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

Monday 9 November 2009

9th November 2009

Very little wind and quite foggy at times this morning and as a result quite a lot of Hilbre scarcities were logged today, although most of the grounded 14 Blackbirds, 5 Song Thrushes and a female Blackcap cleared off not long after dawn leaving most records referring to flyovers.
Across overhead were 19 Skylarks, 450 Starlings, 5 Redwings, a Stock Dove, 9 Greenfinches, 7 Chaffinches, 2 Lesser Redpolls and a Reed Bunting. A party of 3 Snipe flew west over the north end of the island.
A drake Eider showed briefly at the north end, 16 Wigeon in total moved around the shore and a Lapwing stayed some time with the oystercatchers on the east hoyle bank.
The Brent with the red and blue colour rings (left) was definitely identified as the Dublin ringed bird from last winter that also showed briefly early last month. It would be interesting to know where it has been for the last few weeks.
Ringed:- 1 Blackbird, 1 Meadow Pipit
(DB,CJ etal) [583] photo CJ

Sunday 8 November 2009

8th November 2009

A Raven was being mobbed by the crows at the marine lake car park this morning (left), and it or another was seen from the island to fly over Middle Eye later. Also over the shore were several finches high up at least one of which by the call was a Brambling.
Very little on the island just single Blackbird, Song Thrush, Goldfinch, and Greenfinch, 2 Dunnocks (below), and 7 Robins, with 4 Skylarks and 5 Starlings passing through, all a little disappointing for a north easterly wind at this time of year.

On the sea was only a single Great Crested Grebe and several Common Scoter moving about distantly. Purple Sandpipers (5 seen) and Brent Geese (102) were hard to count at low tide, the Brent also being affected by human activities (left).
Later on just before the tide a Great Northern Diver was observed by one member flying across Little Eye.
Ringed:- 1 Song Thrush.
(DB+ESCA, CJ,NDW,PSW,SRW,+ CJW,TGW) [581] photos CJ

Saturday 7 November 2009

7th November 2009

A pleasant morning in the sunshine (left - a group of Knot among the Oystercatchers and a few Brent). Five hundred Cormorants flew over at dawn, a Peregrine was present and Brent seemed to be over the hundred mark although an exact count was not possible.

A Song Thrush (right) was ringed that had a particularly long wing length that probably made it a male, but it is not normally possible to sex these at all, although it was certainly a bird of the year as the obvious two generations of greater coverts show (left).
A Coot was later seen from the mainland to fly over the island, a very rare Hilbre bird indeed !
(JE) [580] photos JE

Friday 6 November 2009

6th November 2009

A winter plumage Black-throated Diver was off the west side this morning and 2 fairly distant Slavonian Grebes were also seen. A Slavonian Grebe was also seen from Red Rocks to be off bird rock at noon (per MGT) but despite looking this could not be located from the Hilbre direction, nevertheless it was probably one of the 2 seen from Hilbre previously.
Most of the other sea observations were more routine :- 11 Common Scoters,10 Wigeon, 9 Great Crested Grebes, 1 Red Breasted Merganser and a Shag.
The Brents were counted at least 97, one of which intriguingly was sporting a red or orange ring. It will be looked for in the coming days.
Passerines were few but 215 Starlings were noted passing and a Rock Pipit was still at the north end also a Chaffinch around the paddocks.

Thursday 5 November 2009

5th November 2009

Early today 11 Whooper Swans flew across Middle in a southwesterly direction obviously heading for Wales.
A flock of 800 Starlings kept up the recent records of numbers passing Hilbre these last few weeks, and more went through in smaller numbers later.
The sea produced a single late Gannet and an adult and juvenile Kittiwake, also 4 Great Crested Grebes, 2 Guillemots and 2 Common Scoter.
An exact count of the Brent was possible today and amazingly it was precisely 100, just as estimated yesterday!

Wednesday 4 November 2009

4th November 2009

A Snow Bunting flew from the north end towards Red Rocks before 09:00hrs and at high tide 182 Turnstones were present and the Purple Sandpipers had increased to 11 birds while Cormorants were also at a new high of 830 over the entire area.
The Brents were estimated at 100 but an exact count was not possible due to fragmentation of the flock but there were certainly more birds than yesterday.

Tuesday 3 November 2009

3rd November 2009

The 4 Purple Sandpipers are still present today, also seen were flocks of 20 and 12 Wigeon, 2 Peregrines and a Little Egret.
The Brent increased dramatically to 76 birds following the change to westerly airflow from Sunday, they have probably been waiting for suitable conditions for migration from Greenland/Iceland.

Sunday 1 November 2009

1st November 2009

Despite the very strong winds over saturday night, only 7 Common Scoters on the sea and very little else, although good counts were made of 7,000 Knot towards bird rock, 640 Shelduck and 700 Curlew in the Little Eye area.
A female Blackcap braved the unhelpful weather in the paddocks.