Saturday 28 February 2009

27th/28th February 2009

The first night-time wader ringing attempt of the year resulted in just a single Purple Sandpiper and a Dunlin (below). The Purple Sandpiper was particularly pleasing as it was the first to be ringed for five years and will now give observers the opportunity to look for the distinctive colour rings on this bird (red over pale green on the right leg). There appeared to be a flock of more than 30 Purples roosting the night high tide on the cliff ledge at the north west corner, but very few other waders about the main island.

Early morning brought a female Peregrine hunting the shore (above), and a total of 140 Brents including 2 dark-bellied (below).

Just a small hint of spring to come with movements of 15 Meadow Pipits, 7 Pied and 1 Grey Wagtail, 2 Redwings and a Skylark, while Song Thrushes were notable by their absence for the first time this winter.

Saturday 21 February 2009

21st February 2009

A quiet but pleasant day, Purple Sandpipers roosted the tide at the north end, some colour ringed from previous years. A male Snow Bunting that has been around for most of the week was by the path also near the north end and showed well to photographers.

A Greylag Goose flew around the island before going off to Wales but very little else to get excited about on the sea, just single Red-breasted Merganser, Red-throated Diver and a few Common Scoters, and so another sighting of a Harbour Porpoise drew most attention.

Land birds were especially scarce with the trapping area holding just 2 Song Thrushes and a Robin, in fact the only capture of the day was a frog that miraculously appeared in the Newton heligoland trapping box !

(FD,AMC,JE also PW ) Snow Bunting close-ups Phil Woollen, other photos JE

Saturday 14 February 2009

14th February 2009

Still only small numbers of passerines on the island, including 3 Song Thrushes, 2 Blackbirds, 4 Wrens and a Robin that was ringed as a juvenile last August and has been present since. Even if its history was unknown ringers could easily age it by the two generations of greater coverts (see above), and other clues inside the upper mandible and the tail. Four Meadow Pipits only were noted but it will not be long before we see an increase in these birds as the spring passage of Meadow Pipits on Hilbre normally begins in the middle of March.

The Red-breasted Merganser is still off shore together with small numbers of the regular waders and of course the Brents, but 2 Canada Geese (right) on the sea were less expected visitors.

(JE,CJW,DW,RW) Photos JE

Thursday 12 February 2009

12th February 2009

The Brents were well scattered for the high tide today, some along the tide edge (above), some exhibiting neck stretching (aggressive?) behaviour. The Dublin ringed bird is still present with the flock.

Highlight of the day was the continuing fly-past of Divers moving south west, there were 33 today all the red-throated variety(below).

Other birds observed at high tide
included a Mute Swan going west towards Wales, 30 Great crested Grebes, 16 Common Scoter, 2 Guillemots and a splendid male Red-breasted Merganser(left).

A Harbour Porpoise swan down the Dee just before noon, no doubt the same individual that has been seen on recent days.

The regular waders (above) gave good views, some bearing rings from previous years.

The partial albino Song Thrush made a welcome return among the five present and has probably made a visit to the mainland as it has not been observed for some weeks now despite its preferred areas on the island being known.

(DB,CJ,KMc,AO) Photos CJ

Wednesday 11 February 2009

11th February 2009

Another large movement of Red-throated Divers observed, this time 78 were counted mainly moving south west across Liverpool bay, the sightings ending abruptly at high tide. A Black-throated Diver seen was possibly the same bird as two days ago while a Harbour Porpoise off the north end was another repeat performance for this week.
Wintering oystercatchers were estimated at 5,500 and good counts were of 44 Sanderling and 40 Grey Plover.

Tuesday 10 February 2009

10th February 2009

A reward for a sea-watch today was an outstanding count of 63 Red-throated Divers, far larger numbers than could normally be expected, although other seabirds were in more usual figures. Common Scoters were at 30, Great- crested Grebes at 31, Guilletmots at 16, and a Razorbill.
A Harbour Porpoise seen swimming past was a surprise but by no means unprecedented at this time of year.

Monday 9 February 2009

9th February 2009

A Black-throated Diver was a good find on the sea along with 14 Red-throated Divers, 27 Great Crested Grebes, 2 Razorbills, 2 Guillemots, 15 Common Scoters and 4 Red-breasted Mergansers.
Four Dark-bellied were with the 131 Light-bellied Brent (which still included the Dublin ringed bird). Male Kestrel and male Peregrine were present and the Purple Sandpipers were counted at 20.

Friday 6 February 2009

6th February 2009

Lesser Celandine and Snowdrops were in flower today despite the continuing cold, it only takes a hint of sunshine on Hilbre at this time of year for these plants to remind us that spring cannot be too far away. No sign of spring among the birds yet with mostly routine sightings of winter species around the estuary. Herring Gulls were in good numbers with 2,000 on Salisbury bank and the West Hoyle also 400 + out by the windfarm. The 4 dark-bellied Brent were seen again, 70 Sanderling were on the north shore and 11 Canada geese flew east, probably towards a park lake. Still 4 Song Thrushes on the island with a single Blackbird also male Kestrel and Peregrine were present.

Thursday 5 February 2009

5th February 2009

New today were an extra Dark-bellied Brent making 4 in total and a Merlin.

Wednesday 4 February 2009

4th February 2009

An improvement in the weather as the day progressed saw a Whooper Swan fly west across the wildlife garden in the afternoon and a Short-eared Owl being mobbed at the north end by the crows. Brents were counted at 137 including the 3 dark-bellied birds and the Dublin tagged individual with red and blue rings. Three Mallard were back on the island pond for the first time this year, while 3 Great Crested Grebes, 2 Shags, a Common Scoter and a Red-breated Merganser were on the sea. Other counts from the log were 25 Bar-tailed Godwits, 14 Purple Sandpipers, 1,500 Knot and two thousand each of both Dunlin and Oystercatcher.