Tuesday, 25 September 2018

25th September 2018

Weather: SE force 2, cold at first, clear overnight
A stunning dawn heralded a small trickle of migrants arriving this morning, a Reed Bunting in the obs garden, a Chiffchaff, a few Robins, a couple of Grey Wagtails, a brief Skylark and later when the sun came up 2 Goldcrests appeared in the paddocks. A small number of Meadow Pipits came through, also a flock of about 30 Linnets, while a Rock Pipit was about the north end. Ten Brent were feeding on the whaleback and another 3 between the islands, while the 2 Eiders swan together for a time on the east side, and 2 Teal rested near the north end rocks. At least 9 Little Egrets flew about the islands and 23 Knot fed on the tide line.
An Angle Shades moth flew in near the north end and rested on the west cliff edge.

Ringed: 2 Robins, 2 Goldcrests     [ 500-31 ]
photos SRW

Monday, 24 September 2018

24th September 2018

Weather:NW force 2/3
The Brent have now increased to 14 birds including the colour ringed individual which was ringed in Iceland in May 2016 and was seen briefly here in November that year and then again through last winter. Some of the Brent seen here with Curlew on the west side.
A Peregrine was sheltering on the cliff at the south end and a few Robins were around the gardens. Eight Goldfinches were noted but otherwise a quiet morning.
The Eider was joined again by the other (immature) bird.
photo SRW

Sunday, 23 September 2018

23rd September 2018

Weather: N force 2/3  light rain at times,  mostly cloudy
A shower may have been responsible for a small group of migrants on the island this morning including a few Robins, 3 Chiffchaffs, 2 Wheatears, 2 Skylarks (on the ground) and a male Stonechat. It was unusual to get a photo of 4 of these species and Dunnock in the one frame, even if the focus leaves a lot to be desired !

A Grey Wagtail and a couple of Pied Wagtails were overhead early, then 3 Goosanders flew in to join the regular male Eider (now looking very much more like an adult) in the gutter alongside the obs.

Seven Pink-footed Geese flew west directly over the obs building in 2 groups,
while the Brent from yesterday now number 7 birds, on the rocks west of the lagoon, before flying south.
 Two Peregrines sat east of Middle, both feeding on a kill.
Following the good seabirds over the last 2 days, today's tide was a little disappointing, although it did include 17 Red-throated Divers, 3 Kittiwakes and a Shag.
 Sadly a Harbour Porpoise calf was found washed up.

Ringed: 2 Robins, 1 Chiffchaff    [ 496-31 ]
photos AEH,CJ,SRW

Saturday, 22 September 2018

22nd September 2018

Weather: WNW force 5 dropping W 2 by the afternoon
First thing this morning while the wind was still strong Leach's Petrels were passing, 7 by 08.30, after which time none were seen. Best of the rest were 8 Manx Shearwaters.

also 1150 Common Scoter, 4 Red-throated Divers, 11 Guillemots, 11 Great Crested Grebes, 7 Wigeon, 5 Pintail.
 A Rock Pipit visited the sea watching hide

While the seals are always curious as to what we are looking at.

Good news today of the arrival of the first 5 Brent for the winter, including an iceland colour ringed bird.
The Eider and it's 'mate' stayed about with a good count of 217 Shelduck also no less than 14 Little Egrets and 4 Grey Herons. Forty two Meadow Pipits were in a small movement, as were 30 Swallows, 5 House Martins, with 2 Goldcrests and 3 Robins on the ground, also recorde were 2 Pied Wagtails, 3 Dunnocks and a Rock Pipit. Many species of wader showed today including 4,600 Oystercatchers, 260 Curlew, a single Whimbrel,48 Ringed Plovers, 60 Dunlin, 26 Knot, 22 Sanderling, 54 Redshank, 3 Bar-tailed Godwits, 
Ringed: 1 Goldcrest, 1 Robin       [ 493-31 ]
 photos GB,SRW

Friday, 21 September 2018

21st September 2018

Weather: NW 7/8, 8/8 cloud, variable visibility with regular squalls


Fifteen Leach’s Petrels were counted this morning with all but one seen on the ebb tide.  Two Arctic Skuas were seen and at least 13 Manx Shearwaters were noted along with good numbers of Gannets, 6 Kittiwakes, lots of Sandwich and Common Terns as well as several Arctic Terns.  Golden Plovers were observed during the seawatch as were Teal and Pintail.

A large number of Guillemot (162) and small numbers of Razorbill (16) were noted.


Later in the afternoon 15 more Manx Shearwaters were added to the sea watch count and 12 Blacktailed-Godwits were noted.
photos SRW

Thursday, 20 September 2018

20th September 2018

Weather:  SW 1-2, vis 15 mls




A much calmer day weather wise and the call of a Reed Bunting quite early raised hopes of a productive day and there was indeed a better variety of birds than of late. The Reed Bunting was thought to be a fly over but a short while later was heard calling from the south end, eventually moving into the Obs garden where it was seen for the first time and photographed.


There was a small passage of Linnet and Meadow Pipit along with 2 Swallow and the first Rock Pipit to be seen for a while also arrived. Just ahead of a rain shower 10 Goldfinch came down in the SK paddock, moving to shelter in the Pittosporum as the rain became heavier later. Four Wheatear were about the islands with one very confiding bird in sparkling plumage on the bungalow fences.



Curlew numbers were high with 617 recorded, other waders included 74 Redshank, 60 Ringed Plover, 137 Dunlin and 45 Knot.

There were 51 Shelduck on the sand between West Kirby and the islands, 5 Wigeon flew west passed the North End and the Eider was between the islands along with a female Common Scoter (another 600 moved west out to sea). Also on the sea were 2 Red-throated Diver (one in summer plumage), 7 Great Crested Grebe, 5 Guillemot and 2 Razorbill, Tern numbers were low.





Grey Heron numbers were greater than Little Egret today (9-2), unusual of late.  A Peregrine was around the islands and a surprise was a Raven which appeared over Middle and upset the local Crows as well as putting up all the gulls.

Wednesday, 19 September 2018

19th September 2018

Weather:  SSE 3-4 increasing later to 7-8 from SW, vis 10 mls



There was a small movement of Meadow Pipit (22) and Linnet (18) as the wind began to increase, also singles of Grey and Pied Wagtail . A Wheatear was on the main island all day and a solitary swallow flew over the paddock.

On the sea small flocks of Common Scoter totalling 193 flew west, 8 Gannets were out by the wind farm, Cormorant numbers have increased to 600. Also noted were 6 Great-crested Grebe, 23 Guillemot and 2 Razorbill, no Sandwich Terns were seen but 23 Common and 4 Little Tern passed the North End.  The Eider as usual was in the Gutter and 2 Shelduck fed in pools on the East Hoyle.


Waders are still thin on the ground but 46 Redshank sheltered by Niffy Bay and 56 Curlew were noted. Three Grey Plover were heard calling early morning, Ringed Plover, Turnstone and Knot were present in small numbers.

A Peregrine hunted around the island before the wind strengthened.

The wind kept the tide in the Gutter up to the south end of the island over low tide today (see photo below).

Photos by AS

Tuesday, 18 September 2018

18th September 2018

Weather:  South 3-4 with good visibility


The Eider was joined by three Teal briefly in the Gutter and a single each of Common Scoter and Great Crested Grebe were at the North End.



Cormorants on the sandbanks and around the islands numbered 320.


Only two Little Egret were present today with 105 Curlew and Ringed Plover, Knot, Turnstone and Redshank in small numbers.

Very few passerines were on or over today but a single Swallow and two Wheatear were amongst them, one of the Wheatears spending some time around the Obs where it was photographed through a salt-sprayed window.



Photos by AS

Monday, 17 September 2018

17th September 2018

Weather:  SSE 2, 5/8 cloud, moderate vis



With the wind dropping and observers arriving early there was a sense of expectation in the air this morning and the beautiful skies over the island and Wirral made for a great start to the week.



It was definitely a case of quality over quantity though starting with the excellent record of a Mistle Thrush just after dawn in the upper paddock near the Starfish Decoy System Control Bunker (or ‘Air Raid Shelter’ or simply ‘bunker’ if you prefer!).  It momentarily sat on the corner of the broken down shed before flying off.  The first thrush species of the autumn on the islands was a somewhat unexpected species, Mistle Thrush being the scarcest of the commoner British thrushes at Hilbre.





At about 830hrs observers watched a Marsh Harrier heading in along the tideline of the East Hoyle sandbank before it turned and headed south west between the islands.  It was seen to be wing-tagged and found to have been tagged in Norfolk (thanks to @harriermanphil for info on wing-tagged Marsh Harriers).  Unfortunately, the alpha-numeric code could not be read (even from photographs) but it was considered to be a juvenile (and confirmed as such by raptor expert Jack Ashton-Booth - @JABBIRDART) so presumably was ringed in Norfolk this summer. A great record for the Obs and interesting to see if this bird now moves down the estuary and stays for the winter or simply was moving through.





Meanwhile, the warm southerly airflow meant that insects were in evidence including this Migrant Hawker dragonfly, single Red Admiral and a dragonfly spp.



Photos by AS and SRW

Ringing: Robin [491-31]


Sunday, 16 September 2018

16th September 2018

A single Robin was ringed during the morning on an otherwise fairly quiet morning in between rain showers.  There were also two Wheatear present and the semi-resident Eider.

One member (PS) stayed for the day and what a good decision that proved to be when at c1620hrs a Chough was found on the buildings by Telegraph House calling away before moving the short distance to the Telegraph Station (or ‘Lookout’) roof.  Unfortunately, it only stayed a couple of minutes before it flew off west towards the Point of Ayr and North Wales.

A colour ring was observed on its left leg, unfortunately the other rings could not be observed.  However, initial enquiries reveal that it was likely ringed as a pullus in North Wales in the last couple of years (possibly by one of our other members!).  Presumably it was ringed this year if post-juvenile dispersal is assumed to be the cause of its occurrence at Hilbre where it is only our fifth record ever for the Obs.

A great end to another cracking week at the Obs.

Ringing: Robin [490-31]


Saturday, 15 September 2018

15th September 2018

Weather: WSW force 3 mostly cloudy, vis 10 miles

Considering it was a westerly there were a few surprises of note including 6 Sand Martins flying off the south end, a Golden Plover travelling west passed the light boat house and a Sedge Warbler caught in the obs garden net, which incidentally showed a very obvious fault bar in the tail.
Two Wheatears were on the garden fences at first light and stayed all morning but were reluctant to access the potter traps on the west side and preferred to stay near the buildings.
 A Willow Warbler was ringed also a Robin amongst a few others present, possibly a small passage.
A trickle through of a few Meadow Pipits was also evident late in the morning.
Oystercatchers are now everywhere, 6,500 estimated seen but higher counts would certainly have been made at their high tide roost. Other waders were 76 Curlew, 30 Ringed Plover, 8 Turnstone, 6 Sanderling, 5 Bar-tailed Godwits and 20 Knot, the latter two species seen here feeding on the north shore against the morning light.
Nothing on the sea apart from about 7 Great Crested Grebes, the 50 or so remaining Sandwich Terns and 3 Red-breasted Mergansers that flew very close passed the north end. Gulls were numerous especially Black-headed which were estimated at 2,000, the majority of them on the west hoyle  at low tide. Five Little Egrets were noted but no Grey Herons, a sign of the times.
Ringed: 1 Sedge Warbler, 1 Willow Warbler, 1 Robin         [ 489-31 ]
photos JE,CJ

Friday, 14 September 2018

14th September 2018

Weather:SW force 2
A very quiet morning with records of 4 Little Egrets, 3 Bar-tailed Godwits, 21 Curlew and 42 Knot.

 An abundance of black and elderberries are waiting for the thrushes to arrive

 Counts were of 21 Meadow Pipits and 3 Robins.
photos AS

Thursday, 13 September 2018

13th September 2018

Weather:SW force 3

The immature male Eider is still here and 2 Wheatears were on the island.
A small passage of Meadow Pipits came through, 58 today. Six Swallows were seen around the island. Waders noted included 55 Curlew, 48 Knot, 21 Dunlin, 17 Redshank, 16 Ringed Plover, 3 Turnstone and 3 Bar-tailed Godwit. Eight Common Scoter were on the sea, also 12 Sandwich Tern and a Little Egret on the shore.
An accurate count of Grey Seals produced a number of 260. Many of the seals will shortly be away to breed.
photos AS