Saturday 31 January 2009
Friday 23 January 2009
A male Peregrine hunted the waders around the islands which included 3,500 Oystercatcher, 2,000 Dunlin, 316 Curlew, 60 Sanderling and 18 Purple Sandpipers. The Curlew count was typically around Little Eye which also saw 280 Shelduck.
However, the highlight of the day was an all-time record Cormorant count of 1,678 birds that were seen moving out of the estuary around high tide.
Wednesday 21 January 2009
Three dark-bellied Brent (right) (out a total of 136) were an increase on sightings during the last two weeks and therefore some are probably new arrivals. The blue and red Dublin ringed bird was again seen in the flock with the pales.
Saturday 17 January 2009
The red and blue ringed Brent was among 127 birds (including one dark) counted today.
Friday 16 January 2009
The reason why the Redpoll spp on 9th May was not sub-specifically identified at the time is that the wing length was outside the range in Svensson for male Mealy Redpoll ('Flammea') and at the very bottom of the range for female Mealy Redpoll (and therefore much too short for 'Rostrata' - North Western Redpoll). Apologies for not putting that in the original post but I did not have the information to hand.
It might not be clear from the photos in the original post that the bird contains red markings on the face and breast - although nothing like one would expect from a male Mealy (the male Mealy on 9th May was an adult and this bird is a first year).
The reason the bird was photographed at the time was because of its unusual appearance. Whilst it shares a number of features with Lesser Redpoll (three of which were caught at the same time) - including wing length, brownish upperparts, some buff underparts etc. It also shares some features with Mealy - 'appearing' large, having white wing bars, grey streaking on upperparts, white vent, grey around the face, pale greyish rump (with some pink). And other features with North Western - large bill, straight (if not convex) looking culmen, brownish upperparts, white wing bars, buff on underparts, heavy streaking on buff background on flanks - lacking extensive pink on breast associated with male Mealys.
An interesting bird nevertheless which went down as an unusual Lesser Redpoll at the time ...
Maybe this spring we will get some more interesting redpolls - which adds a new dimension to birding on Hilbre - prior to 2008 there was only one previously documented record of Mealy Redpoll on Hilbre; during 2008 we had three!
Wednesday 14 January 2009
Then on the 9th May the third Mealy of the spring occurred when the following male was trapped (left with Lesser Redpoll right):
Compare these with Lesser Redpolls from earlier years:
All photos SW except Lesser Redpoll above by CJW
Sunday 11 January 2009
Thursday 8 January 2009
"X3YY" - was ringed as a first summer male on 14 May 2007 in Iceland (on passage) last seen there on 22 May 2007, he appeared at Strangford Lough on 19 October 2007 and was seen there the following day before disappearing and being found at Foryd Bay (North Wales) on 27 February 2008 before moving to Beddmanarch Bay (Holyhead - Anglesey) on 14 April 2008. He definitely arrived on Hilbre on 6th January 2009 but may have been present since 1st (see below).
"XXYY" - great news is that having last been seen at Hilbre on 14 March 2008 and having been seen in Anglesey between 27 March and 14 April 2008 she reappeared back at Strangford Lough, Northern Ireland, on 22 October 2008 (presumably after a summer in Canada to breed)....so she may appear back on Hilbre soon (although she was reported by a non-member as back on 1st January 2009 and we are investigating that sighting).
Many thanks to Graham McElwaine of the Irish Brent Goose Research Group for all the information and a very prompt response to our sightings.
Wednesday 7 January 2009
Tuesday 6 January 2009
It was a colour-ring extravaganza (!) today - TWO colour-ringed Brent Geese are now in the flock on the island (red and blue which has been present on and off since 9th December 2008) and a new bird with yellow colour rings on each leg. This latter bird may have been present since 1st January 2009 as one with two yellow colour rings was reported by a non-member on that date albeit that was reported as 'XXYY'. However, the bird today is definitely not the returning female XXYY.
XXYY first arrived at Hilbre on 10th November 2005 and has been seen each winter subsequently and we eagerly await her return this winter...she was ringed on passage in Iceland in May 2005 and has also been recorded in Hampshire, Anglesey, Northern Ireland and Iceland (again on passage where she was retrapped) as well as on the breeding grounds in Bathurst Island in Canada in July 2007. She has not been seen at Hilbre since 14th March 2008 (after which she was on Anglesey until 14th April 2008 but has not been reported subequently).
The Brent Geese flock peaked again at 139 pales and 2 darks.
A Little Egret continued to be seen around the islands and wader numbers were excellent for the Low Water WeBS count.
(DB & WRS)
Sunday 4 January 2009
Saturday 3 January 2009
Friday 2 January 2009
Thursday 1 January 2009
At this quiet time at the beginning of a new year we look back to a few highlights of 2008.
Pride of place must go to the Bluethroat that thrilled all who saw it during its day-long stay on 21st May, probably the most desired of the birds never to have graced the islands.
Another first for Hilbre was the Dotterel found on 27th September, unfortunately not
photographed (photo left is the bird at nearby Leasowe in September 2004).
A Rough-legged Buzzard visited Hilbre on 6th November after being seen briefly on middle the day before.
Two Mealy Redpolls were in the obs garden on 6th May and another was trapped on 9th.
And the first Black Redstart for some years was ringed on 30th October.
Best wishes to all for 2009 and hoping (and expecting) more nice surprises will come our way !