Saturday 27 December 2008

27th December 2008

A cold but sunny morning (-2c) led to a only slightly less cold sunny day (+2c). Twenty one Purple Sandpipers rested on the west ledges (one can be seen with a colour ring) and at least 80 Brent were counted before the tide pushed them away.

A new Song Thrush was ringed today and the partial albino bird showed well in its favoured spot by the rangers garden wall. A Blackbird retrapped today has a long history of being caught over the last 4 years, and is probably a regular winterer. Two Robins caught were also previously ringed birds.

At nearby Red Rocks a Snow Bunting was on the beach and a Black Redstart was still present this afternoon, although it required the observer to stand on one rock in particular in order to see it over the nursing home wall !

(JE) photos by JE

Monday 22 December 2008

22nd December 2008

Difficult visibility this morning with the coasts appearing and disappearing until Wales finally showed properly in the early afternoon. The Brents remained at 131 pale and 2 dark. Wintering waders included the expected species :- Oystercatcther, Curlew, Bar-tailed Godwit, Redshank, Dunlin, Ringed Plover and Sanderling, also a Little Egret and Shag. Still a number of Song Thrushes (including the partial albino), and 2 Blackbirds.
A Song Thrush that was ringed had 6 old and 3 new greater coverts that are less bright and slightly longer (not as easy to see as in a Blackbird, but showing well in this picture) making it a bird fledged this year.

(DB,JE) photos by JE

Saturday 20 December 2008

20th December 2008

A calm but mild day with incessant drizzle resulting in neither coast visible from the island chain and with little new on the bird front (130 Brent, a Shag and a Little Egret) except for an increase in Wrens on the island, about 10 being present. It has been noted before that Wrens occasionally visit Hilbre in small numbers mostly at times of passage, probably as a result of local movement from Wirral or North Wales. Our old friend the partial albino Song Thrush was still seen around its favoured area of the Rangers garden.
(JE) photo by JE

Monday 15 December 2008

15th December 2008

A high tide sea-watch noted 8 Red-throated Divers, a single Great Northern Diver (the same as the recent bird on the marine lake?) but only 4 Great Crested Grebes in contrast to the hundreds counted off the north shore at Meols today.
A Little Egret and a pair of Wigeon were on the shore around the island with 2 Peregrines patrolling the Little Eye area.
Thrushes seemed to be the same as they were these last few weeks (2 Blackbirds and 5 Song Thrushes including the partial albino), also the Snow Bunting is still showing on Little Eye.
The ebb tide provided an opportunity for extensive wader counts around the East Hoyle and the south end of the island chain. Six thousand Oystercatchers were just about the highest estimate this winter so far and 3,000 knot and 2,000 Dunlin were on the East Hoyle while 500 Curlew was the large gathering in the Tanskey rocks area, but 350 Grey Plover south west of Little Eye were probably the highlight of the afternoon.

Sunday 14 December 2008

Just outside our recording area!

This Waxwing was present in a West Kirby garden on and off during Sunday afternoon - not quite Hilbre, but in an Obs member's garden! Seen by several obs members as well.

Saturday 13 December 2008

13th December 2008

With a south easterly wind the small waders refused to gather in any numbers for the high tide roost on the main island, there was just a small group on Lion rock as there was yesterday (right). The main roost as always for the several thousand Oystercatchers was on the north end of Middle (above).

The Brents were again put at 130, so maybe the numbers are stabilising. A Shag was on the sea.
Two Blackbirds were on the island, one was previously ringed on 28th November, and like the Song Thrushes yesterday had also put on weight. The other an apparently new bird was ringed today. There are still 5 Song Thrushes about including the partial albino.

The male Snow Bunting is still on Little Eye for those willing to take the short walk across to see it, it is well worth the effort.

(JE) Photos by JE

Friday 12 December 2008

12th December 2008

Two Snow Buntings flew south between the islands at first light and although they could not be relocated, but the superb male that has been on Little Eye was later found to be still present.

Early morning a single Pintail flew west across the south end of Hilbre and apart from a Common Scoter proved to be the only duck of the day.
At high tide a Short-eared owl was seen flying high over between Middle and Little Eye being mobbed by a Greater Black-backed Gull and after losing the attention of its tormenter it flapped lazily off towards the south west.

A Peregrine made several passes scattering the roosting 4,000 Oystercatchers on Middle and during the day went around the main island at least twice but was never seen to be successful but prevented a steady roost of Purple Sandpipers (right) resulting a count of only ten birds.

The two regular Hilbre mammals (Grey Seal and Short-tailed Vole (below)) were both seen well today.

The Dunnock is still present in the trapping area and 2 Blackbirds were seen with 5 Song Thrushes.
Remarkably 4 Song Thrushes were trapped and 3 of them proved to have been previously ringed at Hilbre on the same date 17 days ago ! All three had put on weight, one by as much as 8 grammes, so the feeding must be good. It remains to be seen whether they will winter on the island. The remaining trapped bird was ringed today.

(BSB,DB,AEH,CJ,KMc) Photos by CJ

Tuesday 9 December 2008

9th December 2008

In a strong northwesterly early in the day counts were made of 2,500 Oystercatchers, 340 Shelduck and 270 Curlew and 350 Cormorants flying out to sea. Seven Wigeon were present and 40 Bar-tailed Godwits flew down the west side, while the Brent (right) were in similar numbers to recently (130 pale and 2 dark). later in the morning a heavy hail shower scattered the shorebirds south making the attempted Webs low tide bird count unrepresentative. On the sea the regular Eider and a single Shag were the only birds of note.

Three species of raptor seen today (Kestrel (male left), Merlin, Peregrine).

Birds that may be considering wintering on the island were 3 Song Thrushes, a Blackbird and a Dunnock.

Little Eye was revisited today by a male Snow Bunting (left), maybe this one will stay the winter.

(BSB,DB) Thanks to BSB for excellent photos.

Sunday 7 December 2008

7th December 2008

A stunning morning weather-wise, with bright blue skies, crisp frost underfoot but a mild light southerly wind. Wader numbers were good with large numbers of Curlew, Oystercatcher, Redshank and Turnstone seen and smaller numbers of Knot, Bar-tailed Godwit, Grey Plover and Purple Sandpipers (11).

The two Little Egrets were around still providing great views (see opposite) in the rock pools and gutter - even being seen in flight over the Obs garden at one point. The Brents had increased to 133, which presumably included the two dark-bellied birds although these could not be found amongst the roosting birds at the North End.

A female Pintail flew in off the sea and landed on the rocks at the North End and landed amongst the Brents. An unusual record 'down' on the island (see below).

A ringed Rock Pipit was also around the North End having been ringed previously at Hilbre. Other passerines around the island included 5 Song Thrushes (excluding the partial albino bird of which there was no sign), Blackbird flushed from the Obs garden but no sign of the Snow Buntings at Little Eye or elsewhere.

Several colour-ringed Turnstones were seen around the main island - ringed as many as five years ago on Hilbre. This bird (red left and BTO metal ring above the knee and white right - which was ringed in the winter of 2006-07) lived up to its name by turning numerous small stones looking for invertebrates...

(CJW, PGW & SRW) Photos by SRW

Saturday 6 December 2008

6th December 2008

A pleasant sunny morning but with not many birds, although the Brent are now at 130 pales and 2 darks. Fifty Shelduck, a Wigeon, 10 Grey Plover, a Shag (left), a Peregrine and 2 Little Egrets (below with Brent) were the main birds on the shore and the island had 4 Song Thrushes (including the partial albino), 2 Blackbirds, a Dunnock and 7 Wrens.

(DB,JE,ME & Harriet) Photos by JE

Tuesday 2 December 2008

2nd December 2008

A late morning visit for the high tide in gusty weather with rain and hail showers and a strong swell on the sea was not very productive or very pleasant out and about (check out the number of bird photos here!). The highlight was a count of 26 Purple Sandpipers, the pleasing fact is that the Purple Sandpiper numbers are comparable with the high counts in recent winters. Other waders noted were 119 Turnstones and 22 Redshank.
Still 2 Blackbirds and 2 Song Thrushes on the island, one of which was ringed a week ago, and is apparently able to survive, maybe the many broken snail shells give a clue to its diet.
(CJ) photo by CJ

Saturday 29 November 2008

29th November 2008

Scruffy wonders how he will ever find
his way back !

Thick fog throughout the estuary today with visibility down to 100 yards or less, and two lost people wandering the shore were rescued by our member with a compass. This is a warning against attempting to cross in such conditions, especially if the tide is rising ! Three canoeists turned up at Hilbre at high tide, I expect navigation would be equally as difficult for them.

Counts today in trying circumstances included 99 Brent, 5 Wigeon, 1 Eider and 11 Purple Sandpipers.

Six Blackbirds, a Song Thrush and 9 Starlings were on the ground, two of the Blackbirds were caught for ringing ( photo of 1st year male Blackbird shows the contrasting new black and old brown greater coverts after post juvenile moult).

(JE) photos by JE

Friday 28 November 2008

28th November 2008

A dark-bellied Brent (left) was alone on the whaleback early morning, but the rest of the Brents were scattered elsewhere so no meaningful count could be made today. A Pink-footed Goose flew with the cormorants out to sea during first light and 2 Redwings went overhead. Thrushes on the ground were 6 each of Song Thrushes and Blackbirds on the main island, a single Rock Pipit was at the north end though other passerines only consisted of the usual small scatter of Meadow Pipits, Robins and Wrens.

A count at high tide produced 19 Purple Sandpipers (left) and 117 Turnstones resting on the McAffe 'steps' a habit not followed much lately (below). The Eider floated in with the Brents between the islands after the tide, a single Snow Bunting was seen at Little Eye, and 200 Starlings crossed the sands.

In the afternoon 400 Sanderling grouped together on the East Hoyle bank, 4 Wigeon and 2 Little Egrets were noted, 80 Grey Plover (below with Curlew) flew north up the west side and 10 Redwing went over just before dusk.

The Great Northern Diver was then seen to fly over the obs in a northwesterly direction, confirming the suspicion that the Hilbre and marine lake bird are one and the same.

Another suspicion was confirmed when a fresh digging and droppings of a fox were discovered north of the old obs garden.

Trapped for ringing were 2 Song Thrushes, 2 Blackbirds and a Wren.

Minor repairs were successfully completed to the sea hide and door of the SK trap (thanks to DCT,PGW for labour and Phil W for donation of materials).

(DB,ME,CJ,DCT,PGW) All photos by CJ

Tuesday 25 November 2008

25th November 2008

A quiet start to the day in the dark (because of the early tide) with a crescent moon in a clear sky and a cool breeze, burst into life when a cloud of approximately a thousand Starlings (right) flew low over the south end of the island and off to the west.

There had obviously been a thrush movement overnight as it became clear there were 7 Song Thrushes and 3 Blackbirds around the paddocks and gardens, and also a Dunnock.
A sea-watch produced little except 3 Teal and a few G C Grebes and Common Scoters.
As the tide ebbed records became more interesting with an Eider close to the east side, a Snipe between the islands with the shore waders and 2 Whooper Swans flying west towards the north shore. A commotion that disturbed all the waders and Brents proved to be a brief appearance of a Common Buzzard north of Middle, unfortunately the bird could not be relocated despite an active search. Seven Wigeon (below) flew north along the east side, and 14 Black-tailed Godwits went south passed Middle.

On the way off the islands a large female Peregrine (above left) was seen sitting on the rocks near Little Eye but only 2 Snow Buntings (below) could be located there.

Four Song Thrushes were trapped for ringing.
(CJ,PGW) All photos CJ

24th November 2008

Despite the continued strong winds no more Storm Petrels, but a Goldeneye ( a surprisingly scarce bird at Hilbre, but regular on the marine lake in winter) and a Little Egret were noted. Three Song Thrushes, a Redwing and a Blackbird were grounded.

23rd November 2008

Again the 4 Snow Buntings at Little Eye and with the north westerly reaching up to force 8 in the afternoon, and following on from the bird on friday another Storm Petrel flew west at 15.30 hrs ( just after low tide).

22nd November 2008

Still 4 Snow Buntings at Little Eye, and 7 Wigeon logged flying west.

Friday 21 November 2008

21st November 2008

Winds up to gale force from the north west this morning and a one hour sea-watch early afternoon (3 to 4 hours before the tide) saw 2 Leach's Petrels and a Storm Petrel blown in passed the north end. These are the only petrels reported so far in western Britain at the present time, the Storm Petrel being particularly late. In addition to the regular bird a flock of 8 Eider also went through, made up of 2 adult and 2 eclipse males and 4 females. Other sea-birds were 18 Common Scoter and a Red-throated Diver. The Brents were still at yesterdays numbers but the Snow Buntings on Little Eye have increased to four.
A Peregrine was logged and 5 Skylarks flew over.

Thursday 20 November 2008

20th November 2008

A low tide visit today during a force 5/6 from the north west produced similar results to yesterday, 23 Common Scoter, 6 Scaup, 36 Bar-tailed Godwit, 58 Sanderling, a Shag and the Eider, but the Brent were up to 119 Pale-bellied and 3 Dark-bellied. Only 3 Purple Sandpipers could be found at low tide, although 151 Grey Plover were feeding out by the Tanskeys. Very few passerines, not even a Meadow Pipit, just a single Song Thrush and a Starling (below).

The 2 Snow Buntings (above) were still around Little Eye, hopefully they will stay longer than the one on Middle two weeks ago.
(DB,CJ,PGW,SRW) photos by CJ

Wednesday 19 November 2008

19th November 2008

A force 6/7 westerly today with rain and drizzle but our intrepid observer braved the foul weather to see out the afternoon tide and was rewarded with a flock of 40 Kittiwakes flying down the east side and later off to the west. An excellent record for the middle of November, all the birds were seen to be adults. Two Scaup and 12 Common Scoter were also on the sea, while the Brents could only be counted at 114 Pale-bellied and 2 Dark, until 6 new pale birds were seen to arrive over the sea from the north which marked a new high for the winter.

Tuesday 18 November 2008

18th November 2008

Wind back in the north west today, and a quieter day for birds, highlights being the Eider, a Rock Pipit, a Merlin late morning and 2 Snow Buntings contentedly feeding away at Little Eye. Large counts for Hilbre were 580 Curlew and 40 Grey Plover.

Monday 17 November 2008

17th November 2008

Despite the forecast the wind was in the south east this morning and over 40 species were recorded for the day which is well above average for this time of year.
Pale-bellied Brent have reached 116 and the first 2 Dark-bellied this winter were seen with them. The Eider was still present and other duck noted were 9 Teal, 5 Pintail and 35 Wigeon.
One Great Northern and 8 Red-throated Divers were on the sea, also 2 Red-breasted Mergansers, 6 Great Crested Grebes, 140 Common Scoter and 2 Shags. On the shore was a Little Egret, 300 Cormorant, 320 Curlew, 130 Sanderling, 100 Shelduck and 2,000 Knot at the tanskeys.
Typical late autumn visitors included 130 Starlings, 2 Lapwings, 2 Redwings, a Peregrine, a Sparrowhawk and a Chaffinch.

Friday 14 November 2008

14th November 2008

A late afternoon visit saw 12 Redwings across the sands and 4 Song Thrushes and a Blackbird on the island apparently going to roost. The Eider was still happily around the north end.

Thursday 13 November 2008

13th November 2008

The Eider was joined by 2 other female types and the Great Northern Diver made a return visit, presumably disturbed from the marine lake where it has spent the last few days. Twelve Wigeon and a Little Egret were noted, a Peregrine was seen and the Purple Sandpipers were counted at 17 in Niffy bay.

Wednesday 12 November 2008

12th November 2008

With the wind back in the west just a Fieldfare and a Redwing through, but the Eider still present also 3 Little Egrets, and the Brents counted at 107 (all pale).

Saturday 8 November 2008

8th November 2008

The wind was still from the south east at first light despite the forecast of change to the less favourable migration direction of south west later in the day, and the birds duly obliged with many good records during the morning.

The male Snow Bunting was still on middle early in the day and the Great Northern Diver reappeared off the north end with the Eider, 5 Wigeon and 4 Teal.

The Pale-bellied Brent are now at 101, and the Purple Sandpipers at 16 (some returning birds with colour rings (left) from previous years), but the sea was fairly quiet apart from a Merlin that flew across and a Red-breasted Merganser, a Shag and a few Great Crested Grebes.

No Blackbirds today but 14 Redwing, 3 Fieldfare, and 3 Song Thrushes.

A Short-eared Owl flew in from the north and went off south, followed by another that arrived an hour later from the same direction. This is surprisingly the first Hilbre sighting this autumn of this species despite there being good numbers further down the estuary.

Not many finches although a larger flock of 14 Goldfinches were seen to arrive off the sea at the north end but moved on as they were not relocated on the island. Not many other small passerines except for a few Robins and a Dunnock.

Only a Chaffinch ringed but a Song Thrush trapped was particularly interesting as it was the partial albino bird that has been seen on the island since Wednesday this week. When trapped it was found to have been previously ringed at Hilbre as an adult on 28th October 2006, and re-caught on 3rd November that year. The reoccurance at a similar time of year suggests Hilbre as its regular staging site to and from winter quarters. At the time of ringing it was in normal plumage, but of course it will have moulted twice since then.

(FD,JE,CJ,PGW,SRW, + vis.PW) photos:- 2nd owl Phil Woollen, others CJ & SRW

Friday 7 November 2008

7th November 2008

The Rough-legged Buzzard was seen to leave its roost by Stanley Road this morning and was present there up until about 09.00hrs, indeed it was seen from Hilbre hovering over the dunes.
After the excitement of yesterday today was a little less frenetic. The Great Northern Diver seems to have finally disappeared, although the Eider was still off the north end.

Thrushes were in good numbers especially Redwings (23) and Blackbirds (24) while other passerines on the ground included 2 Rock Pipits, a male Blackcap, A Dunnock, a Goldcrest, and a lost Blue Tit.

Two Peregrines and a Sparrowhawk gave good views while harassing the waders.
A flock of 200 Starlings flew west and 15 Skylarks and a single Brambling were also fly-over records.

The Snow Bunting on the west path on middle was still present and gave photographic opportunities in much better light than yesterday.

birds ringed were:-2 Blackbirds, a Dunnock and a Blackcap.
(DB,CJ,KMc,SRW) photos by SRW, video by CJ