Tuesday 30 September 2008

30th September 2008

A strong westerly blow brought 11 Leach's Petrels, the first of the autumn, together with 12 Manx Shearwaters and 2 Black-throated Divers that landed on the sea off the north end. Also of note this late in the year were 22 Little Terns and 48 Sandwich Terns.

Saturday 27 September 2008

27th September 2008

A lovely day dawned with some Goldcrests calling about the bushes, a flock of 10 Goldfinches on the island and a male Blackcap appearing from nowhere.
The first Merlin of the autumn (below) was sighted being harassed in flight by a Peregrine and then giving a good solo show over the island.

During the morning more Goldcrests, A Chiffchaff and another Blackcap arrived and then astonishingly yet another Garden Warbler found its way into a mist net this year.

Late morning a bird was heard persistently and loudly calling from all parts of the island for a period of 5 or 6 minutes. Members with previous experience of the species recognised a Dotterel - the first ever record for Hilbre! Unfortunately the bird could not be seen but was undoubtedly circling high in the blue sky. The call was confirmed a few moments later by reference to mp3 recordings on the island.

Butterflies and insects responded to the autumn warmth and settled on the ragwort. All in all a beautiful day !

Trapped for ringing were 5 Goldcrests, a Blackcap, a Garden Warbler, a Linnet, and a Wren.
(FD,JE,CJ,DNW,PGW,SRW) All Photos by CJ

26/27th September 2008

More wader ringing on a beautifully calm clear night with members taking advantage of the lack of light pollution at Hilbre to marvel at the wonders of the heavens, including the moons of Jupiter, the Andromeda Galaxy, a meteor and also see lots of artificial satellites with a stunning pass by the international space station.

Getting down to the business in hand resulted in a catch of 1 Redshank, 3 Turnstone (below left) and 2 Knot (below right), these latter being especially pleasing as they are not often ringed here.

(JE,CJ,KMc,DNW,PGW) Photos by CJ (except for the space station !)

Friday 26 September 2008

Clive and Pat

Best wishes for a speedy recovery to Clive and Pat from all obs members following their recent unfortunate injuries.

26th September 2008

With a southeasterly breeze and heavy mist around the estuary this morning good things were expected, especially following early news of a Yellow-browed Warbler at nearby Red Rocks. Although the hoped for rarity did not materialise migration was steady with sightings of 10 Skylarks, 16 Swallows, 5 Grey Wagtails and finches including 2 Goldfinches, a Greenfinch, a Lesser Redpoll and a Reed Bunting.

Chiffchaffs (right) were again grounded, 10 in total, adding to this warbler's good numbers on Hilbre this year.

A flock of 6 Wigeon flew across before the tide (this species has also been recorded regularly lately), but best of the day for the obs members present was the spectacle of 5 Ravens (above left and below) moving low around the island and interacting with the local Carrion Crows.

Trapped for ringing were 4 Chiffchaffs (one of which was a long winged individual which was thought to be of the Fenno-Scandinavian race abietinus)(left), a Goldcrest, a Greenland Wheatear and a Song Thrush.

(JE,CJ,DNW,PGW et al) All Photos by CJ

Thursday 25 September 2008

25th September 2008

The first 3 Song Thrushes of the autumn made landfall today, with 2 being trapped and ringed (left). Duck were represented by 4 Wigeon and flocks of 11 and 41 Pintail, although a more unusual record was of a Snipe just east of middle before the tide.
Visible migration was reasonable with a count of 163 Meadow Pipits, 4 Grey Wagtails and with 10 Goldcrest and 6 Chiffchaffs grounded.


Wednesday 24 September 2008

24th September 2008

The weather continued in the same vain as yesteday with fresh north-easterly feeling cooler than recent days but again visibility was as far as the Great Orme (to the west) and Formby Point (to the north). A couple of Goldcrests were in the Obs garden but the highlight of the morning was a Greenshank at the North End.


23rd September 2008

A brisk north-east wind offered hope of more migrants today but with visibility as far as Formby Point these hopes were dashed! Only a few Goldcrests and Robins graced the island and visible migration was almost non-existent. The usual suspects were present around the island with several Shags off the North End and a Peregrine or two harrassing the waders. Monday's Blue Tit was still present!

(PGW et al)

Monday 22 September 2008

22nd September 2008

The wind was northerly overnight, but had moved round to a brisk north-easterly by 7am. Cloud cover produced a small fall of Goldcrests (c15) and Robins. There was some visible movement overhead with c150 Meadow Pipits, 5 Grey, 2 Alba and a single rather late Yellow Wagtail over.

A juvenile Sabine's Gull was seen 'at sea' (south west of the North Wirral windfarm) but could not seen from the island! On the way off the island observers were surprised to see a large flock of c150 Canada Geese flying from the Tanksies to West Kirby - not unusual for the mainland but a large count for Hilbre and included at least one Greylag (see photo above - you can just make out the Greylag bottom left!).

Up to six Shags remained around the North End (see photo left).
(BSB, JE, PGW et al). Photos by BSB.

Sunday 21 September 2008

21st September 2008

Ideal conditions, light south-easterly winds and
mist, greeted observers this morning.

A few Swallows passed overhead and at least 300 Meadow Pipits moved south. Grounded migrants included a few Chiffchaffs and Goldcrests but more unusually a Great Spotted Woodpecker flew low south through the Obs garden down the East Side and a Blue Tit was heard calling a flew over the Obs.
Both birds are scarce on Hilbre (despite breeding on the nearby mainland) and the Blue Tit was later relocated in the SK trapping area and was subsequently caught and ringed (see photo above left).

Other birds included a Collared Dove which spent the morning on fences and on top of the traps (see photo above right; on Old Obs fence). All photos by SRW.

(SRW, CLW, TGW and CJW(f))

Saturday 20 September 2008

20th September 2008

A slow morning but a trickle of migrants... 3 Chiffchaffs, 4 Goldcrests, at least 6 Wheatears present (see photo right) a few wagtails over (mainly Grey and Pied - see photo below) and an elusive Reed Bunting at the south end. As the sun broke out and we enjoyed the best of the weather for a few weeks - raptors were much in evidence with 2 Peregrines, Kestrel, Sparrowhawk and Common Buzzard seen (still no Honey!). A Greenshank was in the east side gutter as the tide flooded and at least 60 Sandwich Terns were still present.

All photos by SRW.


Friday 19 September 2008

Congratulations to Gavin & Gill

Our very own Doctor Gav has married the lovely Gill - on a balmy September afternoon down south. Good luck and best wishes from everyone at the Obs...photos to follow...

19th September 2008

Observers were greeted with a light west south westerly wind so hopes were not high for a repeat performance of yesterday. Incredibly the only three grounded migrants included a Treecreeper which was found lurking in the SK trap (above left). It was ringed and released whereupon it alighted on the guttering of the Whiteley's bungalow (see above right). A very rare bird at Hilbre - only the fourteenth record for the island. (The other grounded migrants were single Goldcrest and a Wheatear). Another island scarcity was a Stock Dove that passed over. All photos by BSB.


Thursday 18 September 2008

18th September 2008

A clear night, light south-easterly wind and mist produced the best fall of the autumn so far. At least 30 Goldcrests and 15 phylloscs were present on the island as well as a male Blackcap (see photo right) and several Wheatears.

Passage overhead was also much better with Swallows and Meadow Pipits passing over as well as wagtails (Alba and Greys), a couple of Skylarks and a Sparrowhawk. The first reasonable finch passage was also noted with Linnets and Goldfinches but also included both a Siskin (see photo above left) and a Redpoll caught.

Wednesday 17 September 2008

17th September 2008

Despite overnight rain, at last some grounded migrants including 3 Willow Warblers and 2 Chiffchaffs ringed. Another Greenland Wheatear was colour-ringed (see photo opposite) and at least 10 Robins were present on Hilbre and Middle Island. Two Peregrines fought over a flock of Knot - the large immature female gave great views flying down the gutter below the Obs (see photo left).

In the afternoon hirundines moved through and a Sparrowhawk passed through. The most amazing record of the day was Common Buzzard (sadly not the much hoped for Honey!) that drifted down the west side before alighting on the Bird Observatory building! Sadly the photographers had left the island...

Tuesday 16 September 2008

16th September 2008

Another dark and wet morning with few migrants although there were a least 2 Chiffchaffs (below), 2 Goldcrests and 2 Greenland Wheatears to be seen. A flock of 9 Wigeon flew passed (above) and a Grey Plover was heard calling before 2 Purple Sandpipers showed themselves at the north end (below) .

These Purple Sandpipers are probably the same as those on the 12th and had not if fact moved on.

A Common Sandpiper was heard and then seen at the south end, a scarce spring and early autumn migrant at Hilbre that is seldom ever seen this late in the year.

Sandwich Terns are now down to about 65, the rest having gone south, while Shags are still staying around the island, 6 being counted today.

(CJ,KMc,PGW,SRW,AW) All photos by CJ

Monday 15 September 2008

15th September 2008

Light rain early and no grounded migrants this morning, but hirundines were moving with 35+ Swallows, 12 House Martins and a late Common Swift with them (right), and that was just up to 09:00hrs.

A single Golden Plover flew south off the east side, but other than a flock of 8 Grey Herons not a lot else to report early in the day.

Sunday 14 September 2008

14th September 2008

Mist turned to fog early morning and the southeasterly increased bringing the promise of unusual avian visitors but hope turned to disappointment as the morning wore on. Sounds of Goldcrests and Chiffchaffs were heard but in the event only numbered 5 and 3 respectively. Wigeon were again in evidence with 8 in flight and 4 on the tide edge (right), while 3 of the 7 Collared Doves recorded in 3 separate groups flew about the bungalows (below).
Forty plus Swallows came in from the north during the day with small numbers of House Martins in attendance. Candidate for bird of the day was a Skylark down on the west side, as nearly all records from Hilbre now involve flyovers.

(ME,CJ) Both photos by CJ

Saturday 13 September 2008

13th September 2008

Six Goldcrests, a Chiffchaff, 2 Wheatears and a Grey Wagtail this morning, also 2 parties of 5 and 15 Wigeon. Both male and female Peregrine were seen.

12th/13th September 2008

Another wader ringing session last night, not quite as successful as 2 weeks ago, probably
because the tide was not high enough to fully cover the whole shore area.
Just 2 Turnstones and 2 Redshanks were caught in slight drizzle in what otherwise seemed ideal conditions.

Friday 12 September 2008

12th September 2008

The first signs of winter? A Red-throated Diver was the first to be noted this autumn, also the surprise of 2 Purple Sandpipers in partial summer plumage flying passed the slipway (right) but not immediately relocated, although these would probably be on passage further south and not intending to winter at Hilbre.

Shags (left) have become more frequent visitors recently and today at least 5 were close to the island, but apart from the diver other seabirds were scarce, just 2 Gannets and a few Great Crested Grebes.

All in all a slightly better day with a Spotted Redshank, 2 Redpolls and irregular Hilbre birds Woodpigeon and Dunnock seen, yet another Garden Warbler ringed (below left) and 7 Goldcrests grounded. One of the 4 Goldcrests ringed was interesting as it seemed certainly to be a female at first glance (left) and also on wing measurement yet on examination showed some of the male characteristic of orange among the yellow of the crown stripe (right). This is thought to occur occasionally in older females.

Only 7 Swallows and 2 House Martins seen on the island today yet one young Swallow managed to fly into a mist net!

(DB,CJ,CDT,PT,DNW,PGW,SRW) All photos by CJ

Thursday 11 September 2008

11th September 2008

Even more Wheatears this morning, 11 were counted, and 2 surprisingly managed to catch themselves in the mist nets, the small potter traps on open ground normally being the preferred method with this species. When examined they turned out to be a male (left) and female (right) of the Greenland race.
A Chiffchaff (below right)that was also ringed was the first warbler to be caught for 9 days, illustrating how frustrating this early September has been for all involved.
A very large count of over 750 Cormorants included a few seeing out the tide at the north end together with at least 6 Shags. Two of the Cormorants bore rings from elsewhere, one had a colour ring that was read by a telephoto lens (below left), it's origin is being looked into - watch this space !
Among other records today were 7 Wigeon and 2 Little Egrets.

Information now is that the Cormorant was ringed as a chick at Puffin Island (Anglesey) in July 2008

(DB,CJ,CDT,PT,DNW,PGW,SRW) all photos by SRW

Wednesday 10 September 2008

10th September 2008

Sunshine at last ! Wheatears increased to 6 this morning, one of which was chased along a wall near the north end by a visiting weasel that made it from the mainland.
Two Sand Martins were noted among the 30 or so Swallows passing this morning, 2 Little Egrets flew in from the north and a Greenshank was again in the east gutter.
Trapped for ringing were a Goldcrest, a Wren, a Linnet and a Meadow Pipit.

Monday 8 September 2008

8th September 2008

Still quiet, but at least a few things to keep the interest up. A flock of 5 Wigeon were seen early morning followed by 6 Pintail and another 3 Wigeon, also in the morning a Greenshank (right)was in the east gutter feeding with the Redshanks and Oystercatchers.
Swallows passed in small numbers during the day and 3 Wheatears were still present. The sun almost decided to show itself in the afternoon and in response some lepidoptera flew, including 15 Silver Y moths, 2 Brimstone moths, 4 Small White butterflies, a Red Admiral and 2 Small Tortoiseshells (left) which have been particularly scarce nationally this year.
(CJ,KMc,CDT,PT,DNW,PGW) Both photos CJ

Sunday 7 September 2008

7th September 2008

Even with a large team on the island today bird finding was extremely hard work. A northwesterly did not turn up many seabirds, certainly not the hoped for Grey Phalaropes that have been elsewhere in the country. Three Greenland Wheatears were around the island walls, but only one ended up with nice colour rings after it flew into the Newton trap. Wheatears have been colour ringed at Hilbre for a number of years now and details of any sightings would be very much appreciated.

Pictures from today of Wheatear by BSB, and
Shag and drake Scoter by CJ.


Saturday 6 September 2008

6th September 2008

Still damp and showery this morning following the deluge of yesterday, and even the sheep were sheltering from the strong northeasterly wind, but spirits were raised when 2 Tree Pipits (more normally spring migrants) were heard calling overhead the obs.

A small passage of passerines that were grounded comprised a Greenland Wheatear, a Whitethroat, 2 Goldcrests and at least 2 Robins.

A very short sea watch in the morning produced 8 Arctic Skuas, a few Great Crested Grebes and Scoters with many Gannets seen towards the wind farm. An afternoon high tide watch had small numbers of the same species with the addition of 2 Kittiwakes.

A Peregrine gave an impressive display as it unsuccessfully chased a Turnstone.