Wednesday 30 December 2009

30th December 2009

A miserable and cold day nevertheless produced 3 Red-throated Divers, 3 Great Crested Grebes and 8 Common Scoters on the sea. The male and female Peregrines were still present today with a male Kestrel over the island, and although the Sparrowhawk was not seen again today it seems to have made its presence felt in the shape of a dead first year female Blackbird that was ringed here on 23rd October; Song Thrushes appear to have been luckier as 5 were again counted. Waders included 13 Purple Sandpipers, 420 Curlew and 50 Grey Plover.

Tuesday 29 December 2009

29th December 2009

Nothing new today apart from the reappearance of the male Sparrowhawk that was around on Christmas eve, and a male and female Peregrine seen. Counts of note were 380 Curlew and 120 Shelduck.

Monday 28 December 2009

28th December 2009

A very misty start but it was quite bright later, although a typically quiet mid-winter day in terms of birds. Some good news was that 15 Purple Sandpipers were counted, a better showing than recently, and also 2 new Song Thrushes (below centre) were ringed from the group of about 5 that are on the island in the last few weeks. A retrapped adult Robin (below right) was very instructive regarding the shape of the pale tips to the greater coverts.
The inshore life boat was on practise manoeuvres (left).
(JE +1) [605] photos JE

Saturday 26 December 2009

26th December 2009

The Brent got together today for a decent count of 142, while 2 Greylags were seen flying west, and the now seemingly resident Eider was also logged.
The 2 Purple Sandpipers logged today were surprisingly the first seen for some over a week, maybe the rest have joined others at locations on the north Wirral coast.
Passerines are very scarce at this time of year, just 1 Meadow Pipit and 1 Rock Pipit, 4 Wrens, 3 Robins, 2 Dunnocks, 4 Blackbirds, 3 Song Thrushes and a Goldfinch. Best sightings over the shore were of a male Peregrine and 1,000 Knot flying north east.

Friday 25 December 2009

25th December 2009

The Eider was still present, a Goldfinch was around the island, but observation of the day was of 230 Pink-footed Geese flying west over middle Eye and off over the welsh hills.

Thursday 24 December 2009

Special Xmas 2009 news

News has just been released of a new species for Hilbre Island ! A Rockhopper Penguin eudyptes chrysocome was seen and photographed at the north end by two lucky observers for a short period on 11th November this year. It was reported as very confiding and didn't seem at all inclined to enter the water. Intense observation discovered it to be a sub-adult female.
Seasons Greetings from Hilbre Island.

24th December 2009

A Red Fox was confirmed today when footprints were found in the snow, there are not many who have seen such a sight at Hilbre !
No Lapwings today but a number of decent sightings: - A Fieldfare kept company on the ground with 5 Blackbirds, 4 Song Thrushes, 4 Robins, a Dunnock and single Meadow and Rock Pipits.
A Siskin flew down the east side, there was a male Peregrine and also a male Sparrowhawk that was at one time in the 'Heli' trap and flew across the obs garden.
Three Teal added variety to the duck records recently of only the single Eider (which is still present).

Wednesday 23 December 2009

23rd December 2009

Thrushes and Lapwings were again the feature of the day in this very cold weather. Four each of Blackbirds and Song Thrushes were counted and it remains to be seen how many stay for the winter.
Flocks of Lapwings of 50, 5, and 60 flew west this morning rather than the southwesterly direction of Tuesday. The Eider was still present and a Raven landed on the east hoyle bank.
At Little Eye at the flood tide were 2,500 Dunlin, 280 Grey Plover and 320 Curlew.

Tuesday 22 December 2009

22nd December 2009

Unsurprisingly there was some cold weather movement today in the continuing frosty conditions. Flocks of 16, 6 ,48 and 2 Lapwings passed the north end heading in a southwesterly direction, and a group of 25 Golden Plover went across the obs going west, and two more parties of 10 each were seen from the north end flying south west.
The Brent were counted at 118 (including the 2 colour ringed birds) although more are probably present. The sea yielded just 2 Shags and 3 Great Crested Grebes, but good counts from the Little Eye area were made of 230 Grey Plover, 1,000 Knot and 1,000 Dunlin.
The female/immature Eider continues to be an attraction close to the island.

Saturday 19 December 2009

19th December 2009

A bright but cold morning, with ice a novelty on the shore in recent years (left). Some signs of cold weather movement today as 7 Blackbirds and 9 Song Thrushes were counted on the island. A Song Thrush was retrapped that had been ringed in November 2008 (right), again adding to our records of this species reappearing in successive winters.
A large Peregrine scattered all the birds around the shore, even the normally unresponsive Crows and Gulls.
Ringed:- 2 Song Thrushes
(JE) [603] photos JE

Thursday 17 December 2009

17th December 2009

The cold north easterly wind today made the Turnstones elect to roost the tide on the west cliff, and the Eider that has been showing for the week or so also choose the west side to step out on the rocks.

A Rock Pipit (right) and a Blackbird both from the end of October were retrapped and were found to have each gained weight during their stay on the island.

The air-sea rescue helicopter made an interesting diversion, but no new birds today, so beautiful views from the island are shown here to compensate.

(JE) photos JE

Saturday 12 December 2009

12th December 2009

Early today the waders and Brent Geese were moving out taking advantage of the ebb tide and the good feeding conditions (above left). A number of the usual passerines were about today, 5 Blackbirds, 5 Robins, 6 Wrens, 2 Song Thrushes and a Rock Pipit (below right).
The female type Eider (above right) which has been present for last few days at last succumbed to the camera, also pictured was the life-boat service hovercraft on practise manoeuvres (above).

Ringed:- 1 Wren

(JE) [601] photos JE

Friday 11 December 2009

11th December 2009

A splendid male Bullfinch (below) was found on the island today, the first seen there for decades. It was eventually caught in the SK heligoland trap and became only the fourth to be ringed at Hilbre and the first since 1977. It was a Hilbre 'tick' for all the members who got to the island this morning. The immature/female Eider was off the north end again; other duck comprised groups of 10 and 7 Wigeon, 8 Scaup which landed on the sea and a single Teal was also present. Two Common Buzzards came in from Red Rocks to Middle Eye and drifted off to the south, while other birds logged included a Lapwing, a Wood Pigeon a Little Egret and 4 Redwing over in the early light.

Later, the diggings and faeces of a Red Fox were found on the island.

(BSB,DB, CJ,CJW et al) [ 600] photos top two CJ

Thursday 10 December 2009

7th - 10th December 2009 (summary)

Mon 7th :-Merlin, Redwing, female Blackcap, 3 Goldfinches, and a Great Northern Diver in flight passed the slipway.
Tue 8th :- The Great Northern Diver again, this time off the east side by the obs, 4 Mute Swans flying to the south west and a rare December sighting of a Bonxie off the north end after high water.
Wed 9th :- 21 Wigeon, 6 Pintail, 13 Starlings, 65 Lapwing by bird rock.
Thurs 10th :- Brent at new high of 145 (including at least 4 young), 1 male and 5 female Red-breasted Merganser, a immature or female Eider, 3 Little Egrets and a single Lapwing.
(all DB)

Saturday 5 December 2009

5th December 2009

A bright showery day saw 3 Goldfinches stay around the canoe club area in addition to the recent regulars of 4 Blackbirds, 2 Song Thrushes, and several Robins bearing Hilbre rings from previous years. A Wren was ringed and a Rock Pipit(below) and some of the Robins were retrapped. Two Ravens and a Little Egret were other visitors to the islands.

The sea produced 6 Red-throated Divers and 40 Common Scoters and a few Great Crested Grebes, and the sighting of a possible Little Auk flying from the Middle island area towards Wales.
The young seal was again on the rocks at the north end, but the consensus of the members present today was that it is probably a Grey Seal in a state of moult that we do not encounter very often at close quarters.

(MA,MB+1,JE,PSW,+CD) [599] photos JE

Friday 4 December 2009

4th December 2009

With very few passerines about sea watching was the order of the day, and observers were rewarded with 4 Red-throated Divers (left) and a Great Northern Diver twice flying passed to the west of the island; also on the sea were 21 Great Crested Grebes, 3 more late Gannets out by the wind farm and a group of 3 (1 male, 2 female) Goldeneye drifting out on the ebb tide. There were the usual residents on the ground (but no Meadow Pipits or Linnets) with just a single Goldfinch as a visitor and a flock of 21 Starlings overhead. A Merlin (right) arrived over the sea fresh from the mainland but did not stay to give better views.
Four Pintail flew north early and in the afternoon exceptional numbers (for Hilbre) of Wigeon were seen when 105 went north from the bird rock area and 73 flew south to the east of the island. The Brent appeared after the tide and were counted at a new high of 132.
A decapitated Canada Goose was found washed ashore on the east side. People can make up their own theories about that one !
The seal pup (see 2nd Dec) was again on the rocks near the north end, but was able to be photographed. Is it just a Grey Seal ? its appearance and behaviour is atypical for the island. If any seal experts are out there comments would be welcome.

Ringed:- 1 Blackbird
(CJ,CS,KMc, later DB) [598] photos CJ

Wednesday 2 December 2009

2nd December 2009

A very similar species mix to yesterday, again featuring Wigeon (26), Teal (5), Lapwing (7 at the south end of Hilbre), Goldeneye (2 drakes), and Little Egret (4). New today were 3 Greylag Geese exiting the estuary with the Cormorants early morning, 2 Whooper Swans flying south west, and best of all a male Goosander that flew passed the north end and went south down the west side.
A seal pup has been hauling out by the slipway and doubts have been raised as to the species involved.

Tuesday 1 December 2009

1st December 2009

Despite the light south-easterly wind a very cold day with the first snow visible on Snowdonia. Forty five species logged today was exceptional for early winter. The Brent seem to have stabilised at about 120 for the moment, but among the duck recorded were 28 Wigeon, 10 Teal and a male Goldeneye. A male and female Peregrine were associating together and a Merlin flew in off the sea from the north. Thrushes were in evidence with 4 Redwing, 5 Blackbirds, a Song Thrush and a rare (for Hilbre) Mistle Thrush that flew across the obs garden. Among other singles making up the species numbers were, Lapwing, Raven, Black-tailed Godwit and Little Egret. Counts of waders included 10 Purple Sandpipers (recent day counts indicate that could be near the total), 39 Grey Plover, 180 Turnstone and 17 Sanderling.
News now of the Dutch Blackbird controlled on the 11th November (right): it was ringed as a second calender year male on 15th January 2009 at a village on the southern edge of the Wadden sea called Den Oever in Nord Holland. It appeared to have spent last winter there as it was retrapped twice up to 1st March, but it seems it preferred going further west this season. It is likely it did not summer in Holland but travelled there from further north or east.
(per Bert Winters in Holland)

Sunday 29 November 2009

29th November 2009

Highlights of a very wet day included a Wood Pigeon (scarce at Hilbre) strangely in a bramble bush this morning, also a Little Egret braving the bad weather and best of all at 09.45hrs a party of 6 Whooper Swans that flew from Little Eye across to Red Rocks and off to the north east, presumably towards Martin Mere. Very little else of note, just one or two of the regular land birds, a Peregrine, 2 Red-throated Divers on the sea and the approximately 120 Brents that included just 1 juvenile from an obviously very poor breeding season.

28th November 2009

It was light rain early on but brighter for visitors who ventured across later. The best bird of the day was a female Snow Bunting that fed around Little Eye in the morning but could not be found later. No other new landbirds were to be seen although at least one Rock Pipit and 3 Dunnocks are still present. The six Shags were still at the north end, one roosting on the rocks (right).
(JE,MGT et al,+CD) mobile phone photo CD

Friday 27 November 2009

27th November 2009

The pale-bellied Brent (left) reached a new high of 121 for the winter, including the both the Dublin ringed bird and the white ringed individual (below).
Early in the day a Raven flew east to Red Rocks and 1190 Cormorants went north out of the estuary; later a sea watch produced another late Gannet and 12 Common Scoter, while a single male Wigeon was the only other duck seen from the islands.

Land birds were scarce as expected at this time, a Redwing was an addition to the 2 Blackbirds and a Song Thrush that have been around for the last few weeks, while 2 Linnets and the ringed Pied Wagtail from the summer are still present.

(BSB,DB) photos BSB

Thursday 26 November 2009

26th November 2009

The sea today featured a Scaup, 6 Great Crested Grebes and a (family?) party of 6 Shags off the east side. Five thousand Knot were off tanksey rocks, 3,500 Dunlin went north east over the east hoyle bank, and 80 Sanderling was a good count for this time of year. Both Peregrine and Merlin were logged and a female Blackcap was on the island.

Tuesday 24 November 2009

24th November 2009

With winds gusting to nearly 50 mph from the south west a Little Auk flew passed the north end at 10.30 hrs this morning and settled on the sea about 200 yards off the island. It was lost in the waves but then relocated just before 11.00 hrs and is still showing at the time of writing (11.20hrs) on the rocks on the east side.
It was again lost to view but re-found briefly at about 12.20hrs, giving views from the sheltered east of the island until it flew off north when the oystercatcher flock was disturbed and was not seen again. Members arrived from the mainland just in time not to see it !
A massive count of 2,478 Cormorants was made this morning which included nearly 1,700 flying out at dawn and 800 already on the east hoyle bank. Three Shags were present with 10 Purple Sandpipers and 10 Great Crested Grebes. The Brents were at 112 including the 2 colour ringed birds.
Two Blackbirds, 2 Dunnocks and a Song Thrush were around the paddocks but none were ringed. A Golden Plover flying south west in the blustery wind was a good record.
(DB) later (BSB,CJ,KMc,CJW,et al)

Monday 23 November 2009

23rd November 2009

A visiting birder recorded a Slavonian Grebe today; it is possible this would be the same bird that was seen last month.
No significant increase in the Brent over the last week or so, the count today being 112, two pairs of Pintail were with them for a short period. Four Dunnocks are still on the island, it is likely they may now winter as Dunnock has been suspected of staying over the last couple of years.

Sunday 22 November 2009

22nd November 2009

After waiting 8 years for the next foreign ringed passerine to arrive at Hilbre, another turns up within 11 days ! Also a Blackbird, this time a German ringed bird from the helgoland scheme was found in the ' heli ' heligoland trap named after the migration station in Germany. The brown coverts contrasting with the darker new feathers made this individual easy to age as a male born in the current year. There can be little doubt now that many if not most of the Blackbirds that pass through Hilbre in late autumn are from the continent. Just received is news that a German Blackbird has been found dead in Birkenhead on the same date that the Dutch bird was on Hilbre.

More mundane records from this before tide only visit were of a Song Thrush, a Dunnock, and a Redwing. The Brent geese are still at 114, Cormorants were estimated at 700 and there was some Starling movement.
Ringed:- 1 Song Thrush
(DB,JE) [597] photos JE

Saturday 21 November 2009

21st November 2009

A high tide sea-watch today produced 3 Red-throated Divers, 6 Guillemots, 200 Common Scoter, 2 Shags (left) and 4 drake Scaup flying passed the island.

A male Blackcap was seen in the old obs garden which later flew towards the rangers garden and Song Thrushes inhabited the old obs and top paddock areas. A Fieldfare flew from the main island to middle, and 2 parties of 8 and 4 Starlings arrived in low over the sea (above).

The winter resident Purple Sandpipers (left) and a Rock Pipit showed well.

(MGT,PSW) photos PSW

Thursday 19 November 2009

19th November 2009

Fourteen Red-throated Divers on the sea today, also 10 Great Crested Grebes, 8 Guillemots and 2 Shags. Only 10 Purple Sandpipers could be counted although there are probably many more present.

Tuesday 17 November 2009

17th November 2009

Very little to record of note over the last week during the wet and windy weather other than a Merlin present on the 12th and 13th (DB).
This morning brighter and more pleasant conditions saw a Dunnock and Goldfinch ringed, also retraps of Song Thrush, Blackbird, Robin and a Wren first ringed in August 2006. The Brent were not co-operating to enable a count to take place, but a count of 140 Turnstones was the most complete for some time.
(DB,KMc) [ 596 ]

Thursday 12 November 2009

12th November 2009

Seven Great Crested Grebes today on the sea: other records included 3 Peregrines and a Merlin, 5 Wigeon, 3 Blackbirds and 2 Redwings.
The 114 Brent includes only 1 juvenile which suggests an extremely poor breeding season in arctic regions this year and it will be interesting to see if the peak totals this winter are down because of the lack of young birds.

Wednesday 11 November 2009

11th November 2009

A slow start with some Blackbirds, a Song Thrush and a Redwing about but very little migration overhead apart from a single Skylark and parties of Starlings passing all morning. A Raven flew to Red Rocks and both Merlin and Peregrine were seen.
The Brent were at a new high of 114 with both the colour ringed birds present. Another late Gannet was noted and 12 Great Crested Grebes rested on the calm sea but not much else off shore except for a flock of 2,000 Knot flying at the north end.
Later in the morning a Brambling appeared in a mist net (above), very surprising as no other finches were seen all morning apart from the usual Linnets and 2 Siskins overhead soon after dawn. This is the first Brambling to be ringed on Hilbre since December 2001 and only the second in the last fifteen years.

Just as members were congratulating themselves on finding bird of the day, there seemed to be another influx of Blackbirds, and the new bird of the day found itself in the Newton catching box (above and right). A male Blackbird bearing a Dutch ring was extracted with much excitement as foreign controls such as this do not happen often at Hilbre! It seems quite appropriate that a ring bearing the legend 'ARNHEM HOLLAND ' was found on armistice day. The late chairman Peter Williams would have been especially delighted at this recovery as he did a lot of ringing in Holland.
Ringed :- 4 Blackbirds, 1 Redwing, 1 Brambling.
(DB,CJ,) [594] photos CJ
PS. on a lighter note a penguin was photographed at Hilbre today but the photographer has been sworn to secrecy for a couple of days ... watch this space !

Tuesday 10 November 2009

10th November 2009

It was cold and damp this morning with a south easterly wind and at least 5 Blackbirds and a Redwing were present in the trapping areas together with the more regular residents of 5 Robins, 2 Pied Wagtails (one showing the ring of a bird that bred on the island this year-left), and at least one Dunnock and Rock Pipit. Only 7 Starlings were to be found today.
The Brent were at a high total for the season of 105 birds, a single Great Crested Grebe was on the sea and there was an excellent sighting of 2 female type Eiders.

Ringed:- 3 Blackbirds (below), 1 Redwing (right), 1 Robin.

(JE) [588] photos JE