Tuesday, 26 September 2017

26th September 2017

Weather: SE 1, 8/8 cloud, must, low vis (1 mile)

After yesterday's fall of Goldcrests observers could've been forgiven for thinking that these things rarely occur two days running, however, optimism was back on the agenda today with the wind in the right direction, mist all around the estuary but you could just make out Little Eye from the mainland.  Perfect conditions - and so it proved.

With observers on early and the first mist net already erected Goldcrests could once again be heard calling from the Obs garden bushes.  However, today they were outnumbered by Chiffchaffs.

On the first round a brief sighting of the head of a phyllosc poking out of the bracken had one observer exclaiming 'Yellow-browed' but the bird quickly disappeared and was thought to have flown South.  Despite a good search of the south end and the Obs garden it could not be found.  However, upon returning to the trap round it was rediscovered in the Newton trap!

This was our earliest ever Yellow-browed Warbler at Hilbre and only the second ever September record (following one on 30 September 1975).  Following release it was seen again in the vicinity of the air raid shelter/lower paddock and later in the Obs garden.

Meanwhile, Chiffchaffs continued to arrive with at least 35 present during the day (20 being caught and ringed) and 3 late Willow Warblers were noted amongst them (see photo below of Willow Warbler, left, and Chiffchaff, right).

Goldcrests also passed through in reasonable numbers with 25 logged.

Visible migration today increased with small numbers of Grey and alba Wagtails over, 6 Skylarks, small parties of Goldfinches (including one caught and ringed) and 450 Meadow Pipits; the best count so far this autumn.

A few Sandwich Terns were still offshore with a juvenile and a ringed adult on the Whaleback over the tide.  A Greenshank was heard calling over the tide and then found roosting on the North End of Middle along with two Pale-bellied Brent Geese.

A couple of flocks of Wigeon were noted during the morning and an immature  Peregrine returned to perch on the mast - perhaps forming a new habit?

The final highlight of the day came late afternoon when one observer noticed a small bird flying towards him from the North End, it dropped into a small bramble below the Telegraph Station ('Lookout') steps and began feeding around the floor; a stunning male Firecrest.

After a while of good feeding the Firecrest hopped over the wall and into the gardens. About an hour later it had made its way south into the 'Heli' trap at the same time as a Goldcrest which made for a lovely comparison and stunning end to a fabulous day on the islands.

With more south-easterlies forecast surely tomorrow can't top today ... can it?

Ringing: Chiffchaff (20), Willow Warbler, Yellow-browed Warbler, Goldcrest (15), Firecrest, Wren (2), Goldfinch, Robin (2) [569-34]

Photos AEH and SRW

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