Thursday 30 April 2009

30th April 2009

At least a few Redpolls today with the Goldfinches and a single Tree Pipit and single Yellow Wagtail over but only 4 Willow Warblers. A fair passage of Swallows at 119 birds and 2 House Martins although only 2 Wheatears and 10 Whimbrel present.
Ringed today :-
2 Willow Warblers
1 Greenland Wheatear
1 Linnet

Wednesday 29 April 2009

29th April 2009

Although the wind was back in the southeast, low pressure still predominates and rain during the night would not help bring in any migrants. There were no warblers at all of any kind today, quite surprising for the end of April, and again (as yesterday) no Redpolls over-head. Three Wheatears, a single White Wagtail and a number of Goldfinches were the only passing birds apart from 3 Sand Martins and 18 Swallows.

Three Greylag Geese flew east early on and a Woodpigeon put in a brief appearance down the west side.

As we have no photographs of significant birds today, we show here a Grey Heron and the male Pied Wagtail that seems to be breeding, and a group of Knot on the north end with 2 in summer plumage.
Ringed today:- 1 Goldfinch (right)

(BSB,DB,JE,CJ,DCT,PT,DNW) [324] photos CJ

Tuesday 28 April 2009

28th April 2009

As expected a quiet day following light winds from a northerly direction, with just 2 Willow Warblers, a single Wheatear, only 7 Swallows all day and a Whitethroat that hung around till late afternoon.
Twenty five Gannets were counted and single adult and juvenile Kittiwakes were logged. The only other birds of note were a Sparrowhawk and a Little Egret.

Monday 27 April 2009

27th April 2009

Overnight rain continued early morning and put off most observers apart from the resident few and a couple of 'mainlanders' made a late morning trip to see if anything had arrived during or after the rain. A small number (5) of Willow Warblers had dropped - four were ringed and were the only birds ringed today - although a number of interesting retraps were obtained including a pair of Robins (possibly the breeding pair), a Wren from August 2006 and a Meadow Pipit.

Just after 10am, when the rain eventually ceased, a fall of Wheatears occurred with at least 20 Greenland seen in most places around the island (even the chimney pots!).

There was little else grounded but in the afternoon sun the male Linnets were in full song...

The Little Egret (see right) fed in the gutter on the rising tide giving nice views.

At high tide a Kittiwake was found roosting on the island not far from a large flock of 15 Whimbrel (with at least another two flying around the island - see below). However, the highlight of the day were two Manx Shearwaters seen by a visiting birder - the first of the year for the islands.

On a quiet day such as this there are still things to see around the island, and not just birds, as this Small Tortoiseshell butterfly and tadpoles in the Old Obs pond show.
(DCT, PT, NDW, CJW & SRW) [323] Photos SRW

Sunday 26 April 2009

26th April 2009

The morning was probably too clear for good migration at Hilbre, it is often a bad sign when the Great Orme is visible. Nevertheless there was a small trickle of Willow Warblers early on and 10 Greenland Wheatears most of which seemed to be on Middle (left).

For the third day running a Mealy Redpoll was trapped - surely they are not as scarce as was once thought ! Comparison with Lesser Redpoll makes it easy to see why they were split as a different species.
A Grasshopper Warbler almost flew in through the open obs door and then went round the back of the building and hit the kitchen window, the bird survived and hid behind the water tank.
A few Goldfinches and Redpolls went through with 7 White and a single Yellow Wagtail and a female Goldcrest that was late in the season to appear at Hilbre. Some Swallows and a single Sand Martin were the only hirundines and a Collared Dove was the only unpredicted species.
A small number of Sandwich terns and Gannets were on the sea with 12 Arctic Terns flying south down the Dee.
Ringed today:-
4 Willow Warblers
3 Goldfinches
2 Lesser Redpolls
1 Common Redpoll
1 Chiffchaff
1 Goldcrest
(CJ,DCT,PT,NDW,SRW,TGW) [319] photos CJ & SRW

Saturday 25 April 2009

25th April 2009

Another superb day on the island. Early morning was glorious - light south-easterly winds with some mist and a superb sunrise (see above). Grounded migrants included two more Redstarts (male and female) and more Willow Warblers (c25) than yesterday. The first surprise of the day was another cracking male Mealy Redpoll caught in the Obs garden (see below) - even pinker than yesterday's!

About mid morning a front moved through from the south-west and downed a number of birds (mainly Willow Warblers) but including our first Garden Warbler of the year (see photo). Then rain showers brought the first Swift. Later a Sedge Warbler arrived just north of the Old Obs but evaded capture like yesterday's bird.

Meanwhile 2 Yellow Wags, a few Redpoll spp and Siskin and plenty of Greenland Wheatears (c25) moved through along with a female Sparrowhawk.

Around the islands c20 Whimbrel were present with a few Dunlin and Ringed Plovers today and a couple of Little Egrets were still around the gutter.

Ringed birds:
19 Willow Warbler
2 Chiffchaff
2 Redstarts
2 Linnets
1 Garden Warbler
1 Mealy Redpoll
1 Meadow Pipit

(FD, JE, CJ, DCT, PT, SRW, TGW + CD, KN, PSW) Photos SRW

Friday 24 April 2009

24th April 2009

A quality day with quality birds ! This is what we have been waiting for, a cracking migration day with lots of species arriving on a good spring morning.
Still cloudy but much windier than yesterday, the Willow Warblers were slightly down in numbers although there were many other species to more than compensate with at least one representative of most of the larger warblers and chats etc.

The first surprise was a Mealy Redpoll among the 4 Redpolls caught. In comparison with the Lesser Redpoll in the hand (above and right) it was a larger bird and shows much more white on wings and rump, extensive pink on the breast and only one streak on the undertail coverts. A adult male Redstart (below right) and a Greenland Wheatear were also ringed, together with the first Whinchat to be caught this year (below) and the first Whitethroat on Hilbre this Spring. Yet another Grasshopper Warbler put in an appearance, also a Blackcap, and the first Sedge Warbler to arrive this year was singing but failed to offer itself to be ringed. A different male Redstart arrived about noon to finish off an exciting day with lots of diversity in the trapping area.

The first 2 Arctic Skuas of the year were on the sea with 10 Gannets, 26 Common Terns, 32 Sandwich Terns, 28 Common Scoter, 5 Razorbills and 5 Kittiwakes.
Nearer the island a total of 31 Whimbrel and 11 Bar-tailed Godwits (some in summer plumage) and a single Little Egret.
Other birds mostly overhead :- 2 Yellow Wagtails, 14 White Wagtails, 9 Tree Pipits (a few on the ground), 50+ Redpolls, 12 Siskin, 56 Goldfinches, 30 Sand Martin, 1 House Martin, 100+ Swallows. On the ground 10 Wheatears, at least 7 of them being of the Greenland race.

A dead Pipistrelle Bat was found on one of the paths.

Let's hope tomorrow is half as good !

Ringed today:-

10 Willow Warblers
3 Lesser Redpolls
1 Common ('Mealy') Redpoll (top right)
2 Redstarts (bottom left)
1 Chiffchaff
1 Whinchat (middle left)
1 Grasshopper Warbler (middle right)
1 Whitethroat (top left)
1 Blackcap
1 Greenland Wheatear (bottom right)
1 Dunnock
1 Goldfinch

(BSB,DB,FD,CJ,KN,AW,DCT,PT,NDW,SRW,) [279] photos BSB & CJ

Thursday 23 April 2009

23rd April 2009

More cloud this morning but still a southeasterly, and the day started well with 6 Redpolls into the Newton trap and a small number of Willow Warblers also present. Goldfinches also featured early on but decreased as the morning went by. Five large Greenland Wheatears stayed around for a change and a Yellow Wagtail landed briefly on the mound east of the pond, (our photographer was too slow with his camera on this occasion).
Sixteen Whimbrel (above) were calling on the west side rocks, likewise most of the Gannets, Sandwich and Common Terns fed down the Dee to the west of the island, but the female Scoter (below right) was on the east side. The high tide however was disappointing, the best sighting was a jet (Eurofighter?) flying low close to the island.
The breeze swung back and forth between southwest and southeast, and then the atmosphere became quite muggy and suddenly there was another fall of Willow Warblers (below left) just before noon, which may have also brought the Grasshopper Warbler found at the south end.
Swallows were into three figures by early afternoon and at 14.30hrs an Osprey flew from the west over the island and went off towards the northeast being mobbed by the large gulls. By this time our photographer was halfway to the shore and was too distant to take any pictures, maybe better luck with the camera tomorrow!

Ringed today:-
19 Willow Warblers
6 Lesser Redpolls
1 Collared Dove (right)
1 Greenland Wheatear
1 Robin
1 Linnet

(DB,CJ,KMc) [255] photos CJ

Wednesday 22 April 2009

22nd April 2009

A fairly quiet morning with only small numbers of migrants considering the date, the mist and the southeasterly breeze. A single Wheatear on middle was the sole representative today and with only 5 Willow Warblers and no Chiffchaffs to compensate, the highlights were the male Blackcap (below) found in the new obs garden and the elusive Grasshopper Warbler singing in the SK paddock, which was eventually caught late afternoon. Another was heard in the Obs garden mid morning and was thought to be a second many more are lurking?
Again only about 30 Swallows passing, but the single House Martin and 5 Sand Martins were welcome. Goldfinches again were the majority of the finches overhead with just 6 Redpolls and a Siskin, while unlike recently only 2 White Wagtails seen.
Four Little Egrets flew up the east side and then turned about and did a splendid flypast for the observers at the bottom of the obs garden (above).

Whimbrel totalled 16 around the islands and the sea held many Gannets and Sandwich Terns feeding, especially off the west side just before the tide. Common Terns are now starting to appear and 8 were noted today, and a single Kittiwake was also logged.

Ringed today:-
3 Willow Warblers
1 Blackcap
1 Grasshopper Warbler

(BT,DB+2,CJ,KMc,PSW,et al) [226] photos CJ

Tuesday 21 April 2009

21st April 2009

Observers were greeted by a light but increasing southwesterly that soon veered west, but did better than yesterday in dropping in some warblers on the island, about 10 Willow Warblers and 2 Chiffchaffs, two of the Willow Warblers (right) showed contrasting amounts of yellow both in the field and in the hand, the paler bird possibly heading for more northern parts. Still no larger warblers except for a skulking Grasshopper Warbler (above) that hid amongst the ground vegetation in the end of the Newton trap and betrayed itself by its movement in the undergrowth.
The first Common Sandpiper of the spring was found early on by the rocks on the south west side, but did not show again. A Little Egret (below) was between the islands for some time and a visiting Jackdaw was 'seen off ' by one of the resident Crows when it landed on top of the mast (right), while for the third day in a row a Rook flew across to the west (the same bird ? ).
The sea was very productive today and there seemed to be lots of fish for the 80+ Gannets and 100 + Sandwich Terns to dive for. Others seen on a sea-watch were 2 Fulmars and 7 Red-throated Divers.
Only 5 Wheatears, 4 which flew off west without pausing and only a few finches today except for about 20 Goldfinches. Swallows numbered only 25 during the morning, and White wagtails only 5, however it seems that the Pied Wagtail male that has been setting up territory for a while may have found a mate (above). Pied Wagtails have rarely bred on Hilbre in recent times.

The only small waders seen this morning (although there are probably more somewhere) were a single Turnstone, Dunlin and Ringed Plover (right).
Ringed today:-
7 Willow Warblers
2 Chiffchaffs
1 Grasshopper Warbler
1 Wren

(DB,CJ,KMc,et al + CS) photos CJ

Monday 20 April 2009

20th April 2009

Yes, this picture of the observatory was taken today, regulars will notice the wind turbine is back on the roof following the installation of a new unit by volunteer members this morning.

Later a start was also made on the re-building of the 'SK' trap (left) which has been needed for some time now.
Luckily for the workers there were not the distractions of yesterday in terms of star birds, despite the apparently similar weather conditions, with no new Willow Warblers and just a single new Chiffchaff and 4 Wheatears. There were however good numbers of Goldfinches (22), and Lesser Redpolls (bottom left) (16) with 10 White Wagtails (below) looking very attractive when they landed around the cliffs, and in the afternoon 2 Yellow wagtails went over.

Several 'odd' species during the day including 4 Collared Doves, a Sparrowhawk off the north end, a House Sparrow on the Cox's bungalow roof (below right), a Rook overhead going west and 3 Greylag Geese (left above) that flew by and then swan for a while on the east side.

Seven Gannets were close in to the west early in the day and 6 Sandwich Terns made their presence known vocally, while the lone Brent, 2 Scoter and a single Red-breasted Merganser just sat on a very calm sea.
Seven Small White butterflies flew in a warm sunny day with a Small Tortoiseshell and a Speckled Wood ( still a scarce record on Hilbre).

Ringed today:-

3 Lesser Redpolls
2 Goldfinches
1 Chiffchaff

(CJ,PGR,CJW +2) photos CJ, work by the others !

Sunday 19 April 2009

19th April 2009

Classic conditions greeted observers at 630am - a fresh south-easterly with mist obscuring Wales. Of course 'classic' conditions don't always produce the birds. However, this morning did not disappoint. Six Wheatears were on Middle very early morning - all looking like Greenland birds - and raising expectations for the day.

At 7am just after observers had arrived on the island the highlight of the day was found in the Conservation Area - a fine male Ring Ouzel; our third of the spring but this bird remained around for everyone to see unlike the previous fly-throughs.

It flew down the fence towards Degsy's pond. It then showed on and off all morning (until about 10am) at the South End, through the Obs garden (and over the mist-net!) and in the Conservation Area near the pond where it had found a small Geo on the east side in which to feed and shelter from the freshening breeze.

Up to 20 Willow Warblers were around the islands and plenty of finch movement overhead was lead by Goldfinches with smaller numbers of Redpoll and Siskin seen and heard.

A fine male Redstart (left) found on the rocks at the South End soon moved into the Obs garden where it promptly caught itself in the mist net. The third Redstart this week. Other birds caught were:

1 (f) Goldcrest
11 Willow Warbler
4 Goldfinch
1 (m) Redstart
1 Linnet
1 Mallard

Whimbrels (see right) were much more in evidence with a couple of flocks of 6 (see below) and 4 seen and a total of 12 logged and the noise of Sandwich Terns was much more in evidence around the island as the sun burnt off the early morning mist.

Visible migration included two Tree Pipits, a Yellow Wagtail as well as a dozen or so White Wagtails and a fine Fieldfare which came 'in off' the sea and landed in the Ranger's garden before rushing south over the traps and through the Obs garden pausing momentarily on the Obs lawn right in front of the net before continuing its rush off south ... probably before the crowds of 'Grockles' arrived, which prompted some of the Obs team to also disappear back to the mainland before the sun-seekers invasion reached fever picth!

(DB, CJ, KMc, SRW + CD & PSW) Photos by SRW