Sunday 27 February 2011

27th February 2011

News so far today - another impressive Pale-bellied Brent Goose count with 183 counted around the islands this morning.


Saturday 26 February 2011

26th February 2011

A quiet bird day but with some more signs of spring. Frogs were very active in the old obs pond (left & below) and daffodills were out by the
rememberance plaque to founder member John Gittins in the 'heli' trap garden (bottom).

A young female Grey Seal was hauled out at the north end for a time while few visitors were on the island.
Bird of the day was a male Goosander seen flying low over the sea, slightly less of a surpirse was an adult Kittiwake on the edge of the tide. A Peregrine harassed the waders on the east hoyle which again today included a good number of Knot.

Thursday 24 February 2011

24th February 2011

About 8,000 Knot flew north east out of the estuary past Hilbre first thing this morning and many others fed around the north end of the island and occassionally flew around in flocks when disturbed (right).
The trapping areas were not troubled by migrants as was expected in the south westerly breeze which later veered to the west and strenghtened. Fly-overs were not that exciting either with only 2 Skylarks and 5 Goldfinches of any note.

The Brent were scattered all around the island and were not able to be counted before the tide (left).
A new Robin which seemed to have joined the 2 residents was ringed today, and at least 4 Dunnocks were getting very agitated as though the milder weather made them think of spring.
Another sign of spring was the flowering Lesser Celandine that was first noticed yesterday (right).
(DB,CJ) [12] photos CJ

Wednesday 23 February 2011

23rd February 2011

Three excellent records occurred in the second half of the day starting with a Short-eared Owl which flew down the east side around noon and landed on Middle Eye. In the afternoon a Jackdaw (a scarce Hilbre bird especially down on the island) was calling from the buildings and was quite distinctive showing white primaries patches. Rarest of all in the late afternoon a Tawny Owl was seen to fly from Red Rocks across the east hoyle bank and continue towards the south end of the main island.

Tuesday 22 February 2011

22nd February 2011

A number of migrants on the ground today with a Fieldfare, 6 Redwings, 6 Song Thrushes and a Blackbird brought in by the south easterlies, but by far the most exciting from a Hilbre point of view were 2 Great Tits which were trapped and ringed (left). Other good records included 2 Collared Doves, 19 Wigeon at the north end and 3 Golden Plover down at Little Eye, with a supporting cast of a Greenfinch, 7 Starlings and 5 Skylarks.
The Brents are steady at 180, while waders seen included 12 Sanderling and 50 Ringed Plovers.
(DB,CJW,PSW) photo CJW

Monday 21 February 2011

21st February 2011

A sea watch today on a very high tide produced 3 Red-throated Divers, 20 Great Crested Grebes, 35 Common Scoter, 15 Red-breasted mergansers and 8 Guillemots. Ten thousand Dunlin and 4 thousand Knot were seen around the east hoyle bank.
The Purple Sandpipier roost on the high tide was the highest count of the winter at 24 birds, with bar-tailed Godwits numbering 40 and Redshanks 50 .
Six Canada Geese were less expected visitors.

Sunday 20 February 2011

20th February 2011

A Fieldfare was in the paddocks first thing, also several Song Thrushes brought in by the light south easterly breeze and mist. The Fieldfare unfortunately was not trapped but 5 of the Song Thrushes were, 4 were newly ringed today (left) the other was a bird previously ringed in November 2008, once again proving the repeated return of some Song Thrushes to Hilbre in winter.
A Wren was singing on Middle and another was retrapped from last year, so maybe Wrens have survived the bitter December weather better than had been feared.

The very high tide should have been the roost for up to 10,000 waders on Middle, but a individual left it too late and got stranded on the island and his presence ensured the island was deserted (above). At least the Purple Sandpipers (18) stayed on the main island (above).
A Seal (right) was hauled out on the rocks at the north end as it has several times recently.
(JE) photos JE

Saturday 19 February 2011

19th February 2011

A strong and cold south easterly today but at least it was marginally brighter to enable some photographs to be obtained. A Peregrine was on the beach on the way over to the island (above).

One of the highest tides of the year gave an opportunity to see some waders roosting the tide - see Grey Plover (above), Dunlin and Ringed Plover (left), and Purple Sandpipers.
On the sea a Velvet Scoter was seen flying with 9 Common Scoters and 8 Wigeon (left) and a single Kittiwake also showed during the sea watch.
A male Blackbird was on the island early in the day but later left before it could be trapped for ringing, although a Rock Pipit was retrapped that was ringed in October 2009 (above), and becomes the first Rock Pipit to be re-caught at Hilbre in a subsequent year.
(PSW) photos PSW

Friday 18 February 2011

18th February 2011

A cold south easterly with low misty cloud made photographs impossible, nevertheless 155 Brent and 21 Purple Sandpipers were counted on the high tide visit, also records of 2 male and 2 female Pintail and 3 Lapwings on the whaleback.
Just 1 Red-throated Diver and 12 Common Scoters were on the sea, while 60 Grey Plover were noted and 7,000 Oystercatchers were in the high tide roost. A single Rock Pipit and a Blackbird were the only significant land birds.

Thursday 17 February 2011

17th February 2011

Very poor visibility made observation difficult today, despite this counts of sea-birds numbered 12 Red-throated Divers, 65 Common Scoters, 4 Great Crested Grebes, and 6 Red-breasted Mergansers. On the island was a Song Thrush, a Blackbird, 3 Meadow Pipits, a Rock Pipit and a good flock of 60 Linnets. A male and female Pintail were seen and 2 Lapwings flew east.

Wednesday 16 February 2011

16th February 2011

Twenty one Red-throated Divers was the excellent total on the sea watch today. Shelduck numbered 450 and good counts of waders included 450 Curlew, 230 Turnstone and 120 Redshank. Less regular visitors during the day were a Skylark and a drake Teal.

Tuesday 15 February 2011

15th February 2011

It was a squally morning with a force 5 easterly. The leucistic Oystercatcher was found on Middle Eye and 2 Lapwings were logged. The Linnet flock now numbering 65 were visiting Little Eye when observed today and a single Skylark was logged. Good counts today included 550 Shelduck and 350 Bar-tailed Godwits.

Sunday 13 February 2011


Photos of yesterday's Long-tailed Tit are now on the blog (see below).
Last Sunday's 'monster' Glaucous Gull (right) are now also on the blog - see 6th February 2011 for more photos of this now very scarce big 'white-winger' at Hilbre.
Updates for the last week also appear below...apologies to all for late postings.

13th February 2011

The weather turned back to overcast, occasional showers and blustery. However, coverage remains excellent but the only early morning news was of single Common Scoter (see left) off the North End and Peregrine seen and the beach which was simply 'covered in worm casts' (see below).

The only passerines seen on the island today were 3 Wrens and two Crows although a large flock of finches spotted over the beach were probably the Linnets that had been around over the last week.

A single Grey Heron took the opportunity of a quiet day to try and feed in the New Pond, but was soon flushed by the arrival of the odd visitor.

The regular waders and Brents were present in good numbers and the inshore lifeboat was carrying out its Sunday exercises (see left).


Saturday 12 February 2011

12th February 2011

Breaking news from the islands (by iPhone)... A Long-tailed Tit was heard in the trapping area. It was soon trapped and was found to be already ringed! Photos and further news to follow...

The Long-tailed Tit was ringed at Meols in June 2010 (by the Merseyside Ringing Group), was retrapped at the same site a couple of times until late October 2010 and then was not seen again until caught on Hilbre today.
Other birds seen today included single Red-throated Diver and Great Crested Grebe on the sea as well as a single Peregrine harassing the waders (see left) that included 24 Ringed Plovers, an excellent count of 616 Bar-tailed Godwits on the East Hoyle and 100 Redshank in the gutter.

Lovely blue skies and light wind gave the islands a spring-like feel and this was reflected in some passerine movement that included the first Grey Wagtail of the year along with a Pied. A small finch movement was also noted with single Chaffinch, Greenfinch, Siskin and two Goldfinch noted. The Linnet flock remained around the islands more with 35 birds counted (see right).

The Common Seal was hauled out again at the North End in the morning. However, the undoubted highlight was the 'Lotti' (Long-tailed Tit) which later in the day was feeding happily on the bird-feeders in the Obs garden.

It is an unusual record for Hilbre in February; this species is more associated with late autumn or spring. Therefore, bearing another ringer's ring makes it even more exceptional.

(DB, PSW) (Photos by PSW)

Friday 11 February 2011

11th February 2011

The highlight today was an amazing 1200 Bar-tailed Godwits counted, but other waders included 8000 Knot and 20 Purps. The godwits came in over Hilbre from the south west (from up the estuary) alighting on the North shore then continuing off to the north east. A single Skylark, 2 Rock Pipits, single Pied Wagtail, a Stock Dove and 45 Linnets were noted along with two each of Teal and Goldeneye.

A single Common Seal was hauled out at the North End where work commenced on the sea-watching hide roof.


Thursday 10 February 2011

10th February 2011

Wafer counts were the main focus today with an impressive 858 Bar-tailed Godwits, 530 Curlew, 130 Turnstone, 120 Redshank and 20 Purple Sandpipers recorded. Other noteworthy records today included 167 Brent, 107 Shelduck, 2 drake Scaup, 2 Peregrines, single Rock Pipit and 51 Linnets.


Wednesday 9 February 2011

9th February 2011

A brief visit today still produced some good counts that included 50 Ringed Plover, 464 Bar-tailed Godwit and 40 Linnets.


Tuesday 8 February 2011

8th February 2011

The first snowdrops of the year were flowering today and there was a slight early spring-like feel to some of the species seen today with 2 Mute Swan, Stock Dove and 4 Golden Plover recorded.

Other birds included 180 Pale-bellied Brent Geese (including all the colour-ringed birds), 16 Purple Sandpipers, single Peregrine and 44 Linnets.


Monday 7 February 2011

7th February 2011

Seawatching in gale force winds produced just 2 Red-throated Diver, 28 Great Crested Grebes, 35 Common Scoter, 21 Guillemot, single Razorbill, 8 Kittiwake as well as 5 Scaup and a single Wigeon. The only laddering of note was a Skylark.


Sunday 6 February 2011

6th February 2011 - evening update

A very blustery day did little to raise expectations and the high tide was blowing over the top of the islands (see Middle Eye above where the roosting waders did their best to find shelter and respite from the elements).

However, wader species were much in evidence with Curlew (below left), Turnstone (below centre a colour-ringed bird from Hilbre) and Ringed Plovers (below right) all using the main island for roosting along with 11 Purple Sandpipers which sheltered on the East Side steps.

The undoubted highlight of the day was a fine first winter Glaucous Gull (a rare sight on the islands these days) that flew between Middle and Hilbre being chased by Oystercatchers (see below) and other gulls; fortunately it was superbly 'caught on camera' in flight.

The 'monster' then headed up the West Side of the island (see above) and was not seen again.
Another pale first winter Glaucous Gull was seen at Seaforth NR later in the week - perhaps the same individual?
(PSW) Photos PSW

6th February 2011

Breaking news from the island where a first winter Glaucous Gull has been seen between the islands and heading up the West Side...more news and photos to follow.


Friday 4 February 2011

4th February 2011

The highlight of a very quiet but windy day was a Red-necked Grebe seen briefly off the North End in wave troughs. Other birds seen included 8 Common Scoter, 12 Great Crested Grebes and 13 Red-breasted Mergansers.