Saturday, 29 April 2017

29th April 2017

Weather: SSE force 1/2  light rain early
Still very cool for this late in the spring but at least we had a south easterly. A few Willow Warblers were grounded as expected, also as many Wrens (slightly less expected). Three overhead flava (yellow type) wagtails were welcome as they were well overdue, but Redstart and all the large warblers have been still refusing to show entirely at Hilbre so far this year, until now that is, when a Lesser Whitethroat was caught for ringing in the SK trap at 14.20 this afternoon (below, KMc).

We hope this scarce warbler for Hilbre which set the seal on a better ringing day than of late is a sign that things have changed for the rest of the spring. Early this morning a very late Whooper Swan flew east over the islands and a Reed Bunting flew south over Middle.
Three Wheatears were on the island but all seemed to avoid ringing (right, JE), 5 Skylarks flew west, a single Redpoll called overhead while 2 Sand Martins tracked south down the west side, with 6 more showing in the afternoon with about a dozen Swallows. Twenty seven Whimbrel were counted today at this peak time of their passage.

Two Peregrines fought in the air above the island for an item of prey, probably a small wader, and later in the afternoon a Merlin was logged. A Harbour Porpoise swam north out of the Dee at 09.40, only 2 hours after low tide. A sea watch around high tide produced a Fulmar (scarce lately) 10 Gannets, 5 Guillemots, 1 Merganser and 300 Sandwich Terns, also the large number of Dunlin were not diminished today  with 6,000 around the island. The slightly warmer weather this afternoon encouraged a large White and a Green-veined White butterfly to take to the air.
Ringing: 5 Willow Warblers, 5 Wrens, 1 Lesser Whitethroat, 4 Linnets, 1 Meadow Pipit, 1 Robin.      [ 125-20 ]    

Friday, 28 April 2017

28th April 2017

Weather: E force 0/1 with light rain and veering south to west force 2 later in the morning.

 The highlight of the day was the roost of some 5,500 Dunlin spread right across the top of the island rocks west to east and cutting off lifeboat station access for observers for 3 hours over the tide (above). This was a most unusual but spectacular sight for members and visitors alike.
Earlier 3 Arctic Terns and a Little Gull were noted and during the tide were seen 2 Red-throated Divers, 5 Gannets, 10 Guillemots, 30 Sandwich Terns, 2 Common Scoters, 2 Great Crested Grebes and a Red-breasted Merganser. As the tide flooded a pair of Eider (below) drifted off the east side, while about the island 17 Whimbrel roosted.
In the morning 2 Willow Warblers were around but had left by midday and other migrants included 11 Goldfinches early in the day, a Skylark passing over, a small number of Swallows and 2 House Martins passing through, and a Grey Wagtail setting down for a few moments before being seen off by a Pied Wagtail.
Ringed: Nil     photos  CJ

Thursday, 27 April 2017

27th April 2017

Weather: N force 2/3
A sea watch on a light northerly today produced 18 Gannets and 15 Sandwich Terns. Twenty two Turnstone were a good count for this late in the spring, Still present are the 2 Common Scoters, the 2 late Brent and the 2,500 Dunlin that have been about the islands recently.
Ringed: 2 Linnets                    [ 108-19 ]

Wednesday, 26 April 2017

26th April 2017

Weather:  N 3/4, vis 30 miles

Numerous small flocks of Dunlin were moving North up the estuary as one observer walked over early this morning, and as the tide pushed them together in the gutter there were estimated to be at least 4,000 birds.

Fifteen Ringed Plover were present and Oystercatchers only numbered 180 but other waders were all in single figures, although 6 Whimbrel was a nice record.

The incoming tide put up 63 Sandwich Terns and 4 Common Terns from the West Hoyle sandbank, also on the sea were 2 Guillemot, 6 Gannet and 5 Common Scoter.

The two Brent Geese still remain and two Little Egret were in the gutter with four Shelduck.

No migrants were expected in the Northerly but a Skylark was heard calling and found feeding on the mound, flying off east after a few minutes.

A single phylloscopus warbler called twice from the obs garden but was not seen.

Monday, 24 April 2017

24th April 2017

A strong north westerly wind didn't bode well for migrants and so it proved with just one Wheatear on the west side early morning, a Chiffchaff found early afternoon in the gardens and five Swallows struggling north.

However, the wind did provide a productive sea watch with 70 Gannet (including several sitting on the sea with Cormorants), 40 Sandwich and three Common Tern, four Kittiwake, four Red-throated Diver, three Manx Shearwater (the first this year), three Guillemot, three Great Crested Grebe, one Arctic Skua and one Fulmar.

The two first-winter Brents remain around the islands.  Waders were represented by 1,000 Dunlin, most resplendent in summer plumage, eight Whimbrel but just five Turnstone.

Sunday, 23 April 2017

23rd April 2017

Weather: NW 2/3    partly sunny
As yesterday, no small migrants in the trapping area and the focus was on the 2,000 or so Dunlin (above), a few dozen Ringed Plovers, 9 Turnstones and at least 8 Whimbrel moving around the islands and roosting on the exposed rocks at high tide. The 2 remaining Brent were still present, most had departed this past week, also the pair of Scoter were still off the east side.
Four Canada Geese flew west between the islands early on (above) and 2 Redpolls and a Goldfinch were noted flying over the island. A small number of Gannets and Sandwich Terns were on the sea.
Photos CJ

Late evening update: a Glaucous Gull was reported by a visiting birder late afternoon 

Saturday, 22 April 2017

22nd April 2017

Weather:  NNW 4, 6/8 cloud, vis 10miles and improving

A blustery start to the day with more north in the wind meant attention today turned to the sea and it did not disappoint with 120 Sandwich Terns and a couple of Common Terns noted with a single Arctic Skua, the first of the year, seen harassing the terns.

At least 50 Gannets were feeding close inshore to the island along with over 2,000 large gulls.

Waders and in particular Dunlin (see above) were also very evident around the rising tide with 2,800 counted along with 50 Ringed Plover and 8 Whimbrel.

Migrant passerines were very thin on the ground but the local breeding birds made the most of the sunshine out of the wind with at least three singing Dunnocks noted during the breeding bird survey (which also noted Meadow Pipits, Rock Pipit, Linnets, Pied Wagtail and Wrens).

The blossom on the blackthorn this year is reminding many of us of the last time a Subalpine Warbler turned up on the island in late April 2006.

Ringing: Linnet [106-19]
Photos AEH