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