Wednesday 31 August 2011

31st August 2011

With light winds again on the last day of the month suddenly the first signs of September passage. A Marsh Harrier was a star bird passing through, also a female Sparrowhawk. The first 2 Goldcrests of the autumn proper were in the paddocks with a couple of Willow Warblers. A Purple Sandpiper appeared briefly, as often happens in summer prior to the wintering birds arriving at the end of October or early November. A flock of 75 Canada Geese was logged and 6 Arctic Terns were on the sea.

Tuesday 30 August 2011

30th August 2011

The wind had dropped overnight but migrants remain scarce with a single Willow Warbler present (but not caught). Just as yesterday a single new Robin was trapped and ringed avoiding a null day...

(SRW & TGW) [741-42]

Monday 29 August 2011

29th August 2011

With the wind picking up to force seven overnight, and still in the north westerly quarter, sea-watching was definitely the main focus today especially with nothing round the traps .... perhaps the first 'null day' on the ringing front for some time. However, observers returning to the island early evening caught a new Robin avoiding a blank day after all!

Whilst there were plenty of terns passing by it didn't 'feel' good on the sea with only one Kittiwake before and another immature after high tide and no Gannets, Fulmar or the hoped for shearwaters. Three each of Guillemot and Great Crested Grebe were expected. However, skuas were in attendance of the Sandwich Terns in particular with at least twelve Arctics (left) seen as well as single Pomarine and a Bonxie making the list look better than it felt. The Pomarine also harassing a Herring Gull for some time.

The big tide pushed roosting waders right on to the top of Middle Eye during high tide when a single Redshank sheltered just outside the sea-watching hide. Knot and Ringed Plover attempted to roost on the North End pools but sea spray saw them off.

(CLW, SRW, TGW, CJW (f), GIW from over; RAE+2, NDW, PSW) Photos by PSW [740-42]

Sunday 28 August 2011

28th August 2011

Afternoons really are the new mornings!

This morning dawned with more blustery north westerlies but heavy rain-showers hampered birding opportunities. Between showers single Robin was heard in the trapping area and 2 Wheatears sheltered on the South End slipway.

Seawatching was equally disappointing although tern numbers remain good.

As the ebb took hold and the morning turned to afternoon things began to change with good numbers of waders (mainly Knot, Dunlin, Oystercatcher, Ringed Plover and Sanderling) following the tide back.

A late afternoon 'round' of the traps revealed a new Willow Warbler which was a nice surprise but more surprising was a Whinchat which spent a short while on the wire fence near the Newton before disappearing ... perhaps prompted by the appearance of another Sparrowhawk which glided through the trapping area and was later seen on the Obs fence.

Ringed: Willow Warbler, Linnet

(CLW, SRW, TGW, CJW (f), GIW) [739-42]

Saturday 27 August 2011

27th August 2011

A complete contrast in the weather from yesterday with a fresh north-westerly (up to force five) prompting some overdue seawatching; although this was mostly from the comfort of the Obs veranda to shelter from intermittent downpours.
Up to 25 Gannets, 500 Sandwich Terns, 17 Common Scoter, 5 Great Crested Grebes and 55 Little Terns were noted but the highlight was a Bonxie drifting in menacingly from the east.
Surprisingly, considering the conditions, 10 Wheatears were present, plus 2 new Willow Warblers and several Robins arrived. Single Willow Warbler and two Robins were ringed.
A stranded Guillemot was reported to the Obs and subsequently rescued from the beach near Little Eye. It was released off the North End and swam strongly away watched by a junior member (below), but not before it had left a reminder or two of the incident with its rescuer! (above)
Also between Little Eye and West Kirby an adult Mediterranean Gull was seen as observers left the island in the afternoon.
(CLW, SRW, TGW, CJW (f), GIW -from over; NDW, PSW) [737-42]

Friday 26 August 2011

26th August 2011

A mild easterly (much warmer than yesterday morning !) produced a good autumn Wheatear day of 15 birds (left), but with most staying near the north end some of the potter traps were transported to where the birds were, and 2 were ringed from that area. A female Sparrowhawk was first seen in the old obs garden and was later trapped in the 'SK' (right). This is the second ringed this year following a male 2 weeks ago, but only the fourth female out of the sixteen ringed over the years. Also a repeat catch was a Swallow (below) in the old obs mist net following one 3 days ago and another at the end of July. Most of the 70 or so Swallows seen today were passage birds and 2 Sand Martins were flying through with them. Willow Warblers stayed for most of the morning, with 3 of the 6 present being ringed, and then in the afternoon after the breeze had backed to the north east a Garden Warbler was a good find around the paddocks and a fine addition to the ringing total for the day. The afternoon also produced the best wading bird when a juvenile Curlew Sandpiper posed briefly on the ridge south of Middle. The ridge featured early in the morning when again large numbers of Ringed Plover were amongst the stony reef before the tide, this time about 1,200 were estimated with many Dunlin and a few Sanderling. Good numbers of other waders today included 2,000 Dunlin, 2,000 Knot, 12 Bar-tailed Godwits, and 6 Whimbrel. One of the Dunlins feeding in the east gutter was a partly leucistic individual that at first glanced more resembled a Sanderling. Sea birds were extremely scarce with just a single Gannet and Guillemot to be logged. Ringed:- 3 Willow Warblers, 2 Wheatears, 1 Swallow, 1 Sparrowhawk, 1 Garden Warbler, 1 Robin. (DB,JE,CJ,KMc,CJW,PSW et al) [734-42] photos CJ

Thursday 25 August 2011

25th August 2011

Just as observers were about to leave the island after moaning about the lack of 'good' birds this August, a phone call from a member on the East Hoyle shore at Hoylake (who was attending the arrival of the RNLI's experimental FCB-2 carriage Lifeboat, right, which is the precursor to the new Hoylake Shannon class lifeboat) excitedly told of a large dark raptor which had passed right overhead and was travelling west across towards Wales. The island observers finally caught sight of it as it passed about a mile off to the north west over the sea and it was followed through a telescope until it arrived near the Point of Air and circled gaining height. It spent some time thermalling until it disappeared into the clouds. Although at some distance from the island, several clinching features of Hilbre's first BLACK KITE were noted in good light and these along with the good views of the original finder (seen low overhead) we hope will prove sufficient to be accepted as Wirral's second Black Kite (following one found by Hilbre members near Barnston in April 2007).

During the efforts to see the kite, a Sparrowhawk flew south closely passed the observers (left). The rest of the morning did not live up to the standard of the last half hour, 3 Wheatears (1 trapped), 2 Willow Warblers, a Chiffchaff and a Whitethroat were the only land migrants, with a few Swallows passing south. On the rocks south of Middle just before the tide were 750 Ringed Plovers, an exceptionally large number resting with many Dunlin. Whimbrel (left) are now less frequently to be seen, just 2 today. The east hoyle bank held 240 Common Terns and 50 Little Terns together with the slowly declining numbers of Sandwich Terns. Ringed:- 1 Wheatear (right), 1 Chiffchaff. (DB,CJ et al) [725-42] photos CJ

Wednesday 24 August 2011

24th August 2011

Best birds of the day were 2 Teal flying between the islands and 2 Greenshanks in the east gutter near Middle before moving off south. A Little Egret flew in off the sea travelling south west, this species has suddenlly become scacre this late summer, normally this is the best time to see these birds at Hilbre. Other numbers on the log were :-4 Wheatears, 2 Willow Warblers, 1 Whitethroat, 30 Sanderling, 500 Ringed Plover, 3 Whimbrel, 21 Swallows and a Peregrine.

Tuesday 23 August 2011

23rd August 2011

A Swallow found its way into the old obs mist net mid-morning, we don't ring that many Swallows on Hilbre, but this is the second this year. Most ringed on the mainland are either ringed as nestlings or caught at communal roosts which don't happen on the island. Even though the wind veered south east during the night there were scarcely any migrants on the ground. Two Wheatears were found separately, one just after dawn which promptly disappeared and then another at 10.00hrs. The only warbler apart from a Whitethroat that was ringed some days ago was a Willow Warbler that was extracted from the old obs mist net. The only real excitement occurred when observers heard an unusual bunting like call several times but the culprit could not be located. Fifty plus Little Terns were to the east of the island feeding in the area where the 500 Sandwich Terns roost. Seventy Five Sanderling, 3 Whimbrel and a Shag complete the log sheet. Ringed:- 1 Swallow, 1 Willow Warbler, 1 Linnet, 1 Robin

(DB,CJ,CJW) [723-42] Photo CJ

Sunday 21 August 2011

21st August 2011

Another sunny start to the day, this time a southerly soon veered to the west but not before landing a couple of Willow Warblers on the ground. Later in the morning a Chiffchaff (left) arrived fresh in and was trapped in the Newton, this is the first hopefully of many this autumn and it was a particularly small and yellow individual. Two Whitethroats were seen feeding in the same bush (right) in the paddock and in the afternoon they were both trapped separately, one being found to be the bird ringed on Thursday last, the other apparently new to the island. No Wheatears present today. Small waders around the islands today seemed to contain quite a large number of Ringed Plovers, definitely in three figures, also several hundred Dunlin and small flocks of Knot and 4 Bar-tailed Godwits, although Redshank seem to be almost entirely absent at the moment. The RNLI turned up on the island on manoeuvres in a most interesting looking vehicle (left). Ringed:- 2 Willow Warblers, 1 Chiffchaff, 1 Whitethroat, 1 Robin. (JE,CJ,CLW,SRW,TGW,CJW(f),GIW) [719-42] photos CJ & JE

Saturday 20 August 2011

20th August 2011

A very pleasant morning greeted observers who were staying on the island and visiting for the morning. The light south westerly breeze however did little to encourage migration. A Robin was trapped in the SK where a Vapourer Moth was also seen. As the morning sun rose a Wheatear appeared on 'Wheatear Hill' and was promptly caught in one of the earlier placed potter traps; a superb adult male nominate race bird. A Whitethroat in the trapping area was less accommodating, disappearing into a bramble bush and not seen again.

A Greenshank was heard and later seen in the gutter and other waders were in evidence with 8 Whimbrel, 300 Dunlin and 65 Ringed Plover counted. As the tide flooded terns built up on the East Hoyle sandbank mainly Sandwich (c300 still) and Common (c125) but four Little spent some time feeding the flood before resting on the beach.

On the ebb the tide edge was awash with birds mainly Knot, Dunlin, Oystercatchers, Black-headed Gulls and hundreds of terns including 41 Little Terns merrily buzzing about a small tidal inlet.

(DB, CLW, SRW, TGW, CJW (f), GIW) [714-42]

Friday 19 August 2011

19th August 2011

No warblers on the island at all this morning but at least there were a few Wheatears about. One of the Blackbirds retrapped was an adult male in full moult, it will be ineresting to see if is still here for the next breeding season. A flock of large waders was seen distantly arriving from down the estuary and turning inland by West Kirby, it was probably the group of Black-tailed Godwits at Gilroy nature reserve making one of their movements to and from the estuary. Only 2 Whimbrel were seen this morning, numbers seem to have dropped off in the last few days.
Ringed:- 2 Meadow Pipits, 2 Pied Wagtail (juv), 1 Linnet (juv).
(DB,KMc) [712-42]

Thursday 18 August 2011

18th August 2011

With the apparently ideal conditions this morning for a fall, members were surprised to find only a single Willow Warbler although it was the first for a few days, and then another seen but not captured.
Later in the morning 2 Whitethroats appeared, one was found in the old obs mist net and the other arrived on the west side together with a flock of 55 Meadow Pipits, the largest group of the autumn so far. A flock of 28 Swallows circling high above the island was the only other evidence of visible migration, no Wheatears to take advantage of the fresh mealworms obtained and there were no 'write-ons' to the log sheet which is unusual for August. Event of the day was a report from a member of the public of an Oystercatcher trapped in string on the shore by Little Eye, the bird was released by coastal ranger Scott Reid on his way off the island and brought to the obs by DB where the remaining string (from a child's kite) was removed from it's leg (above). The Oystercatcher which was in good condition was ringed and released on the west side. This is the first Oystercatcher ringed since one in 1998, and prior to that the days of cannon netting etc. in the 60's and 70's. Ringed:- 1 Oystercatcher, 1 Willow Warbler, 1 Whitethroat (right), 2 Meadow Pipits. (DB,CJ) [707-42] photos CJ

Wednesday 17 August 2011

17th August 2011

Five Wheatears arrived on the islands today in sunshine and a a light breeze. The first one to be ringed in the autumn proper was fitted with the appropriate colour rings for the season (left), (please look out for such marked birds, as we still await a sighting despite many being colour ringed in the last few years). Two Whitethroats were also ringed today, possibly one was the bird seen recently on the island. Four harbour Porpoises swam off the north end, first to the west and then turning back east to give good views. A Sparrowhawk arrived from the south together with a Peregrine but neither stayed to entertain. A male Vapourer moth orgyia antiqua which is scarce at Hilbre was found and photographed today (right). Ringed 2 Whitehroats, 2 Meadow Pipits, 1 Linnet, 1 Wheatear. (BSB,DB,SC+1,JE,KMc+1,CJW+many) [702-41] photos BSB

Tuesday 16 August 2011

16th August 2011

Despite the westerly wind 2 Whitethroats and a Blackcap were present this morning. Two Shags were identified on the sea, they have been scarce this year, and a single Swift flew across to add variety to the 7 Swallows (the result of island breeding this spring ). On the sea -watch were 4 Arctic Skuas, 30 Graet Crested grebes, 15 Gannets, and a Black-tailed Godwit which flew south. (DB,MGT+KD)

Sunday 14 August 2011

14th August 2011

The large tern roost of the previous evening had disappeared by this morning, possibly many birds had moved on overnight. A good find was a male and female Goosander, by no means a common sight at Hilbre. Fifty Knot were near the islands, and some were in summer plumage. Over the high tide an adult winter Mediterranean Gull was found, and sea birds included 3 Arctic Skuas, a Kittiwake, 15 Gannets, 9 Common Scoter, 6 Great Crested Grebes, 5 Guillemots, 600 Sandwich Terns, 79 Common Terns, 45 Little Terns, also 10 Whimbrel.

Saturday 13 August 2011

13th August 2011

Two Willow Warblers and a Whitethroat were the only warblers present today, 8 Whimbrel were on the shore and 5 Arctic Skuas identified on the sea. Males of both Peregrine and Kestrel were the only raptors. At 20.00 hrs in the evening tern counts were made on the east side of the island, and totalled 120 Common and a very high number of 1,520 Sandwich, which could be close to a record number.

An Oystercatcher recovery

A further insight into the origin of some of the Oystercatchers that gather at Hilbre in the winter was gained when an Oystercatcher was found freshly dead at Hilbre on 12th December 2010. Details have now been received that it was ringed as a nestling on 2nd July 2003 at Mjelde, Tromso, Troms, Norway. This is in the very northern part of Norway well inside the Arctic circle. Such recoveries help to build up a picture of the birds that spend time in the Dee. (DB)

Friday 12 August 2011

12th August 2011

Highlight of a mostly cloudy but humid day was the visit of an immature male Sparrowhawk that toured the island a couple of times and then was trapped and ringed following a hastily erected mist net in the obs garden (left). A Greenshank was heard from the direction of middle Eye but was never actually seen during the morning, meanwhile the general build up of wading birds continued with the appearance of a flock of 40 Knot, the most seen near the island this autumn. Seven Swifts were overhead, almost as expected in the muggy conditions with rain about. The only land migrants were 2 Willow Warblers which were not caught for ringing. A single light phase Arctic Skua chasing a tern out to the north west was the only one of its group noted today, although both young and adult Little Terns gave a good show fishing to the east of the island after the tide (right). Ringed:- 1 Sparrowhawk, 1 Robin. (DB,JE,CJ,KMc) [696-41] photos CJ

3rd-11th August, extracts from the obs log

3rd August :- 1 Common Sandpiper, 2 Greenshank, 8 Canada Geese, 1 Collared Dove, 1 Wheatear, 30 Willow Warblers (on a north easterly breeze, unfortunately no ringers present), 15 Whimbrel, 1 Kittiwake.
4th August :- 2 Eiders (female or immature), 7 Willow Warblers, 36 Swallows.
(DB,CJW,et al) 5 birds ringed.
5th/ 6th August :- 1 Common Sandpiper, 2 Arctic Skuas, 8 Whimbrel
(DB,CJW,PSW,SRW) 5 birds ringed
9th August :- 1 Pomarine Skua, 2 Arctic Skua, 1 Kittiwake (wind nw force 5/6), 75 Sanderling, 5 Bar-tailed Godwit, 5 Whimbrel, 52 Little Tern, 1 Whitethroat.
10th August :- 110 Little Tern, 1 Arctic Skua, 320 Curlew, 8 Whimbrel, 35 Turnstone.
11th August :- 1 Whitethroat.

Monday 1 August 2011

1st August 2011

A Black Tern was feeding distantly to the west of the north end mid-morning and was in view for up to 15 minutes, although telescope views only were possible. Five Willow Warblers were the only small migrants on the ground today until afternoon rain brought in a couple more. The high tide produced 12 Gannets, 20 Great Crested Grebes and 20 Little Tern and a Common Sandpiper,while roosting at the north end of Middle were 14 Whimbrel. Ringed:- 3 Willow Warblers.
(DB,ME+HW,CJ,MSC+4) [684-40]