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

Thursday 6 November 2008

6th November 2008

What a fantastic day !
The Great Northern Diver showed closely off the whaleback and the Eider stood out on the rocks for a time. The Brent were counted at 95, Purple Sandpipers had increased to 14, and 3 Teal, a Wigeon and a Little Egret were also present.

There were still thrushes about this morning including several flocks of Fieldfares numbering 25 for the day and 9 Redwings, some Song Thrushes, Blackbirds and a couple of Mistle Thrushes (left) which are quite scarce visitors to Hilbre. Starlings arrived in small parties totaling 110 but finches were only in single figures.

A Collared Dove flew around the island all morning as though it was confused by the thick mist and then a Woodcock was disturbed from the old obs garden and was later refound in the bracken at the south end. The ringers were astonished to receive a second visitation this week from a flock of Long-tailed Tits making a excursion off the mainland.

At about 10.00hrs the noise of crows mobbing a raptor heralded the arrival of a Rough-legged Buzzard from the south !! It flew with its entourage low up the island to the north end and landed on ' buzzard hill' ( that's what we are calling it now anyway) and then back to the south, landing in the new pond garden next to the observatory ( DB is claiming it on his pond list along with Bluethroat!) and then away off towards middle and lost in the mist. News then came that the Rough-legged Buzzard had been seen ( by an obs member) around the dunes on the West Kirby shore and a few lucky enough to get there before dusk saw it resting in trees behind the golf course and hovering over the dunes.

Members walking off the island in the afternoon
found a Snow Bunting on the west path on top of at Middle. The excitement continued right to the end !
Ringed birds :- 10 Long-tailed Tits, 2 Blackbirds, 2 Song Thrushes, 2 Redwings, 2 Goldcrests, a Dunnock, a Greenfinch, and a Goldfinch.
(AAB,DB,CJ,KMc, & visitor PW) Snow Bunting photo Phil Woollen, all others CJ

Wednesday 5 November 2008

5th November 2008

A very light north-easterly wind with misty murky conditions produced another good November morning on the island.

Starlings passed over in reasonable numbers with 116 counted. Thrushes were again in evidence on the ground with 5 Song Thrushes including 1 partial albino bird setting the pulses racing for a split second or so! Four Redwings also passed through (see photo right).

Reed Bunting, a tame Chaffinch and a Dunnock were all recorded on or over the islands.

The Pale-bellied Brents increased again to 95 but only one Purple Sandpiper was found at the North End but up to four Little Egrets were seen including two with the Brents on the Whaleback (see photo left). The female or immature Eider was still present and several Red-breasted Mergansers were seen (including up to 8 on West Kirby Marine Lake - just outside the Obs recording area).

Ringed birds included a male Goldcrest (see photos) along with Blackbird and Song Thrush.

However, without doubt the highlight of the morning was a very confiding Great Northern Diver found just off the North End (see below).

It spent the morning feeding on crabs and small fish just off the slipway and then just beyond the Whaleback. Possibly the same bird that has been seen on a couple of occasions over the last week or so.

(DB, CJ, KMc, PGW et al) All photos anon

Great Northern Diver Hilbre 5.11.08

Great Northern Diver off the end of the slipway, (filmed in very poor light).


Video by CJ

Tuesday 4 November 2008

4th November 2008

Cloudy but quite clear this morning with very little wind and it soon became obvious that there was less visible movement overhead. Still 10 Blackbirds and 3 Song Thrushes on the ground but no finch migration other than a few Goldfinches on the island and a fly-over Brambling.
A male Sparrowhawk (below left) was harassed by a local crow, and a female (below) later did a repeat performance and then flew south along the island.

Fifty six Pinkfeet Geese flew from the Point of Ayr in front of the wind farm and off towards the Lancashire mosslands, meanwhile the wintering Brents are still at 93 birds (similar to the maximum count in October).
The Immature/female Eider was still off the west side and 2 Little Egrets to the east of Middle.
Birds ringed today :- 4 Blackbirds, 2 Song Thrushes, and a Meadow Pipit.

Monday 3 November 2008

3rd November 2008

Clear overhead with a light north easterly and heavy mist at last produced an excellent morning of migration, including thrushes on the ground (15 blackbirds, 6 Song Thrushes, 5 Redwings) and a long list of finch species : 9 Greenfinch, 18 Goldfinch, 34 Chaffinch, 4 Redpoll, 2 Siskin, 3 Brambling, 6 Linnets, also 80 Starlings, 45 Meadow Pipits, 2 Reed Bunting, 8 Skylarks, 2 Pied Wagtails and a Dunnock.
Highlight of the day however was a flock of 7 Long-tailed Tits that toured every bush on the island until they eventually all landed in a mist net at the same time (together with 2 Goldcrests) in the old obs. garden. Long-tailed Tits average less than one sighting per year on Hilbre, and so this was quite an event for the ringers present.

Off island visitors were a female or immature Eider close into the west side and a Little Egret down the east gutter.
Late afternoon 80 Pinkfeet geese flew south east and just before dusk 160 landed on the east hoyle bank. Many Pipistrelles flying in the fading light were found by the bat detector.
Fingers crossed the next few days with similar weather conditions will be equally as productive.
Birds ringed were 7 Long-tailed Tits, 6 Blackbirds, 2 Song Thrushes, 2 Chaffinches and 2 Goldcrests.
(DB,CJ,KMc,SRW) Photos by CJ & SRW