Sunday 31 October 2010

31st October 2010

Gentle easterlies with some coastal mist greeted the observers this morning and during the first hour or so there was some movement of Blackbirds, (below, 24 in total), with 2 Song Thrushes, but slightly surprisingly given the conditions, no Redwings. Overhead were 5 Brambling and 5 Siskin and a scattering of other finches (including a Greenfinch on the garden feeder, bottom right)), also 49 Starlings, 3 Skylarks, 65 Linnets, about 50 Meadow Pipits and a House Sparrow. 

At 10.30hrs a Firecrest was trapped in the old obs garden, the third Firecrest of the autumn for Hilbre, but unlike the last bird this time it typically appeared without any Goldcrests being on the island.

Two Rock Pipits were still about, one of which was retrapped today and seems to be in fine condition (left).
There were no surprises on the sea watch, just counts of the usual species:- 6 Red-throated Divers, 28 Great Crested Grebes, 2 Red-breasted Mergansers, 8 Guillemots, 2 Razorbills and a Common Scoter.
On the shore 106 Redshanks was the highest number for some time, others counted included 47 Bar-tailed Godwits, 3 Little Egrets and 5 Grey Herons.
Yesterday evening Seven Purple Sandpipers were found at the north end.
Ringed:- 5 Blackbirds, 1 Firecrest, 1 Meadow Pipit.
(DB+ESCA,JE,CJ,PSW,+SH) [680] photos CJ

Friday 29 October 2010

29th October 2010

The Brents are up to 42 birds and there were excellent counts of 420 Shelduck, 250 Grey Plover and 370 Curlew. Two Purple Sandpipers were at the north end.

Thursday 28 October 2010

28th October 2010

A short visit this morning found a Reed Bunting in the trapping area together with the dutch ringed Blackcap from yesterday. Sixteen Skylarks passed also 6 Greenfinches, 1 Goldfinch and 73 Linnets.
Unusual sightings today included a Common Seal, the evanescent Rabbit, and strangest of all, a predated Coot, freshly dead on the shore east of the island.

Wednesday 27 October 2010

27th October 2010

If there was any doubt as to where many of the birds arriving at Hilbre in the late autumn come from, it was once more demonstrated by the capture of a male Blackcap today bearing a dutch ring (right). This follows on from the Blackbirds from the continent trapped last autumn. All the more surprising as the Blackcap and a female Blackbird were the only birds captured today. The Blackcap yesterday was not ringed and therefore a different bird.
Five juvenile/female Eiders were by Little Eye later and 2 Whooper Swans (the first of the autumn seen from Hilbre) flew south/south west.
A good number of Meadow Pipits were noted today with a single Redwing and 2 Skylarks but few other passerines. An accurate count of the Turnstones revealed 112 birds but only 37 Brent could be found.
The resident rabbit showed itself once more today.
Ringed :- 1 Blackbird
(DB,CJW) [673] photo CJW

Tuesday 26 October 2010

26th October 2010

The first Hen harrier of the autumn/winter flew passed the obs today and was the star bird of a good and varied day. A pair (male and female) of Goldeneye, also the first of the 'winter' were off the north end in the morning and other duck logged were 5 Teal and a single Wigeon.
The Brent are up to 42 individuals as they continue to increase, also on the shore were 4 Little Egrets, 35 Bar-tailed Godwits and a Black-tailed Godwit and excellent counts of 6,500 Dunlin, 4,000 Knot, 560 Sanderling and 360 Shelduck. A Mute Swan flew south west passed the island. A Blackcap was the only significant bird in the trapping areas.
(DB,NDW + 2)

Monday 25 October 2010

25th October 2010

The Brent reappeared today but just 27 birds, with 2 Wigeon and a Common Scoter the only other wildfowl. The sea had 5 Red-throated Divers, 12 Great Crested Grebes and 5 Guillemot but land birds were few with 2 Blackbirds and 2 Rock Pipits on the island and 2 Skylarks over.

Sunday 24 October 2010

24th October 2010

A sunny day with a cold north easterly found little on the islands initially with a single Blackbird and Song Thrush and a few finches dropping in from time to time, also a Reed Bunting that was ringed later (right). Small flocks of Linnets and Meadows Pipits showed early on, 2 Siskin called overhead and a total of 32 Skylarks passed through, mostly travelling east low over the sea, also 4 Starlings that landed on the mast for a while.
The best birds of the day was a Black-throated Diver which flew past the north end at high tide (below), also the 2 Lapland Buntings that were flushed from Middle after the tide and 3 Scaup that were in the channel to the east of Little Eye also on the ebb.
Four Thousand Oystercatchers and many Curlew managed to roost the tide on Middle undisturbed by Peregrines or the several canoes and boats close to the islands. No sign of any Brents before or after the tide, just 2 Little Egrets with the waders on Middle.
In addition to the Black throated Diver the sea watch counted 14 Red-throated Divers and a number of Great Crested Grebes and Guillemots and 3 Common Scoter.
Ringed:- 2 Greenfinches, 1 Reed Bunting, 1 Wren.

(JE,CJ,PSW + SH) [672] photos CJ & PSW

Friday 22 October 2010

22nd October 2010

The good news today is that the L/B Brent are already up to 37 with at least 2 family parties of 2 & 4 juvs with parents. None were sporting colour-rings unfortunately.
A juv Mute Swan flew towards Wales well before the tide and 6 Pintail were in the gutter after the tide.
Passerines were few in species although there were some 40 Meadow Pipits including a few 'in-off' & about 30 Linnets on Middle before the tide. The Linnets relocated to the salt marsh later in the day. One Rock Pipit was at the North end. The usual several Robins, Wrens & Dunnocks were around with one Blackbird.
Most of the day was spent sea-watching with counts of 23 Great Crested Grebe, 8 Red-throated Diver, 40 Scoter, 7 Gannet & 3 Guillemot. Wader numbers are starting to build up with 130 Turnstones but no Purple Sandpipers yet.

Sunday 17 October 2010

17th October 2010

A very light south south east wind with clear skies produced another lovely day on the island...and the birds weren't bad either!

On the way over as the very low tide dropped slowly a small flock of four Shovelor flew up the gutter and off towards West Kirby (see right). A single Peregrine drifted down the ridge and at least four Little Egrets and five Grey Herons were present.
Visible movement was a little thin with a few pipits, Skylarks, the odd Starling and a few finches including a Brambling as well as a single Reed Bunting, however, 3 Greenfinches dropped in and were caught in the 'Heli' trap as well as a Linnet. A single female House Sparrow dropped in and toured the island before also being caught (see left).

Grounded migrants included a few Goldcrests (one of which was caught in the Old Obs garden).

The obvious highlight of the day was another Lapland Bunting (or Longspur if you prefer) our sixth of the autumn. Today's bird was found at the North End (see right) in amongst a group of Meadow Pipits. It spent a while preening and dust bathing.

It then moved further south and was relocated by our 'potter' traps on Wheatear hill opposite the Observatory. It spent the next couple of hours feeding around the potters and on the nearby sandstone wall (see top and below) but unfortunately was not caught. However, it was successfully 'twitched' by two members from the mainland.

Ringing: Linnet, Greenfinch (3), Meadow Pipit, House Sparrow, Goldcrest

[JE, AEH, NDW, CLW, SRW, TGW ,CJW(f), GIW et al] [668] Photos by SRW

Saturday 16 October 2010

16th October 2010

A short visit this morning found a cold north easterly before the sun got up. Again only 2 Goldcrests in the paddocks although a Brambling called going over at about 08.00hrs and 4 Skylarks went through north. Another Wheatear sheltered from the wind near the north end (right) and the Greenshank was off to the east side with 2 Little Egrets. The Brent were not seen at all, but the elusive rabbit flashed passed again near the top paddock gate.
(CJ,SRW) photo CJ

Friday 15 October 2010

15th October 2010

The wind was in the north west this morning and therefore no expectation of a large number of migrants and sure enough 2 Goldcrests were the only significant birds on the ground. Five Rock Pipits and a Greenland Wheatear were still about also the Greenshank of yesterday still fed in the gutter. The now mythical rabbit was glimpsed near the 'air raid shelter'.
The Brent have increased to 11 birds.
Ringed:- 1 Goldcrest [661]

Thursday 14 October 2010

14th October 2010

Things were much quieter today and is difficult not to be a little disappointed after some really fantastic days so far this week. The wind was still in the east but backed north east later in the morning making the air feel quite cool. Meadow Pipits and Linnets started slowly but both reached over 100 before noon, there were not too many Starlings although there was one flock of 50. Finches counted up to 11.00hrs only involved 4 Greenfinches and 2 Chaffinches; Robins went through again in small numbers, another late Wheatear appeared briefly before moving south and there were at least 5 Rock Pipits on the islands. No other passerines of note in the trapping areas, just a Goldcrest that was ringed yesterday.
Probably the best bird of the day was a Greenshank feeding with Redshanks in the east gutter this morning (right, with redshank). The 9 Brent continued to move around the island, 130 Bar-tailed Godwits stayed by the tide line north of the east hoyle and at least 3 Guillemots were within binocular distance.
Later update - 66 Pink-footed Geese flew from Wales and went south down the Dee. A Reed Bunting arrived in the paddocks and there were good counts of 312 Sanderling and 680 Curlew.
Ringed:- 4 Robins, 1 Chaffinch, 2 Meadow Pipits.
(DB,JE,CJ,KMc,CJW et al) [660] photo CJ

Wednesday 13 October 2010

13th October 2010

The Hilbre purple patch continues with the second Firecrest (left and below) for the year (the first was in early September) spending most of the morning in the paddocks before entering the Newton trap and being ringed shortly after noon. There were also 10 Goldcrests during the day which in itself is unusual as often a Firecrest turns up without Goldcrests being around.

Not quite as much visible migration today, still some Starlings including a flock of 50, but fewer Meadow Pipits and no Skylarks, nevertheless there were plenty of finches on the ground; 25 Greenfinches several Chaffinches, a House Sparrow, and 4 Siskins overhead. A single Chiffchaff and a female Blackcap were the only warblers.

A Common Snipe flew over the north end early and later its larger (and much rarer at Hilbre) cousin a Woodcock (above) was flushed from the bracken at the south end and went off over the shore towards Hoylake (right).
The Brent increased to 9 individuals as the winter population builds.

No sign of the Great Grey Shrike since 1pm yesterday.
Ringed:-7 Greenfinches, 2 Chaffinches (right), 4 Goldcrests, 1 Firecrest, 1 Blackcap, 1 Blackbird.
(DB,CJ et al) [653]

Tuesday 12 October 2010

Great Grey Shrike Video, Hilbre 12.10.10

Video by CJ

12th October 2010

Today was the sort of day that makes all the days tramping around the island with little reward worthwhile. At 08.15hrs a Great Grey Shrike (top 3 pictures and flying below right) was seen sitting on top of the sycamores in the old obs garden, it visited most of the perches available on the island (including the top of the new obs mist net pole) during the next 2 hours until it returned to where it was originally seen and found itself in the mist net in the old obs garden. This is the third record for Hilbre although the others have been fly-overs and not birds on the ground. A few members and others managed to make it across to see the bird before the tide came in, although it was still present until at least 12.30hrs at which time the island was inaccessible.
Earlier 2 Lapland Buntings flew down the island and landed briefly by the south end but unfortunately they did not stay.
The first flock of eight Brent Geese (left) had arrived overnight and they included at 4 young birds which seems to indicate a good breeding season. Another flock of eight birds,this time Greenfinches were on the feeder in the 'heli' trap and were all released together after ringing (below). This many Greenfinches have not been captured on Hilbre for many years !
Another scarce species for Hilbre was logged when 2 Great Spotted Woodpeckers were around the paddocks, although the first half of October seems to be invariably the time they arrive.
Other highlights included a Greenshank in the east gutter, 6 House Sparrows down near the 'heli' trap, 3 Redwings, a Stock Dove, and a male Blackcap. There was a definite passage of Robins with 11 new birds ringed today, while other movers were 105 Meadow Pipits, 61 Starlings, 2 Skylarks, 30 Goldfinches, 3 Song Thrushes, a Siskin, a Chaffinch, 2 Goldcrests, 13 Pied Wagtails, a Grey Wagtail and a Chiffchaff. Late migrants were 8 Swallows and 3 Wheatears.
Later during the high tide 5 Wigeon, 4 Little Egrets and 5 Great Crested Grebes were recorded.
Ringed:-1 Great Grey Shrike, 8 Greenfinches, 11 Robins, 2 Goldcrests, 2 Chiffchaffs, 1 Song Thrush, 1 Dunnock, 1 Blackcap.
(AAB,DB,CJ,KMc,CJW,et al) [637] photos CJ

Monday 11 October 2010

11th October 2010

Despite the clear sky last night and this morning were was still some movement over the island.

Best birds of the day were probably the 2 House (above right) and 9 Tree Sparrows, also present were 4 Chaffinches (above) and 3 Redwings, a single Song Thrush (below) and a Blackbird. A Chiffchaff and a Goldcrest (right) were the only warblers around the traps, the Yellow-browed Warbler from yesterday afternoon had not surprisingly disappeared.
Still a steady number of 200 Meadow Pipits and 150 Starlings travelling south with up to 80 Linnets going through during the morning.
Later in the day a flock of 17 Pink-footed Geese flew from Flintshire to the east, a female Blackcap arrived and a late Sandwich Tern was on the sea.
Ringed:-1 Song Thrush, 1 Wren, 1 Goldcrest, 1 Robin
(DB+ESCA,JE) [610] photos JE

Sunday 10 October 2010

10th October 2010 - Evening update

It was so good this morning, especially the appearance of the Redstart as the tide was rising, that one Obs member decided that an after-tide afternoon visit was in order. Arriving just after 3.30pm a quick tour of the island revealed Wheatear, 3 Rock Pipits, the Redstart and a fleeting glimpse of a phyllosc in the trapping area - presumably a Chiffy from earlier?

Back at the Obs enjoying the afternoon sun and moderating easterly breeze from the veranda - three Goldfinches alighted in the bushes in the garden and then another bird appeared at around 4.15pm in the brambles - a quick lift of the binoculars revealed a Yellow-browed Warbler! A couple of record shots (apologies for the quality) were taken as the bird flitted over the fence and around the 'new pond' for about five minutes.

Unfortunately it then promptly disappeared as numerous phonecalls were made and texts were sent.

Fortunately, a short time later (although it felt like longer) it reappeared in the Obs garden mist net. It was extracted ringed, photographed and released. In the meantime, a Chiffchaff was also caught which allowed the two birds to be photographed together.

Finally, yet another Dunnock was trapped indicating a passage of this species through the island today.

(JE, CJ, CJW, NDW, SRW et al) Photos SRW [606]

10th October 2010

The easterlies continue and so does the visible migration, mostly overhead but a brief interlude brought a Blackcap and a Whitethroat to the ground also a Chiffchaff in the new obs mist net that was almost dismissed and released a recent retrap that had been around for a day or two until the strange ring number rang bells and it was realised that it was a control from elsewhere (left). Warblers captured on Hilbre bearing other rings are rare indeed and enquiries are ongoing as to its origin.

An equally big surprise was an extremely late Common Redstart found sitting quietly in the 'Heli' trapping box just before the members left the island (right).
During the 3 hours available this morning a fair list of moving birds were seen:-
250 Meadow Pipits, 50 Starlings, 8 Redwings, 6 Blackbirds, 1 Song Thrush, 2 Swallows, 4 Grey Wagtails, 3 Pied Wagtails, 2 Wheatears, 2 Reed Buntings, several Skylarks, a few Chaffinches and Greenfinches and the first Brambling of the autumn.
Ringed:- 2 Dunnocks, 1 Robin, 1 Linnet, 1 Wren, 1 Blackbird, 1 Redstart, 1 Blackcap (left).
(CJ,NDW,SRW,TGW) [603]

Saturday 9 October 2010

9th October 2010

The wind today was lighter with a more easterly element and at first light in seemed there was no movement whatsoever but within 30 minutes or so it started to happen, not quite on the scale of yesterday, but nevertheless things were moving. Only about 100 Meadow Pipits passed in the first 2 hours but the hoped for Lapland Bunting was heard and seen as a single bird amongst a small flock of pipits going south at about 08.35hrs. Two flocks of 7 and 9 Redwings went through also 150 Starlings passed south low over the east side in a single flock and 14
Skylarks went across in small groups. Four Blackbirds were about the paddocks in the half light, 2 Chaffinchs and a Greenfinch was heard and 2 Grey Wagtails were identified apart from the few Pied that called overhead.
Two Teal flew into the tide edge off to the east side where 60 Bar-tailed Godwits fed.
The Common Seal reappeared resting on the lifeboat house slipway before being disturbed (right).
Later after the tide there were 2 more Blackbirds and a Greenland Wheatear.
Ringed:- 3 Blackbirds, 1 Chiffchaff.

Friday 8 October 2010

8th October 2010

A good visible migration day with a fresh south easterly and lots of mist produced the first Lapland Buntings for the island this year despite there being so many around the north and east coasts and also a few in the west especially Angelsey. They flew south with some Meadow Pipits (there were 400 through today) down the west side with their distinctive call.
Another first (for the autumn) were 2 Redwings, one over the shore early and the other later. A Whinchat perched in the SK paddock was an unexpected find this late in the year, but most of the other birds passing were more in keeping with the season:- 3 Reed Buntings, 10 Skylarks, 25 Starlings, 1 Goldcrest, 4 Chiffchaffs, 2 Song Thrushes, a Blackbird and another late Greenland Wheatear.
There were 6 Rock Pipits today, none of which were the ringed birds of yesterday (see remarks yesterday re passage).
Around the shore 3 and then 6 Wigeon were noted, also a Common Snipe, also the juvenile Brent of recent days.
Ringed:- 1 Robin, 2 Meadow Pipits, 1 Blackbird, 1 Chiffchaff.
(DB,BT, +MR, et al) [591]

Thursday 7 October 2010

7th October 2010

The island was clear overhead at first light in a steady south/south easterly but at about 09.00hrs a band of fog closed in from the south raising expectations of a few unusual birds on the ground. As it turned out little did we realise how unusual until on leaving the obs a flock of 6 Coal Tits were around the paddocks and immediately more were seen in the Newton trap and others flew away to the south. The 20 birds involved were probably the largest ever amount to land at Hilbre as we are normally lucky to see one in a year. Seven birds were ringed, some of which stayed on to take advantage of the feeders provided.

Other grounded birds were 3 Chiffchaffs, 2 Goldcrests, 2 Chaffinches, a male Blackcap and a late Greenland Wheatear on the obs fence (left). Not stopping but passing through were 8 Skylarks, 3 Starlings, and 100 Meadow Pipits.

A Common Snipe was off to the west of the island, and there were 3 Rock Pipits (right) which occur traditionally on passage in October, but seabirds were few and far between the best being a Red-throated Diver and a Razorbill.
Ringed:- 7 Coal Tits, 2 Rock Pipits, 2 Chiffchaffs, 1 Chaffinch.
(DB,JE,CJ,PSW, et al) [586] photos CJ

Saturday 2 October 2010

2nd October 2010

The Observatory was visited today by the extended Dixon family who had gathered from all parts to pay tribute to Henry and Denise Dixon (old picture above in front of 'southward' as it was then known) who owned the bungalow from 1949 until 1988, when they donated the building to the bird observatory. Many of the family (above, with some obs members on the veranda) had very happy memories to share of their time on the island. A commemorative plaque was unveiled by Nick Dixon (below right with observatory chairman Chris Williams), and the family then enjoyed a tour of the observatory, some even commenting that they remembered the furniture!

Birds of the day were 2 Twite heard travelling west from West Kirby saltmarsh towards Middle Eye early in the day. There was some movement of Meadow Pipits and Linnets, 3 Goldfinches (right) also single Chaffinch and Greenfinch, 1 Grey Wagtail, and 5 Skylarks. The only warbler was a previously ringed Chiffchaff (left).
A Red-throated Diver was an unusual sight flying high up over the west side of the island, single Pintail and Wigeon were the only duck but 73 Bar-tailed Godwits were present and 2 Sandwich Terns were on the sea. A Rock Pipit was at the north end (right) but there was no sign today of the Common Seal there.
Ringed:- 3 Meadow Pipits, 2 Goldfinches, 1 Wren.

Friday 1 October 2010

1st October 2010

A late afternoon visit surprisingly found a good number of records for that time of day. Three Greenland Wheatears were the most for some time and 6 Gannets and 18 Sandwich Terns were late records on the sea. Counts on the shore included 175 Sanderling and 86 Turnstone.
The juvenile Brent was still about as was the Common Seal seen yesterday.