Wednesday, 20 September 2017

20th September 2017

Weather: SSE force 2
Observers arrived just before dawn to see an asio owl (presumably a Short-eared) appear over the grass in front of bungalows and float off south down the east gutter, unfortunately it could not be relocated. It soon became apparent that migrants were scarce and  no Goldcrests or warblers were present with only a very small passage of Meadow Pipits, about 10 Robins and a single Wheatear saving the day. Two Peregrines and the 2 Brent from yesterday were seen, a Wigeon flew west passed the north end, a Rock Pipit was present and a Grey Wagtail went over, otherwise most sightings were fairly routine.
Ringed: 1 Robin                     [ 487-32 ]

Tuesday, 19 September 2017

19th September 2017

Weather: S force 1, cloud and mist clearing then sunny and warm

A very pleasant day started with a dozen or so Goldcrests on the ground and a Chiffchaff in sub-song in the obs garden.

At least 4 Wheatears were about the island and a small passage of both Meadow Pipits and Swallows continued through the morning, also 2 Grey Wagtails, 2 Sand Martins and 5 Goldfinches. A harbinger of late autumn/winter came in the form of 9 Wigeon, 2 pale-bellied Brent and 3 Rock Pipits.

The Bonxie reappeared today, scattering the waders in the area, then resting on the sea for a while before flying out of view.  The best of the sea watching were the 10 Bottle-nosed Dolphins circling while feeding and occasionally jumping out the sea off to the north (thanks to Richard Smith at Red Rocks for the tip off)

Other seabirds logged were a Gannet, 2 Red-throated Divers and 30 Guillemot.  A few butterflies flew in the sunshine, also a  Migrant Hawker dragonfly.

Ringed: 4 Goldcrests, 1 Chiffchaff [486-32]

Monday, 18 September 2017

18th September 2017

Weather: no wind first thing, backing W, 8/8 cloud rain arriving midday

A small movement of 25 Meadow Pipits was noted this morning in hardly any wind and there were at least two Rock Pipits still.

Three Wheatears graced the main island during the early tide.

Three Teal were noted (a single and a pair) but it was the flat calm conditions on the sea that resulted in the best sightings of the day with 188 Great Crested Grebe counted, c4,000 Common Scoter estimated and 63 Guillemot and 3 Razorbill logged.

The highlight of the day were two surfacing Harbour Porpoise off the west side.

There was little in the way of grounded mirgants but half a dozen Robin were noted with one caught and ringed.

After the tide observers retreated to the mainland with the onset of an advancing front and rain set in for the afternoon.

Ringing: Robin [481-32]

Sunday, 17 September 2017

17th September 2017

Weather: ESE 2, backing NNE 2 later, showers

Migrants were a little thin on the ground this morning although two each of Chiffchaff and Goldcrest were noted.  Rock Pipits numbered five, which is an excellent count for this species at Hilbre at the start of the main passage period.

The waders and gulls were spooked a couple of times during the morning and the culprit have itself away in spectacular fashion when a Bonxie (Great Skua) powered over the South End, over the pond and back past the Obs over observers heads.

Five Red-throated Divers were seen today including a loose flock of four (two of which photographed above) but otherwise the sea was quiet.

The single Pale-bellied Brent was on the 'whaleback' again, but there was no sign of yesterday's undoubted passage Purple Sandpiper.

Ringing: Chiffchaff, Goldcrest [480-32]

Photos by AEH, PSW and SRW

Saturday, 16 September 2017

16th September 2017

Brief highlights today included the first Purple Sandpiper of the autumn on the 'whaleback' (photographed by visiting birder Simon Caldwell).

Also a single Pale-bellied Brent Goose was present and migrants included Goldcrest, Willow Warbler and 2 Wheatear. 

Friday, 15 September 2017

15th September 2017

Weather: NNW force 3  vis 60 mls

After all the excitement of yesterday it was expected to be quieter today on the lighter winds, and so it proved, despite the rainbow there was no 'pot of gold' in birding terms.

A short sea watch failed to find any Leach's petrels but one of the three Peregrines south of Middle certainly did, as it was seen to be carrying one as prey, a sight not unknown in the area but rarely if ever photographed.

The best sea bird of the day in the form of Bonxie glided along the north shore scattering the gulls and waders resting there, came towards Hilbre and off passed the north end. Other seabirds were scarce although 2 Fulmars appeared distantly with a dozen Gannets and 2,000 or so Common Scoters which were far out as usual.

A few Goldcrests were again in the paddocks and 2 were ringed today. Goldcrests have been noted before arriving on north or north westerlies when other small migrants seldom appear. A Wheatear landed on 'Wheatear Hill' opposite the obs at about midday. Other birds counted today included 7 Little Egrets, 98 Shelduck, 84 Curlew, 70 Grey Plover, 42 Redshank. There was no sign of the first Brent seen yesterday. Some of the Sandwich Terns may have taken advantage of the northerlies and headed off south, only about 90 were seen this morning.

Summer hung on with a Red Admiral and a Small White butterfly in the air.

Ringed: 2 Goldcrests, 1 Robin [478-32 ]

Thursday, 14 September 2017

14th September 2017

Weather: NNW 4/5, gusting later, variable vis

Today was a classic Hilbre autumn seawatch, with the wind turning more northerly overnight producing the goods.

Observers were present from just after the tide in the morning (c830am) until dusk.

A few Leach's Petrels passed through as the early morning tide ebbed, but they picked up more and more during the low tide period peaking as the tide began to flood again early afternoon with occasional birds passing with feet of the rocks at the North End.

The evening tide was slightly less productive with only 20 birds noted but a day total of 90 Leach's was the best count since 2013.

The first highlight of the day was a juvenile Sabine's Gull picked up out to the west of the seawatching hide at 930am, it gave great views but soon disappeared up the Dee (photo below from the Obs archive  A second juvenile was noted on the evening tide.

There were large numbers of Sandwich Terns noted passing the North End throughout the day as well as two large roosts on the Wast Hoyle, a total of 600 were estimated, along with 210 Common Terns and nine Black Terns in what has been an excellent year for this latter species at Hilbre.

The second highlight of the day was so close the observers in the hide had to wait for it to reappear above the lifeboat slipway beam before the shout went out "Long-tailed Skua" - a fine juvenile flew west right in front of the hide at c1.10pm before turning up the Dee along the whaleback and then turning back towards Wales.

The first returning Pale-bellied Brent Goose rested on the whaleback before moving down to the east side gutter later.  Similarly 18 Pink-footed Geese flew North East.

Other species seen during the seawatch included a single Golden Plover, 4 Tufted Duck, 9 Manx Shearwaters, Razorbills, 5 Fulmars and a single Red-throated Diver.

Despite the weather three Goldcrests arrived as did a Wheatear and the first Rock Pipit of the autumn.

Photos AEH and SRW