Tuesday, 16 December 2014

16th December 2014

Weather: NW force 4/5, some rain
For the first time a light-bellied Brent Goose from the eastern Atlantic flyway (breeding in the Arctic areas north of Europe) has been identified at Hilbre. It was colour ringed at Limfjord Staging area, Denmark (with the code YTGR) on 3rd May 2011, and has been seen previously at Lindisfarne in north east England on 26th March 2013. Most of the Brent wintering in eastern England are from this population, whereas our birds breed in the area of northern Canada. Unfortunately the bird sat for most of the time so that the rings were not visible (below).

Ringed Canadian Brent that has been regular at Hilbre
A fair passage of 500 Herring Gulls west this morning and there was another record count of Cormorants exiting the estuary (1518). At least 1 Rock Pipit is still at the north end.
(DB,AEH)                     photos AEH

Monday, 15 December 2014

15th December 2014

Weather: WNW force 4, showers
A very brief visit produced an excellent count of 261 light-bellied Brent and a single dark-bellied bird. There were 2 Little Egrets and 4 Bar-tailed Godwits.

Friday, 12 December 2014

12th December 2014

Weather: WNW force, 4 later SW 4 showers 
 Some spectacular looking clouds were seen today during a week of turbulent weather. An inspection of the island revealed very little damage except to the window on the tide gauge roof.
The best bird sighting of the day was of 130 Pintail flying out of the estuary to the north. The small number of resident Wrens, Dunnocks, Robins and at least 3 Blackbirds are probably all here now to spend the winter. Both male and female Peregrines were about today, while waders included 500 Knot and over 5,000 Oystercatchers (below). At least one dark-bellied bird was with the Brent flock. Three Little Egrets fed on the shore.

 (AEH,CJW)          photos  AEH

Wednesday, 10 December 2014

10th December 2014

Wind W force 5 increasing to force 7/8 as the day progressed.
With gale force Westerly winds, a seawatch seemed a good idea so the (fool) hardy single observer hunkered down in the seawatching hide for three and a quarter hours over high tide, effectively cut off from the rest of the island by the waves lashing the North end. The reward for this was scant - one Kittiwake, three Red-breasted Mergansers and six Scoter! Only Cormorants and a few large gulls seemed at home in the conditions. Prior to the tide, several counts of the Brent Geese in the gutter produced a maximum of 130 birds. No passerine migrants were noted with just the regulars present, including the Rock Pipit between the main islands.

Wednesday, 3 December 2014

3rd December 2014

Weather: SE force 1/2
A surprise as members arrived on the island following the early tide was a very late Blackcap perched in the copse at the bottom of the obs garden (below (AEH)), it was seen again later near the 'heli' trap but failed to become available for ringing.
  Just as unexpected was a Whooper Swan that was found sitting on the sand between Hilbre and shore at a point south of Red Rocks (right (CJ)), it was still present early afternoon and may just have been a little exhausted but as a precaution the RSPCA were requested by the ranger service to get involved. While the Whooper Swan sat on the shore 2 Mute Swans flew east just north of the marine lake.
 A flock of 98 Bar-tailed Godwits flew high over the island moving to the north east (left (CJ)). Very little on the very calm sea, apart from 11 Great-Crested Grebes and a few dozen Common Scoters. Still no increase in Purple Sandpipers (2) and the Brent gathered off the west side (below (CJ)), although others were too scattered to count definitively. The 4 Blackbirds seen all appear to be females, and Wrens and Robins showed well today (maybe about 6 apiece), while there were at least 3 Rock Pipits about. A pair of Goldeneyes were on the marine lake, they have so far been elusive at this regular wintering site.
Grey Herons (AEH)
Wren (AEH)
Dunnock (AEH)

Hilbre at ebb tide (AEH)

 Better views were obtained today of the new Hoylake lifeboat on manoeuvres off Hilbre (CJ)

 (AEH,CJ,KMc et al)   

Monday, 1 December 2014

1st December 2014

Weather: SE 2, 7/8 cloud, mist poor vis

A brief morning visit produced some nice records not least the first record of a December Moth for the island found by the Telegraph Station Lookout steps (see below).

The Pale-bellied Brent Geese were in good number with 182 counted along with a single Dark-bellied bird.  They were between the islands as the tide ebbed in the morning but soon moved to the North End and the Whaleback feeding on seaweed.  Those at the bottom of the lifeboat station slipway were joined by four Purple Sandpiper; sadly a low number of this Hilbre speciality even by recent winter standards.

The new RNLI Hoylake Lifeboat 'the Shannon' was watched arriving in the mist with the Bird Obs chairman (CJW) on board; it has been brought from Poole in Dorset.

There were 13 Red-throated Divers and small numbers of Great Crested Grebes and Common Scoters on the sea and a pair of Wigeon flew south off the West Side.  Meanwhile the male Kestrel remains around the island.

(BSB, SRW) Photos - lifeboats BSB, others SRW

Sunday, 30 November 2014

30th November 2014

Weather: WNW, cloud cover 1-3/8

A generally quiet day but three Blackbirds were seemingly new on the island. One was caught and ringed. The only other passerines present were the regular Dunnocks (see below), Wrens & Robins.

Before the island got busy with day trippers the Brent Geese showed well at the north end and once again colour ringed HSWB was picked out amongst the flock. Juveniles are pretty scarce this year so it was nice to see a family group sticking close to their parents.

The Rabbit was seen twice and seems unconcerned by the presence of people. As previously noted a Fox seems to have made itself at home on the island although it remains elusive to the photographers.

3 Purple Sandpipers were hard to pick out at low tide as they fed amongst the rocks at the end of the old slipway. The sea was very quiet with only single Great –crested Grebes and Red-throated Divers being seen.

Ringed: 1 Blackbird

(PSW) All photos PSW [941-38]