Thursday, 19 September 2019

19th September 2019

Weather:  SSW 0-1, 1/8 cloud, moderate vis increasing and bright sunny day

Garden Warbler

With such a bright sky, moderate visibility and the wind just west of south observers could have been forgiven for thinking today would be a wipe out for migrants.  However, the very light breeze backed SSE for a short time and there were a couple of Chiffchaff, 4 Goldcrests and more Robins (including another caught and ringed). 

Visible migration was also in evidence with 5 Grey Wagtails passing over along with single Skylark on Middle and another ‘in off’ at the North End.  Another Sparrowhawk was seen hunting the east side and a Golden Plover was heard calling. 

Eleven pale-bellied Brent Geese were present early on at the North End but this flock promptly disappeared and a mixed pair was then present on the whaleback (a single each pale and dark-bellied) along with two Shags and two Grey Herons (see above).

Pale-bellied (left) and Dark-bellied (right) Brent Goose - North End, Hilbre Islands LNR
Things seemed to go quiet as the day started to warm up until a mid morning round of the traps produced a female Blackcap and a Garden Warbler in the Newton heligoland.  The latter had a fat score of 40 and had clearly been gorging itself on the many blackberries ok the island and may well have been present some time.  It became the first Garden Warbler to be ringed this autumn (see photo at top of blog).
Blackcap (female)

A Stonechat appeared at the south end and was initially assumed to be the same bird as yesterday, however, better views showed that this was clearly a different bird.

As the tide flooded up to 14 Little Egreets could be found roosting on the reef south of middle Middle or feeding on the tide edge.  It was a stunning day on the islands and felt more Mediterranean than Irish Sea.

Ringed:  Robin, Blackcap, Garden Warbler [656-31]

Wednesday, 18 September 2019

18th September 2019

Weather:  SSE 0-1, 1/8 cloud, mod vis but slight mist around estuary

Conditions felt good this morning and observers were not surprised to hear Robins calling (one new bird caught on the first round), Chiffchaff and Goldcrest calling from the blackthorn pre-dawn.
A Stonechat appeared by Wheatear wall and then the fence of the construction site before moving to the Old Obs garden but then promptly disappeared as quickly as it had appeared!

A few Meadow Pipits moved through and severs Grey and Pied Wagtails were noted (including within the construction site area) along with a couple of Skylarks heard passing over.  As the day warmed up a few hirundines were counted with Swallows unsurprisingly the predominant species but more of a surprise were 8 Sand Martins (quite late for us here).

A male Blackcap appeared in the Obs mist net mid morning and a single Goldcrest was caught in the Old Obs net.

The Pale-bellied Brent Geese flock had increased to 18 birds and therefore yesterday's solitary bird was almost certainly new.  Meanwhile the Dark-bellied Brent spent much of its time on its own including as the tide flooded on the north end of Middle.

The Stonechat reappeared late afternoon at the South End having presumably spent the tide on Midde before being disturbed from their by visitors as the tide ebbed.


Butterflies were less numerous than recently but the first Speckled Wood of the autumn was found in the Obs garden.

The Kestrel at one stage took a rest from catching voles.

Nine Little Egrets were counted this morning and 7 of them rested south of Middle on the flood tide.

Photos CJ and SRW

Ringing:  Robin, Chiffchaff (2), Blackcap, Goldcrest [653-30]

Tuesday, 17 September 2019

17th September 2019

Weather:  NW 1-2, 8/8 cloud, good vis

A late tidal visit today in rather unpromising conditions produced a few nice records.  It was also a mixture of sunshine and overcast conditions which made for a pleasant day on the islands for the most part.

Seventeen pale-bellied Brent Geese appeared on the tide edge south west of the main island during the flood.  This flock included nine or ten juvenile/first winters which may be an early indicator of a good breeding season in Canada.  A single was noted on its own later and was perhaps a new bird.

A singe Sparrowhawk was again recorded although this one was on the edge of the recording area flying north along the outer edge of the saltmarsh opposite Pinfold Lane.

About 20 Meadow Pipits were noted but there had been a clear out of yesterday’s Wheatears.  Surprisingly an unringed Goldcrest was noted in the blackthorn in the paddocks and a Chiffchaff called from bushes in the gardens.

Although unpromising the seawatch was quite productive with highlights being a few small close flocks of Common Scoters (although the total of c500 birds includes many further out by the wind farm), a single Fulmar, Kittiwake and a Bonxie which powered through heading west distantly.

The evening was stunning with the sun setting and the wind dropping ... observers were left pondering, as always, what will tomorrow bring...?

Ringing:  Robin [648-30]

Monday, 16 September 2019

16th September 2019

Weather:  NNE 0-1, 8/8 cloud, moderate vis

The light winds brought a few migrants this morning with 4 Goldcrest and a Chiffchaff present and a single Grey Wagtail over along with a small, but noticeable movement, of 32 Meadow Pipits and there was again a small passage of Robins (but with only one new bird ringed).

The main feature of the day were Wheatears many of which were clearly Greenland raced birds.  With Wheatears present on Little, Middle and even the beach the main island held several groups of up to 10 birds.  The total day-count of 31 was probably an underestimate.

The Shag remained on the whaleback at the North End and the three pale and single dark-bellied Brent Geese were at the North End before the tide.

Pale-bellied (left and right) and Dark-bellied (centre) Brent Geese - North End of Hilbre
A Sparrowhawk drifted through the Obs garden and the Kestrel hovered in various places around the island during the day.

Wader numbers were definitely on the increase but the most noteworthy sighting was of approximately 800 Black-tailed Godwits which flew from the Wirral mainland and swirled around south of Little Eye before heading for the mud of the estuary further south. 

Ringing: Robin [647-30]

Sunday, 15 September 2019

15th September 2019

Weather: WNW   5   decreasing later, rain mid morning.

The first ‘round’ of the island turned up the first Rock Pipit of Autumn at the North End, 10 Black-tailed Godwit on the tide edge and 5 Robin in the gardens. There was a little disappointment that yesterdays  Brent Geese seemed to have moved on, however, a second trip around turned up 3 pale and a dark  bellied.

A sea watch was undertaken for the WEBS count and amongst birds noted were 5 Red-throated Diver, 32 Common Scoter, 3 Guillemot, 13 Great Crested Grebe and 2 Shag. Waders included 7,000 Oystercatcher, 124 Curlew,  500 Knot, 22 Bar-tailed Godwit but just 3 Ringed Plover.
A Wheatear spent the morning around the building site area and 4 Goldcrest called around the island. A good count of 164 Shelduck was made and there were 6 Little Egret present after tide.
The Kestrel is still finding plenty of Short-tailed Field Voles to feed on, see below.  
 photos AS

Saturday, 14 September 2019

14th September 2019

Weather:  SE 2, clear overnight.
A couple of Willow Warblers and 3 Goldcrests was all that was found in the paddocks this morning until a little later when a female Blackcap was trapped. In the afternoon a Treecreeper was sighted on the posts, only the sixteenth record for Hilbre (thanks to Jeremy Bradshaw and party). It appears to have just arrived and was attempting to enter the Newton trap.
 The other highlight today was the first 2 Brent of the autumn sitting on the whaleback and then in the gutter as the tide flooded.

A Wheatear was south of Middle early and another on the main island later.

Three Teal loafed off the west side and 2 others were on the north shore tide edge later.
The now regular Magpie did not disappoint.

Waders etc included 11 Bar-tailed Godwit, 16 Knot, 30 Turnstone and 5 Little Egrets.

Ringed: 1 Goldcrest, 1 Robin, 1 Blackcap [646-30]

Photos CJ, AS. thanks to Terry Wigley for Treecreeper photos.

Friday, 13 September 2019

13th September 2019

Weather:NW force 2  sunny and warm
Six Goldcrest made it to the island this morning, quite often in the past Goldcrests have arrived on a north westerly when other migrants are few. Four Wheatears also managed to pay us a visit.

A Woodpigeon arrived briefly.

A Meadow Pipit was retrapped and 8 birds were ringed.

One of the roosting Oystercatchers was colour marked.

Ringed: 3 Goldcrest, 3 Wrens, 2 Robins [643-30]

Photos JE

Thursday, 12 September 2019

12th September 2019

 Weather: SW   1-2 increasing 3-4 after tide, good visibility.
At least 3 Goldcrest were in the gardens and there seemed to have been a small fall of Wrens with 9 recorded, the Magpie is now one of the ‘regulars’  and a single Chiffchaff was in the Obs garden.
 An observer at Little Eye recorded 4 Heron and 35 Sanderling before tide. Good counts were had of Oystercatcher (6,500) and Curlew (216), 70 Knot were west of Middle as the tide rose and 17 Bar-tailed Godwit fed on the East Hoyle. Waders around the main island were Turnstone (67), Redshank (38) and Ringed Plover (30).
Over tide 90 Shelduck were around Little Eye and 14 un identified Geese flew west, south of the Eye. Cormorants numbered 164 and amongst them 2 Shag were noted.
Only 2 Common Tern were seen but there were 150 Sandwich Tern on the East Hoyle.
Upon leaving after tide, one observer found a Wheatear on Middle and 6 Little Egret around the reef.
photos AS