Wednesday 30 September 2009

30th September 2009

A freshening westerly once again meant hardly any migrants. However, a single Wheatear and a few Grey and Alba Wagtails passed through, but still no Goldcrests...

A Peregrine hunted the islands and no doubt was responsible for flushing several flocks of Knot during the morning (see photo left).

Once again a solitary Little Egret stalked the gutter but the bird of the day was a single dark phase Arctic Skua which was hanging around the shore (see photo below).

(DB, CJW) No ringing unsurprisingly. Photos CJW including another shot of the Pink-feet flock from last Friday (see 25th September 2009).

Saturday 26 September 2009

26th September 2009

A Raven was still hanging around the West Kirby shore this morning, and then six Pink-footed Geese were found south of middle eye first thing and also there was a Wood Sandpiper which was on a late date for this less than annual Hilbre wader.
Small birds were at a premium again with a single Wheatear and Skylark of interest.
Four Wigeon (above) were in the east gutter with a Little Egret and a Manx Shearwater was on the sea ,while an usual record was of 2 Barnacle Geese flying up the west side of the island.
Just a single Wren ringed today (right).
(JE) [532] photos JE

Friday 25 September 2009

25th September 2009

Another day of light westerlies and another day with interesting things appearing! The usual Peregrine was around the islands (see photos) and the Little Egret continued to show well in the gutter.

However, the main highlight of the day was superb line of Pink-footed Geese - about 400 in total -that flew in from the west. The majority flew on northwards (towards the Lancashire mosslands now doubt) but over 150 landed on the sand just west of Middle, looking rather tired after a long journey (see photos below).

Also rather intriguing was another single Pale-bellied Brent which arrived with the Pink-feet and landed on the sands west of Middle before splitting from its cousins and finding its way to the North End where the two Pale-bellied Brents from yesterday were still present. Had all these birds arrived in the Dee straight from Iceland (where Pink-footed Geese breed and Pale-bellied Brents pass through on migration from Northern Canada)?

Finally, a nice first year Stonechat spent the morning around the island before finding its way into the Newton heligoland trap - where it was promptly caught and ringed (see photo left) - ending a rather nice day - for a westerly!

(BSB, CJW) Photos BSB [531]

Thursday 24 September 2009

24th September 2009

The continual moderate westerlies this week have meant a generally quiet week on the island, although Obs members have been covering the island daily.

This morning produced another two Ravens - probably the same two birds that have been seen around the islands or at West Kirby shore during the last week or so.

The highlights of the rather quiet morning were two Goosanders that flew past the North End and a pair of adult Pale-bellied Brents arrived back from Canada and spent the morning in the surf (see photos).

The regular sight of a single Little Egret danced around the gutter (see left) - noteworthy is the count of 315 Little Egrets coming into roost at our local RSPB reserve (Inner Marsh Farm) last night.

Finally, a single Chiffchaff appeared in the Obs garden mid morning and a solitary Swallow passed over.

(CJW, SRW) Photos CJW

Sunday 20 September 2009

20th September 2009

The 2 Ravens were again in the marine lake car park at first light, there must be some attractive scraps for them there!
Two more Chiffchaffs today but again no Wheatears but a small movement of some 50 or so Meadow Pipits flying in loose gatherings around the open grassy areas and a number of Swallows went through. There seems to be an increase in Robins on the island today and Linnets are up to 14 together in a flock.

Bird of the day was a Great Spotted Woodpecker (left)that flew south over the island but showed no inclination to stop for a while. Great Spotted Woodpeckers are less than annual at Hilbre, but autumn (especially early October) is the time for one to appear.
Slightly less rare but still scarce were 2 Rooks (right) heading from the west across the Dee.
Eight Bar-tailed Godwits were on the tide edge to the east and 2 Little Egrets in the gutter, while 12 Great Crested Grebes showed on the sea.
Ringed :- 1 Robin, 1 Chiffchaff.
(DB,CJ,SRW) [530] photos CJ

Saturday 19 September 2009

19th September 2009

A light south easterly with a intermittent drizzle seemed perfect this morning but only one Chiffchaff first thing although 6 others came through later.
A Common Snipe was by the west side early and eleven sawbills (RB Merganser or Goosander) flew north low overhead the island in the dim morning light. It was strange to see these diving ducks travelling anywhere except just above the sea.
Three Grey Wagtails and 2 Swallows were migrants, but the Whitethroat retrapped has stayed for some time.

Ringed :- 7 Chiffchaffs (right, also showing contrast between the old and new greater coverts of a bird of the year), 2 Wrens (DB+1,FD,JE,CJ,SRW,PSW,+KN) [528] photos JE

Friday 18 September 2009

18th September 2009

Quiet again ! Very small numbers of migrants at the moment in common with most coastal watch points - just the odd few birds to try and get excited over. After Wheatears yesterday, none today; after no warblers yesterday, 4 Chiffchaffs today. There was a small movement of a few dozen Meadow Pipits and Swallows but little else apart from a an increase in Linnets and a Grey Wagtail.
The 2 Ravens were again mobbed by crows over middle and ducks again featured with a single Teal which later gathered a second in its company (left) and finally they became a party of 5 by noon.
The wader roosts on a very high tide were much disrupted by various human activity, although the Little Eye area managed to assemble a grand total of 238 Shelduck.

More terns than was expected this late, with 26 Sandwich and 4 Common seen during the morning. The 2 Little Egrets (right) were par for the course in recent times.
Ringed :- 2 Chiffchaffs
(DB,CJ) [519] photos CJ

Thursday 17 September 2009

17th September 2009

Wind lighter and from the east this morning but no warblers were found at all, and not even any Swallows passing, although 6 Wheatears were present for at least some of the time.
The 2 Ravens were flushed from middle this morning, and they seem to have established a pattern of visiting Hilbre from the mainland and then going on to Wales; today they were then also seen to return from the west an hour later and continue back to Wirral.

A Common Snipe (right, scarce at Hilbre) got up between the islands and flew east towards the West Kirby shore, and later two Skylarks (above, another infrequent visitor on the ground) arrived and landed on the south end.
The run of recent duck records continued with 9 Wigeon (left) flying around the lagoon but deciding not to stay and give a decent photo opportunity.

Shelduck were up to 38, but only 4 Sandwich Terns could be found, with little else on the sea except a Red-throated Diver, a Great Crested Grebe, 20 Common Scoter and a couple of Guillemots.
No sign today of the Purple Sandpiper.
For the last week the bracken has been covered with caterpillars of the Buff Ermine moth (above right) in outstanding numbers and paths in the trapping area have been especially attractive for them.
In the afternoon, a single Swallow made it to the island, also 5 more Wheatears, and a family party of 5 Mute Swans including 3 cygnets arrived and stood out on the whaleback for a short time. A late Hummingbird Hawk moth fed on the Honeysuckle overhanging the obs veranda for a few minutes and then Nine Pink-footed Geese landed on the west hoyle; mornings are not always best !
Ringed :- 2 Robins
(DB,CJ,KMc) [517] photos CJ

Wednesday 16 September 2009

16th September 2009

Slightly better today, but not much. Two Chiffchaffs and 2 Willow Warblers were found during the morning and a brief glimpse of a Whitethroat which may have been the bird ringed some days ago. Five Wheatears (left) was definitely an improvement on none yesterday: one was trapped and proved to be an immature male Greenland. No visible migration again apart from the usual small number of Swallows tracking east and 3 Grey Wagtails.

Two Ravens (above right) came from the West Kirby direction to Middle and later left towards Wales, while 2 male Kestrels were on the island, one an immature bird.

A Purple Sandpiper (left) was found amongst the roosting Turnstones at high tide, it may be on passage further south or it could be the forerunner of the winter flock.

Two Little Egrets were on the shore, also the single Whimbrel.

Shelducks are returning from wherever they have been moulting and the 34 seen today was the highest total so far this autumn. The sea was quiet apart from 8 Sandwich Terns, a few auks and a Red-throated Diver.
Two creatures found today from the insect world were Devil's Coach Horse staphylinus olens and the rare Yellow Meadow Ant lasius flavus, the latter nesting and thought to have originated from the Welsh side of the Dee.

...and three spiders :- from left : Garden spider araneus diadematus, Map spider, Orb Web spider zyiella notata,

Ringed :- 1 Greenland Wheatear (far right)
1 Chiffchaff (right)
1 Meadow Pipit
(BSB,DB,CJ, et al) [515] photos BSB,CJ

Tuesday 15 September 2009

15th September 2009

Four more Wigeon going west first thing this morning was followed by a flock of 7 Little Egrets (right) flying off east from the west side tide edge. A party of 8 Teal was then discovered in the lagoon between the islands.

A Chiffchaff was in the obs garden giving hope of some migrants today, but it proved to be a false dawn as after a search it turned out to be the only warbler on the island.

Swallows passed east today in small numbers, but no other visible migration was evident, and for the first time recently no Wheatears were present.

It seems there is only one Whimbrel (above) still around the rocks.
Late afternoon 2 Snipe dropped in to the east gutter.
There were some Red Admirals (right) and a few Painted Lady butterflies, also a single Speckled Wood.
(CJ,later DB) [512] photos CJ

Monday 14 September 2009

14th September 2009

The trapping areas were again devoid of birds this morning, even Meadow Pipits and Robins were hard to find, surely the north easterlies will bring something before the end of the week.
Three Wheatears made it to Hilbre but went through quickly, and a loose flock of 20 Swallows (the only ones seen this morning) flew north east well out over the sea. It is puzzling why they were apparently moving from Wales in this direction, although the head wind would give plenty of 'lift'.

Still some Wigeon about the islands, a total of 11 were seen in small groups, and for a change a flock of 15 Pintail flew north (left). Three Razorbills (above right) and a Guillemot were feeding close in shore and 2 Little Egrets landed east of Middle.
Later, 10 Pink-footed Geese flew north east.

(AAB,DB,CJ,THM+3, CF) photos CJ

Sunday 13 September 2009

13th September 2009

A very disappointing day for the middle of September with light winds and some mist on the coast. No new migrants, but a Whitethroat (right) from last Tuesday was still present. Again a very small filter through of Swallows and a single Wheatear on the main island with 2 more on Middle. A Dunnock was by the McAfee buildings, possibly the same bird as Friday.

Two Wigeon continued the sequence of records of these ducks in recent days.
Early morning saw the unusual spectacle of a Raven (left) on the marine lake car park with the pigeons, it then flew over the sand and landed on a tall conifer in one of the gardens alongside the beach.

(DB,JE,CJ,KMc,DCT,PT,NDW,SRW,TGW) [512] photos CJ

Saturday 12 September 2009

12th September 2009

A beautiful morning began with 2 Ravens over the shore, 8 Wigeon travelling east, a Skylark flying south and 3 Snipe at the south end of Hilbre which were later relocated alighting on the 'whaleback'.
A Stonechat (left and below) that was an immature male and not the bird of 2 days ago was about the island all morning, flitting between every available perch, but frustrating the ringers attempts to mark its presence with a metal ring.

The absence of any Goldcrests has been a feature of the first 2 weeks of this September, and today was no exception, with just 2 Chiffchaffs and a Whitethroat representing the warblers, and a single Wheatear, 3 Grey Wagtails, and a few Swallows being the only other obvious migrants.

Two Kestrels (above) were on the island today and a Peregrine (above right) was seen to stoop, collect a Redshank and carry it off over the east hoyle.
2 Robins
2 Chiffchaffs
1 Whitethroat
1 Meadow Pipit
1 Wren

Some moths identified from the lamp trap last night, (clockwise from top left) :- Setaceous Hebrew Character, Flounced Rustic, Feathered Ranunculus, Silver Y ( 2 variants), and Autumnal Rustic.

(CJ,DCT,PT,NDW +4,SRW,PSW, +CD) [512] photos CD, CJ,PSW