Sunday 31 July 2011

31st July 2011

A summer plumaged Curlew Sandpiper was identified among a resting flock of Dunlin near Middle Eye (EW). Fewer Willow Warblers today, probably about 10, but a Whitethroat was new on the island. Common terns reached a new peak at 280 birds amongst the Sandwich terns, 15 Little Terns were also logged. Eight Whimbrel was a small increase compared with the last few days, while a flock of 3,000 Dunlin was noted flying passed. Swallows are still about in numbers, also 5 Swift were over the island.
(DB+ESCA) also Eddie Williams

Saturday 30 July 2011

30th July 2011

Clear last night and sunny this morning but there was still a Willow Warbler arrival overnight which unlike yesterday seemed to be over by 08.00hrs, although another small number later appeared about noon. Many Swallows were flying low for the insects this morning and one was captured in the Newton, and during the day 3 others were seen briefly entering and exiting the same trap. Seven Sand Martins, 5 House Martins and 2 Swifts added variety overhead, also 2 dark phase Arctic Skuas flew across the top of the island and went for some Sandwich terns on the east side. A male Stonechat was seen flying passed the obs but could not be found again anywhere on the island. A single Wheatear on the west side early in the day also did not stay, but 2 more were on Middle during the morning. A total of 35 Little Terns were logged, sightings have been late this autumn, apparently due to a late end to breeding at Gronant. Gannets appeared in ones and twos, otherwise the sea was quiet. Ringed:- 13 Willow Warblers, 1 Swallow, 1 Blackbird, 1 Linnet, 1 Meadow Pipit.
(DB,AEH,CJ+VB,NDW) [681-40] photo AEH

Friday 29 July 2011

29th July 2011

It's incredible what a light easterly with cloud and the merest hint of drizzle can do even this early in the autumn. Willow Warblers dropped in at regular intervals all morning, with an estimated 35 having arrived by early afternoon. A juvenile Stonechat (above), possibly the bird that has been around on some days over the last week or so, appeared on the paddock fences and it took an inspired placement of the potter traps (above right), jammed between the obs fence and the hedge, to capture it in less than 10 minutes. Just before noon a Grasshopper Warbler flew in from the sea near 'buzzard hill' and then buried itself in the thicket in the old obs garden and was later caught in the mist net. A Whitethroat was also a late arrival on the island but managed to evade capture. There was not much time for sea-watching, but at one stage the sea came to the observers when pale and dark Arctic Skuas harassed a moulting first summer Kittiwake practically over 'Wheatear hill' to the west of the obs (above). Up to a hundred Swallows went through but only 4 Swifts were seen when the day brightened. A Common Sandpiper (right) was found on the rocks on the west side, while there are still 4 Whimbrel about the islands. On a depressing note a dead Fulmar floated in to the north end with fishing line down its throat (left), no comment is necessary. Much more likely to lift the spirit was the Rabbit when it made a brief scuttling appearance through the SK paddock, finally satisfying the last of the regulars who had not yet 'ticked' it ! Ringed:- 18 Willow Warblers, 4 Linnets, 2 Wrens, 1 Stonechat, 1 Grasshopper warbler (right), 1 Dunnock. (DB,CJ) [664-39?] photos CJ

Thursday 28 July 2011

An interesting Bee at Hilbre

The pictures are of an interesting Bee photographed at Hilbre in the last few days. We re-print the comments of our member Dr. Gavin Broad.
"Bombus monticola is a characteristic bee of uplands, above 300m, in north and west Britain. This is a distinctive bumblebee with its extensively red abdomen and yellow bands on the thorax. The bee seemed to be thriving on Hilbre in at least 1996-98 but then was not seen again until this year, when it has reappeared in good numbers. Hilbre, being at sea level, is a very unusual site for this species."
photos BSB

28th July 2011

No real number of migrants today, a single Willow warbler was on the island. Four Little Egrets flew passed, not stopping to feed, and 3 Arctic Skuas were noted.
Ringed :- 1 Wren [637-39] (DB,AEH)

Wednesday 27 July 2011

27th July 2011

A clear sky but a light south easterly overnight produced the first small Willow Warbler fall of the autumn with 10 birds on the island. Once again there was a gathering of juvenile Swallows feeding around the island, about 70 today with at least 40 juveniles on the fences at one stage. A single Wheatear was seen on the west side, but too briefly to establish age or sex. Little Terns showed at last with 8 early and another 5 flying west towards noon. Four Whimbrel are still present but only a single Arctic Skua was noted, again to the east near the Sandwich Tern roost. Two Harbour Porpoises broke surface and were seen by members offshore (right).The moth trap was deployed last night and when examined over 100 moths of 20 species were recognised by a member still learning the skill. It took 3 hours! Ringed:- 3 Willow Warblers, 2 (juvenile) Wrens.
(BSB,DB,CJ, + CJW,PGR at sea) [636-39] photos CJ

Tuesday 26 July 2011

26th July 2011

Three dark phase and 2 light phase Arctic Skuas were on the reefs south of Middle early in the day. Five Whimbrel are still on the shore, and the Turnstones were counted at 39, the start of the autumn build-up to the winter peak of these small waders.

Sunday 24 July 2011

24th July 2011

Nine Arctic Skuas were to the east of the island, a large number to be so close to the shore. Twenty Five gannets were noted on the sea. A single juvenile Wheatear was on the island, Wheatears in this plumage are not common at Hilbre, but occur occasionally at this time.

Saturday 23 July 2011

23rd July 2011

A quiet day with the main bird interest being the 5 island bred juvenile Swallows being fed continuously at various places including on the the obs fences (left). Early in the morning the Stonechat seen in the last few days was on Middle, and a small sea passage logged 80 Gannets and 13 Manx Shearwaters. Sandwich Terns are now approaching 1500 in the roost with a few Common Terns scattered amongst them. 12 Whimbrel was a very high count for this early in the autumn. A Shag flying passed the north end was the first for some time. When the sun finally banished the occasional theatening cloud (left), several Grayling butterflies (above) showed about the area of the mast. (BSB,DB,CJ+VB,NDW) photos CJ

Monday 18 July 2011

18th to 22nd July brief summary

A strong north westerly on 18th brought 2 Storm petrels to the island also 12 Manx shearwaters 5 Kittiwakes and a Fulmar, the petrels being seen in the afternoon (GB,MGT). On 21st an out of season Teal was logged, also a Willow Warbler and a Stonechat (DB). The 22nd produced an adult Pomarine Skua complete with 'spoons' travelling north east from the east gutter along the bank, 2 dark phase Arctic Skuas were also present, while the Stonechat and Willow Warbler were probably the same birds as the day before (DB).
Other observers during this period-AAB,AMC,BSB,GB

Sunday 17 July 2011

17th July 2011

The weather had deteriorated overnight and a strong westerly wind with squalls becoming incessant rain later meant seawatching was the main priority today. The high tide period produced 57 Manx Shearwaters but visibility was atrocious. After the tide observers making a brief ebb visit found a summer plumaged Mediterranean Gull on the shore, a substantial 'nursery' flock of mainly juvenile Sandwich Terns huddled behind Little Eye where two Yellow-legged Gulls were found with Herring and Lesser Black-backs.

Back on the island a late afternoon seawatch produced 27 more Manxies, plus 3 Kittiwakes, a couple of Great Crested Grebes and a few Common and Sandwich Terns but no skuas or Storm Petrels (the latter will surely appear in the next couple of days if this wind does not abate!)

(GB, GB + PSW, SRW, TGW briefly) Photos to follow

Saturday 16 July 2011

16th July 2011

A blustery and wet start to the day did not put one observer off and the reward for his effort came straight away with a Yellow-legged Gull found in the gutter on the way on. Between the morning's heavy downpours a trip to the seawatching hide proved very worthwhile when an adult Pomarine Skua flew past the North End. Another sighting of Rock Pipit, this time at the North End of the main island was further evidence of this year's possible breeding attempt.

A couple of Arctic Skuas were also seen during the seawatch.

Later a couple of juvenile Linnets were caught but a young Whitethroat evaded capture (perhaps the bird from midweek).

(PSW) [631-39] Photos to follow

Blog Updates

Apologies for late blog entries (work committments).

However, please see photos of the juvenile Redstart (7th July) and highlights from a blazing hot Saturday (9th) below.

This week 10th-16th has seen a continued build up of Sandwich Terns with numbers heading for four figures. Other news include another (or the same?) juvenile Stonechat making an appearance and a Whitethroat. More updates will follow including details of the Norwegian ringed Oystercatcher (found dead last winter).

Saturday 9 July 2011

9th July 2011

On a lovely warm summer's day there were lots of butterflies including Red Admirals, Small Tortoiseshells, Small Whites, Green-veined Whites, Grayling and Meadow Brown and other insect life included many Cinnabar caterpillars (see below).

The island's colour has now progressed from the spring pink of Thrift to the summer sparkling blue of Rock Sea Lavender (see right).

Birding however was quite slow although a Common Sandpiper was present on the 'Whaleback' and a stunning adult Mediterranean Gull was seen and the Sandwich Terns continue to build up. Breeding birds were much in evidence including lots of juveniles of various species including Blackbird (see below).

(PSW) Photos by PSW

Thursday 7 July 2011

7th July 2011

Another fantastic record occurred today with the capture of a juvenile Redstart (see photos). This is exceptionally rare on Hilbre and is, once again, testament to the continued good coverage during the 'so-called' quiet summer months! (DB, AEH, KMc) [627-39] Photos by KMc

Wednesday 6 July 2011

Hummingbird Hawk Moth Photos

The blog has been updated with more shots of this lovely moth by voluntary coastal warden John Ball - see left.

For more photos - see 2nd July 2011 (as well as 3rd and 4th June).

6th July 2011

A quiet day was brightened up by the continued build up of Sandwich Terns with 218 counted including many juveniles and several displaying pairs.... video below is taken with an iPhone through a telescope (i.e. experimental!).

Other birds today included a single juvenile Linnet caught and ringed, a single Whimbrel over in company with its more numerous cousin the Curlew, which continue to build up in number.

A single Sand Martin passed over continuing the recent run of mid-summer records of this species (which is unusual at Hilbre). An influx of Red Admiral butterflies (15 were noted - see above) and Green-veined Whites appeared in small numbers too.

(DB et al) [626-39]

Sunday 3 July 2011

3rd July 2011

Unusual sightings continued with a juvenile Blackcap caught this morning, more expected was a Common Sandpiper found at the North End before it flew down the west side and off towards Middle. Another juvenile Dunnock was caught and ringed and a Wheatear appeared at the North End in the afternoon. (ESCA, DB, JE, KMc+3, SRW) [625-39]

Saturday 2 July 2011

2nd July 2011

A lovely sunny Summer's day began with clear blue skies and a very light south-easterly wind. Up to nine Grey Herons were seen today but, perhaps surprisingly, no Little Egrets (by mid afternoon at least). Highlight of the day was found on the way over when a juvenile Stonechat appeared on the posts on Middle before promptly flying off towards Hilbre. It was re-found later in the Old Obs garden (left) where it gave stunning views but frustrated the ringers by sitting on the potter traps observing the meal worms. There were clearly plenty of flies around for it to feed on.

However, a female Greenland Wheatear was caught in the Potters (the first of the 'Autumn' - see right) and a Willow Warbler spent the morning catching flies in the bracken ... another returning bird. The autumnal feel to the bird list was compounded by the brief appearance of a Song Thrush, but it definitely felt like mid-Summer weather-wise as the temperature rose and heat haze made sea-watching difficult although the sound of Sandwich Terns and the reappearance of the stunning Hummingbird Hawk Moth on the Honeysuckle in the New Obs' ('Southward') garden meant that the battle between the seasons was won today by Summer!

Other sightings today included the Kittiwake at the North End again, a Kestrel being mobbed by the summering Swallows, 3 Sand Martins and 11 Swifts over as well as single Bar-tailed Godwit, 5 Red-breasted Mergansers and a few diving Gannets in the haze.

(CJ, NDW, PSW, SRW + VB) [623-39] Photos to follow Hummingbird Hawk Moth (John Ball - voluntary coastal warden) others SRW

Friday 1 July 2011

1st July 2011

Both male and female Wheatears (above) were flitting about the main island today which is quite unusual for early July, but they were nevertheless very welcome although they found enough food without sampling the potter trap meal worms on the menu. As the tide approached a (family?) party of 5 Eiders drifted down the east gutter (above) and then fed to the east of Middle for some time.
The light north westerly did not bring many seabirds, just 4 Gannets, 2 Sandwich Terns, a group of 16 Common Scoter flying east and an adult Kittiwake (above) hanging about the north end until the tide drove it away. Most of the regular breeding species were showing, also 2 Swifts went through in the afternoon. A close up view of the barge that ferries the Airbus 380 'super-jumbo' wings between Harwarden and Mostyn dock was available today as it made its way around the north end towards the Mersey for maintenance (right), passing (seen in the distance) the ship that transports the wings onward from Mostyn to Toulouse in France. Ringed:- 1 Dunnock (juvenile)
(DB,CJ,KMc) [621-39] photos CJ