Monday, 10 May 2021

10th May 2021

Weather:  SE force 1 , later SW force 7 mainly cloudy,  showers later

A productive day for migration on the island, with undoubtfully the highlight for members was the flypast of a Spoonbill south down the west side of the island in the early morning. It was also seen from Red Rocks and West Kirby and is just the 6th ever at Hilbre, 3 of them being sighted this spring, which is a result of the widespead increase of this species in Britain in recent years.

Willow Warblers were numerous this morning, at least 3 dozen birds and 2 Chiffchaffs. Both Chiffchaffs and 21 of the Willow Warblers were ringed, 

Larger warblers also featured but some avoided the traps like the male and female Blackcap in the rangers garden, and 2 of the 3 Whitethroats, two of which were singing below the obs and in the SK paddock at the same time, 

also a Whinchat that sat briefly on the garden fences and then disappeared, reappearing later to pose for stunning photos.


Both Sedge Warblers present however were caught and ringed.

Redpolls came through sporadically although  a group of 12 was over between the islands soon after dawn, as was a flava Wagtail. Wheatears were scarce this morning, a single early, then 2 on Middle later. A Common Sandpiper called at the north end and then went off to Wales, a Canada Goose flew west and the regular 3 Eiders eventually showed up. There are fewer Whimbrel about now, the main passage seems to be over, although a group of 80 Sanderling landed by the island, they are obviously still on the move.

Three Goldfinches and a Siskin represented the migrant finches, while hirundines passing were 14 Swallows, 3 Sand and 1 House Martin. The wind veered south west and increased during the day but sea birds were limited, with 1 Red-throated Diver, 8 Gannets, 5 Great Crested Grebes, a Guillemot and 2 Common Scoter.

photos CJ, AS, BT

Sunday, 9 May 2021

9th May 2021

Weather: SE force 0/1   later SW

Calm and cloudy conditions prevailed this morning, but crucially no mist. A couple of Greenland Wheatears were on Middle and a few Willow Warblers were present first thing.

Several Swallows, 2 Sand Martins and a few Goldfinches passed through, then before mid-morning the wind veered south west and surprisingly landed a singing Whitethroat and a splendid Whinchat at the south end of the island.

First thing a pair of Teal were on the sea to the north west, and the regular 3 Eiders (2male) were noted at the north end, while other ducks seen were 25 Common Scoter, 7 Shelduck and the 3 island Mallards. At least 6 Whimbrel called and other waders made excited noises prior to their northward migration.

photos CJ, AEH

Saturday, 8 May 2021

8th May 2021

Weather: E force 6 heavy rain, later ESE 5 still rain

Appalling weather from before dawn did not inspire confidence and indeed things were very quiet during the morning. as the weather cleared birds suddenly started to appear from nowhere and a female Blackcap, Whitethroat, and Chiffchaff showed with a few Willow Warblers, Redpolls and Swallows about the paddocks. Six Greenland Wheatears made it to the island. Twenty Whimbrel called, and groups of  Knot, Dunlin and Ringed Plover gathered before heading north.


while the 3 Eiders (2 male) are still about the shore with 3 Little Egrets and 4 Shelduck, while 1 Red-throated Diver, 6 Great Crested Grebes and 6 Gannets were on the sea.

photos CJW, (taken earlier in the week, the weather made pictures impossible today)

Friday, 7 May 2021

7th May 2021

Weather:  WNW force 3

A day typical of previous days this week with weather conditions going through the seasons in turn during the day, starting out with gusty wintery showers and ending in warm sunshine in the afternoon. The breeding birds were once again the focus of attention. A Wren was retrapped after being ringed 17 days ago, it exhibited the start of a brood patch of a breeding female.

The potter traps finally bore fruit with the capture of a Rock Pipit that was ringed here in March 2020, and had probably been present since that time, confirming the new habit of Rock Pipits being resident on the islands. 

A Linnet ringed 11 days ago which was a female also had a brood patch despite being in it's second calendar year, meanwhile the pair of Pied Wagtails seem to be doing well in their breeding efforts. We saw all the possible/probable breeding ducks today: Eider; Shelduck; Mallard, even possibly common scoter (unlikely!).

Only 4 Little Terns logged today, a more usual number for this stage of the season, likewise there were only 14 Sandwich and 2 Common Tern, 10 Gannets and 2 Guillemots but 5 Kittiwakes was a nice surprise. Five Little Egrets were on the shore as were 2,000 Herring Gulls. When it got to 12:00 the weather got hot, St Mark’s flies turned up in numbers and so did a few Swallows that appeared to be enjoying the feast.

There are still Whimbrel about, 12 seen today. and as many as 650 Dunlin joined together. 

Flowers above Niffy Bay made a colourful display on the cliff.

 The sky at the north end was spectacular this evening.

  photos JE, AS, CJW

Thursday, 6 May 2021

6th May 2021

Weather:   WSW force 4 later WNW 4

 A windy and chilly day with snow on the Carneddau mountains

With no small migrants to be seen most of the focus during a blustery day was on the sea. A total of 54 Little Terns were in the swash after the tide, this is a large number to be seen just now so let us hope they have come to feed and have not been disturbed from their nesting attempts at Gronant. Other sea birds seen were 8 Gannets, 20 Sandwich and 3 Common Terns, 2 Common Scoter and an obliging Guillemot.

Only small numbers of waders including 400 Dunlin and 2 Turnstone, and Whimbrel were again very much the highlight, there were 15 today.

Three male Wigeon were new arrivals today, but there were the same Eiders present as yesterday (2 male,1 female), the males were displaying to the female which had a broken wing and would be the same bird as last year.  A Grey Heron and 3 Little Egrets made the bird list.

 photos AS

Wednesday, 5 May 2021

5th May 2021

Weather: NW Force 1-3. Hail & rain showers

The weather threw everything at the islands today. There was a cold NW breeze bringing in rain, hail and the occasional spells of sunshine.

 Understandably there were no grounded migrants but the hail resulted in a few seabirds seeking temporary shelter around the island. Small flocks of Dunlin & Ringed Plover were seen to pitch in and sit out the storms whilst an adult Kittiwake took refuge on the rocks at the north end.  

Resident birds are all busy either nest building or proclaiming their territories with Linnets, Meadow Pipits, Wrens and Rock Pipits all singing in the sunshine between the showers. Wintering wader numbers have dropped off significantly with only a single Turnstone, a few Oystercatchers and Curlew being seen. Whimbrel are still migrating through heading north to their breeding grounds and 15 were recorded. The now regular Eider were at the north end with 2 males and a single female being seen.

The island is beginning to look very colourful with drifts off pink Thrift interspersed with the yellow of Birdsfoot Trefoil. 

The delicate white flowers of Pignut are also begining to open.

A lot of maintenance work has been done around the Obs and traps over the last week and yesterday the Obs fence was repaired. 

photos PSW

Monday, 3 May 2021

3rd May 2021

 Weather: SW force 5, later SE force 6 then WSW with rain

The highlight of the day was the sight of an adult Hobby flying across the island and travelling east towards Red Rocks. Perhaps the Hobby was following it's usual prey, the Swallows now passing in numbers, 70 recorded today with 18 Sand Martins, 3 House Martins and the first 2 Swifts of the year which also arrived today, typically for Swift coming in the wake of stormy clouds and rain. Both Peregrine and Kestrel were raptors also seen, while a Raven also showed. In addition to the hirundines and Swifts the only other small migrants were 8 Wheatears, 2 White Wagtails, a Yellow Wagtail and 5 Goldfinches. Whimbrel were again the stars of the waders, 35 present with other species logged being 34 Grey Plover, 12 Ringed Plover, 140 Dunlin. Despite the strong wind being mostly blowing out to sea, good numbers of sea birds showed especially for this time of year: 58 Gannets, 2 Red-throated Divers, 33 Guillemots, 14 Great Crested Grebes, 25 Common Scoter, 234 Sandwich and 163 Common Terns and 2 Arctic Terns. There has been no sign of any Brent for several days now but as well as the 4 Shelduck, 2 Pairs of Eider were here and single Wigeon and Pintail were noted. Little Egret totalled an exceptional 11 birds today as well as 2 Grey Herons. We do not often mention the gulls around the island so for once the results of counts today revealed 21 Black-headed at the north end, 15 Lesser and 16 Greater Black-backs and approximately 350 Herring Gulls. After the Dark Sword-grass moth yesterday, 4 were in the moth trap this morning, together with the first Silver Y trapped this season.