Thursday, 22 June 2017

22nd June 2017

NW 2, rain earlier 

A brief lunchtime visit produced the first Mediterranean Gull of the summer for the islands.  A small adult summer was picked up with Black-headed Gulls and Sandwich Terns moving along and dropping down on the North shore of the East Hoyle bank.

Having been watched for a short time in the company of a couple of Black-headed Gulls which seemed intent on giving the Med a hard time.  It decided to make its own way down the gutter past the Obs and between the islands over the North End of Middle off to the west (see photos above and below).

Elsewhere a single Little Egret fed in the gutter and the first Whimbrel for three weeks was heard (which way is it heading - north or south?)

To end an extremely pleasant brief afternoon visit three spikes of Common Spotted Orchid were found in one of the gardens; a single having been found in June 2014 (the first ever on the islands), two in 2015 but none seen last year - today's three spikes were therefore a welcome surprise.

The Grey Seal haul-out on the West Hoyle sandbank was very impressive with 769 seals counted (part of the haul-out shown below).

Colour-ringed Ringed Plover

Hilbre Islands LNR Ranger Matt Thomas spotted a colour ringed and leg-flagged Ringed Plover between the islands as he left the island on 13th June 2017.

It turns out it was colour-ringed by Chris McGuigan last year as part of only six birds (three breeding pairs) at a Dundee supermarket car park.  This bird, a female '108', was paired to male '101'.  She was ringed ringed on 17 June 2016 and last seen on 11 July 2016.

At least four have returned this year (including 101). A couple were seen to over-winter on the Tay estuary so it was assumed that these birds did not move far. So the Hilbre sighting is a somewhat surprising and interesting development.

Thanks to Matt Thomas and Chris McGuigan for the info. Photo by @mattthomas966 taken at Hilbre on 13 June 2017.

Tuesday, 20 June 2017

20th June 2017

WNW 2 vis 8mls

A typical very quiet June day. The Kestrel is still around the main island and 14 Shelduck were present.

The only wader of note was a nice Grey Plover before the early tide and 60 Black-headed Gulls were in the Gutter.

A dozen Sandwich Terns were feeding close in to the East side over the tide.

The breeding birds noted included 2 singing Wrens.

Hummingbird Hawk-moth

Another hot afternoon brought the first two Hummingbird Hawk-moths to the east side of the island.

Saturday, 17 June 2017

17th June 2017

Weather: calm with 10 mls vis, North 1 and 30mls later.
A surprisingly good day considering the month and the conditions. It started with Shelduck movements totalling 40 including the resident birds, then Curlew were spotted – 7 returning birds. Many more terns were about than of late with 130 Sandwich, 150 Common and a Little noted. A bonus was a Manx Shearwater going West to East close in to the North end.
Also on the sea were 8 Gannet, a Great Crested Grebe and a Guillemot.
Circa 70 Canada Geese flew from the Tanskeys and came down on the estuary North of Little Eye.
 Little Egrets numbered 6 with 2 Grey Heron.
The Kestrel was again present and there was a passage of 15 Swifts.     All photos AEH
Silver Y moth         

Friday, 16 June 2017

16th June 2017

Weather: W force 5/6
A a low tide count of the seals this morning produced a total of 484 Grey Seals and 7 Common Seals, this is a good number and  is in line with the maximum of recent times although the numbers have fluctuated over the years. Twenty one Sandwich Terns and a Common Tern were noted as were 2 Little Egrrets (below KMc).

Tuesday, 13 June 2017

13th June 2017

Weather:  W  force 2 vis 20mls increasing later

Following the high winds of the last few days the bracken and trees are very badly wind/salt burnt, it is hoped that no nests were damaged.

Three Shelduck and the pair of Mallard were on the East side.

Only three Gannet and a few Sandwich and Common Terns were noted off the North end.

A Kestrel disturbed the breeding birds on the main island a few times over the tide and the only other birds of note were two Swifts which were feeding over the islands for some time.

A nice find was a lovely Brimstone butterfly which unfortunately didn’t stay still long enough to be photographed.

This is only the fourth record for the Obs of this locally rare but increasing butterfly.  Photo below from 2014 (see

Sunday, 11 June 2017

10th June 2017

Weather: SE force 3/4, heavy rain early
One member braved the appalling weather this morning to visit the island but found normal activities were impossible in the downpour.

Seven Grey Plovers were within camera range on the shore (below).
 A Guillemot and 20 Common Terns were noted on the sea and a Little Egret and a male Mallard around the island. At the north end a single piece of Glasswort has made an appearance on the rocks by the north end pool (below).

Photos AEH

Saturday, 3 June 2017

3rd June 2017

The highlight of a quiet morning were 4 Greylags


photos AEH

Friday, 2 June 2017

2nd June 2017

Weather: no wind, rain first thing, then drizzle on and off during a muggy day

The day began late as rain battered down on the Obs from soon after dawn.

It was a quiet start to the day with nothing new on the first couple of trap rounds.

The sub-song of a warbler was heard in the Obs garden when the drizzle subsided and an Acrocephalus appeared briefly showing pale legs and feet and fairly long wings.  However, it soon became apparent that it was in fact a Reed Warbler - not as exciting as the other possibilities but still a scarce bird on Hilbre only the eleventh record for the islands so rarer than Yellow-browed Warbler (but nine of those records have been since 2000).

The bird remained very faithful to the privet singing more confidently during the day and avoiding the mist net in the other corner of the Obs garden throughout the day.

The most exciting record of the day came from one of the two moth traps - a stunning Striped Hawkmoth was the first moth found by one of our young moth enthusiasts.

This represents the first record for Hilbre of this spectacular looking migrant moth. We understand it is the 15th for Cheshire & Wirral (since 1892!) but the first for a decade or more.

Other sightings today included a few terns around the island and smaller numbers of Sanderling (35) and Dunlin (18) and a single Ringed Plover.

Thursday, 1 June 2017

1st June 2017

Weather: SE 1-2, 3/8 cloud, moderate vis, slight mist around estuary

Another quiet day bird wise with 38 Canada Geese flying north west the only 'write on'.

However, the ornithological highlight was the successful breeding of the pair of Pied Wagtails; not an annual breeding species at Hilbre.  A single juvenile was noted in the Gazebo garden and the parents continued to pay close attention providing food to the recently fledged youngster.

The weather has been good to breeding birds at HIlbre so far this year and to reinforce the point a couple more juvenile Linnets were trapped and ringed.

A few terns and waders were around the islands at high tide but numbers of Sanderling and Dunlin had decreased significantly from yesterday. Photos of Sanderling (and Dunlin) below from yesterday.

The overnight moth traps contained an interesting array of species with a Lime-speck Pug and a Latticed Heath being additions to the year list!

Ringing:  Linnet (2) [391-32]

Wednesday, 31 May 2017

31st May 2017

Weather: no wind first thing, backing SE 1-2 later, 0/8 cloud, good vis

A glorious morning greeted observers staying over. However, as is often the case at this time of year migrants remained very thin on the ground.

Highlight of the day was a drake Shoveler (see above left) that appeared in a small pool next to Middle with a drake Mallard (the female of the pair of Mallard having been seen earlier).

Shoveler is not a common species at Hilbre spring and autumn being the best time although they are never predictable.

A Kestrel appeared over the island mid morning having been absent for some time, perhaps a bird feeding chicks from nearby Hoylake.

Meanwhile, a single Grey Heron vied with the Little Egrets for the prime position in the receding gutter before the hordes of 'grockles' descended on the islands in the hot holiday weather.

The moth traps were once again set but with a clearer, colder night there was less than the two previous night's although species such as Marbled Coronet, Lesser Treble-bar (see below), Heart and Dart, Shears and Common Pug were noted. 

Sanderling outnumbered Dunlin today  and were showing wonderfully at the North End.

Three Canada Geese flew between the islands and small flocks of terns (Sandwich and Common circled the island at high tide).

The day ended as it began - in stunning style.

Ringing: Linnets (2) [389-32] photos SRW

Tuesday, 30 May 2017

30th May 2017

Weather: WSW 1, 8/8 cloud, rain during morning, clearing later 

A quiet day bird-wise on the island with very little around the gardens and trapping areas apart from the breeding birds.

The pair of Mallard were back in the gutter this afternoon and three pairs of Shelduck were around the islands.

There was very little on the sea apart from a few Sandwich and Common Terns.

Waders were still in evidence though with 315 Dunlin, 123 Sanderling and 57 Ringed Plover noted in roosts on the west side.

Large gull congregations were noted particularly on Middle and Little Eye as the tide dropped including large arrival of Lesser Black-backeds.

The moth trap was good overnight with the list compiled by a budding young naturalist (LJW - 10yo).