Thursday 31 March 2011

31st March 2011

What a difference a day makes ! After overnight rain a west south westerly blew up to force 6/7 and then gale force 8 by 08:00hrs. With obviously not much action to be expected on the migration front, sea watching was the main attraction this morning. Right from the off flocks of Little Gulls were seen moving west in a narrow band in the medium distance (above, the sort of view one might see through binoculars!), in large groups at first and then thinning out later in the morning. The end of the session total came to 651 birds, a record count for Hilbre. Gannets were also in evidence feeding at a similar distance and 228 were logged together with 18 Guillemots, 4 Razorbills, 6 Kittiwakes, 8 Red-throated Divers, 8 Great Crested Grebes, 11 Red-breasted Mergansers, 19 Common Scoter, and 3 more early Sandwich Terns. Rarest waterbirds of the day were 3 Goosanders seen off the north end. Three Teal stayed around to the west of the islands after the tide (right), and a single Wheatear fed in the lee of the sheltered east side of Middle. Ringed:- 1 Chaffinch, 1 Robin. (DB,CJ,CS,CJW,PSW et al) [91] photos CJ

Wednesday 30 March 2011

30th March 2011

The breeze is still in the south east but Meadow Pipit numbers are down on yesterday and there was generally only a similar small trickle of migrants. Both wheatears seen were males and there were also 2 Goldcrests, 5 Goldfinches and a Reed Bunting, with only 3 Sand Martins passing today. The 2 male and 1 female Blackbirds will include at least 1 or 2 of the birds considering breeding this year. The heavily moulting Merlin (above and left) gave a good show for the camera, likewise the Common Seal in shell bay (below) and the Grey Seal at the north end (left) posed for useful comparison. The Brent Geese (112 counted) now seem to be in declining numbers, while 150 Knot and 40 Bar-tailed Godwits were apparently heading north with purpose for the summer. On the ebb tide 4 Pintail flew north and 2 Teal were around the Little Eye area. Ringed:- 1 Linnet. (BSB,DB,CJW) [89] photos BSB

Wood Mouse on Hilbre

The identity of small rodents seen on the island this last year or so was surprisingly suspected to be Wood mice when a single individual was found dead on the island recently. It is confirmed that at least some are surviving when this photo was taken a few days ago. The mouse was by the obs building.

Photo PSW

Tuesday 29 March 2011

29th March 2011

Meadow Pipits went streaming through more than ever this morning, first of all in clouds of 50 or so at a time, then later in smaller groups of up to a dozen, and the total up to midday was estimated at approximately 1,700 birds, although there were probably many more. They were all travelling south as most migrants do at Hilbre whether it be spring or autumn. The two highlights of the day were 2 obs firsts for the year. A Sandwich Tern appeared out of the mist briefly at the north end (right), and towards midday a Willow Warbler was found in the bottom shelf of the garden mist net but jumped out before it could be ringed. It seemed to be a bright, large male type with long wings but unfortunately could not be examined closely. Other migrants included 4 Goldcrests, 1 Chiffchaff, 2 Wheatears (left), 8 Pied Wagtails and a Starling with the usual few finches represented by 2 Siskins, 4 Goldfinches, and 2 Greenfinches. The 6 Sand Martins were all seen late in the morning when the sun broke through. A Jackdaw was heard and a Little Egret arrived between the islands but did not stay. The Common Seal (surely the most photographed mammal in Wirral at present) was in shell bay, both lazing on the rocks and swimming in the clear water. Ten Gannets flew north in the mist and the female/immature Merlin is still on station south of Middle but a male also showed well as it flew south down the east side of the island. Ringed:- 1 Chiffchaff, 1 Goldcrest, 1 Meadow Pipit. (DB,CJ) [88] photos CJ

Monday 28 March 2011

28th March 2011

First of all a interesting story from one of the obs members -" I got a call from my daughter in Bidston at 20:30 last evening, she said her cat had brought a bird into the house and asked for advice. I decided to go round and when I got there I found a Water Rail in her spare bedroom! After taking advice I decided to roost it overnight. It was fine this morning so I released it into the West Kirby salt marsh on my way to Hilbre". (JE) See photo, above. No Water Rails on Hilbre but migrants were still passing through. Meadow Pipits continued to pass until at least midday by which time when 250 had been logged. Five species of visiting finches were in mostly small numbers, with 2 Chiffchaffs the only warblers. 'Scarce' Hilbre species present included 2 Collared Doves, 2 Canada Geese (at one time mixing with the Brents, above right) ) and a Tree Sparrow. Little Gulls made an appearance on the sea and 10 were noted today. The Brent were counted at 110 but there may be more, and at least 6 Purple Sandpipers are still around. The seal (left) that has preferred the rocks on the north end to the usual haul out on the west hoyle for the last few days is still present. Ringed :- 2 Greenfinches (left), 1 Chiffchaff (right), 1 Meadow Pipit. The Meadow Pipit showed an extensive prebreeding moult (right). (ME +HW, JE) [ 85] photos JE

Sunday 27 March 2011

27th March 2011

A Woodcock was disturbed from the old obs garden late in the morning and flew north around the top of the island be could not be re-found. A Merlin was present that had the missing primaries and therefore not the bird seen regularly south of Middle. Two Canada Geese were at the north end and a Little Egret was on the log today. (DB+ESCA,JE,SRW+1,TGW, CJW(f))

Saturday 26 March 2011

26th March 2011

Heavy fog this morning resulted in a good ringing day with many passing birds staying low to the island. Lots of Meadow Pipits moved through, mostly early in the morning, totalling about 600 with 24 Pied Wagtails and a single White also early movers.
The most obvious change from previous days was the arrival of 8 Chiffchaffs in the paddocks (right), a normal prelude at this time to the first Willow Warblers in a week or so. Two Goldcrests moved off the island early morning, likewise a House Sparrow, and then 2 Tree Sparrows flew through later in the morning. Staying longer was a Magpie although a Collared Dove soon disappeared.
There were 5 Wheatears today (4 before 8.00 am) after a blank day yesterday, but finches were in similar numbers, most species being in single figures including Chaffinch, Goldfinch, Siskin, Greenfinch and Lesser Redpoll (right) (with one Redpoll being ringed today). Skylark and Starling seen were singles only, also a lone Redwing (above) that flew into the obs garden mist net when it was least expected as there not been any thrush movement, although a new Blackbird was later ringed.
Sand Martins came along in ones and twos with 12 logged by mid-day.
The Merlin remains in the area of the ridge south of Middle, despite one of the local crows chasing it off its perch this morning.
Ringed:- 6 Chiffchaffs, 3 Greenfinches (above), 1 Lesser Redpoll (right), 1 Goldcrest, 1 Wren, 1 Meadow Pipit, 1 Blackbird, 1 Redwing, 1 Robin.
(RA,CJ,NDW,CJW,PSW,SRW,TGW,DEW,RTW,NLW,EKW) [81] photos CJ (1) & PSW (4)

Friday 25 March 2011

25th March 2011

A south easterly breeze overnight with heavy mist produced a similar bird day to yesterday but somewhat quieter and without the Wheatears and the Blue Tit. The Merlin seen yesterday was again on the ridge south of Middle in the morning.
Finches were again passing through in good numbers:- 11 Greenfinch, 15 Goldfinch, 7 Chaffinch, 9 Siskin were logged up to mid-day with at least 21 Lesser Redpoll on the island, many down looking at the feeders (photos right). Meadow Pipits went through in numbers as they do at this time in March, today they were estimated at 350 birds. Other migrants today were 17 Pied Wagtails, 2 Goldcrests, a single Skylark with some Hilbre irregulars like 3 Woodpigeons, 3 Jackdaws, and 6 Collared Doves. Three House Sparrows circled the island but decided not to stay too long while a male Reed Bunting flew about and landed next to the pond, the nearest thing we have to a reed bed !
There were no Swallows today but 10 Sand Martins attracted attention.
Ringed:- 2 Wrens, 1 Blackbird, 1 Linnet, 1 Dunnock.
(DB,ME + HW,CJ,CJW, et al ) [65] photos CJ

Thursday 24 March 2011

Early Afternoon Update

A Marsh Harrier was spotted flying over Little Eye before drifting over the Royal Liverpool Golf Course towards Pinfold Lane; a very typical line of flight for this species at Hilbre in spring. (DB)

24th March 2011

One of the Merlins (right) was found on the ridge south of Middle early this morning, and this proved to be a good omen for the rest of the day. Plenty of Meadow Pipits moving first thing and flocks of Jackdaws across the island including one of 20 birds. An excellent record was of a pair of Goosanders flying south down the west side tide edge, and earlier 2 Drakes and a female Eider (Eiders have been scarcer than normal recently at Hilbre) also flew south.
The first Swallow seen by members this year was over the obs early on, while during the morning 4 Sand Martins floated through and 3 Wheatears appeared on the west side (left), one of which finally gave itself up in the potter trap.
The sequence of Siskins continued as 7 called overhead, and then a Redpoll calling prompted a sound lure to be played which had an immediate effect bringing a flock of 6 birds down to the obs garden. One was noted to be a typical 'Mealy' type but unfortunately after sampling the feeders they departed the island. Other seed eaters today included no less than 3 Reed Buntings, a Tree Sparrow, 16 Goldfinches, and 4 Chaffinches. A Blue Tit appeared mid-morning and circuited the feeders on the island including the obs garden (above right). The warbler family was represented by 6 Goldcrests in the paddock areas.
Three Woodpigeons (above) were present but each chose to keep to themselves, and a Magpie stayed all morning (right), but flocks of 3 then 6 Collared Doves went right through.
Only 2 Starlings and no Skylarks today but 8 Pied Wagtails and one White Wagtail were logged.
On the flood tide a pair of Teal swan down the east side of the island.
Ringed:- 3 Goldcrests, 2 Wrens, 2 Chaffinches, 2 Blackbirds, 2 Reed Buntings (above), 1 Wheatear (right).
(DB,JE,CJ,PSW, et al) [60] photos JE,CJ,PSW

Wednesday 23 March 2011

23rd March 2011

A breeze from the south east later turning north brought lots of species to the island, making it one of the most varied days of the year so far. The Pheasant seen around the 'air raid shelter' was still on the island today.
The 2 Merlins were still present and briefly joined by a Sparrowhawk flying south west. Hilbre scarce species seen today included a Woodpigeon, a Magpie, 2 House Sparrows, a Tree Sparrow, a Coal Tit, a Blue Tit and 6 Collared Doves, while flying over was a Jackdaw and a Golden Plover. Five Sand Martins and 14 Pied Wagtails were more conventional migrants, also 2 Chaffinches, 5 Greenfinches and 20 Goldfinches.
Pick of the sea/shore birds were 5 Razorbills and a count of 240 Turnstones still not moving north.
(DB,ME + HW)

Tuesday 22 March 2011

22nd March 2011

A short visit today found a male Pheasant on the island, and although it is not a truly a wild species it is still quite exciting as it is probably the first ever seen here although Pheasants have often in the past been heard calling from the Red Rocks area in calm weather.
There were 2 Merlins present, at least one of which was a female type, and a Little Egret on the shore near the spartina. A Raven flew over the island travelling west.

Sunday 20 March 2011

20th March 2011

Two Merlins were seen this morning, a male and a female/immature type (below), neither of which was the bird seen on Tuesday as that had missing/growing primaries and these did not. One of the highest tides of the year brought out the Sunday canoeists (right), unfortunately between the Merlins and the canoeists the waders roosting on Middle didn't stand a chance of not being disturbed during the high tide period.

Migration wise a very quiet day, even when a Wheatear was seen briefly on the west side it immediately disappeared and could not be re-found. Single Siskin and Goldfinch were the only passing finches and a Skylark also travelled alone, but there were 2 Goldcrests in the paddocks, one of which was the bird of 2 days ago. A Woodpigeon arrived very early but did not stay, and a Little Egret was out on the shore away from the islands. After the tide a pair of Teal landed briefly in a rock pool east of Middle (right).
No Little Gulls this morning, just a summer plumaged Red-throated Diver, 14 Great Crested Grebes, 16 Common Scoter and a Razorbill, while the pick of the shorebirds were 2 Sanderling and 2 Grey Plover.
Ringed:- 1 Robin
(DB +ESCA,CJ,NDW,PSW,SRW, CJW) [48] photos CJ

Saturday 19 March 2011

19th March 2011

Good coverage throughout the day saw the first 2 Sandwich Terns logged by members this year off to the west side of the island, also a winter plumaged Black-throated Diver that flew out of the estuary on the flood tide. Other seabirds included 16 Great Crested Grebes, 5 Red-throated Divers, 4 Little Gulls and 2 Gannets. Three female Goldeneye were a good find, slightly less exciting were 2 Canada Geese, but the appearance of a Little Egret was welcome as they have been particularly scarce these winter months.

The Herring Gull that was ringed near Widnes (above) is still staying close to the island as it has done since first being seen last year.
Very little today in the way of land birds; a Blackbird, 2 Siskins, 1 Goldfinch and a Goldcrest still present from yesterday, also 2 Pied wagtails which may be contemplating breeding (right).

Friday 18 March 2011

18th March 2011

Very little wind today, and very little visible migration, even the Meadow Pipits which have featured in the last few days were confined to the local breeding birds. Yet another Long-tailed Tit, the fourth time this species has made it to the island this year, was trapped in the old obs garden (left), and a Blue Tit was in the new obs garden early on but immediately disappeared. Perhaps the more frequent visits of the Tit family are due to the provision of more feeders around the island recently. Four Goldcrests stayed most of the morning, at least one of which was a bird from yesterday, nevertheless a new bird was ringed. Very few finches, seen or heard right through the high tide were 2 Chaffinches, 2 Siskin, and 6 Goldfinches. A new male Blackbird was present, also a Song Thrush and 2 Pied Wagtails and 3 Skylarks passed over, one of which was singing.
There were at least Purple Sandpipers, possibly more, and one or two bathed in the rock pools at the north end (right). A brief sea watch saw 12 distant Little Gulls, 1 Red-throated Diver and 6 Red-breasted Mergansers. After the tide a female Pintail flew across Middle and off to the south east.
In the afternoon a Short-eared owl was seen to enter the recording area over the shore at Red Rocks and fly south before regaining the shore south of Pinfold Lane.
Ringed:- 1 Blackbird (right), 1 Goldcrest, 1 Long-tailed Tit (above).
(BSB,DB,CJ,CJW,PSW) [47] photos CJ & PSW

Thursday 17 March 2011

17th March 2011

Some fog again early with very light north easterly winds, but scarce Hilbre species arrived towards midday in response to the approach of some rain. Unusual birds ringed were 2 Tree Sparrows, a Fieldfare and a Blue Tit. It seems that so far this year we are ringing quite a few species that do not occur in the totals every year, let's hope it will continue! There were not quite as many Meadow Pipits today and just 2 Pied Wagtails, 2 Chaffinches and a White Wagtail.
Shore counts included 190 Brent Geese, 200 Shelduck, 450 Curlew, 240 Turnstones and 50+ Redshanks.

Ringed :- 2 Tree Sparrows, 1 Blue Tit, 1 Fieldfare, 1 Blackbird.
(DB,CJW) [44] photos CJW

Wednesday 16 March 2011

16th March 2011

The fog was quite persistent today with the mainland not visible for long periods. The first Wheatear of the year (left) was found early apparently arriving at the north end of the island but soon relocating to the favoured area for Wheatears on the west side where it was trapped and colour ringed (please check Wheatears for colour rings!). Another early visitor was a House Sparrow which like the Wheatear did not stay long enough for photographs in the field.
The main feature of the today was a significant passage of Meadow Pipits totalling 250 which flitted about the grassy areas all day long, other migrants were few; 2 Pied Wagtails, 3 Starlings, 1 Skylark. Finches were again hard to come by although 4 Siskins passed over the island and the Chaffinch ringed on 13th was still present.
A Rook which flew north overhead was a scarce record for any time of year on Hilbre.
Following yesterdays bird another Chiffchaff was on the ground (right) and was ringed, but most pleasing of all were the 2 Goldcrests (left) that were also ringed following the very poor passage of these birds last year at most observatories.
Ten Wigeon spent most of the day off the east side of the island chain and kept appearing out of the mist. Only 10 Purple Sandpipers could be found although there may well be more counted on another day with a higher tide.
Later around midday 2 Sand Martins, the second record of the year, were seen from the obs flying over the south end.
Ringed:- 1 Wheatear, 2 Goldcrests, 1 Chiffchaff, 1 Wren.
(DB,CJ,CJW) [39] photos CJ

Tuesday 15 March 2011

15th March 2011

A foggy start to the day, and the sort of conditions that bring birds to the island, particularly in spring and autumn.
Two more Woodpigeons took a liking to the area and a Common Snipe found its way across the shore this morning. The second White Wagtail of the spring arrived and 8 Pied Wagtails also went through, although finches were only represented by a single Chaffinch.

Highlight of the day was the first warbler of the year in the form of a Chiffchaff that was trapped and ringed (above).
The Brent are still around the 190 mark, and the male Common Scoter that has been about the island on several days recently is still to be seen. Five drake Mallards and a female are now exploring the pond area.
A Common Seal was in the clear water of shell beach (above) and gave a rare opportunity to photograph this species in the water a Hilbre. A Hart's Tongue fern (right)was identified on the island, also a scarce Hilbre sighting.
Ringed:- 1 Blackbird, 1 Chiffchaff
(DB,CJW) [34] photos CJW

Monday 14 March 2011

14th March 2011

A Woodpigeon was ringed this morning, only the 5th ever ringed on the island. It was one of 3 seen today following a run of Woodpigeons over the last week. A Merlin was again present, another bird featured recently on the island. A good record was of 24 Jackdaws flying east - a rare sight on Hilbre indeed.

A Reed Bunting was noted with several finches including 8 Siskin, 2 Greenfinches, a Goldfinch and a Chaffinch. Other passerine passage comprised a small number of Meadow Pipits and 5 Pied Wagtails.

Ringed:- 1 Woodpigeon, 2 Robins, 2 Greenfinches.
(DB,CJW,et al) [ 32 ] photo CJW