Sunday 31 January 2010

31st January 2010

The last visit of the month on a very high tide produced a good total 18 of Red-throated Divers on the sea but not a lot else.
Seven Purple Sandpipiers roosted the high tide in Niffy bay with 100 Turnstones (right), while on Middle where the tide covered so much that the island seemed much smaller, there were 800 Herring Gulls, 4,000 Oystercatchers and many Curlews. About 140 Brents arrived at high water and sat on the sea.

Distractions from the birds were the lifeboat off Hoylake (above) and the airbus wings on the way to Mostyn dock (right).
(JE) photos JE

Thursday 28 January 2010

28th January 2010

An excellent sea watch today producing no less than 36 Red-throated Divers (all flying south west towards Wales), 3 Great Crested Grebes, a Razorbill, and two star birds - a Great Northern Diver and a Velvet Scoter.
Brents were estimated at 150 and 9 Purple Sandpipers were counted, while 4 Blackbirds and 3 Song Thrushes were the main land birds.

Sunday 24 January 2010

24th January 2010

If yesterday was not too good then today was even worse for one soggy member who braved the continuous rain this morning.

The only real plus was the confirmation that the Brent are still in the region of 150 birds at the moment.

(JE) photo JE

Saturday 23 January 2010

23rd January 2010

The fog rolled in at 08.00am, and with 100yards visibility locating anything was difficult. Luckily it cleared later but there was still not a lot about. The Brent numbered only 90 around the island but the double white ringed bird was seen (left, centre of picture).

A party of 5 Wigeon (left) and then a single Teal (right) drifted off the north end, and 14 Common Scoter were settled further out towards the wind farm.
One or two Skylarks passed overhead and on the ground just the usual Dunnocks, Song Thrushes and Blackbirds today with no Redwings seen. A female Peregrine hunted across the east hoyle bank.
(CJ) photos CJ

Friday 22 January 2010

22nd January 2010

A record number of 157 Brent Geese was realised today when a complete count was possible, the blue and red colour ringed bird, which was originally ringed in Canada, was amongst them.
Four duck species were present: two groups of 4 Teal, 2 and 8 Wigeon, also a single male Pintail and female or immature Goldeneye. Two Lapwings were typical winter wanderers.
(DB,CJW et al)

Thursday 21 January 2010

21st January 2010

Best bird of a quiet day was a single Black-tailed Godwit on the east hoyle.

Sunday 17 January 2010

17th January 2010

The wind was back in the west after the prolonged cold spell although as a reminder of the hard winter 2 Whooper Swans were seen first thing this morning during the walk to the island. An Oystercatcher fed in the new garden next to the obs (left), something that was only possible with the thaw taking place.

Most of the small waders including 100 Turnstones and 11 Purple Sandpipers (above right) roosted the tide on the McAfee steps in Niffy bay to the east of the island, while the 40 Ringed Plovers preferred Lion Rock.
The 4,500 Oystercatchers on Middle made an impressive background to the line of Brent Geese relocating after the tide (above).

Thrushes again were the most obvious passerines and a Redwing was retrapped that was ringed on 9th January (left), a most unexpected recovery for a species that is not known for prolonged stays on the island.

(JE) photos JE

Saturday 16 January 2010

16th January 2010

The rain had moved on by the time observers arrived this morning. They were greeted with a cold brisk southerly breeze but that quickly dried out the island.

The Brents were much in evidence today but several medium sized flocks well dispersed made counting difficult (see right), however, a single first winter dark-bellied was found with at least 120 pale-bellied birds. Wildfowl was very much the order of the day with Wigeon (12), Pintail (12), Red-breasted Merganser (9), Common Scoter (100) and a superb count of 39 Scaup - mostly seen on the sea-watch.

Two sea-watches (before and after the tide) produced some excellent counts but nothing out of the 'ordinary'. 62 Red-throated Divers and c40 Great Crested Grebes were good counts at any time of the year and the Scaup was also noteworthy.

Large numbers of birds congregated on the North End of Middle Eye (see below) during high tide and there were several good counts of waders including 5,000 Oystercatchers, 8,000 Knot and 70 Ringed Plover (not all on Middle!)

The Purple Sandpipers were again sheltering out of the wind right outside the sea-watching hide (see below left and right). Please try not to disturb them over high tides by keeping away from the very north west corner, just over high tide.

Passerines were well represented with a single but very vocal Rock Pipit at the North End and thrushes were still very much in evidence, as was their prey with many hundreds of empty snail shells discovered near to rocks which had obviously been used for smashing! At least 10 Song Thrushes remain, as do 6 Blackbirds and 7 Redwings.

However, the highlight of the day was a passage of Skylarks coming from the West (North Wales) and passing eastwards over the island or low over the sea (see left) in small groups throughout the morning totalling 131.

A single Snipe flew around the island and may be one of the birds that has been present on and around the Old and New Ponds for some time now.

PSW, SRW (Photos by PSW)

Friday 15 January 2010

15th January 2010

Despite atrocious weather conditions (strong south-easterly wind and driving rain) another good day was had on the island bird-wise for one stalwart...

Sea-watching was hard work with only 2 Great Crested Grebes and 2 Red-breasted Mergansers, but the rewards came later in the day after the tide with a Slavonian Grebe off the North End and another ring-tail Hen Harrier that came 'in off' the sea from the North West.

Waders were the main focus of the day with 10,000 Knot, 3,000 Dunlin and 250 Grey Plover on (or over) the East Hoyle bank and a solitary Peregrine hunted the islands. 12 Purple Sandpipers spent the high tide at the North End.

On the island thrush numbers had decreased only slightly, although they were keeping low because of the weather, with 6 Redwing, 7 Song Thrush and 5 Blackbird counted. 3 Snipe were around the islands including one by the New Pond and 2 Rock Pipits were mainly at the North End.


Wednesday 13 January 2010

13th January 2010

Hilbre looked picturesque when more snow arrived this morning and the frozen conditions continue to produce lots of thrushes on the island, with 4 Redwings, 4 Fieldfares, 5 Blackbirds and 8 Song Thrushes today. This morning we were lucky enough to ring a Fieldfare (left & below) caught in the Newton trap, this is the first Fieldfare to be ringed at Hilbre for 6 years.

The Purple Sandpipers (left) gathered together near the life boat house enabling us to establish that there are at least 14 still present.
The Common Snipe seems to have made Hilbre its temporary cold weather abode, the Kestrel and 2 Peregrines are still present while on the sea were 7 Common Scoter and 2 male Goldeneye.
Ringed today:- 1 Song Thrush, 1 Fieldfare.
(DB,CJW) [ 21 ] photos CJW

Tuesday 12 January 2010

12th January 2010

The Brent geese reached a peak numbers when 145 were counted today and the two colour ringed birds are still amongst them. Duck recorded today were just a single male Wigeon and Red-breasted Merganser and 250 Shelduck.
Thrushes continue in good numbers with the addition of 4 Redwings on yesterdays species, and a Snipe was again present. A kestrel and 2 Peregrines were the only raptors of the day.
Counts of shorebirds included :- 3,500 Oystercatchers, 300 Grey Plover, 100 Turnstones and 10 Purple Sandpipers.

Monday 11 January 2010

11th January 2010

Large numbers of Pink-footed Geese continue to be seen around the estuary and today 514 were counted. A single male Tufted Duck and a female Goldeneye were seen also a Common Snipe. Thrushes still are abundant with 2 Fieldfares, 6 Redwings, 10 Song Thrushes and 5 Blackbirds finding the islands to their liking in this harsh weather.

Sunday 10 January 2010

10th January 2010

Another nice day on the island, although overcast conditions and no photographer on the island so we have put some more shots of the island over the last two days above and below.

The highlight of the day was 10 more White-fronted Geese that passed right over the Bird Observatory garden and a further 1,200 Pink-footed Geese that were all heading towards the sanctuary of the Lancashire mosslands (and probably Martin Mere WWT Reserve).

However, they weren't the only birds around with winter thrushes still in evidence - 8 Song Thrush, 8 Redwing and 5 Blackbirds seen and other passerines included 2 Rock Pipits. Brent Geese increased back to 140 and wildfowl was represented further by 4 Wigeon, 2 Teal and the female Goldeneye off the North End. Up to thirty of these beautiful little sea-duck are residing at West Kirby Marine Lake at the moment (see below hilbre in the background) along with up to 32 Red-breasted Mergansers, 5 Shags, 12 Cormorant, 2 Scaup (drake and duck), 13 Tufted Duck and even 2 drake Pochard!

Back on the island over 150 Shelduck were recorded but only 7 Purple Sandpipers.

DB (Photos CJW and SRW)

Saturday 9 January 2010

9th January 2010

Cold and sunny again and good birding continues. A Common Snipe was found on Middle and 2 more on the main island (right), and then a Woodcock was flushed from the lower paddock which stayed around the island for the whole morning, later being disturbed near the south end and again from next to the main path (below right and two below left and right). Thrushes seemed to be everywhere, day totals were logged at 33 Redwings (below left), 32 Fieldfare, 8 Song Thrushes and 6 Blackbirds, although there may well have been many more.

Duck were also much in evidence with 10 Scaup, 3 Teal, 2 Wigeon, 2 Mallard and a female Goldeneye.

The Velvet Scoter from yesterday could still be seen but telescopes were needed today to identify it from a greater distance. (Another photo from yesterday below right).
Lapwings went through in parties of 21 and 23 as well as ones and twos, although Skylarks were fewer with only 4 during the morning, and just a single Starling was noted.

Early in the afternoon a flock of 54 Pink-footed Geese (below) passed north east over the obs closely followed by a larger flock of 170 birds heading out of the estuary in the same direction.

Ringed today :- 3 Redwings, 2 Blackbirds, 1 Song Thrush. A Blackbird (right) was retrapped that had gained 10 grams in weight in just 4 days. this represents about 10% of its body weight and seems to suggest that Hilbre is very desirable feeding habitat for thrushes in this very cold weather.

(JE,CJ,CJW +1,RTW,DGW,NDW,SRW,PSW,+CD) [ 19 ] photos CJ and SRW (Woodcock and Velvet Scoter)

Friday 8 January 2010

8th January 2010

Another cracking day on the island today. Observers were greeted with a frozen shoreline and island and this provided some wonderful views of the estuary and the islands.

Yet more thrushes were on the move with at least 34 Fieldfare, 16 Redwing, 15 Song Thrush, single Mistle Thrush and 4 Blackbirds recorded on or over Hilbre. Of which 4 new Song Thrushes and a Redwing (see below) were caught and a Blackbird was retrapped.

Also around the island were single Snipe again near the main (frozen) pond but cold weather movement overhead continued with 113 Lapwing moving in small flocks throughout the day and 8 Skylark.

(Redwing below left and Song Thrush below right).

Two fighting Peregrines 'screaming' above the trapping area (left) provided a brief distraction for observers but the main events of the day were wildfowl.

The Eider was still present around the North End and 3 Goosanders passed right over the Obs garden. Then a single female/imm Velvet Scoter (below) was found a hundred yards or so off the North End; it only stayed briefly but was seen well by everyone before it flew off north.

Not to be outdone geese and swans were well represented by 2 Mute Swans, the Brents and a large flock of c55 Canadas (left) that flew down the east side of the island. However, during the afternoon two flocks of White-fronted Geese totalling 58 birds were observed flying passed the islands - quite a rare bird at Hilbre.

DB, CJW, SRW [13] Photos SRW

7th January 2010

Another good day with the two Ravens still around, 5 Mute Swans moving through and thrushes still in good numbers around the main island with 12 Song Thrushes, 2 Redwing and 8 Blackbirds.

Unsurprisingly cold weather movement continued with 114 Lawping and 20 Skylarks on the move.

Unusually high wader counts included 250 Grey Plover, 5,000 Dunlin and 10,000 Knot.

Raptors were much in evidence with Merlin, Kestrel, 2 Peregrines and (possibly the same reappearing) male Sparrowhawk.


Wednesday 6 January 2010

6th January 2010

This prolonged cold spell has so far produced better quality records at Hilbre than has been normal in recent 'mild' winters. Still present today were the 2 Ravens and the Snipe by the island pond, also by the pond briefly were 2 Fieldfares that soon moved towards the Newton trap and then off to the north. Other thrushes were in good numbers with 12 Song Thrushes, 6 Blackbirds and 4 Redwings passing through. Twenty five Skylarks went low across the snow peppered island followed later by another 7.
Two Scaup and a Tufted Duck were off the west side (right), Scaup are a scarce sight in recent years and Tufted always have been, likewise 5 Common Scoter favoured this side of the island.
The Brent were more compact than yesterday enabling a count of 140, while 520 Grey Plover were in contrast to the single Golden Plover seen today.

Footprints of a Grey Heron in the snow was an unusual sight on top of the island (left).
Ringed today:- 2 Song Thrushes, 1 Redwing (right).
(DB,CJW) [ 8 ] photos CJW

Tuesday 5 January 2010

5th January 2010

A cold day with the ground frozen and the island surrounded by 'weather' but the snow kept off until after 11.00am. Two Ravens (left) flew around the island harassed by 4 Carrion Crows, probably the islands own crows were involved.
At about 10.00am one of the crows was seen to attack a Hen Harrier (below) that appeared low over the south end. The feuding pair gained height and eventually headed away to the east until out of sight, but not before flushing the Brent Geese and waders on the tide edge. (bottom)

Common Snipe was down north of the main pond.
Two hundred and fifty Grey Plover were observed by the flooding tide, also a Peregrine flew from Little eye to the main island and 4 Common Scoter were in the gutter.
There are still a good number of Blackbirds and Song Thrushes present, 3 and 1 were ringed today respectively.
(DB,CJW) [ 5 ] photos CJW