Friday 31 October 2008

31st October 2008

Woolly hats were the order of the day with a strong northeasterly over the tide. Unlike yesterday no other geese species except the Brent which are now at 94 (right).

Repeat performances from the recent Merlin and Great Northern Diver, although seawatching added 3 Red-throated Divers, about 320 Sanderling and a few Wigeon (below) plus the usual winter species.
Odd starlings went east off the north end, and larger numbers west between the islands.

On the ground the Black Redstart could not be found and only single Blackbird, Redwing and Rock Pipit were new today.

One of the 2 Peregrines carried away its catch (any guesses?) from the scavenging Herring Gulls.
PS Forgot to mention the weasel that showed in the new obs garden this morning, it maybe the one that was seen earlier in the autumn.
(DB,CJ,PGW) All photos CJ

Thursday 30 October 2008

30th October 2008

An excellent late autumn day with three species of geese seen including 89 Pale-bellied Brent, 151 Greylag and 90 Pink-footed and the first wild swans of the winter were seen when two Whoopers flew north between Hilbre and Red Rocks nursing home (see photo - apologies for poor record shot).

Sea-watching was productive with another (or the same?) Great Northern Diver noted, along with 13 Great Crested Grebes, c30 Common Scoter and 11 Scaup loafing on the sea during high tide.

The semi-resident Merlin was seen again several times, as was a Peregrine and male Kestrel.
Four large flocks of Starlings totaling 3,600 flew west in the afternoon.

However, the highlight of the day was a Black Redstart found on the Obs veranda and fence before moving to around the Ranger's house. Surprisingly it is our first Black Redstart in five years.

It ended up being caught in the Newton trap - the first to be ringed on Hilbre since 1993 and only the sixteenth ever to be ringed here.

(DB, CJ, PGW & SRW) Photos by SRW;Video by CJ

Wednesday 29 October 2008

29th October 2008

The regular Merlin showed several times during the morning, and another was seen to be chased off to Wales by a Herring Gull. Two Little Egrets were present before the tide and a single after the tide, when the Brent assembled between the islands enabling a record count (this year) of 89 to be made. The build-up of Brent has been very early this winter and has raised hopes of a bumper total by the end of the year. Purple Sandpipers have increased to four at the north end after the tide.
A quiet day on the sea (a single Red-throated Diver and a few G C Grebes, Guillemot (above) etc) also a quiet day for migrants (4 Robins and a Blackbird). Flocks of Starlings totaling over 300 passed across the shore by Little Eye before the tide and 13 Crows found something to eat on the shore. A late Angle Shades moth (right) rested on the cliff face by the roadway onto the island.
(DB,CJ,AW & friends, also visitor CS) Both photos CJ

28th October 2008

A Great Northern Diver was on the sea west of the lifeboat house at about an hour after the tide, and then drifted passed the tide gauge and away to the north east. Another good record was of 2 Scaup down the east side, quite a scarce duck now at Hilbre, while a much more common was a sighting of 3 Wigeon. Two female Peregrines were seen to talon grapple over the pond, as another male killed a Knot on the east side.
Pale-bellied Brent reached 81, but no sign yet of any dark-bellied individuals nor the colour ringed bird that we have been monitoring since November 2005. Counts were made of 110 Bar-tailed Godwits, 75 Turnstone and 26 Grey plover and a number of Starlings and a Redwing went over, while 2 Goldcrests and a Blackbird were on the ground.

Friday 24 October 2008

24th October 2008

A pleasant sunny day revealed a seal (left) hauled out on the rocks southwest of the main island, an occassional habit among the Grey Seals. The regular Merlin (below) was over middle and was eventually photographed again on 'Wheatear hill' [has it brought its own lunchbox!??]

Two of the important wintering species had increased their numbers by one, the Pale-bellied Brent to 46, and the Purple Sandpiper to 2.
An excellent find was an adult winter Yellow-legged Gull which was identified on the shore.
A hundred Starlings and a Greylag Goose passed and 30 Sanderling were noted.
A Song Thrush was ringed (right).

(DB,JE,NDW,PGW, SRW) Photos by JE

Wednesday 22 October 2008

22nd October 2008

Highlights of today were 4 Redwing and a Black-tailed Godwit.

Tuesday 21 October 2008

21st October 2008

A difficult time for observers this morning with gales and squalls to contend with, and 3 Blackbirds, 2 Song Thrushes, several Robins and a Dunnock also giving a wintery feel to the day. Still 2 Goldcrests in what has been a good autumn for this species on Hilbre.
The Brent have not increased beyond 45, and today were wisely trying to find shelter close to the rocks at the north east corner (below).

Plenty of waders around but only a Guillemot, a Razorbill and a few Great Crested Grebes and Common Scoters on the sea.

Just a single Goldfinch ringed today (left).

(DB,JE) All photos JE

Saturday 18 October 2008

18th October 2008

A fairly quiet early morning that was clear overhead with just some Meadow Pipits, Linnets and Pied Wagtails active and 2 Song Thrushes, a Goldcrest and a Wren being ringed.

17th/18th October 2008

A slow start to wader ringing last night with just one Turnstone retrapped, but things picked up and 6 Turnstones were colour ringed after midnight. Two canoeists appeared around the island at 2 am, some people do the strangest things in the middle of the night !

Friday 17 October 2008

17th October 2008

Not too many passerines today, only 3 Goldcrests, 2 Goldfinches, a Redpoll, a couple of Skylarks of note seen during the morning and a female Blackcap (left) that was ringed.
The now 'resident' Merlin (below) is still showing well to those who are patient.

With new arrivals the Pale-bellied Brent numbers suddenly leapt to 45 although before the tide they stayed well away from the island along the north shore, even further out than the 42 Bar-tailed Godwits counted there. A Mute swan made an appearance during the afternoon.

A Purple Sandpiper (left) fed with the Turnstones at the bottom of the lifeboat slipway, surely the first of the wintering birds to arrive.

(DB,CJ) All photos CJ

Wednesday 15 October 2008

15th October 2008

A northwesterly force 5/6 prompted a sea-watch which produced 5 Red-throated Divers, 5 Guillemots, 3 Razorbills and 14 Common Scoter. A Merlin came in from the north, joining one already seen flying south from middle and the bird that has been around for the last few days. Sixteen Goldcrests were a surprise with this wind direction, and also grounded was a Song Thrush and the first Redwing of the autumn. Wintering Oystercatchers have built up to 6,000 and the Pale-bellied Brents to 16 birds.

Tuesday 14 October 2008

14th October 2008

The wind started from the east overnight and veered southwest during the day with light rain early and heavy rain in the afternoon, nevertheless 17 Goldcrests made landfall and 2 Merlins were off the east side. A count of Shelduck scanning the Red Rocks to Little Eye area reached a splendid 930!

Monday 13 October 2008

13th October 2008

The Pale-bellied Brent added one to their number to reach double figures, and the Goldfinch from the 10th was still present.

Sunday 12 October 2008

12th October 2008

Fog gradually gave way to warm sunshine this morning and as expected the subtle change to south east breeze from south west yesterday produced some bird movement on the island. The principle species involved were Meadow Pipits (36), Skylarks (22) and Goldfinches (33) with some Pied Wagtails (7) and Siskins (4) also overhead. Some Goldfinches stopped briefly to feed. (right).

Goldcrests were once again conspicuous on the ground, the 21 today being more than other days recently.

The fence and wall sitting Merlin (below and right) still showed to good effect in various locations, while Bar-tailed Godwits numbered 80, and 1 Little Egret was on the east hoyle before 3 more flew in together.

A Common Seal was noted swimming passed the north end this morning proving that although the seals are almost exclusively Atlantic Greys the occassional odd visitor can be present.
A late Chiffchaff (below right) was ringed today along with 10 Goldcrests (left) and 2 Wrens, also the Goldfinch ringed 2 days ago was retrapped. This was quite surprising as finches seldom stay long on the island (apart from the resident Linnets).

(DB,CJ,DNW,PGW) All photos CJ

Saturday 11 October 2008

11th October 2008

A quiet day with no real passage, just a few Meadow Pipits and Pied Wagtails over and an amount of Wrens and Robins that suggested extras on the island. One Robin that was trapped had not been seen since it was ringed in September 2006, and has either been very elusive or more likely has just made a return visit.
A Merlin, probably one from yesterday, hung around all morning being seen on the fences of the bungalows and the old obs garden (right) . It evaded capture despite eating a bird in the entrance to the Newton trap!

Plenty of waders to be seen including a Turnstone ringed this autumn (left).

(JE) Photos by JE

Friday 10 October 2008

10th October 2008

All the Goldcrests had cleared out overnight and there was no passerine migration this morning on a strong southwesterly. After the 4 Sparrowhawks yesterday, 3 Peregrines were joined by 3 Merlins today, 2 of which flew in from the north east, and two Mute Swans flew out of the Dee in a northeasterly direction. A flock of 600 Dunlin were new today although the Pale -bellied Brent still remained at 6 adults and 3 juveniles. A single Goldfinch was trapped and ringed.

Thursday 9 October 2008

9th October 2008

A southeasterly made for a productive morning with good visible migration under a clear sky. Moving but not stopping were 55 Meadow Pipits, 8 Skylarks, 8 Pied Wagtails, 31 Goldfinches, 17 Siskins, a Greenfinch and a Reed Bunting. Mobile around the island for a time were no less than 4 Sparrowhawks and 11 Carrion Crows, while on the ground was a nice little fall of 16 Goldcrests, 3 Song Thrushes and (rarest of all these on Hilbre) 3 Blue Tits.

Strange how Hilbre regulars get so excited over Blue Tits whereas on the mainland they never give them a second glance!

Off the island were 2 Pintail, 2 Teal (left) and 2 Little Egrets (below).

Birds ringed were 8 Goldcrests, a SongThrush and a Blue Tit

(DB,JE,CJ,KMc,PGW et al) All photos by CJ

Wednesday 8 October 2008

8th October 2008

The female Stonechat still around for the third day, otherwise not a lot of note except a Dunnock, 6 Canada Geese, 78 Bar-tailed Godwits and a large flock of c.1,000 Knot.

Tuesday 7 October 2008

7th October 2008

A wet morning with the rain increasing during the day, but the female Stonechat was still present and 3 Pintail were noted.

Monday 6 October 2008

6th October 2008

A typical October day with no great numbers but a good variety of species on the move. Overhead were seen or heard Siskin, Redpoll, Goldfinch, Skylark (right), Starling and Pied Wagtail; grounded were a single Song Thrush, a Chaffinch, a Reed Bunting, a Blackcap, a few Goldcrests and Robins, and a female Stonechat (below) that was found sitting on top of the Heli trap (not yesterdays bird which was a male).

Seen around the islands were regulars like Great Crested Grebe (6), Knot (120), Bar-tailed Godwits (55), Grey Plover (2) (below) and male and female Peregrine.

The 9 Pale-bellied Brent had not increased in number,
(photo below shows adult with two juveniles on the right).

Ringed birds were Song Thrush, Chaffinch (right), Blackcap, Goldcrest, 2 Robins, and a Linnet.

(CFF,CJ) All photos by CJ

Sunday 5 October 2008

5th October 2008

A rather wet and miserable start to the morning brightened up into a sunny autumnal day. The highlight bird-wise today was c3,000 Pink-footed Geese counted flying out at sea heading towards Formby and dropping down towards the mosslands.

There were very few new arrivals today, apart from a few Goldcrests, a Reed Bunting and a Song Thrush; but several recent finds remained...

The 9 Pale-bellied Brent Geese from yesterday remained around the island throughout the morning and an immature Merlin was seen again hunting around the East Side. The elusive male Stonechat from yesterday put in another appearance around the bungalows before being seen at the South End on 'Gropper Ridge'.


Saturday 4 October 2008

Congratulations Doctors Gav and Gill

(See blog for 19th September 2008)

4th October 2008

With the wind dropping and shifting to the south west, observers weren't too optimistic. However, the sound of a Goldcrest calling in the Obs garden greeted the late crew. As many as 15 were noted on the island including several caught and ringed.

Another Merlin was found on the East Hoyle bank and then flew over the island harrassing the smaller waders at the North End before flying off north. Good numbers of Bar-tailed Godwit (c100) and Knot (c500) were on the East Hoyle as the tide flooded (see photo).

Four Pale-bellied Brents were present on the 'Whaleback' and another five were on the slipway and the two groups joined together creating a nice flock of 9 (including 3 juvs) swimming in the east side gutter as the tide flooded...winter is on its way (see photo).

A male Stonechat arrived just before observers left the island as the tide flooded.

The sea was fairly quiet but this wind blown exhausted Guillemot was found sheltering on the landrover track (see photo).

(JE, NDW, PGW, SRW) All photos SRW

Friday 3 October 2008

3rd October 2008

Two adult Pomarine Skuas complete with 'spoons' passed over the north end slipway early morning, but Leach's petrels were a little harder to find today with only 7 noted by 10.30hours.

(DB, ME)

Thursday 2 October 2008

2nd October 2008

A beautiful Peregrine sat on the east side of middle this morning (left).
The wind had moderated during the night but the Leach's Petrels (below) kept on coming, 107 counted in 7 hours over the tide.

Distractions from the pleasure of watching the petrels were 18 Great Crested Grebes, 7 Red-throated Divers, 6 Manx Shearwaters, 4 Kittiwakes, 2 Little Gull, 4 Arctic Tern, several Sandwich Tern (below), a Gannet, an Arctic Skua (with 3 others too distant to identify), and a second winter Mediterranean Gull.

After several duck species yesterday just 29 Common Scoter and 2 Wigeon today plus a fine male Long-tailed Duck that flew east towards the Wirral coast. Four Brent were again off the island but more unexpected 'seabirds' were 2 Merlins!

(DB,ME,AEH,CJ,KMc,WRS,DNW,PGW,AW + 2 L.O.C.) Peregrine Photo by WRS other photos by CJ

Wednesday 1 October 2008

1st October 2008

A visit from the Liverpool Ornithologists Club today(left) coincided with one of the stormiest days this year and many present managed to get wet even when it wasn't raining!
The gale force west to northwest wind drove in no fewer than 120 Leach's Petrels(below) during a continuous 7 hour sea-watch.

Surprisingly only one skua was seen; a distant Bonxie. Fifteen Manx Shearwaters(below) went passed in singles and 2 Gannets, 3 Great Crested Grebes and 34 Sandwich Terns were also offshore.

Five species of duck were noted, which was strange for a sea-watch: Common Scoter (17), Pintail (9)(below left), Wigeon (3), Tufted (8) and a single drake Eider(below right), not to mention the 4 Pale-bellied Brent which flew passed and were the first this winter.

(DB,ME,CJ,KMc,PGW,DNW, +L.O.C and other visitors) All photos by CJ