady trickle today with 9 recorded but the only Chiffchaff was a retrap from yesterday.

The potter traps proved their worth today with a single first year male Greenland Wheatear caught and a similarly aged and sexed first White Wagtail of the year caught at the North End (five were recorded today).

The first flava Wagtail of the year for the islands was heard calling as it passed overhead and there was a smaller finch passage than yesterday but a single Lesser Redpoll was caught and ringed.

Waders were much in evidence today with good numbers of Dunlin and smaller numbers of Ringed Plover around the main island and 11 Whimbrel were noted including this flock on the Whaleback with a single Bar-tailed Godiwt.

As the day wore on Swallows began to pass over West to East perhaps in front of advancing cloud with 35 noted as well as the 'local' pair.  A single House Martin was only the second of the year.

Again the evening produced some suitably nice spring skies. [147-19]

Wednesday, 20 April 2016

20th April 2016

Weather: SE force 2, clear overnight, slight mist

A south easterly at this time in spring always brings anticipation of an arrival of birds to the island and today this was indeed the case. First thing this morning saw several Wheatears pass through rapidly, with a male Whinchat (the first this year) accompanying them and 7 White Wagtails were also early comers. In the paddocks a small fall of Willow Warblers occured, about 15 through the morning with 6 Chiffchaffs, with the Chiffchaffs mostly arriving slightly later.

A Woodpigeon was on the island, and another in the afternoon, and a Sparrowhawk flew off the west side (above), then a Grasshopper Warbler was heard and not seen (also the first this year) and a male Redstart was found in the SK mist net.

There were quite a few finches today including a Chafffinch, 24 Goldfinches, 2 Siskins, and 27 Redpolls, one of the Redpolls trapped seemed in appearance to resemble a Common Redpoll, although that could not be confirmed by biometrics.

Hirundines were sparse today, only 10 Sand Martins, 1 House Martin and 9 Swallows including the local breeding pair (right)

On the sea 15 Sandwich terns and 2 Common Terns were recorded along with 2 Great Crested Grebes and
9 Common Scoter. On the shore 25 Ringed Plover were notable and Whimbrel reached a new peak of 17 birds (right).

Ringed: 6 Willow Warblers, 5 Chiffchaffs, 1 Redstart, 6 Redpolls, 3 Wrens, 1 Meadow Pipit, 1 Robin, 1 Dunnock.          [ 134-17 ]  photos CJ & SRW

Tuesday, 19 April 2016

19th April 2016

Weather:  NW 2-3, 5/8 cloud clearing to 2/8, good vis and sunny

Despite the bright sunny conditions, the North Westerly wind, albeit quite gentle, failed to produce any grounded migrants today. However a Merlin flew South early morning, as did a few Swallows and Sand Martins later in the day.

On the sea, the first four Common Terns of the year appeared, as did two Little Terns, two Sandwich Terns and three Kittiwakes. A late Red-throated Diver was noted with just five Common Scoter and 10 Great Crested Grebes. 

Two Harbour Porpoise were noted off the West side in the afternoon.

The afternoon turned to evening which was stunning on the islands as always.