Monday 28 January 2013

28th January 2013

Weather wise the best part of the day was the walk across after dawn which was quite pleasant, the return in the afternoon after the tide was more exciting with rain and a gale blowing moving the members quickly across the sands. As expected the land birds were scarce, just the few regular Blackbirds, Robins and Wrens etc and most time was spent sea watching over the high tide, and it was time well spent. The regular movement of Red-throated Divers, nearly all tracking to the south west was the main feature, 79 being counted during the day along with 71 Great Crested Grebes, 10 Guillemots, 1 Razorbill, 40 Common Scoters and a single Velvet Scoter. Competing with the Velvet Scoter for the bird of the day title however was a Great Northern Diver that also showed well. Also logged today were 3 Wigeon, a Little Egret, 3 Canada Geese, 17 Purple Sandpipers and an impressive roost of thousands of Herring Gull on the east hoyle after the tide. A Common Seal was discovered at the north end of Middle before being disturbed,
(KMc+SD,AO,CS+DS) and 3 welcome visitors from Woolston.

Sunday 27 January 2013

27th January 2013

distant winter Gannet
A fresh gale force 8 was blowing in from the WSW today - just the right conditions for sitting in the sea-watching hide out of the wind with a flask of tea and a packet of ginger-nuts over the hightide.
It was obvious from the moment we arrived in the hide that there were good numbers of birds moving with Red-throated Divers and Great-crested Grebes being seemingly the most common. We eventually counted 48 Red-throated Divers and at least 350 Great-crested Grebes.  Auks had also been displaced and 22 Guillemots and 2 Razorbills were recorded.
 Good winter records were provided by 2 adult Little Gulls that flew west an hour before high tide and a Black-throated Diver that showed several times before departing out towards the windfarm. 3 adult Gannets were also a good record although they were distant. More expected were the 78 Common Scoter that were counted with many more out beyond the windfarm that couldn't be counted due to the spray! It was ovious the stormy conditions were making finding a safe place to roost difficult and at least 100 Knot were seen leaving the mouth of the Mersey over the high tide and flying towards N Wales. 30+ Bar-tailed Godwits also battled their way west in the same direction
Purple Sandpiper

With the waves crashing over behind the hide it took us awhile to brave the inevitable soaking and dash back to the Obs for a warming bowl of soup. Many Oystercatchers were roosting on the top of the Island and didn't seem inclined to fly off in the teeth of the gale. Most of the Turnstones and Purple Sandpipers were roosting on Lion Rock in the shelter of Niffy Bay and we eventually counted 16 Purps. Also of interest were 3 Grey Plover also on the west side and a Redshank that searched for foods around the edge of the freshwater pond.
Purple Sandpiper
Returning to the hide as the tide and wind dropped 450 Herring Gulls, 60 Black-headed Gulls and 50 Common Gulls were recorded streaming out of the Mersey with 300 Cormorants.
Passerines were, as expected, keeping their heads down but a quick walk around the south end resulted in two Song Thrushes being flushed from the bracken. Singles of Robin, Wren & Blackbird were also seen.
( PSW & Alastair Orton (guest)   photos  PSW

Monday 21 January 2013

20th January 2013

A cold grey morning greeted observers but the ice and snow were melting during the first few hours of the day as the temperature was well above zero on the island although the main pond remained frozen and a moderate easterly breeze picking up as the morning wore on meant that it felt colder.  Snow had started falling again by late morning.

The Rabbit (left) was in its usual location on the path first thing this morning allowing the photographers a chance for a quick snap, although the light was poor, and a single Common Seal was present off the North End again along with the numerous Atlantic Grey Seals.

Two nice flocks of Scaup (see below) were found drifting off the West side that totalled 32 birds (14 + 18); nice to see this species off Hilbre again in Winter.

Waders were also in evidence with 15 Purple Sandpipers counted and a good flock of 30 Bar-tailed Godwits heading towards the North shore.

There was some evidence of cold weather movement when a Skylark (left) arrived and briefly alighted on the main path before relocating to the South End.  There were several Song Thrushes on the island and a new bird was trapped and ringed along with a retrap Robin.

Those present decided to have one last brew before leaving the island and this decision proved fortuitous as a member of a group of walkers from Nantwich/Crewe (Cheshire) had fallen on the rocks between the islands and dislocated her shoulder.  Obs members were able to take her off in the landrover and had contacted the ambulance service (via the coastguards) who met them at the shore and took her to hospital.

All part of a day's work at Hilbre Bird Obs! (Photo right - Obs members assist ambulance crew at West Kirby Marine Lake)

(CJW, NDW, PSW, SRW, TGW) Photos by CJW, PSW and SRW

Note:  We understand that the lady walker is doing well although she had dislocated and broken her shoulder; she had been kept in hospital overnight as a precaution.

Sunday 20 January 2013

19th January and previous days

Signs of some cold weather movement today with 8 Song Thrushes, 5 Blackbirds and 6 Wrens on the island, 2 new Song Thrushes were ringed and 2 others retrapped with 2 Blackbirds. Five Golden Plovers were by Middle island and a male and female Wigeon were floating off the north end first thing (above right). A Redwing and 2 Skylarks went through and a Rock Pipits was feeding by the centre of the main island while a male Kestrel hovered over the island seeking voles (above). Five Common Seals were again in a separate haul out on the wset hoyle bank. Ringed 2 Song Thrushes (below).
(DB,JE+BG)                photos  JE

17th January :-  18 Scaup, 6 Bar-tailed Godwit, a female Peregrine.
16th January :- 120 Grey Plover flew north, 1 Lapwing, 1 Little Egret.
15th January :- 240 Grey Plover, 4,000 Dunlin and 2,000 knot on the flood tide, 220 Curlew, 450 Sanderling, 110 Redshank, 3 Little Egrets, 11 Linnets.

Tuesday 15 January 2013

13th January 2013 and previous days

Mediterranean Gull (left) with Common Gull
Oystercatchers disturbed from Middle Eye at high tide
A trip staying over for one of the highest tides of the winter saw 12,500 Oystercatchers roosting on Middle but unfortunately disturbed by canoeists as often happens at weekends despite sailing clubs being requested to keep clear of the islands at this time. Highlights of the day were an adult Mediterranean Gull and 100 Golden Plover. The sea watch produced 6 Red-throated Divers, 206 Great Crested Grebes, 2 Razorbills, 2 Guillemots, 7 Common Scoter while the only wildfowl of the day were 6 Wigeon and the Brent flock which was counted at 234 individuals.Only 12 Purple Sandpipers could be found roosting the tide with 73 Turnstones, other waders noted were 36 Ringed Plover, 17 Sanderling, 18 Redshank and 3 Bar-tailed Godwits. There were few land birds, just 3 each of Song Thrush, Blackbird and Robins with 6 Wrens and a single Rock Pipit.
  (DB,NDW,SRW,PSW + Mark Payne)   photos SRW

Purple Sandpiper
9th January :- 1 juvenile Shag, 1 Red-throated Diver, 3 Great Crested Grebes, 12 Common Scoter, 2 Guillemot, 8,000 Knot (east Hoyle), 240 Curlew, 160 Turnstone, 30 Redshank, 4 Robins, 2 Dunnocks. 2 Little Egrets.
8th January :- 240 Brent, 25 Teal, 1 juvenile Shag, 320 Curlew, 32 Shelduck, 10,000 Knot (east hoyle), 12 Grey Plover, 30 Redshank, 65 Sanderling, 6 Linnets (little eye).
6th January :- male and female Pintail, 21 Teal, 237 Brent, 130 Sanderling, 4 Ringed Plovers, 3 Bar-tailed Godwits, 2 Little Egrets, 1 Kestrel,
View from Middle looking south

Saturday 5 January 2013

New Year period

A quiet time of the year for birds as expected, although calmer and milder than normal weather encouraged the daffodils to emerge (left). Consistent records of Common seals give the hope that they may become a permanent feature around the islands in the future.
4th January :- 42 Bar-tailed Godwits, 30 Ringed Plover, 1 Red-breasted Merganser, 4 Little Egrets, 1 Shag. 30 Linnets. 6 Common Seals in a separate haul out.
(BSB,DB,JE) photos  JE
3rd January :- an adult Gannet at the north end, (probably sick), 1 Shag, 15 Sanderling, 2 Little Egrets,1 Rock Pipit (Middle), 3 Blackbirds, 4 Song Thrushes and 31 Linnets, 3 Common Seals.
Little Egret
2nd January :- A massive flock of 35,000 Knot moving between Little Eye and over Red Rocks on the flood tide, 2,500 Dunlin, 20 Purple Sandpipers, 35 Ringed Plover, 1 Red-throated Diver, 1 Shag, 12 Linnets and a Common Seal at the north end tide gauge.
1st January :- 42 Redshank, 2 Grey Plover, 3 Bar-tailed Godwit, 1 Common seal.
31st December :- 1 female Goldeneye, 22 Great Crested Grebes, 5 Guillemots, 1 Red-throated Diver, 1 Shag, 1 Common Seal.