Wednesday 30 December 2009

30th December 2009

A miserable and cold day nevertheless produced 3 Red-throated Divers, 3 Great Crested Grebes and 8 Common Scoters on the sea. The male and female Peregrines were still present today with a male Kestrel over the island, and although the Sparrowhawk was not seen again today it seems to have made its presence felt in the shape of a dead first year female Blackbird that was ringed here on 23rd October; Song Thrushes appear to have been luckier as 5 were again counted. Waders included 13 Purple Sandpipers, 420 Curlew and 50 Grey Plover.

Tuesday 29 December 2009

29th December 2009

Nothing new today apart from the reappearance of the male Sparrowhawk that was around on Christmas eve, and a male and female Peregrine seen. Counts of note were 380 Curlew and 120 Shelduck.

Monday 28 December 2009

28th December 2009

A very misty start but it was quite bright later, although a typically quiet mid-winter day in terms of birds. Some good news was that 15 Purple Sandpipers were counted, a better showing than recently, and also 2 new Song Thrushes (below centre) were ringed from the group of about 5 that are on the island in the last few weeks. A retrapped adult Robin (below right) was very instructive regarding the shape of the pale tips to the greater coverts.
The inshore life boat was on practise manoeuvres (left).
(JE +1) [605] photos JE

Saturday 26 December 2009

26th December 2009

The Brent got together today for a decent count of 142, while 2 Greylags were seen flying west, and the now seemingly resident Eider was also logged.
The 2 Purple Sandpipers logged today were surprisingly the first seen for some over a week, maybe the rest have joined others at locations on the north Wirral coast.
Passerines are very scarce at this time of year, just 1 Meadow Pipit and 1 Rock Pipit, 4 Wrens, 3 Robins, 2 Dunnocks, 4 Blackbirds, 3 Song Thrushes and a Goldfinch. Best sightings over the shore were of a male Peregrine and 1,000 Knot flying north east.

Friday 25 December 2009

25th December 2009

The Eider was still present, a Goldfinch was around the island, but observation of the day was of 230 Pink-footed Geese flying west over middle Eye and off over the welsh hills.

Thursday 24 December 2009

Special Xmas 2009 news

News has just been released of a new species for Hilbre Island ! A Rockhopper Penguin eudyptes chrysocome was seen and photographed at the north end by two lucky observers for a short period on 11th November this year. It was reported as very confiding and didn't seem at all inclined to enter the water. Intense observation discovered it to be a sub-adult female.
Seasons Greetings from Hilbre Island.

24th December 2009

A Red Fox was confirmed today when footprints were found in the snow, there are not many who have seen such a sight at Hilbre !
No Lapwings today but a number of decent sightings: - A Fieldfare kept company on the ground with 5 Blackbirds, 4 Song Thrushes, 4 Robins, a Dunnock and single Meadow and Rock Pipits.
A Siskin flew down the east side, there was a male Peregrine and also a male Sparrowhawk that was at one time in the 'Heli' trap and flew across the obs garden.
Three Teal added variety to the duck records recently of only the single Eider (which is still present).

Wednesday 23 December 2009

23rd December 2009

Thrushes and Lapwings were again the feature of the day in this very cold weather. Four each of Blackbirds and Song Thrushes were counted and it remains to be seen how many stay for the winter.
Flocks of Lapwings of 50, 5, and 60 flew west this morning rather than the southwesterly direction of Tuesday. The Eider was still present and a Raven landed on the east hoyle bank.
At Little Eye at the flood tide were 2,500 Dunlin, 280 Grey Plover and 320 Curlew.

Tuesday 22 December 2009

22nd December 2009

Unsurprisingly there was some cold weather movement today in the continuing frosty conditions. Flocks of 16, 6 ,48 and 2 Lapwings passed the north end heading in a southwesterly direction, and a group of 25 Golden Plover went across the obs going west, and two more parties of 10 each were seen from the north end flying south west.
The Brent were counted at 118 (including the 2 colour ringed birds) although more are probably present. The sea yielded just 2 Shags and 3 Great Crested Grebes, but good counts from the Little Eye area were made of 230 Grey Plover, 1,000 Knot and 1,000 Dunlin.
The female/immature Eider continues to be an attraction close to the island.

Saturday 19 December 2009

19th December 2009

A bright but cold morning, with ice a novelty on the shore in recent years (left). Some signs of cold weather movement today as 7 Blackbirds and 9 Song Thrushes were counted on the island. A Song Thrush was retrapped that had been ringed in November 2008 (right), again adding to our records of this species reappearing in successive winters.
A large Peregrine scattered all the birds around the shore, even the normally unresponsive Crows and Gulls.
Ringed:- 2 Song Thrushes
(JE) [603] photos JE

Thursday 17 December 2009

17th December 2009

The cold north easterly wind today made the Turnstones elect to roost the tide on the west cliff, and the Eider that has been showing for the week or so also choose the west side to step out on the rocks.

A Rock Pipit (right) and a Blackbird both from the end of October were retrapped and were found to have each gained weight during their stay on the island.

The air-sea rescue helicopter made an interesting diversion, but no new birds today, so beautiful views from the island are shown here to compensate.

(JE) photos JE

Saturday 12 December 2009

12th December 2009

Early today the waders and Brent Geese were moving out taking advantage of the ebb tide and the good feeding conditions (above left). A number of the usual passerines were about today, 5 Blackbirds, 5 Robins, 6 Wrens, 2 Song Thrushes and a Rock Pipit (below right).
The female type Eider (above right) which has been present for last few days at last succumbed to the camera, also pictured was the life-boat service hovercraft on practise manoeuvres (above).

Ringed:- 1 Wren

(JE) [601] photos JE

Friday 11 December 2009

11th December 2009

A splendid male Bullfinch (below) was found on the island today, the first seen there for decades. It was eventually caught in the SK heligoland trap and became only the fourth to be ringed at Hilbre and the first since 1977. It was a Hilbre 'tick' for all the members who got to the island this morning. The immature/female Eider was off the north end again; other duck comprised groups of 10 and 7 Wigeon, 8 Scaup which landed on the sea and a single Teal was also present. Two Common Buzzards came in from Red Rocks to Middle Eye and drifted off to the south, while other birds logged included a Lapwing, a Wood Pigeon a Little Egret and 4 Redwing over in the early light.

Later, the diggings and faeces of a Red Fox were found on the island.

(BSB,DB, CJ,CJW et al) [ 600] photos top two CJ

Thursday 10 December 2009

7th - 10th December 2009 (summary)

Mon 7th :-Merlin, Redwing, female Blackcap, 3 Goldfinches, and a Great Northern Diver in flight passed the slipway.
Tue 8th :- The Great Northern Diver again, this time off the east side by the obs, 4 Mute Swans flying to the south west and a rare December sighting of a Bonxie off the north end after high water.
Wed 9th :- 21 Wigeon, 6 Pintail, 13 Starlings, 65 Lapwing by bird rock.
Thurs 10th :- Brent at new high of 145 (including at least 4 young), 1 male and 5 female Red-breasted Merganser, a immature or female Eider, 3 Little Egrets and a single Lapwing.
(all DB)

Saturday 5 December 2009

5th December 2009

A bright showery day saw 3 Goldfinches stay around the canoe club area in addition to the recent regulars of 4 Blackbirds, 2 Song Thrushes, and several Robins bearing Hilbre rings from previous years. A Wren was ringed and a Rock Pipit(below) and some of the Robins were retrapped. Two Ravens and a Little Egret were other visitors to the islands.

The sea produced 6 Red-throated Divers and 40 Common Scoters and a few Great Crested Grebes, and the sighting of a possible Little Auk flying from the Middle island area towards Wales.
The young seal was again on the rocks at the north end, but the consensus of the members present today was that it is probably a Grey Seal in a state of moult that we do not encounter very often at close quarters.

(MA,MB+1,JE,PSW,+CD) [599] photos JE

Friday 4 December 2009

4th December 2009

With very few passerines about sea watching was the order of the day, and observers were rewarded with 4 Red-throated Divers (left) and a Great Northern Diver twice flying passed to the west of the island; also on the sea were 21 Great Crested Grebes, 3 more late Gannets out by the wind farm and a group of 3 (1 male, 2 female) Goldeneye drifting out on the ebb tide. There were the usual residents on the ground (but no Meadow Pipits or Linnets) with just a single Goldfinch as a visitor and a flock of 21 Starlings overhead. A Merlin (right) arrived over the sea fresh from the mainland but did not stay to give better views.
Four Pintail flew north early and in the afternoon exceptional numbers (for Hilbre) of Wigeon were seen when 105 went north from the bird rock area and 73 flew south to the east of the island. The Brent appeared after the tide and were counted at a new high of 132.
A decapitated Canada Goose was found washed ashore on the east side. People can make up their own theories about that one !
The seal pup (see 2nd Dec) was again on the rocks near the north end, but was able to be photographed. Is it just a Grey Seal ? its appearance and behaviour is atypical for the island. If any seal experts are out there comments would be welcome.

Ringed:- 1 Blackbird
(CJ,CS,KMc, later DB) [598] photos CJ

Wednesday 2 December 2009

2nd December 2009

A very similar species mix to yesterday, again featuring Wigeon (26), Teal (5), Lapwing (7 at the south end of Hilbre), Goldeneye (2 drakes), and Little Egret (4). New today were 3 Greylag Geese exiting the estuary with the Cormorants early morning, 2 Whooper Swans flying south west, and best of all a male Goosander that flew passed the north end and went south down the west side.
A seal pup has been hauling out by the slipway and doubts have been raised as to the species involved.

Tuesday 1 December 2009

1st December 2009

Despite the light south-easterly wind a very cold day with the first snow visible on Snowdonia. Forty five species logged today was exceptional for early winter. The Brent seem to have stabilised at about 120 for the moment, but among the duck recorded were 28 Wigeon, 10 Teal and a male Goldeneye. A male and female Peregrine were associating together and a Merlin flew in off the sea from the north. Thrushes were in evidence with 4 Redwing, 5 Blackbirds, a Song Thrush and a rare (for Hilbre) Mistle Thrush that flew across the obs garden. Among other singles making up the species numbers were, Lapwing, Raven, Black-tailed Godwit and Little Egret. Counts of waders included 10 Purple Sandpipers (recent day counts indicate that could be near the total), 39 Grey Plover, 180 Turnstone and 17 Sanderling.
News now of the Dutch Blackbird controlled on the 11th November (right): it was ringed as a second calender year male on 15th January 2009 at a village on the southern edge of the Wadden sea called Den Oever in Nord Holland. It appeared to have spent last winter there as it was retrapped twice up to 1st March, but it seems it preferred going further west this season. It is likely it did not summer in Holland but travelled there from further north or east.
(per Bert Winters in Holland)