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

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