Friday 30 April 2010

30th April 2010

With the wind in the west the island was as quiet as expected although 2 Willow Warblers were present, one of which was a ringed bird from yesterday. One Wheatear was the sum total for the morning and overhead passage consisted of a couple of Lesser Redpolls, one alighting in the obs garden (above right), 17 Goldfinches, a few dozen swallows and a single Sand Martin.
Although Swallows were at a much lower number than recently a splendid male was caught in a mist net (above), which failed to catch any this year during the days of much larger movements. Following the first yesterday the second Swift of the year flew low across the island at about 06.40hrs during a period of quite heavy rain showers.

Moth trapping last night was moderately successful and a scarce species for Hilbre in the form of a Powdered Quaker (left) was found.
Ringed:- 1 Swallow, 1 Willow Warbler, 1 Lesser Redpoll (above), 1 Linnet, 1 Goldfinch.
(ME,CJ,DCT,PT,CJW,NDW,SRW) [234] photos CJ

Thursday 29 April 2010

29th April 2010

Afternoon update:

With a light westerly breeze observers were not expecting much in the way of grounded migrants this morning however a single Willow Warbler was found in the SK early on. Up to eight Wheatears had arrived by midday with one bird hanging around the light (see below).

A Merlin raced through again and flew off north west over the North End (see left). As the tide pushed in a few Sandwich Terns could be heard calling as could Whimbrel, although in smaller numbers than the last few days (12 so far). A couple more phylloscs appeared mid morning with single Willow Warbler in the Old Obs and a Chiffchaff in the new Obs although the latter was caught in the SK paddock net (see below).

Two Canada Geese passed over the south end and a few Swallows (20) and House Martins (2) pushed through despite the 'wrong' wind direction.

Ringing: Two Willow Warblers, single Chiffchaff and Linnet.

The highlight of the day arrived during lunch when the first Swift of the year flew in from the west in front of advancing rain and was spotted from the dining table!

[CJ, KM, DCT, PT, CJW, NDW, SRW] [229] [Photos CJ (Merlin) and SRW (Wheatear and Chiffchaff)]

Wednesday 28 April 2010

28th April 2010

Willow Warblers drifted through in small numbers during the first half of the morning but no larger species were seen until a Blackcap arrived later and then a Grasshopper Warbler towards noon. There were 15 Greenland Wheatears on Middle island all at the same time early morning, these promising numbers however were not repeated on the main island which probably took all morning to reach the same number (below, CJ).

No finches this morning apart from a few Goldfinches and the resident Linnets and again very little visible migration except for a very vocal Tree Pipit, a Reed Bunting, 2 Yellow Wagtails and 8 White Wagtails.

A modest Swallow passage with only a single House Martin and a few Sand Martins to show for the effort of looking skywards, and the hoped for first Swift did not materialise.
The Shelduck gathered as usual on the rangers garden wall (top right, BSB).

Movements of other birds that are hard to explain included 2 Cananda Geese flying west, a single Pink-footed Goose, (right, CJ) travelling north west, and a House Sparrow (left, CJ) that spent some time around the paddocks before dissappearing.

Still present are quite a good number of Dunlin (above left, CJ) and Ringed Plover (above right with Dunlin, BSB) and a flock of Whimbrel (left, BSB) of 26 birds gathering together at high tide with probably more to be found at various points on the rocks.
An Ostercatcher has been seen with a curved bill over the last few days (below, BSB) and was still present today, in fact it was one of very few still remaining.

Very little on the sea, a single Gannet, some Sandwich terns but no Little Gulls today.
Ringed :- 13 Willow Warblers, 1 Greenland Wheatear, 1 Grasshopper Warbler, 1 Blackcap, 1 Linnet, 1 Goldfinch.

Tuesday 27 April 2010

27th April 2010

It was a pleasant surprise after the cold westerlies of yesterday to find a reasonably mild south east breeze to start the day. As was expected with these conditions the birding was much more varied and comfortable to the observers. The clear overnight sky did not drop in any migrants but a steady trickle arrived during the morning.
Twelve Willow Warblers and 2 Chiffchaffs represented the small warblers, while the only larger species were 2 Whitethroats (above) and 2 Grasshopper Warblers. Greenland Wheatears were slow to arrive but totalled 8 by noon, while visible passage was not heavy with only a single Redpoll, 2 Yellow Wagtails, a Tree Pipit, 6 White Wagtails and the hirundine passage (which included 2 Sand Martins).

Most spring days include unexpected scarce visitors to Hilbre and today was no exception with a Merlin (above left), a Collared Dove (above right), a Magpie (right) and a Reed Bunting all failing to find the island to their liking.

On the sea star bird was a pale phase Arctic Skua (the first of the year), 90 Little Gulls still attracted attention with 3 Red-throated Divers, 30 Sandwich terns and up to 90 distant 'commic terns' and just the single Gannet and Kittiwake.

A young Short-tailed field vole posed for a photo that must be the one of the best ever taken (left, SRW).

Ringed:- 7 Willow Warblers, 2 Chiffchaffs, 2 Whitethroats (above left, SRW), 2 Pied Wagtails (a first year male and female that have been around the island for some weeks now), 1 Grasshopper Warbler (a darker less olive bird with paler buff underparts than others seen this spring; above SRW), 1 Linnet, 1 Meadow Pipit.

(DB,ME+HW,CJ,DCT,PT,SRW,AW) [207] photos CJ & SRW

Monday 26 April 2010

26th April 2010

A fresh westerly breeze and good visibilty greeted observers early this morning and no-one was surprised to find no grounded migrants on the first few rounds of the island.

However, the sea provided some interest with 20+ Arctic Terns recorded along with 25 Sandwich Terns, 75 Gannets and half a dozen Kittiwakes including the lingering bird (see below) at the North End.

Observers had to work hard for good birds today but over 30 Whimbrel were again recorded (see right) including a flock of 20 roosting on Middle Island, when they were temporarily joined by a Little Egret during the high tide. There were still plenty of Ringed Plover and Dunlin in fine breeding plumage around the islands today.

A Common Buzzard was found being mobbed by gulls and then Crows heading south down the coast over West Kirby; the usual debate began as to whether it could be counted for the recording area...

As the sun came out around lunch time a Wheatear put in an appearance but was kept from their usual West Side haunts by displaying pairs of Shelduck (see left - female left, male right).

Just as thoughts turned towards whether or not the wind would shift to the south - a walk around the South End revealed a skulking Grasshopper Warbler. It was promptly trapped and became the only bird ringed today. Interestingly, it had a significant amount of fat - so presumably had arrived a day or two ago (with others) and had fed up successfully on Hilbre or had only just arrived from somewhere relatively close by... bird from today (below left) and one from Saturday (below right).

[DCT, PT, SRW & CJ briefly] Photos SRW [191]

Sunday 25 April 2010

25th April 2010

Rain overnight cleared just after dawn to reveal a few Willow Warblers on the ground, but no larger warblers as there had been yesterday. The Willow Warbler trickle continued during the morning as the wind veered from south east to south west and then west.
Only a few Greenland Wheatears appeared and they moved on very rapidly as most have done the last few days. Later in the morning a Whitethroat and a Chiffchaff made it to the island as the day warmed up.

Some new passing Meadow Pipits added to the resident numbers, while there was just 2 House Martins and 4 Sand Martins amongst the hundred plus Swallows.

Two Tree Pipits were heard high up but the only Yellow Wagtail of the day chose to alight for a short time in the top paddock (above).

Sea watching was again at its best as the tide rose, this time 50 Gannets, 20 Common Terns, 15 Sandwich terns and 4 Little Gulls showed off the west side. A single Kittiwake alighted on the rocks at the north end at high tide (left) and made short flights around the end of the island (above).

Unexpected sightings included a Golden Plover calling high up off to the west side, and 4 immature male Eiders (right) drifting along on the ebb tide also off to the west. A Little Egret in the east gutter was the first for some days.

There are still at least 300 Dunlin on the shore ( above left), and Whimbrel are still at the 40 + mark and often flying in flocks (right).

A few Green-veined White butterflies took in the sun in the afternoon (left).
Ringed:- 9 Willow Warblers,1 Chiffchaff, 1 Greenland Wheatear, 1 Whitethroat.

Photo with Willow Warbler (left) and Chiffchaff (right) makes for nice comparison showing the longer primary projection of Willow Warbler and the often quite different facial expression in part due to the Willow Warblers more obvious supercilium and loral stripe, and the prominent eye-ring of many Chiffchaffs.
(JE,CJ,BT,DCT,PT,NDW,SRW,TGW) [ 190 ] photos CJ

Saturday 24 April 2010

24th April 2010

The southerly winds brought 6 species of warbler to the island soon after dawn, both Whitethroat and Lesser Whitethroat were the first this year (above right), there were also 2 Blackcaps, 2 Grasshopper Warblers (above left), 20 Willow Warblers and a single Chiffchaff. Only the Blackcaps and a couple of Willow Warblers arrived after 07.30hrs so the main ringing activity was confined to the early hours. The 6 Greenland Wheatears again passed through early, only one being seen after 06.15hrs !

Despite the southerly wind a number of seabirds gathered off the west side in the morning including some Little Gulls, Gannets (20) (left), Sandwich Terns(16) (above), the first Arctic (4) and Common Terns of the year, and an early Manx Shearwater flew up the Dee.
Not as many hirundines went through as yesterday, nevertheless up to noon about 80 Swallows, a small number of Sand Martins and 4 House Martins were logged. Two Tree Pipits were heard over with 4 Yellow and 4 White Wagtails, and the now usual Goldfinches and Lesser Redpolls visiting in small numbers.
A Sparrowhawk (right) came in from Wales, crossed the island and continued to the north Wirral shore at Hoylake.
Ringed:- 13 Willow Warblers, 1 Chiffchaff, 2 Grasshopper Warblers, 2 Blackcaps, 1 Whitethroat, 1 Lesser Whitethroat, 1 Linnet, 1 Goldfinch.
(CJ,DCT,PT,NDW,CJW,SRW,PSW) [178] photos CJ

Friday 23 April 2010

23rd April 2010

Spring is certainly in full swing this morning with many good sightings to report. Best record of the day was a Little Ringed Plover which flew north passed the east side of the obs late morning (above), a genuine rarity for Hilbre and possibly the first to be photographed here.

A Common Sandpiper (left) was found at the north end, and although not as rare as the Little Ringed Plover, it was the first this year.

A Fulmar flew around the island again as if prospecting for a likely nest site (right).
Little Gulls are still on the sea and 45 were counted today.
A large passage of Greenland Wheatears (below) took place just after dawn, 40 + travelling through rapidly and about 15 others followed later but still not staying for long. Another feature of the day was the large count of 51 Whimbrel which are now to be seen all around the island.

Grounded migrants included 2 Willow Warblers, a Chiffchaff, a first year male Common Redstart and passing through were a few Goldfinches and Lesser Redpolls while overhead were 3 Yellow and 8 White Wagtails, and a Tree Pipit, also 150 Swallows, 52 Sand Martins, and 5 House Martins.

Ringed today:- 2 Willow Warblers, 1 Chiffchaff, 1 Greenland Wheatear, 1 Goldfinch, 1 Meadow Pipit, 1 Common Redstart (right).
(DB,JE,CJ,KMc,SRW, later CDT,PT,NDW) [156] photos CJ

Thursday 22 April 2010

22nd April 2010

Very light winds with a slight southerly element did not produce much but hopes are high for the next few days.
Twelve Greenland Wheatears were seen to pass through after first light but all had departed as early as 07.00hrs. A Yellow Wagtail flew over Middle island early and was one of the few visible migrants during the morning. Goldfinches, a Lesser Redpoll and 3 White Wagtails made an appearance with just a single Willow Warbler on the ground.

As the morning warmed up Swallows and Sand Martins made an appearance in small numbers. Whimbrel are now heard regularly on the rocks around the islands (right), and today a Grey seal decided to join them just off the slipway at the north end (above).
Ringed:- 2 Goldfinches, 1 Willow Warbler, 1 Linnet.
(DB,CJ,KMc,et al) [149] photos CJ

20th April 2010

A cold north westerly killed any passerine migration, although a Grasshopper warbler was found near the 'air-raid shelter' which more than likely arrived during the good conditions of yesterday. Thirty five Sanderling were seen to flew off to the north east, probably heading off towards the breeding areas further north. Fourteen Grey plover were also a good count for this late in the spring.

Monday 19 April 2010

19th April 2010

At last a proper fall of migrants ! The south easterly breeze and patches of slight drizzle promised much and for once it did not dissappoint.
There were at least 40 Willow Warblers through the islands most of which had gone by 10.00hrs, and the 8 Wheatears were even less tardy, moving off almost as soon as they arrived.
A small passage of Meadow Pipits (70), also a Tree Pipit and 11 White Wagtails went over but finch migration did not impress, just a few Goldfinches and 7 Lesser Redpolls. Hirundines however passed south in some numbers, 331 Swallows, 40 Sand Martins and a House Martin were logged near the island but there were probably many times more as they could be seen distantly moving across the beach streaming into Wirral and beyond.

Star birds accompanying the Willow Warblers were a female Blackcap, 2 Grasshopper Warblers, and the first Common Redstart of the year (above and right), a superb male.
With the observers fully occupied on the island, there was not much time to examine the sea or shore, although 6 Gannets, 9 Whimbrel, and 2 male Eiders flying up the east side were recorded. Just before the tide 6 Little Egrets were noted near Little Eye, which then flew to Middle island, and were subsequently joined by another 2 from the direction of the marine lake.

Ringed:- 24 Willow Warblers, 1 Chiffchaff, 1 Common Redstart, 1 Blackcap (above left), 1 Grasshopper Warbler (above right), 1 Goldfinch.
(DB,CJ,CJW et al] [145] photos CJ