Sunday 30 January 2011

30th January 2011

A visit after the early morning tide with a gentle south westerly found many of the usual waders feeding on the ebb including Bar-tailed Godwit, Knot, Dunlin, Grey Plover, Ringed Plover, Redshank, Curlew and the 4,000 or so Oystercatchers. A good count of 200 Shelduck lingered to the east of Middle island (below).

The 14 Purple Sandpipers noted later was also a decent number and comparable with most high counts this winter.

Some passerines were re-trapped today including a Wren from October 2008, a Robin from 2010 and a Dunnock from September 2009 (right).
(JE) photos JE

Saturday 29 January 2011

29th January 2011

A cold morning but a beautiful sunny day produced a drake Scaup close to the 'whaleback' (above), also 3 Teal appearing intermittently about the north end (below), and 3 Goldeneye with some gulls out towards the Burbo bank wind farm. The usual waders were in evidence but no passerines were logged apart from the expected Blackbirds (2), Song Thrushes (4) , one Rock Pipit and the odd Robin and Wren etc.

(CJ,MGT,CJW,PSW,SRW, NW,EW) photo CJ (top left) PSW (rest)

Friday 28 January 2011

28th January 2011

The Brent were seen to be at 170+ and 2 female Red-breasted Mergansers were noted.

Thursday 27 January 2011

27th January 2011

A Sparrowhawk was at Little Eye and 2 Canada Geese flew north.

Later some wader pictures ( Purple Sandpiper, Knot and Redshank) were obtained from around the island.

(BSB,DB,CJW)+ Scott Reid photos SR

Wednesday 26 January 2011

26th January 2011

Best birds of the day were 4 Wigeon and flocks of 50, 30 and 70 Sanderling.
Fouteen Purple Sandpipers were on the island.

Tuesday 25 January 2011

25th January 2011

The north shore of the East Hoyle bank hosted 7,000 Knot and 3,000 Herring Gulls and nearer to the island 47 bar-tailed Godwits and 161 Brent were counted.

Monday 24 January 2011

24th January 2011

Thirty four Red-throated Divers and 80 Great Crested Grebes were counted in a north westerly. The 'Countryfile' TV crew were filming around the island at high tide.

Sunday 23 January 2011

later -

The hundred or so Turnstones did not stay to roost the high tide on the island, but some of those that did were a Grey Plover (right), 11 Purple Sandpipers (below) and a few Dunlin and Ringed Plovers (below right).

Photos JE

23rd January 2011

Early morning update: At least 3 Song Thrushes and 2 Dunnocks were present. 126 Pale-bellied Brents feeding on the Whaleback before the tide.


Saturday 22 January 2011

22nd January 2011

A slow sea-watch today produced some Red-throated Divers, a few Great Crested Grebes and Common Scoters but nothing out of the ordinary. The Brents were split up around the islands so were difficult to count but there were well over a hundred present as the tide ebbed. A couple of Robins and Dunnocks were noted and at least six Song Thrushes and a female Blackbird was re-trapped.

(MA, MB plus PSW, SRW briefly)

Friday 21 January 2011

21st January 2011

The highlights today included the joint record count again of Pale-bellied Brent with 180 counted, a single Peregrine was noted hunting the islands and the build up of large gulls on the East Hoyle bank was impressive with at least 5,000 Herring counted with smaller numbers of other species ... surely there's a White-winger out there?


Thursday 20 January 2011

20th January 2011

A nice day all round for mid January. Highlights included 5 Scaup, a pair of Mute Swans, 4 Goldeneye, a female Teal and two drake Pochard that spent much of the day off the North End; a scarce bird at Hilbre. 140+ Great Crested Grebes were counted but nothing like the numbers off North Wirral.

(ME + HW, MGT +1)

Wednesday 19 January 2011

19th January 2011

An excellent day for sea-watching and wader counts. 23 Red-throated Divers, 4 Scaup and 2 Razorbill were seen along with 240 Turnstone, 18 Purple Sandpipers, 450 Curlew and 135 Redshank amongst other waders.


Tuesday 18 January 2011

18th January 2011

A single Great Northern Diver and Razorbill were the highlights of a nice sea-watch today.


Sunday 16 January 2011

16th January 2011

Now we have reached mid-winter members visits (and birds) are fewer, but the Brents are still to be seen around the islands (below) together with the regular waders and a few land birds such as Song Thrushes, Dunnocks, Wrens and Robins etc. A Robin was re-trapped and had gained weight (right), so feeding conditions must be reasonable.

The rescue services continue their weekend training operations despite the steady light rain (right).

(JE) photos JE

Saturday 15 January 2011

15th January 2011

Very quiet on the islands today meant lots of maintenance work could be done.


Friday 14 January 2011

14th January 2011

5 Wigeon, 15 Scaup and a single Lapwing were the most noteworthy records today.


Thursday 13 January 2011

13th January 2011

The increase in Brents continued with another record count of 180 pale-bellied birds. January is usually the peak month. Perhaps less expected were two Stock Doves also seen today; an increasing species locally and more recently at Hilbre.


Wednesday 12 January 2011

12th January 2011

A record 177 Pale-bellied Brents were counted today.


Sunday 9 January 2011

9th January 2011

A bright and sunny day but windy with the birds very much keeping a low profile and only a Song Thrush and the resident Crows to be found on the island. At dawn the planet Venus (now at its brightest of magnitude -4.6 as seen from earth and outshining all in the sky but the sun and moon) shone brilliantly over the shore on the journey across, and usual flight of 500 or so Cormorants flew out of the estuary between the island and Red Rocks (above left). Four thousand Oystercatchers gathered on the west side (above right) and a further 1,000 to the north east with some of the Brents and a few Bar-tailed Godwits.
(JE) photos JE

Saturday 8 January 2011

8th January 2011

No sign of the Avocet first thing on the shore early morning. But over on the island more good records with Great Northern Diver again but the undoubted highlight was a Red-necked Grebe picked up on the sea off the North End which, unfortunately, drifted away as the tide ebbed.

News came later (around high tide) that the Avocet was seen again swimming near the tide edge along the saltmarsh - but incredibly it was then attacked and killed by two Crows (possibly the Hilbre resident birds).

[DB, PSW + MP]

Friday 7 January 2011

7th January 2011

An Avocet was found today by a Dee Estuary Voluntary Warden Mike Hart (who was wardening the wader roosts at West Kirby beach) as it flew in from over the Royal Liverpool Golf Course and landed on the salt marsh at West Kirby. The news filtered through later in the afternoon (thanks to Richard Smith of and several Obs members rushed down to see the bird which was fortunately still present now on the beach further north (opposite the south end of Red Rocks LNR).

Towards dusk the bird was seen to fly out towards Hilbre but it circled back round and landed back on the saltmarsh.

We believe this is only the third record of Avocet for the Hilbre recording area (this is being checked); both previous records involved birds flying over - 3 near Little Eye on 7 October 1972 and two flying over Red Rocks and heading towards Hilbre in late May 1949!

Despite the recent upsurge of records for Wirral and now that the species has bred at Inner Marsh Farm RSPB it is surprising that the first modern record has come in the winter - but that's birding, expect the unexpected!

Back on the island 3 more Lapwing were noted today, as well as 450 Curlew plus a Peregrine. However, focus was mainly on the sea with 21 Red-throated Divers, 10 Great Crested Grebes a single Razorbill and presumably the same Great Northern Diver that was seen yesterday.

[DB + BSB, MGT, CJW et al 'twitching' the Avocet]

Thursday 6 January 2011

6th January 2011

A superb start to the year today when 2 Shorelarks were found at the south end of Middle Hilbre, unfortunately they did not stay long and flew off south east. These are the first Shorelarks to be seen in the Hilbre recording area since 3 birds were present at Little Eye on 30th December 1998 (and they were the first for over 30 years!)

The sea-watching was fairly moderate with 15 Great Crested Grebes, 14 Red-throated Divers, 10 Common Scoter and a Red-breasted Merganser noted. However, as the tide ebbed more birds appeared and other highlights of an excellent mid-winters day included two drake Velvet Scoters and a Great Northern Diver.

Waders included 200 Sanderling, 460 Curlew and the Purple Sandpiper flock numbered 14 today.

[DB, CS]

Wednesday 5 January 2011

5th January 2011

Impressive numbers of Cormorants were moving out the estuary early morning with 1,017 counted this morning. The sea produced 12 Red-throated Divers, 25 Great Crested Grebes, 2 Razorbill and 8 Guillemot as well as good count of 104 Common Scoters.

Four Mute Swans (2 adults and 2 juveniles) was an unusual mid-winter sighting for Hilbre.


Tuesday 4 January 2011

4th January 2011

A fairly quiet day today but there were still good counts of waders including 185 Turnstone and 18 Purple Sandpipers. A flock of 10 Razorbill flying south west was noteworthy.


Monday 3 January 2011

Colour-ringed Sightings from 2010

Over the Christmas/New Year period news of two colour-ringed sightings from 2010 filtered through.

First was a Sandwich Tern seen and photographed on 8th August 2010 on the sand near Little Eye (see photo right) which had been ringed at Forvie National Nature Reserve, near Newburgh, Aberdeenshire in Scotland in 2001.

Second was the Little Egret found and photographed at the South End of the main island on 7th November 2010 (see above left). It was also seen and was superbly photographed on 15th November 2010 (see right and below). This bird (left white F, right yellow U) was ringed as a nestling at Penrhyn, near Bangor, Gwynedd in North Wales on 7th June 2010. These were the first (and are currently the only) sightings of this bird since it was ringed.

These add to an impressive list of colour-ring sightings at Hilbre during 2010 which of course included (but is not limited to) the Canadian ringed Pale-bellied Brent (plus a couple of other Brents), the Dutch ringed Oystercatcher plus sightings of our own ringed Turnstones and Redshank at Hilbre and elsewhere. Details of all our colour-ringed sightings can be found in our annual report. Photos SRW and S Reid (Little Egret above and in flight).

3rd January 2011

Visits on the 1st and 2nd January 2011 were made by members and, as with today, good numbers of waders (including Curlew below left), Pale-bellied Brent Geese (family party 4 juvs and 2 adults below right) and winter resident passerines (Robin, Dunnock, Wren, Song Thrush and single Blackbird and Rock Pipits) were noted. Wader counts today (3rd) for example saw 10,000 Knot, 5,000 Dunlin, 320 Bar-tailed Godwit along with 16 Purple Sandpipers roosting at the North End and feeding in the rocks on the ebbing tide (see right).

Today also brought a superb count of over 50 Goldeneye which involved two flocks (one each off the West Side and the East Hoyle sandbank), but excluded some birds which could be clearly identified from the Obs balcony (in clear light) on the recently unfrozen West Kirby Marine Lake!

Other ducks included 25 Red-breasted Mergansers and at least 40 Scaup (also off the East Hoyle), finally a drake Common Scoter flew in and spent the high tide period bathing just off the North East end of Middle (see below right).

A good count of 65 Great Crested Grebes was made on the flat calm sea along with 4 Red-throated Divers and 2 Guillemots.

A single Song Thrush was the first bird to be ringed yesterday (2nd) and a couple more new Song Thrushes were ringed today along with a new Robin. Meanwhile a male Kestrel hunted the island as did a Grey Heron again (one of two birds seen).

[JE, CJW, PSW, SRW and TGW] [3] Photos by PSW

Happy New Year

All the best to all our members, friends and followers of the blog for 2011 - let's hope that 2011 can be half as good as 2010 on the island - if so we will be in for another great year!