Thursday, 6 December 2018

6th December 2018

Weather: SW  3-4   vis 8 mls with rain showers.

As is expected at this time of year very few birds were on the islands, however 2 Linnet and a Rock Pipit were on Middle, 2 Song Thrush and 5 Meadow Pipit on Hilbre with just a Robin, Dunnock and a few Wren.

On the sea over tide 5 Red-throated Diver were seen along with 17 Great Crested Grebe a Guillemot and 173 Common Scoter. Two male and a female Mallard were in Niffy Bay and an Eider by Middle Eye.
A Peregrine put up the 8,000 Oystercatcher roosting over tide but hunted unsuccessfully, and then spent quite a while ‘playing’ on the thermals by the mast.
Other waders included 9,000 Knot, 630 Dunlin and 5 Purple Sandpiper. Two Grey Heron were at the north end of Middle.
An adult Grey Seal with a wound on its head was hauled out at the North End  and two younger ones seemed very interested in it. Although it looked quite unwell it did move as the tide came up.
 photos AS

Tuesday, 4 December 2018

4th December 2018

Weather: W force 2, clear overnight and cold
Calmer and drier this morning with a surprise of a late Goldcrest in the paddocks, also a Woodpigeon, both usually only seen at Hilbre at times of passage. Three Skylarks went through mid-morning and another was down on Middle at midday. Probable wintering birds today included 3 Song Thrushes, 5 Wrens, 2 Robins, 2 Dunnocks and 2 Rock Pipits. A seal was hauled out on the rocks by shell beach and later near the north end.
Sea birds seen were 23 Common Scoter, 8 Great Crested Grebes and 2 Guillemots, while best of the waders counted were 1,500 Knot, 300 Dunlin, 25 Sanderling, 4 Purple Sandpipers with a few Turnstone.

Grey Herons unusually today outnumbered Little Egrets 6 to 1, and there were 2 Eiders, an immature male (below) and a female, and 70 Shelduck rested on the shore after the tide.
 photos AS

Sunday, 2 December 2018

2nd December 2018

Weather:  SW 4, 7/8 cloud, showers

A short visit on a grey morning produced a Peregrine on the reef between Middle and Little for observers on the way over.  

The Eider was off the North End as were 180 Common Scoter.

212 Pale-bellied Brent Geese were counted but there were certainly more present below the rocks between the islands.

Lots of waders were around the North Shore and the Tanskies.  The Great Northern Diver remains on West Kirby Marine Lake along with the Little Grebe and the returning Cumbrian colour-ringed Black-headed Gull 2J75.

A single Song Thrush was in the trapping area and a Skylark passed over. 

Saturday, 1 December 2018

1st December 2018

Weather:  S 3-4, 8/8 cloud, poor vis (2 miles), rain
An early damp start found 6 Song Thrushes about the island, more than the norm at this time of year.
A Goosander was present, these birds seem to be more common in the estuary during the last few years, unlike Red-breasted Mergansers that may have declined. A female Eider continued the now regular appearance of these ducks at Hilbre. The bad weather hampered much bird finding but waders included 7 Purple Sandpipers, 60 Dunlin, 40 Redshank and a Grey Plover.
Ringing: Song Thrush [555-34]

Friday, 30 November 2018

30th November 2018

Weather: WSW 4, 5/8 cloud, good vis

A short visit today was surprisingly productive with a flock of 20 Pintail flying over the island and off south up the estuary as observers arrived.

The single Eider was off the North End and a single Purple Sandpiper fed on the slipway along with good numbers of Turnstone (85).

The Pale-bellied Brent Goose flock has increased and a peak count so far this autumn/winter was made today with 242 birds present.

A single Little Egret fed in the gutter with good numbers of Redshank (180) and Knot (850) also present.

Two Song Thrushes were around the gardens and one bird retrapped today was the returning bird which is clearly now wintering on the islands.

Meanwhile, yesterday an adult Great Northern Diver was found on West Kirby Marine Lake (still present today - photo below by Peter Sutton) joining the Little Grebe that was still present (see below); a real ‘little and large’ double act for the lake!

Tuesday, 27 November 2018

27th November 2018

Weather: SE   4-5  vis 1 mile increasing later.

The fog today was thick enough that none of the islands were visible from the prom,  with a temperature of just above 1c and a cruel wind it was a brief pre tide visit. The 160 Brent Geese counted included 2 colour ringed birds (different ones from yesterday), a pair of Mallard flew about the islands for some time. Probably because of the short visit only 28 Common Scoter were recorded today, with 240 Cormorant.
On the North Shore were 1700 Knot, 35 Bar-tailed Godwit, 18 Curlew , 3 Grey Plover and 171 Redshank.
Middle and Hilbre both had a Song Thrush present along with the usual Robin, Wren, Dunnock and Meadow Pipit.  

Monday, 26 November 2018

26th November 2018

Weather: ESE  0-1  vis 8 mls improving later.
A poor day for birds on the island with just a Blackbird and 2 Song Thrush down and 3 Redwing over, 5 Linnet were also about with 23 Meadow Pipit.
The Brent Geese were in 3 groups totalling 190 and included both the confusing colour ringed birds, PZBY and 7PBY.
As the tide came up there were 11,000 Knot on the sand west of Little/Middle Eye, with 340 Dunlin, 163 Redshank and 61 Grey Plover along the Gutter and North Shore. Six Purple Sandpiper were at the North End along with 60 Turnstone.
Common Scoter had just been counted at 1,600 on the sea around the North End when a huge flock estimated to be at least 8,000 lifted from the sea around the wind farm, these landed again and drifted in with the tide. Amongst them were 56 Great Crested Grebe, 35 Red-throated Diver and 420 Cormorant.
Five Heron roosted over tide on Little Eye, and 3,66 Oystercatcher with 176 Curlew on Middle.
A  young Grey Seal was disturbed from the rocks at the north end of Middle as an observer arrived just after dawn.

Sunday, 25 November 2018

25th November 2018

Weather: ENE force 1

A Redwing called over Middle as dawn broke and a Reed Bunting showed there later. A visit to the north end found a single Eider on the whaleback while an immature Gannet glided west close by and about 1,500 Knot wheeled off the north shore tide and immediately became the target of a marauding Peregrine. A tight group of 9 Scoters were not too far out. At high tide 400 Sanderling were logged and 4 Red-Throated Divers were on the sea. About the paddocks were 3 Song Thrushes, 2 Pied Wagtails and a Blackbird, also a dozen Meadow Pipits.

Saturday, 24 November 2018

24th November 2018

Weather: E force 1
Over 50 Meadow Pipits passed through this morning,

 while Blackbird and Robin ringed were probably new wintering birds.

A couple of Pied Wagtails and 2 Song Thrushes were also about.

One of 4 Purple Sandpipers found was feeding in a pool on top of the north end, and the others roosted on the west side cliff.

An Eider is still around and 5,000 Oystercatchers roosted on Middle, with 100 Dunlin, 15 Turnstones and 15 Ringed Plover on the main island.
Ringed: 1 Meadow Pipit, 1 Robin, 1 Blackbird    [ 554-34 ]
photos JE

Friday, 23 November 2018

23rd November 2018

Weather: SE 1-2, 6/8 cloud, mist around estuary 

A grey rather miserable day didn't do much to lift observers’ spirits and neither did the birds!

The regular Eider remained around the island all day but its recent companions seemed to have moved on. The only other ducks were 150 Common Scoter. The Brent seem to be increasing in numbers although an accurate count was not made. A good number of juvenile birds were noted today, accompanying their parents. A returning colour-ringed bird was seen today for the first time this winter (photo below),originally ringed in Iceland in 2015 and recorded at Hilbre in previous winters since December 2015; it is already the fourth colour-ringed bird in the flock this autumn/winter and we can look forward to more as the flock usually increases into the New Year. 

A short sea watch before the tide produced five Red-throated Diver, five Great Crested Grebe and a Guillemot.

Six Purple Sandpipers were seen at the North end early on. Flocks of Knot, totalling about 3500, were between Middle & Little Eye accompanied by smaller numbers of Grey Plover and Dunlin. 5,000 Oystercatcher roosted the tide on Middle.

Passerines were again in short supply but the highlight of the day was two male Blackcaps, one of which was caught and ringed (see photograph). This is the equal second latest ever date for a Blackcap to be ringed on Hilbre and the latest since 1974.

Ringing: Blackcap [551-34]

Photos by CCS & SRW

Thursday, 22 November 2018

22nd November 2018

Weather: SE force 1 , cold, some mist
A pleasant morning with light winds and eventually with fitful sunshine. A Sparrowhawk flew in just before high tide and stayed sitting for periods on the walls and fences, much to the annoyance of about a dozen Meadow Pipits and a Pied Wagtail who mobbed it constantly.
 A Goldcrest was caught and ringed, a late individual for Hilbre following a poor autumn passage.

Eight Starlings were about the island for a time and there seemed to be more than the usual number of Wrens (8 today) and Robins (5) present, also 2 Blackbirds, 2 Song Thrushes and a Rock Pipit.
Few waders could be counted at high tide (apart from 3,500 Oystercatchers); just 150 Dunlin, 37 Redshank and 4 Purple Sandpipers.
Two Eiders were floating about this morning, and after the tide a massive count of 816 Shelduck was made between the islands and the West Kirby shore, whilst on the sea 9 Great Crested Grebes and 7 Common Scoters was the best that could be found. A single Peregrine was over the island and also at Little Eye.
Ringed: 1 Goldcrest, 1 Blackbird    [ 550-34 ]
photos SRW

Wednesday, 21 November 2018

21st November 2018

Weather: SE 3, 7/8 cloud, rain during the morning improving later, poor then mod vis

A post-tide visit produced good numbers of waders on the ebbing tide edge with at least 8,500 Knot counted and good numbers of Grey Plover, Dunlin and Curlew.

Two Peregrines were noted near Little Eye with one carrying prey which turned out to be a godwit.  The Peregrine was briefly harassed by a Great Black-backed Gull and then the other Peregrien but it simply flew off and found a quiet spot to sit.

A single Meadow Pipit was caught and ringed, rather late for Hilbre being the fifth latest in the year ever to be ringed here.

Shelduck numbers increased again with 585 counted along the tide edge by Little Eye.

Ringing: Meadow Pipit [548-34]

Meanwhile, on nearby West Kirby Marine Lake up to five Goosanders were still present and the Little Grebe showed well off the old baths.  The latter is a very rare bird at the Marine Lake or indeed at Hilbre (the last record at Hilbre being on 12th September 2013 - see

Photos AEH and SRW

Tuesday, 20 November 2018

20th November 2018

Weather:  ENE 4, 8/8 cloud, a little occasional drizzle, very cold (mainly due to windchill factor)

After yet another pre-dawn start to beat the tide, it turned out to be a pleasant (if chilly) morning.
A variety of duck drifted by below the Obs garden, an adult male Eider with a female and three immature birds, two Goldeneye and six Wigeon in two groups of 3. The first group were two male and a female, the second comprised of a male and two females.

Four adult Gannet close in to the North End were unexpected, a good count of 600 Cormorant was made and there were also 4 Great Crested Grebe on the sea.

With observers departing quite soon after the tide ebbed off the lagoon, wader counts were quite low, but it was pleasing to note 6 Purple Sandpiper at the North End, 2 Little Egret by the reef and 111 Grey Plover just south of Little Eye.

The usual collection of passerines on the island included 4 Blackbird and 2 Song Thrush, one of which was re-trapped and found to have been ringed at Hilbre one day earlier the previous year (19th November 2017)!

Photos by SRW

Ringing:  Blackbird [547-34]

Monday, 19 November 2018

19th November 2018

Weather:  ESE 1-2, 8/8 cloud, good vis

As the tide dropped a good count of Pale-bellied Brent Geese could be made with 187 noted including the Canadian ringed bird.  Shelduck were also in good numbers with 350 counted around Little Eye and the Tanskies.

Three Teal were noted from the main island and were then seen off the south end of the reef along with 7 Wigeon.

The single Eider was noted along with three others.

A few passerines moved through early with 3 Blackbirds and 3 Song Thrushes noted along with 6 Robins.  Finches were in short supply though with 2 Chaffinch, 11 Linnet and a single Siskin noted.

Meanwhile, the elusive fox continued to show a clean pair of heals whenever the photographers amongst us got remotely close...

Photos by SRW

Sunday, 18 November 2018

18th November 2018

Weather:  ESE 0-1, 1/8 cloud, 5 miles vis, slight ground frost

A beautiful start to the day as venus rose over the Wirral skyline, thrushes including Redwing, Blackbird (including one caught and ringed), Song Thrush and Fieldfare were noted from first light and small numbers of Brambling, Siskin, Chaffinch and Linnet moved through the islands.

Good numbers of Brent Geese and waders continued to feed as the tide flooded and a solitary Snipe dropped in.

A flock of 17 Pink-footed Geese moved out of the estuary followed by another half a dozen later, several flocks of Shelduck were present and 12 Canada Geese ventured out for a brief flight, the usual Eider was content to drift with the tide as did a few small flocks of Common Scoter and a handful of Great Crested Grebes.

Geese and waders responded to the Peregrine’s interest and a Merlin moved through from the West, a few Meadow Pipits moved as the sun came up and the tide ebbed leaving waders feeding including two Purple Sand, reasonable numbers of Turnstone (including one of our returning colour-ringed birds), Redshank, Dunlin and Curlew with a few Grey Plover and a small flock of Sanderling at the tide edge.

Photos AEH, CJW et al

Ringing: Blackbird [546-34]