A bright morning with a moderate north westerly exceeded expectations with 8 birds ringed including the first 2 Goldcrests of the autumn passage. Goldcrests have previously been noticed to occassionly arrive with such wind direction, likewise Wheatears (there were 7 today ), also are not unknown to drop in with a westerly breeze. Three Willow Warblers and a group of 8 Swallows completed the 'passage' for the day, although the 2 Robins ringed were probably also new arrivals. Single Peregrine and Arctic Skua were noted. The moth light trap attracted very little last night, although an interesting micro moth for Hilbre was a Garden Rose Tortrix.
With the wind in the north west no migrants in the trapping areas but 6 Wheatears stayed the tide on the island. A force 6 or 7 in the morning encouraged sea watchers to produce a list for the log as follows:- 100 + Gannets, 6 Great Crested Grebes, 3 Manx Shearwaters, 3 Guillemots, 4 Common Scoter, 3 Arctic Skuas, 1 immature Kittiwake, 150 Sandwich Tern, 70 Common Tern and 1 Red-breasted Merganser. The strength of the wind subsided by noon and shorebirds recorded were mainly the usual species including 2 thousand Oystercatchers, 20 Ringed Plover, 2 Sanderling, 2 Bar-tailed Godwits.
( DCT,PT,NDW, + John Coupe)
the generally quiet period continues, 25th August :- A surprise was a group of 6 Sand Martins feeding about the island. (DCT,PT,NDW) 27th August :- On the sea 2 Arctic Skuas, 6 Guillemots, 4 Gannets. A single Wheatear present. A Yellow Wagtail at the north end. Ringed 1 Wren. (GB+1,DCT,PT,NDW,PSW et al) [ 930-29 ]
26th August :- see previous posting below
28th August :- No migrants, but the juvenile Wheatear ringed on 14th August was retrapped, still undergoing post juvenile moult and maintaining its body weight, most unexpected as no Wheatears were seen on several days recently. On the sea 1 Gannet, 2 Guillemots, 2 Great Crested Grebes, also wader counts of 53 Turnstones and 13 Redshank. (CJ,DCT,PT,NDW) photos CJ
Even with the favoured south east wind Willow Warblers failed to arrive and there were none at all on the island today, if fact we managed to ring all the migrants that made landfall (2 Wheatears and a Whitethroat). Seven Tufted Duck flew between Little and Middle at dawn, a good record of this scarce Hilbre species. Overhead House Martins (14) well outnumbered Swallows as they also did yesterday. Shore birds included the few hundred Sandwich terns and a pale phase Arctic Skua that associated with them, a single Whimbrel and 11 Bar-tailed Godwits.
A very quiet morning as expected with the wind being from the south west overnight and then later strengthening and veering to the west. The only evidence of migrants was a single Willow Warbler in the obs garden. The shore held a large number of Ringed Plovers down the east side of the island chain estimated at about 1,000 with 2,000 Dunlin, 3,000 Oystercatchers, 5 Bar-tailed Godwits and a Peregrine. Five Gannets were on the sea. Three Arctic Skuas flew over the east hoyle early on and a single pale phase stayed to harrass the mass of gulls and terns (photos below), watching the skua became the highlight of the otherwise uneventful short morning visit. Ringed:- 1 Linnet
Very few grounded migrants today but a total of three Willow Warblers were logged with two being ringed. Star bird was a Great White Egret picked up from the north end flying behind Middle Eye and followed through binoculars all the way across to the Welsh side of the estuary. A good passage of Swallows was noted along with a single House Martin. Besides the ubiquitous Oystercatchers there were a few other waders around with small parties of Dunlin & Ringed Plover feeding along the gutter. The first Grey Plover of the 'autumn' was found in the gutter looking resplendent in full summer plumage. Terns were suprsingly scarce but a quick scan of the West Hoyle Bank revealed they were all roosting there rather than on the East Hoyle. Just as Obs members were about to leave a juvenile Whinchat made an appearance by the pond but then moved to the bracken of the south end.
A before the tide visit found that Willow Warblers were still trickling through, and 10 more were ringed although there were probably at least twice that number on the island. This could prove to be the year when he highest numbers of Willow Warblers have ever been ringed, the calculations will be done at the end of the year. The juvenile Wheatear ringed on 14th August was retrapped and has spent a week with us while undergoing post juvenile moult. Robins have been very scarce this last few weeks but a young bird was caught that showed a wing bar of juvenile tips to the greater coverts. As the tide approached the island was bathed in sunshine, but unfortunately the obs was unmanned for the tide.
Yet another largish arrival of Willow Warblers saw up to a hundred on the island early morning with 11 Wheatears feeding mostly on the west side. A Grasshopper Warbler was near the Newton trap and another slightly later towards the old obs garden, but when ringing commenced they were nowhere to be seen. A single Teal was an early sighting while sea watching produced 27 Common Scoter, 10 Gannets, and 2 Black Terns, but no Skuas today. A Common Sandpiper was seen with some Ringed Plover roosting the high tide on the west side, while a female Peregrine scattered the Oystercatchers on the north end of Middle.
Ringed:- 21 Willow Warblers, 3 Meadow Pipits, 1 Wheatear.
(DB+ESCA,CJ,+Val,NDW) and Wirral Bird Club [ 905-29 ]
A late afternoon visit found 60 + Willow Warblers still on the island, there surely must have been a fall in the morning although no members were present. Terns were estimated at 2,500 in a mixed species roost on the east hoyle. Two Whimbrel were noted.
Wind still in the south east but the morning was windy with some drizzle and so it was no surprise that only a single Willow Warbler could be found on the island. A high tide sea watch produced 9 Black Terns most feeding off to the north west before the tide with hundreds of other terns. The eight Arctic Skuas logged were mostly hunting off the north end with many Gannets and Great Crested Grebes in the area, but Manx Shearwaters were absent until after the high tide when just 6 were noted. Very little else worth reporting today except for 2 Harbour Porpoises observed during the sea watch and a single Whimbrel on the shore. Later in the afternoon 5 Common Seals were seen separated from the main haul out of Grey Seals on the west hoyle bank, they have almost certainly been there all summer as a photographs taken on 15th May this year by a marine ecologist from the Coutryside Commission for Wales also shows the same number in a group. Could this be the first signs of a mixed species assembly in the future ?
Five Common Seals (left) and Grey Seals (right) photo Toby Oliver
Common Seals with one possibly pregnant photo Toby Oliver
A female/immature type Pied Flycatcher appeared in the paddocks this morning, the first for 6 years after previously being almost annual, the decline perhaps mirroring the recent fortunes of breeding birds in Wales and the Lake district. Despite searching it appears to have left by this afternoon. Willow Warblers present continue to decrease following the fall on Tuesday with a maximum of 30 seen today. Highlights of a sea watch were 9 Manx Shearwaters, 6 Arctic Skuas, 4 Black terns and 2 Golden Plover flying in off the sea and continuing south west. A single Black-tailed Godwit was heard around the shore.
(DB,AMC + Paula)
After yesterday's massive fall of Willow Warblers, good numbers were still evident across the island, even at the North End, and although not on yesterday's scale, it was thought that there were probably some 50 birds present. However, the only other warbler noted was a Whitethroat. Fifteen Swifts flew South as did about 50 Swallows and a juvenile Peregrine hunted the waders prior to the tide. With strengthening south westerly winds a lengthy sea watch was in order and observers were not disappointed. Amongst the huge numbers of both Sandwich and Common Terns, at least 50 Little Terns were present, including many juvenile birds, together with seven Black Terns. The presence of these terns, and about 50 Gannets, brought Arctic Skuas in and 12 birds were counted during the day, although, as always, there could be some duplication in this count. Unexpectedly with the wind direction, several Manx Shearwaters were also seen, together with the bird of the day, a Balearic Shearwater. A juvenile Shag, one Guillemot, five Common Scoter and three Great Crested Grebe added variety.
( AMC & Paula, DB, CS & Dave Sullivan, John Coupe)
It was obvious even before reaching the island that a large fall of Willow Warblers was taking place as many were seen travelling south along the island chain in small groups. Every bush on the main island had warblers flitting about it and the trapping area was alive with activity. The problem was that there was only one ringer present and so mist nets could not be deployed and therefore the heligoland traps were the only means of capture. We need not have worried as the traps caught as many as could be managed, indeed the boxes usually held at least 4 or 5 at a time, although sometimes dozens of birds scattered as the traps were approached. The arrival of warblers continued throughout the day, long after a normal fall has run its course. At a final count 165 Willow Warblers were ringed, with an estimated 700 passing during the day based on observations of large numbers of unringed birds passing south through Middle Eye, the ratio of ringed to unringed birds seen at the south end of the main island and the very few retraps even in the afternoon. It is thought that this is the biggest count of passerines ever ringed in a day on the island. The total could not have been achieved without the help of other members present (DB,AMC) and coastal warden John Ball.
Leucistic Willow Warbler
Bird of the day was probably a leucistic Willow Warbler that made a stunning appearance in the paddocks and gave one excited member a real puzzle until he soon realised what it was. Despite the large number of Willow Warblers there were sightings of just a single Whitethroat to represent the other species, although 2 Wheatears were on the west side, one of which, a juvenile was ringed.
Black Tern (centre of picture) with other terns
Black Terns made another appearance in the form of 3 flying down the west side in the morning and an adult later with the other terns on the east hoyle bank. A Sparrowhawk went down the ridge south of Middle early on and a dark phase Arctic Skua hunted the east hoyle tern roost. About 80 Swallows were logged going south. Three Migrant Hawker dragonflies were noted today indicative of an emergence on the island. Ringed :- 165 Willow Warblers, 1 Wheatear [ 880 - 29 ]
At least 4 Black Terns fed distantly off the west side this morning, tracking up and down and frequently becoming difficult to see through the telescope as they disappeared against the dull sea background but were present for an hour or more, two seemed to be sub-adults. In afternoon no less than 11 Black terns were roosting on the edge of the east Hoyle bank ! The regular Sandwich and Common Terns were also active and were harrassed for food by 3 or more Arctic Skuas. A single Snipe was south of Middle early in the day and a flock of 7 Wigeon flew south down the east side, another sign that autumn is now in full swing. There were fewer Swallows today but a single Swift crossed the island in the mroning. The only passerine migrants were a Willow Warbler and 2 Wheatears, one of which was a juvenile. A Migrant Hawker dragonfly was released from the 'heli' trap, but butterflies were scarce, just a Red Admiral, a Small White, and a couple of Grayling up to 11.00hrs.
Observers were surprised that the island did not receive a fall of warblers this morning as the conditions seemed ideal, but 2 Willow Warblers and a single Wheatear were the only conventional migrants on the ground. Surprise of the day was the first Snipe of the autumn south of Middle followed by an amazing flock of 21 flying around the south end mid-morning. Snipe in such numbers are very unusual at Hilbre. Three Collared Doves were also a sign of early autumn as was the continued build up of wading birds:- Ringed Plovers reached 350 and Sanderling 85, and a flock of 14 Bar-tailed Godwits fed around the east hoyle and a Greenshank was on the tide edge early in the day. Swallows went through again in small numbers. A dark phase Arctic Skua was seen later. Some of the RSPB/Rangers visitor group were lucky enough to see 2 Harbour Porpoises and later paid a visit to the obs where Derek and Colin Wells gave a talk.
A fresh south easterly breeze this morning produced a better day than of late. A trickle of 8 Willow Warblers arrived during the morning with 6 being ringed was an improvement on the rest of the week. A Whitethroat was still present, which could be the same bird getting logged most days recently but not trapped for ringing. Two Shovelers flew south down the east side soon after dawn, a good record of a very scarce Hilbre bird, while 2 Greenshanks calling were a more typical species for August. A Sparrowhawk flying to the west was also an early visitor to the islands. An immature Marsh Harrier arrived from Red Rocks just before midday after being seen several times in north Wirral this morning. Swallows passed in small numbers travelling south with a single Sand Martin in the afternoon. The tern roost of about 400 Common and 500 Sandwich terns to the east of the island recevied a visit from 3 Arctic Skuas ( including 1 pale phase) that caused some consternation while they stayed in the area. The Skylark is still taking a liking to the grassy part of Middle Eye. Ringed Plover seem to be in good numbers with 230 south of Middle after the early tide and a Black-tailed Godwit arrived in the afternoon.
Ringed :- 6 Willow Warblers, 1 Linnet. [ 712-29 ]
adult Sandwich Tern
young Little Tern
(DB,CJ,BT,CJW et al, Simon Lloyd) photos from today BT
No sign of a fall of migrants this last week as can happen in the right conditions at this time and it has been generally very quiet. Notes from the log as follows:- 5th August :- 3 Wheatears, 2 Whitethroats, 4 Grey Plovers. (DB+ESCA,CJW,RTW,EKW,NLW) 6th August :- 28 Gannets, 860 Dunlin, 800 Sandwich Terns, 500 Common Terns, 80 Ringed Plover, 2 Wheatears, 1 Willow Warbler, a female Eider. (CJW et al, NDW) 7th August :- 35 Gannets, 780 Dunlin, 8 Whimbrel, 1 Little Egret, 75 Little Terns,1 Whitethroat. Ringed :- 1 Blackbird. (DB,CJW et al) [ 704-29 ] 8th August :- 18 Gannets, 1200 Dunlin, 120 Ringed Plover, 21 Redshank, 9 Grey Herons, 7 Whimbrel, 120 Little Tern, 2 Wheatears, 2 Willow Warblers, 1 Whitethroat. Ringed :- 1 Willow Warbler. (DB,CJW et al) [ 705-29 ] 9th August :- 1 Juvenile Redstart, 1 Whitethroat, 1 Wheatear, 70 Little Tern. Ringed 1 Linnet. (CJW et al) [ 706-29 ] 10th August :- 1 Common Sandpiper, 39 Swallow, 1 Whitethroat, 1 Whimbrel, 1 Skylark (down on Middle Eye). (DB,CJ,CJW, Simon Lloyd et al)
22nd July :- 1 male Goosander, 1 Sand Martin flying west, 1 Whitethroat. (DB+ESCA,JE)
23rd July :- Despite difficult weather conditions a new roof was constructed on the sea watching hide. One Collared Dove, 800 Sandwich Terns. (CJW + 2 assistants, PGR, RAE,NDW,PSW,SRW)
Ringed - 1 Meadow Pipit [686-29] 24th July:- 1 Great Spotted Woodpecker, 2 Willow Warblers, 1 Whitethroat, 3 juv Swallows (island bred) (DB,RAE+3) Ringed - 1 Meadow Pipit [687-29] 25th July :- 3 Arctic Skuas, 15 Gannets, 1 Fulmar down the east side, 1 Lapwing, 7 Black-tailed Godwit, 7 Whimbrel, 1 Common Sandpiper, 1 Garden Warbler, 2 Willow Warblers, 3 Whitethroats, 2 House Martins, 3 Swifts. A good day for July! (DB)
26th July :- the first real fall of the autumn, 26 Willow Warblers, 2 Whitethroats , 1 Chiffchaff, 30 Swift, 25 Swallow. A Marsh Harrier west passed the north end and then south along the west hoyle. 1 Arctic Skua, 25 Gannet. Ringed:- 9 Willow Warblers, 1 Chiffchaff, 2 Wrens, 2 Linnets, 1 Dunnock. (BSB,DB,et al). [ 702-29 ]