Sunday 28 November 2010

28th November 2010

A sunny day with the snow looking beautiful over Snowdonia and a south easterly breeze that did not lift the temperature above freezing point all day, produced a small thrush movement of Song Thrushes (5) and Blackbirds (3) and a Redwing through early but nothing later, indeed there weren't even any Meadow Pipits or Linnets with just a single Goldfinch the only other non-resident passerine on the island. No Skylarks appeared but a flock of 4 Skylarks went over mid-morning.
Larger species fared better with an adult Mediterranean Gull flying west passed the north end and a Golden Plover near the east gutter (right). Ducks noted included 7 Wigeon with the Brent on the east hoyle, and 2 Pintail also on the east side. Two Common Snipe were flushed from the main pond and at least one was still in the vicinity a few hours later.
Ringed ;- 2 Blackbirds.
(DB,JE,CJ,PSW,SRW,TGW) [ 710] photos PSW

Saturday 27 November 2010

25th/26th/27th November 2010

On the 25th a Black-throated Diver was the star bird on the sea off the north end, 7 Lapwing flew north east from the east hoyle, and the Brent reached a new high of 141 Birds. (DB)
The 26th saw flocks of 5 and 13 Teal off Middle eye. (DB)
More Teal on 27th (15) and a Grey Wagtail was down in niffy bay for a while, but only 128 Brent could be found, it appears that some have moved on.(DB)

Tuesday 23 November 2010

23rd November 2010

With the wind in the north there was very little movement overhead today, but a small flock of Starlings flying south between the mainland and Little Eye were seen to contain 5 Waxwings, continuing the run of recent records from the Hilbre recording area.
Four Redwings were heard before dawn, but none stayed on the islands, only 3 Blackbirds and 2 Song Thrushes could be found.
The sea was also quiet with no divers seen although there was a distant flock of 12 Eiders seen travelling south west at high tide, also 2 Scaup flying in the opposite direction shortly afterwards.
Meaningful counts of waders and Brent were difficult if not impossible due to none spending the high tide around the island and the scattering of birds on the ebb.
Ringed :- 2 Blackbirds.
(BSB,DB,CJ,KMc) [708]

Monday 22 November 2010

22nd November 2010

A very large group of 33 Eiders were seen flying passed the north end towards Wales, and a lapwing was on the rocks for a while beneath the light.
(AAB,THM +2)

Saturday 20 November 2010

20th November 2010

The south easterly brought a few passerines in today, notably 4 Goldcrests, 6 Blackbirds, 5 Song Thrushes (left) and a Reed Bunting. Overhead were 9 Skylarks, 50 Starlings (others came down to feed, above), about 30 Meadow Pipits, 6 Goldfinches and 3 Siskins.

The best surprise of the day was the quality of the seabirds at high tide this late in the season and with a unhelpful wind direction. No less than 25 Red-throated divers and 18 Great Crested Grebes were present and 8 late Gannets fed off to the north west. Three Kittiwakes (including 1 juvenile) were noted, and best of all was a Little Gull (above right) flying in fairly close view for quite a few minutes. Also seen were 17 Common Scoters and 4 Guillemots.

Shorebirds included a Grey Plover (above) and 2 Little Egrets, and an impressive count of 850 Shelduck after the tide in the East Hoyle/Little Eye area.
Ringed;- 3 Blackbirds (see photos above of immature male, left and adult male, right in both photos, showing differences in bill and feather colour) , 2 Goldcrests, 1 Song Thrush.
(CJ,NDW,PSW,SRW,TGW) [706] photos CJ & PSW (Grey Plover, Song Thrush, Little Gull)

Friday 19 November 2010

19th November 2010

A very early tide saw a Snow Bunting flying and calling over Little Eye and then flying off to the north. At the same location but a little later 2 Waxwings were also calling as they flew off to the south/south east. A Raven flew south during the day and 2 Teal were noted.
There was a mass stranding of over 50 of the large jellyfish rhizostoma octopus (right) on the shore between Little and the east hoyle bank. This jellyfish has a domed appearance and is quite solid in texture and has 8 leg-like tentacles - hence the scientific name.
(DB,JE,PSW,et al) photo PSW

Thursday 18 November 2010

Origins of Hilbre Brent Geese

Here is a map (author Kennonv on Wikipedia) which shows where Axel Heiberg Island is in Arctic Canada, where 'HDRB' was ringed on 2nd August 2007. Axel Heiberg Island is an island in the Qikiqtaaluk Region, Nunavut, Canada. It is located in the Arctic Ocean and is the 31st largest island in the world (and Canada's seventh largest at 16,671 square miles - info from Wikipedia). Bathurst island (the large island below the "be" in Heiberg on the map above) was where Hilbre's first colour-ringed Brent Goose ('XXYY') was seen on breeding grounds during the summer of 2007.

18th November 2010

Quite a lot of good records today with wildfowl being predominent with sightings of 2 juvenile Eiders, 11 Wigeon, 6 Teal, a male Pintail and 2 drake Goldeneye. There were a number of Starlings over and 2 Skylarks on the ground, 1 of which was on Middle.
A Merlin was noted, as were a flock of 25 lapwings that flew south west.
Seven late Gannets were on the sea and 80 Common Scoters logged.

Wednesday 17 November 2010

17th November 2010

A new high count of Brent today when 131 were seen around the islands.

Tuesday 16 November 2010

16th November 2010

A different colour ringed Brent was present today (left), however it was the red and blue ringed individual that has now appeared for its third winter at Hilbre after previously been seen many times in the Dublin Bay area. He was orginally ringed (as an adult male) on Axel Heiberg Island in Canada on 2nd August 2007.

Other wildfowl were 4 Wigeon that spent some time with the Brents at the north end before taking to the tide (below).
A Merlin stayed around for about an hour, during which time it was seen to be carrying a kill on one occasion. A Kestrel and a Peregrine completed the trio of raptors for the day.
Four Rock Pipits was a good total, one was re-trapped that had been ringed here on 7th October this year.

Passerines were few, a flock of 40 Linnets, 3 Goldfinches, 2 Blackbirds and a Song Thrush were the pick apart from a Redwing that dropped into the paddocks but unfortunately did not stay. Starlings again passed in numbers early in the day including as group of 500, but only a single Skylark went over during the morning although later one was on the ground on Middle (left).
Great Crested Grebes were by far the most numerous of sea birds (25) with very little else to attract attention on the sea.
Ringed:- 1 Blackbird
(DB,CJ,KMc) [700] photos CJ

Monday 15 November 2010

15th November 2010

Overnight rain did little to disuade observers this morning. The moderate south-easterly breeze and beautiful blue skies prompted morning visits by a couple of members supplemented later by a couple of visiting birders.

A Snow Bunting was heard several times as it passed over the main island mid morning and was the highlight of the morning's observations.

The colour-ringed Little Egret (left and below) was one of four birds around the tidal pools between the islands during the afternoon. 120 Pale-bellied Brents were counted and Purple Sandpipers were spread out and less easy to count with at least 15 noted, however, some were very photographable (see above).

On the sea single Red-throated Diver was close in off the West Side and up to 45 Great Crested Grebes floated about in loose groups off the North End and four Goldeneye were seen including a couple of stunning males.

A single Grey Seal was hauled out at the North End (see right), where two or three Rock Pipits spent the day.

A single Redpoll appeared in the gardens at lunchtime (see left). Later a couple of Obs members decided an afternoon return visit might be productive ... but it was a visiting birder (SR) who had the surprise of the day as he left the islands, he heard and then watched four Waxwings flying over the estuary between Little Eye and West Kirby.

A phonecall alerted the Obs - "the Hilbre book" came out, these were the first Waxwings for Hilbre since 19th November 1961 (note the coincident date)! Much discussion was had on the Obs balcony, including some consolating words, and someone even said "don't worry with the current influx it may not be that long before we get another one"... little did we know it would be so soon!

Incredibly, fifteen minutes or so later stunned observers watched from the Obs balcony as a single Waxwing flew down the east side of the island (just over the BBQ) and off south heading over to Middle and away to the south. Speechless looks were exchanged before the usual celebratory handshakes began. Another great day on the island.

[DB et al, + visitor S Reid] Photos by visiting birder Scott Reid (many thanks)

Sunday 14 November 2010

14th November 2010

A quiet morning with no significant movements of birds apart from several flocks of Starlings going south including a party of 800 early in the day. Two Song Thrushes were trapped (right) but no Blackbirds were seen and the only other birds on the ground were the regular Robins, Dunnocks and Wrens, and a House Sparrow that landed in the obs garden and was around for a short while. A single Goldfinch overhead was the sole finch apart from the flock of 45 Linnets which spent a lot of time on Middle.
No divers on the sea, just 20 Great Crested Grebes and 150 Common Scoter, although the sea watch also produced 3 Wigeon and 2 Whooper Swans flying towards Hoylake.

A Dark-bellied Brent was among the 118 birds seen today and 4 Little Egrets (above) were on the shore.
Ringed :- 2 Song Thrushes (right, showing clear moult limit in the greater coverts of a bird of the year)
(DB +ESCA,JE,CJ,PSW,SRW,TGW, +SH) [699] photos CJ

Saturday 13 November 2010

13th November 2010

Saturday morning and no observers ... however a lunchtime visit saw the tide on the flood and the Pale-bellied Brent Goose flock drifting up the flooding gutter. Over 120 birds now present they made for a beautiful sight and sound as they called to each other in the afternoon sunshine (see below and right).

Waders were much in evidence with over 50 Bar-tailed Godwits on the tide edge. The Purple Sandpiper flock had increased significantly with 21 birds present mid afternoon and as the tide flooded large flocks of Knot were arriving from further up the estuary and joined the already roosting Oystercatchers on 'the ridge' (between Middle and Little Eye).

Up to four Little Egrets were fishing the flooding gutter and adjacent tidal pools (see below), but no colour-rings could be seen.

[ESCA, DB and SRW] Photos to follow

Friday 12 November 2010

12th November 2010

After a howling gale overnight a couple of intrepid members and a visitor headed out to see if anything had been blown in.

The first nice bird of the day was a very tame Purple Sandpiper, which had perhaps just arrived, which fed around the saltwater pool on top of the North End before the tide (see right). This later joined the others that have now built up to eleven birds.

Other wader counts today included 200 Turnstone, 28 Grey Plover, 75 Bar-tailed Godwit and 278 Curlew.

The Pale-bellied Brent Goose flock had obviously been supplemented since yesterday with groups of greese sheltering with heads tucked in on the sand on the east side. Later a count of 110 birds (the highest of the autumn so far) was made as the gutter flooded. The colour-ringed bird from earlier in the week (and last winter) was still present and a new adult colour ringed bird was found (see left) on the whaleback (information to follow on where and when this bird was ringed).

The sea-watching was good with 18 Great Crested Grebes, 4 Red-throated Divers, 2 Gannet, 4 Teal, 3 Red-breasted Mergansers and single Kittiwake, Razorbill and Arctic Skua seen.

However, the highlight of the day was a Grey Phalarope which was spotted flying in from the North, it momentarily landed on the sea, before continuing to head towards the North End - all observers hoping it would 'ditch in' in front of the hide. Unfortunately, it got to opposite the North End then unexpectedly turned round (see left and below), probably in the face of the stiff westerly wind and it headed up the East Side towards West Kirby and was lost to view.

Passerines were thin on the ground although at least two Rock Pipits were present and a Redpoll dropped in to the Obs garden mid afternoon. A single female Blackbird was caught and ringed.

[DB +SH, et al] [697]

Thursday 11 November 2010

Moth update - New species for Hilbre

Update on the moth found on 7th November 2010 - it has now been confirmed as a Tawny Pinion and is in fact a first record for Hilbre. Well done to TGW (aged 7) who found it! Photo below by PSW.

Wednesday 10 November 2010

10th November 2010

A moderate north-easterly today brought a couple of observers to the island, but sadly no sign of yesterday's Red-necked Grebe but 43 Great Cresteds were counted.

Wildfowl was the main focus today with 97 Pale-bellied Brents still present (including the returning colour-ringed bird from yesterday), 4 Wigeon, 11 Pintail, 4 Eider, 3 Scaup, single Teal and 2 Goldeneye.

There were very few passerines although a couple of Rock Pipits remain but 15 Skylark and an excellent movement of 667 Starlings (including one flock of 550) passed over.

An adult Mediterranean Gull was seen from the North End over the tide and the Rabbit made another brief appearance!

[DB + SH]

Tuesday 9 November 2010

9th November 2010

The highlight of the day was a winter plumaged Red-necked Grebe found off the Whaleback which then drifted round the North end before disappearing before the high tide. Ninety three Great Crested Grebe were counted during a 5 hour seawatch with force 6 NE winds, most moving towards Hoylake. Eighty three Common Scoter were noted, together with 15 Guillemot, 34 Gannet & 4 Red-throated Diver. Twenty two Pinkfooted Geese flew towards Formby Point. A drake Scaup, a drake Goldeneye, 7 Wigeon and a male Red-breasted Merganser kept the interest up. Brent Geese numbers remained high with 92 counted, including the return of colour ringed bird (white left 4; white right A) which first appeared on the island in October 2009 but had not previously been noted this winter.Thirty two Lapwing flew east in three groups, possibly disturbed from the Welsh side of the Dee by the rising tide as did a number of smaller waders, mostly Dunlin but including one Snipe. Two Purple Sandpiper were noted. The windy conditions were not condusive to passerines but those seen included 4 Blackbirds, 3 Song Thrush and 2 Rock Pipits

Monday 8 November 2010

8th November 2010

In foul weather this morning a Woodcock was on the island and 3 Goldeneye were on the sea.
Four more Goldeneye were seen later, when the weather improved slightly and a single Lapwing was seen and a Lapland Bunting arrived 'in off' over the North End.

Sunday 7 November 2010

7th November 2010

Cold, clear and sunny this morning with light easterly that brought parties of Lapwings, below, (total 51), Starlings (45) and Skylarks (20) across the island but not many finches, just a largish flock of Linnets and 2 Greenfinches. Twenty Blackbirds were already present from dawn with 5 Redwing (left) and 4 Song Thrushes but no other significant passerines apart from 3 Goldcrests.

One hundred and ten Carrion Crows flew north east up the West Kirby shore, also early in the day 3 Wigeon, a Teal and 2 Common Snipe were close to the islands. One of the 4 Little Egrets on the shore shore was seen to be colour ringed.
More Brent must have arrived last night as 97 were between the island and Red Rocks this morning.
Five Purple Sandpipers roosted the tide on the main island at the north end with a few Turnstones, while Middle was host to at least 8,000 Oystercatchers, some Curlew and a few smaller species. The sea was fairly quiet yet 4 Red-throated Divers, 13 Great Crested Grebes , 50 Common Scoter and 3 Guillemots were seen.

A moth found resting on the obs veranda was identified as being a Tawny Pinion, a scarce species, its status at Hilbre being uncertain at this stage but it could be the first of its type recorded here.
Ringed:- 7 Blackbirds, 1 Song Thrush (right), 1 Goldcrest.
(DB +ESCA,JE,CJ,PSW,SRW,TGW) [696] photos CJ

Saturday 6 November 2010

6th November 2010

Winds were light and variable with rain later and therefore no more Leach's petrels but a sea watch produced 7 Red-throated Divers, 9 Guillemots, 22 Grest Crested Grebes and 135 Common Scoter.
Two Mute Swans flew south west, 23 Wigeon were noted and 5 Little Egrets were on the shore.
The Brent increased to a record 87 for so far this winter.
The most notable passerines were 28 Skylarks across the island, and in the evening 27 Redwings heard overhead.

Friday 5 November 2010

5th November 2010

Despite the light winds sea-watching was the main focus again today. Divers were much in evidence with 6 Red-throateds and single Black-throated and Great Northern, however, perhaps surprisingly these weren't the highlights. A single Leach's Petrel passed west by at 10am much to the surprise of the observer as was a very late Sandwich Tern which passed east towards the North Wirral shore.

Up to 36 Kittiwakes were counted as were 16 Great Crested Grebes. As the tide ebbed more observers arrived from the mainland not really expecting much however two more Leach's Petrels (making it three for the day) were found passing west close inshore on a now almost flat calm sea.

Purple Sandpipers had increased to eight birds and there were five Little Egrets around.

Passerines were again in short supply although Song Thrush, Starling and Skylark were all new, whereas the 2 Rock Pipits were almost certainly resident (at least one bird bearing a ring).

[DB, NDW et al]

Wednesday 3 November 2010

3rd November 2010

A more prolonged visit today produced a good list of species typical for November. Sea-watching provided 3 Red-throated Divers, 8 Great Crested Grebes, 2 Gannets, 5 Razorbills and a flock of 10 Eider flew southwest.

Good counts today included 630 Cormorant, 310 Shelduck, 400 Curlew and 208 Turnstone. Other waders included 4 Purple Sandpipers and other wildfowl included a slight increase in Pale-bellied Brents to 59 birds present.

Passerines were expectedly thin on the ground with single Goldcrest, Rock Pipit and Goldfinch present. Other interest was provided by the first 'prolonged' view of the resident Rabbit, but will it give itself up for the Obs photographers?


Tuesday 2 November 2010

2nd November 2010

A brief visit today produced an increase in Pale-bellied Brent numbers up to 56 birds now present (although none with colour-rings have been seen yet this autumn).

Other birds of note included a good count of 57 Grey Plovers, 2 Rock Pipits and a single Little Egret.

[DB briefly]

Monday 1 November 2010

1st November 2010

A beautiful morning after early heavy mist found a group of 13 Eiders loafing to the east of the island until they circled around and flew off north (left). A Sparrowhawk was on the island from first light and another later arrived over the sea from the Red Rocks area.
Only 10 Blackbirds and a single Song Thrush today whilst also feeding up were 4 Goldcrests but no sign of yesterdays Firecrest. Again no Redwings apart from a single flyover early in the day but there were a good trickle of finches all morning including 39 Goldfinches, 20 Greenfinches (right), 3 Chaffinches, 41 Linnets, and 6 Siskins. Although there were no large numbers of Meadow Pipits, 46 Skylarks went through mostly in small groups likewise 54 Starlings passed during the morning.
The Brent Geese have reached a new high of 47 and there were no less than 9 Little Egrets present, mainly to the east of the island early in the day.
Ringed:- 3 Blackbirds, 3 Goldcrests, 1 Greenfinch.
(DB,CJ,KMc, et al) [687] photos CJ