Thursday 30 September 2010

30th September 2010

During the warm morning with a light southerly a slow movement of Linnets (left, with Goldfinch) passed through in several flocks and totalling 146 birds together with 7 Goldfinches, a Greenfinch and a Chaffinch. Nine Skylarks floated over, mostly as single birds also a group of 4 late Swallows came through followed by another single. A Greenland Wheatear that arrived mid-morning, a Goldcrest and 2 Chiffchaffs completed the visible migration. Not many interesting birds on the shore although 7 Pintail flew south west, a Teal with with the Oystercatchers on the incoming tide, and at least 100 Bar-tailed Godwits fed on the edge of the east Hoyle.
A Common Seal (unusual at Hilbre where the seals are Atlantic Greys) hauled out on the rocks to the north east of the slipway (right).
Ringed :- 1 Linnet, 1 Goldfinch, 1 Wren, 1 Chiffchaff, 1 Goldcrest.
(DB,CJ,KMc) [568] photos CJ

Wednesday 29 September 2010

29th September 2010

From a light south easterly at 08.00hrs the wind got up to a force 4 or 5 at midday before the rain ended. There were no 'special ' birds but a total of 38 species was quite good for late September.
The juvenile Brent was present, 5 Teal and 5 Pintail with a good count of 156 Shelduck east of the islands completed the wildfowl. Three Red-Throated Divers, 2 Great Crested Grebes, 4 Guillemots and a Razorbill were on the sea, also 8 Sandwich Terns which are now becoming scarce as most have departed south. The only significant land birds were 2 Chiffchaffs and a Greenland Wheatear.
A Bottle-nosed Dolphin swan west past the north end of the island.

Tuesday 28 September 2010

28th September 2010

A pleasantly warm south easterly this morning with lots of mist in the estuary brought at least 10 Chiffchaffs (left) to the island, with an increase in Meadow Pipits (52) and Linnets (75) to join the resident birds. The only other interesting passerine was a Reed Bunting touring the paddocks all morning. A Common Snipe was flushed between the islands, while a lone Swallow travelling south was the sole hirundine.
On the sea was a single Red-throated Diver, a Great Crested Grebe but a Guillemot (right) preferred resting on the rocks at the north end.
Towards noon a Common Sandpiper was about the rocks and 2 Purple Sandpipers were found at the north end - probably the first of the wintering flock to arrive.

Ringed :- 7 Chiffchaffs, 1 Wren
(AAB,DB,GB,CJ,KMc, et al) [ 563] photos CJ et al

Monday 27 September 2010

27th September 2010

An impressive count of 34 Red-throated Divers, 24 Great Crested Grebes were on the sea with a single Arctic Skua on todays tide. The best birds around the island were a Common Snipe, a Reed Bunting and a Chiffchaff,with an unusually high number of 11 Carrion Crows, while on the shore 66 Bar-tailed Godwits, 9 Grey Plover and 2 Little Egrets were pick of the records.
An adult Yellow-legged Gull was a good find north of Little Eye.

Sunday 26 September 2010

26th September 2010

A beautiful sunny morning with a cool northerly wind saw the Peregrine on its usual pearch south of Middle early in the day (left). A Greenshank called off the West Kirby shore near the Marine Lake, and a couple of Grey Plovers later flew by Little Eye but interesting waders were otherwise absent during the low tide period. Grounded migrants were nil, whilst overhead were 3 Grey Wagtails together, also a single Goldfinch and a Skylark.

A large female Grey Seal spent the morning lazing on the whaleback (right) and a male briefly joined it and then later swan nearby. An immature or juvenile Eider was seen later in the day.
Ringed : - 1 Robin (above)
(GB,JE,CJ,BT) [555] photos CJ & JE (Robin)

Saturday 25 September 2010

25th September 2010

Little noted in a north easterly today, best being a Goldcrest, a Whimbrel and a single Swallow.
Ringed:- 1 Robin
(AEH+1) [554]

Friday 24 September 2010

24th September 2010

Seabirds from today were 2 Bonxies, 3 Arctic Skuas, 1 Red-throated Diver, 10 Great Crested Grebes and 3 Razorbills. A single Rock Pipit was present.
A member (AEH) going to the island in the dark at 20.30hrs saw and heard a Tawny Owl at Middle Eye. Tawny owl is not surprisingly is a rare Hilbre bird indeed with only 2 or 3 previous records over the years.

Thursday 23 September 2010

23rd September 2010

A day of rain early and squalls later on a light south westerly brought 4 Chiffchaffs to the island and a Willow Warbler and a passage of 36 Swallows, the most for some time. There are still 180 Sandwich Terns, surely they will all soon leave for warmer waters, meanwhile the Curlews are increasing for the winter and were counted at 634. On the shore were 9 Wigeon, a Little Egret and the single juvenile Brent.

Wednesday 22 September 2010

22nd September 2010

Similar wind today as yesterday but more varied birds around the island. Two Common Buzzards were seen over the West Kirby foreshore near the golf course. Wildfowl included 5 Teal, groups of 9 and 11 Wigeon, the juvenile Brent and a single female type Eider. On the ground were a single Goldcrest, Willow Warbler, Chiffchaff and Song Thrush, while eight Robins will have included some new birds. An early Rock Pipit was present.

Tuesday 21 September 2010

21st September 2010

Very light winds from the south brought a few interesting birds to the island:- two Sparrowhawks alighted on the 'heli' paddock fence and nearby were a Blackbird, a Song Thrush and a Chiffchaff. Two Grey Wagtails went across and 12 Pintail flew south. The juvenile Brent was seen again.

Sunday 19 September 2010

19th September 2010

The wind had picked up again from the south west but once again the island was well covered today by members. Five birds were caught of five different species - a retrap Dunnock and Wren, with new Meadow Pipit, Robin (see left) and another Goldcrest (see below).

A short sea-watch produced four summer plumaged Red-throated Divers, a single Gannet and a few auks and Great Crested Grebes, but nothing like the last week! However, unusual sightings continued with a Greenshank flying around the North End and a Little Egret flying over the gutter.
A flock of eight Snipe was an unusual count for Hilbre and presumably the juvenile Pale-bellied Brent Goose, first seen on Thursday, re-appeared south of Middle Eye. The first Rock Pipit of the autumn was heard at the North End and later confirmed when it was found feeding amongst the sea-weed there in the afternoon.
A tour of the tideline from the East Hoyle around the gutter to Hilbre produced 50 dead birds following the recent gales. Mainly auks (30 Guillemots and 17 Razorbills) a couple of gulls and most interestingly a Coot (a rare bird in the Hilbre recording area - dead or alive).

As the sun set on another superb week of recording on the island (particularly the North End), with easterly winds forecast soon what will the focus of next week be ... ?

[DB, JE, NDW, PSW, TGW, SRW] [553] Photos by JE (birds) and sunset by SRW

Saturday 18 September 2010

18th September 2010

The wind had finally dropped by Saturday morning although it remained in the north-west, but undettered observers ventured to the island for the early morning tide. 7 Leach's Petrels were noted in singles drifting past from early morning onwards and the Great Skua remained on the East Hoyle sand bank from yesterday - devouring dead auks no doubt. A couple of summer plumaged Red-throated Divers were seen on the sea as was an adult Kittiwake.

The drop in the wind had produced a trickle of Goldcrests including two birds caught (female far left and male) and a few Robins were present with one new bird trapped.

A single Pintail was on the ebbing tide and a Black-tailed Godwit flew over as observers left the island mid morning. A juvenile Common Tern has been seen at the South End of the main island over the last few days occassionally being fed by an adult (see right).

Two Goosanders flew from the East Hoyle towards Middle. [AEH, SRW] [550] Goldcrests (SRW) & Common Tern (AEH)

Friday 17 September 2010

17th September 2010

Despite the north-west wind dropping to force five overnight, an almost continuous sea-watch manned by members and visitors from 7am until 745pm (excluding a couple of half hour breaks) produced yet another incredible day on the island. 524 Leach's Petrels (see right) were counted throughout the day with the main passage early morning (over 200 before 10.30am) and over the afternoon tide (over 200 from 3pm onwards). A remarkable total of four Sabine's Gulls were recorded today including a single juvenile late morning.

However, those members who work arrived late afternoon/early evening and had another intrepid member of the Obs to thank, he had walked out to the tide edge on Hoylake beach and found two different juvenile Sabine's Gulls, informing the sea-watching hide, allowing those on the island to pick up two and then incredibly a third bird (with two birds seen together).

Three Bonxies and 25 Arctic Skuas (see left) were recorded including a Bonxie that spent much of the day devouring dead birds on the East Hoyle sand bank. Other highlights today included 32 Pink-footed Geese flying towards the Lancashire mosslands over the sea following the first arrivals seen yesterday.

The sea-watching, and in particular counting of Leach's Petrels, continued right up until the sun set (see below).
[AAB, DB, AMC, CJW, PSW et al] Photos PSW

Thursday 16 September 2010

16th September 2010

Friends of the Obs visiting the island today had another superb sea-watch - highlights included 172 Leach's Petrels - the third day on the run with three figure counts! Another Long-tailed Skua (this time a juvenile) and another Sabine's Gull (adult). The first Pale-bellied Brent Goose of the autumn arrived on the island during the sea-watch.

[SH & RS]

A flock of 35 Pink-footed Geese flew over Middle Island late afternoon and headed off over Wirral towards Lancashire - the first arrivals of the 'winter'. [DB]

Wednesday 15 September 2010

15th September 2010

Another westerly gale today and the sea hide was fully manned for 13hours from dawn to dusk to take full advantage of the exciting sea birds to be seen. An observatory shift arriving after midday saw a Leach's Petrel and Kittiwake not 200 yards from the West Kirby shore (below), this was a very good omen for things to come.

Highlights of the day were a juvenile Sabines Gull seen at 11.25hrs and an adult Long-tailed Skua passing at 13.20hrs. All day long there was a fantastic passage of no less than 335 Leach's Petrels (most numerous on the afternoon ebb tide when loose parties of up to eight were flying together) struggling westward into the headwind and coming very close to the slipway at times. Other features of the day were many Manx Shearwaters flying close to the island also the usually large number of Kittiwakes, especially in the afternoon and the Great Skuas (3 pictures below) which have been very scarce in recent years.

Lots of pictures today, so they can tell the story alongside a list of birds on todays log.

1 Red-throated Diver
2 Great Crested Grebes
11 Gannets
8 Fulmars (above right)
20 Common Scoters
600 Sandwich Terns
35 Common Terns
41 Little Terns
2 Black Terns
335 Leach's Petrels
148 Manx Sheawaters (right, below)
119 Kittiwakes (above)
1 Sabines Gull
60 Razorbills (right, above)
67 Guillemots
45 Arctic Skuas
15 Great Skuas
1 Long-tailed Skua
1 Tufted Duck
1 Teal
1 Golden Plover
many gulls
several species of small waders
(DB,AMC,JE,AEH,CJ,KMc,AO,et al )+ JC+1,SH Photos CJ, et al

Tuesday 14 September 2010

14th September 2010

Overnight north-westerly gales following strong winds for a few days produced a superb sea-watch for one lone observer who undertook a mammoth six hour sea-watch at the North End. The highlights were 140 Leach's Petrels, a superb adult Long-tailed Skua and a Sooty Shearwater.


Sunday 12 September 2010

12th September 2010

A brisk north westerly promised little in the way of migrants this morning, and so it proved with just a single Chiffchaff and a female Blackbird seemingly the only non residents present, although up to 4 Robins could have been new. A short sea watch was the obvious alternative but this also was not fruitful and a single Arctic Skua and 2 Great Crested Grebes was the sum total of sea birds that were not gulls, distant terns or Cormorants.
This being so, attention wandered to the shore where 49 Bar-tailed Godwits, 145 Sandwich Terns and 4,000 Oystercatchers waited for the incoming tide (above) and while scanning the Oystercatchers a ringed individual was found with a black and white ring on its right leg (right).
It is uncertain whether there was a ring on the left leg as it spent most of the time resting on the single right leg. Enquiries as to its origin may be difficult but colour ringed Oystercatchers are not often seen at Hilbre despite the large number present in winter.


Saturday 11 September 2010

11th September 2010

Following last nights successful wader ringing most of the team stayed on for the tide today, and several nice birds were logged as a result. Fifty two Gannets, 5 Arctic Skuas and a Little Gull were the pick of the bunch on the sea, while migrants blown in by the south westerly included 5 Willow Warblers, 4 Wheatears, a Chiffchaff and a male Blackcap, also a good passage of 250 Swallows and 6 House Martins. An unexpected record this early in the autumn was a Song Thrush heard overhead at 2 o'clock in the morning.
Ringed:- 2 Willow Warblers, 1 Robin.

Night time wader ringing 10th/11th September 2010

A window in the weather on Friday night with rain ceasing around 22.00hrs and the wind dropping to less than force 2 meant that an attempt at catching some waders was made. In the event, the overcast skies and gentle breeze resulted in a successful catch of 29 birds - 15 Turnstones, 12 Dunlin and two Ringed Plovers. A great, if rather late, night's work. Photos (left Dunlin, right the team working hard, below left Turnstone and below right Ringed Plover) by SRW.


Friday 10 September 2010

10th September 2010

A four hour sea watch over the high tide produced many of the regular species but no skuas or shearwaters. The wind was unhelpful, in the south initially but veering south west later; the log recorded 175 Sandwich Terns, 4 Common Terns, 18 Great Crested Grebes, 25 Gannets, 9 Common Scoter and 8 Guillemot.
As yesterday a wader roost formed behind the sea hide because the island had few visitors to disturb them, today 500 Dunlin, 65 Ringed Plover, 18 Sanderling and a Knot saw out the tide.
Four Wheatears and 2 Willow Warblers stayed throughout and 17 Swallows flew south in small parties.
The young Grey Seal seen many times over the last few days was on the east side of the island now looking a little worse for wear, Obs members contacted Wirral Council Ranger Service who helped the RSPCA take the pup into care (see below).

(DB, CS, AW, CJW, DGW, PSW, SRW) Photos by Wirral Council Coastal Ranger - Lynne Greenstreet

Colour-ringed Mediterranean Gull

The colour-ringed juvenile Mediterranean Gull (red 'PJJ5') photographed on West Kirby Marine Lake by Obs members on 21st August 2010 (see blog for that date) was ringed at Przykona Reservoir, Radyczyny, Turek, Poland on 23rd May 2010, it was still there on 1st June 2010 and had not been sighted anywhere else until it turned up on WKML in August. Thanks to Monika Zielinska for the information. Couple of photos of the Med Gull below taken on 21st August 2010 by SRW.

Thursday 9 September 2010

9th September 2010

What a difference a day makes ! With the wind in the north west this morning all the phylloscopus from yesterday had departed overnight which is unusual as the day after a big fall there are normally some birds still present or even a few new ones. Only the 2 Goldcrests heard calling this morning could be considered as new birds in. A single Swallow passing by mid-morning turned out to be the only one during the whole day.

An early Rock Pipit was on Middle, and 3 Pintail flew west across the north end (right).
Seabirds were best well before the tide when 4 Gannets and 2 dark phase Arctic Skuas were off the north end, the highlight of the high tide period was an adult Kittiwake quite close in.

The extremely high tide at midday forced the small waders to rest on top of the north end of the island, enabling close study of the 900 or so Dunlin (above), 80 Ringed Plovers, and 9 Sanderling. A Curlew Sandpiper (right, centre of picture) was recognised amongst the flocking Dunlin by its longer legs and bill, paler plumage, and suggestion of a supercilium.

No Little Egrets today but 35 Bar-tailed Godwits are still present. Three Greenshank, 150 Sanderling and 150 Ringed Plover were on the flooding tide edge.
In the afternoon the ringing duck was broken when a fresh Willow Warbler (left) arrived in the paddocks just as the observers were leaving.

(DB,CJ+VB,NDW+VMcF+1) [516] photos CJ, VB.

Wednesday 8 September 2010

8th September 2010

A south easterly in September is never to be ignored, but the clear sky overhead did not seem hopeful, on arrival at West Kirby however it was obvious there was fog down the Welsh coast and to the south. The island was seen to be alive with phyloscopus warblers, an estimated 100 Willow Warblers and 40 Chiffchaffs were grounded during the morning giving the ringers their hardest work this year, indeed the best single day for a few years.
If this wasn't enough excitement at 08.30hrs a large finch flew over the sk paddock travelling north and calling, then turned and landed briefly on the Blackthorn hedge on the cliff edge south of the trap before flying off to the south. It was clearly identified as a Common Rosefinch, the second new bird for the island seen this week following the Stone-Curlew on Monday.

Apart from the Willow Warblers and Chiffchaffs, the only other warblers present were single Blackcap, Whitethroat and Garden Warbler (right), but other migrants included 4 Greenfinches, 3 Grey Wagtails, 2 Greenland Wheatears, a Reed Bunting and about 100 Swallows.
A Goldcrest (below right) also present was the first ringed this year and only the third seen following the lack of any of these birds in the spring.

Not much time for sea-watching although 4 Little Terns were seen off the west side, but shorebirds noted were 1200 Dunlin, 30 Knot, 100 Ringed Plover and 2 Greenshanks (left) feeding on the east side side early in the morning before being disturbed. Ten Carrion Crows today around the buildings was exceptional.

Ringed :-

39 Willow Warblers
20 Chiffchaffs
1 Goldcrest
1 Robin
1 Garden Warbler
1 Blackcap

(DB,CJ,KMc, et al) [515] photos CJ

Tuesday 7 September 2010

7th September 2010

A day with thundery showers in the afternoon did not see much action 0n the ground, just single Willow Warbler, Chiffchaff, and a Greenland Wheatear on middle, but an unusual very early autumn record of a Blackbird.
Shore counts of 6,000 Oystercatchers and 260 Sanderling were excellent as were an exceptional 10 Little Egrets present around the islands.

Monday 6 September 2010

6th September 2010

Off the island this morning due to work and other commitments (and the incoming tide) by 08.00hrs but plenty of time to check whether any warblers had landed overnight, but they hadn't. Swallows came battling through in small numbers against the very strong south easterly wind, and autumn duck again appeared - 6 Pintail, 4 Teal and a Wigeon (left), also Shelducks are now building up with 22 counted today.
Sandwich Terns, about 500, were feeding vigorously down both sides of the island into the wind and it was pleasing to see 3 Little terns hovering over the east side gutter (right) as these seemed to have lost the habit this year.
There was not much time to spend scanning the shore but 2 Little Egrets, 12 Bar-tailed Godwits on the east hoyle and 50 Sanderling at the west side tide edge were noted also 8 Common Scoters and 4 Great Crested Grebes on the sea.
Ringed :- nil
(CJ,KMc,SRW) photos CJ
Latest:- After the tide at 13.15hrs a Stone Curlew was flushed from the south end of the island near the slipway, it flew off towards Wales. This is the first record for Hilbre. (DB).
Other records from later in the afternoon included the yellow and white colour ringed Little Egret ( also seen at Heswall recently), a single Willow Warbler, a Greenshank, and 1 Teal with 5 Wigeon.

Sunday 5 September 2010

5th September 2010

A blustery south-easterly certainly blew any cobwebs away this morning for those that made the early tide. However, there was little in the way of passerine migration other than the odd Willow Warbler that took cover in the dense areas of bracken.

The rising tide produced several typical September wildfowl - strangely all in threes - Teal, Wigeon and Pintail. The North End produced some noteworthy records early in the day with a Guillemot out of the water (see left) and a couple of Grey Seals also taking advantage of a break from the wind north west of the slipway (see right).

At 9.15am waders and terns alerted observers to the possible presence of a raptor and the fact that these were joined in the air by gulls and then the Cormorants took flight from the East Hoyle suggested the raptor was a 'big one'. An Osprey was soon spotted drifting in from the north-east (see above). It flew slowly between the Obs and Red Rocks a couple of hundred feet up, it momentarily looked downwards as if considering whether to fish the low tide before re-considering and turning westwards and heading over Middle Island and off towards Wales.

A single Little Tern was found amongst still numerous (c250) Sandwich and a few Commons, these were occassionally harranged by up to 3 Arctic Skuas (nine were seen yesterday over the tide). Wader numbers were lower than recently due to the lower tides but a young Peregrine still hunted the island and gave occasional good views (see below).

A single new Robin was caught and ringed and later in the afternoon one of the Willow Warblers found its way into the SK.
[PSW, SRW, TGW & JE (briefly)] [452] Photos SRW (Osprey) others PSW