Sunday 31 March 2013

31st March 2013

Lesser Redpoll
A touch of south in the easterly this morning brought quite a few typical March birds but very little sign of any of the April type migrants that should be appearing now, indeed for the first time ever no Wheatears have arrived before the end of the month. Visitors included House Sparrow, Chaffinch, 2 Goldfinches, Great Tit, 4 Long-tailed Tits, 2 Starlings and 4 Collared Doves (first of the year), none of these stayed more than a few minutes. A few small parties of Meadow Pipits moved low over the grassy areas on their way through the island. Two Jackdaws passed overhead and 1 White and 3 Grey Wagtails flew through, while on the shore were 2 Teal and a Canada Goose. A Lesser Redpoll was unexpectedly caught for ringing even though no others we re heard passing through. Later in the afternoon a Woodcock was flushed near the north end but did not settle and was not seen again, it apparently arrived on the high tide as all areas had been extensively checked in the morning without result. Two Woodcocks during March is above average for the islands.  
Woodcock (photo from 9th March)

Ringed :- 1 Lesser Redpoll, 1 Robin, 1 Meadow Pipit, 1 Goldfinch         [ 25-11 ]

Saturday 30 March 2013

30th March 2013


Another lovely morning (with a beautiful dawn) started slowly with only Jackdaws (13), a Reed Bunting, Greenfinch, Goldfinch (4), a few pipits and wagtails moving.

Little Egret

A member on the mainland (JET) then spotted an Osprey between Red Rocks LNR and Middle Island (c1030am) heading north but had no phone battery so could not alert the island where it unfortunately slipped by unnoticed. It makes you wonder how much is missed. This is the first March record of Osprey for the islands.

The highlight for those who missed the Osprey was a re-sighting of the now confidently identified Stoat which is the rarer of the two commoner British mustelids on Hilbre. It appeared rather brazenly in the Obs garden where it was photographed showing off its long black-tipped tail before scurrying off into the undergrowth. It reappeared again briefly on the lawn before once again disappearing.

Reed Bunting

Another great day on the island ended with a stunning sunset - with the wind already shifting to the south east surely our first Wheatear is only a day or two away? Marsh Harrier and Osprey before the first Wheatear is unprecedented at Hilbre.

Ringed:- 1 Song Thrush     [ 21- 9]
(DB, NDW, SRW - later CLW, TGW, CJW (f), GIW and FPW)   photos  SRW

Friday 29 March 2013

29th March 2013


What a difference a day makes... A lovely morning greeted the sole observer this morning with blue skies and a slight frost. A small finch movement was observed including 1-3 each of Siskin, Redpoll, Greenfinch, Chaffinch, 4 Goldfinch and 4 Linnet and Meadow Pipits and Grey, Pied and White Wagtails were on the move.

Two male Reed Buntings spent some time around the paddocks and small parties of Jackdaws passed overhead calling (48 in total). A couple of Woodpigeon passed through including one which was caught and ringed (see photo) the only bird of the day. A single Stock Dove continued the typical March species list as did a single Chiffchaff at the south end which was the first for the year but less expected was a fine male Marsh Harrier (an early record for Hilbre) which meandered east being mobbed by gulls over Little Eye.

A single Little Egret also flew east and a phonecall from the mainland (CLW) alerted the Obs to an unusual raptor which drifted low over West Kirby. It was successfully scoped from the Obs veranda and looked like a Red-tailed Hawk (presumably an escape!!). News was relayed back to mainland thereafter the bird was seen well over Banks Road and the aptly named Hilbre Road.

The final unusual sighting of the day was a brief sighting of a Weasel/Stoat in the SK paddock; a rare sighting on Hilbre but it was too quick to photograph and the tail was not seen well. Maybe it will be seen again tomorrow.
(SRW)              photos SRW    [ 20-9 ]

Thursday 28 March 2013

28th March 2013 and previous days

Great Crested Grebe

The very cold weather of the last week or so has meant there has been an almost complete dearth of migrants through the island at a time when we expect plenty of Wheatears, Meadow Pipits, finches, Goldcrests, Chiffchaffs and the occasional Sand Martin etc. Today was no exception and the best that could be said was that there are still many waders to be seen around the islands although there were only 3 Purple Sandpipers roosting at high tide, most seem to be resting elsewhere. A Peregrine hunted the waders which is still a regular sight but not guaranteed on every visit this winter. A Stock Dove flew south and was probably an unlikely 'bird of the day', while another positive was an appearance of many lately by 'thumper' the rabbit who looked in good health. Three Common Scoters, 2 pairs of Mergansers and 4 Great Crested Grebes were noted.
Ringed:- 1 Blackbird     [ 19-8 ]
(DB,AEH,CJ et al)     photos CJ

27th March :- 1 Red-throated Diver,1 Dark-bellied Brent, 450 Sanderling, (DB)
26th March :- An adult Gannet flew north, the first of spring. (DB) 
25th March :- 22 Whooper Swans were on the sea off the north end, 54 Shelduck, 2 male and 1 female Merganser. (DB)
24th March :- 56 Redshank. (DB)
21st March :- The first White Wagtail of the spring, a small movement of 7 Blackbirds, 20 Meadow Pipits also 6 Wood Pigeon, a pair of Teal and a Merlin. (DB , Matt Thomas)
20th March :- A Peregrine, 20 Meadow Pipits and a Wood Pigeon. (DB)

Tuesday 19 March 2013

19th March 2013


We still await the first Wheatear and Sand Martin of the spring, even though today seemed a likely day in terms of weather and date. Early on 3 Wood Pigeons were noted and 2 Merlins came together over the obs and performed their grappling like display before apparently going their separate ways.There was nothing new in the trapping area except for a Greenfinch briefly with just the odd Meadow Pipit, Pied and Grey Wagtail  (2) passing over. The Skylark was again down on the northern end of the island for a time, a Rock Pipit flew towards Middle and a single Rook travelled west across the island. There was again some evidence that waders were making their way north including 8 Bar-tailed Godwits that went off high. The pale-bellied Brent Geese remain around the 180 mark including 2 colour ringed individuals, also 2 dark-bellied birds today.

Brent Geese, dark-bellied centre, colour ringed pale-bellied right
(DB,CJ)        photos CJ      [ 18-8 ]

Monday 18 March 2013

18th March 2013

A small movement of about 50 Meadow Pipits, 2 Goldcrests in the trapping area (which are the first of the year), 2 Wood Pigeons, 7 Pied Wagtails, a Chaffinch and a Goldfinch. Flocks of Knot moving high up, 1,000 east and 500 north.

Sunday 17 March 2013

17th March 2013

A Raven flying west, 7 Pied Wagtails, 10 Meadow Pipits, 2 adult Shags, 1 Little Egret and now 15 Common Frogs at the old obs.

Saturday 16 March 2013

16th March 2013

A few unringed Blackbirds present this morning, 2 Wood Pigeons about and a Skylark down on the main island. Twenty thousand Knot  and 3,500 Dunnlin on the east hoyle, 226 Sanderling at Little Eye. Ten frogs and spawn about the old obs pond. One Little Egret.

Friday 15 March 2013

15th March 2013

Estimates of waders:- 8,000 Oystercatchers, 5,000 Knot, 75 Turnstone, 78 Grey Plover, 24 Ringed Plover, 9 Purple Sandpipers. Two Red-breasted Mergansers, 4 Great Crested Grebes. A Song Thrush and a Meadow Pipit ringed.
(BD,CJW)         [ 18-8 ]

Thursday 14 March 2013

14th March 2013

A Skylark was singing and displaying over Middle Eye, a Common Snipe was present.

Wednesday 13 March 2013

13th March 2013

A quiet day on the island today with potential migrants held back by the cold northerly wind. The only passerine moving through was a Pied Wagtail although the male Stonechat remained at the southern end. Even the sea was quiet with just one Great Crested Grebe & 6 Scoter the sum total for the day. The were however large numbers of waders present with 10,000 Knot , 8,000 Oystercatcher, with one of the former species falling prey to a Peregrine early morning. However, only 4 Purple Sandpipers were found in the high tide roosts. 160 light-bellied Brent remain and 5 Wigeon were on the ebbing tide. The bird of the day was a first (or second) winter Iceland Gull which flew past an Obs member at Red Rocks (MGT+KD) toward Middle Hilbre late morning but unfortunately could not be relocated amongst the 4000 Herring Gulls roosting and loafing around the islands. An estimated 12,000 large gulls were on view after the tide.

Tuesday 12 March 2013

12th March 2013

A male Stonechat was again on the island, possibly the same as one of last weeks birds. Four Golden Plover flew north, there were 5 Linnets on Middlle Eye and a flock of 15 at Little Eye, but none has yet settled down for the breeding season.

Monday 11 March 2013

11th March 2013

Bitterly cold with snow flurries but very little to report besides the presence of the usual waders and the very small number of wintering passerines.

Sunday 10 March 2013

10th March 2013

An unexpectedly high count today of 210 Pale-bellied Brent and a single dark-bellied. A Golden Plover flew north. Thirty Five bar-tailed Godwits also passed north.There was a Song Thrush on the island.

Saturday 9 March 2013

9th March 2013

Woodcock over pond
 A very cold easterly with drizzle all morning was brightened up for the observers when at about noon a Woodcock appeared from the west cliff area over the north end and continued to tour the island for half a hour or so, unfortunately never going down near the undergrowth of one of the heligoland traps. Earlier a Reed Bunting sat in the pittisporum tree in the obs garden but did not stay for long. A Peregrine sat on the beach as the tide flooded and 3 Wigeon flew about near high tide, while 10 Purple Sandpipers roosted the tide at the north end. Unsurprisingly considering the weather there were no migrants apart from 2 Pied Wagtails, not even a single finch of any species. On the sea , 5 Great Crested Grebes, 26 Common Scoter and 2 Red-breasted Mergansers.
Reed Bunting
(JE,AEH,CJ,SRW)      photos Woodcock SRW, Reed Bunting CJ 

Friday 8 March 2013

8th March 2013

Pair of Goosanders

The male Stonechat remains from yesterday and a pair of Goosanders flew between the islands. Five Blackbirds on the island, some may be new in today. Among the waders, 2 flocks of 20 and 55 Sanderling, 25 Grey Plover and 110 Redshank. A pair of Mallard were on the main pond, a sign that spring is in the air.
(DB et al)  

Thursday 7 March 2013

7th March 2013

One of the male Stonechats was still on the island, February and early March is a good time for them to occur at Hilbre. A drake Goosander was seen, a scarce bird in the estuary. Little migration despite the fog and drizzle and a light south easterly, although a very small number of Meadow Pipits passed through. also on the log were a single dark-bellied Brent and a Little Egret.

Wednesday 6 March 2013

6th March 2013

This morning there were 2 male Stonechats at the south end of the main island (one singing) and possibly another female, also 2 Mistle Thrushes near the light, a Reed Bunting early on, a Grey Wagtail and single Siskin, Skylark and Starling overhead. A Peregrine and the Rock Pipit were logged. There are still about 180 Brent present.
Ringed -: 1 Blackbird (right), 1 Robin.     [ 16 - 7 ]
(DB,AEH)     photo AEH

Tuesday 5 March 2013

5th March 2013

A clear sky this morning but with plenty of mist in the estuary to give hope of some migrants especially with the south easterly breeze (usually a good sign at Hilbre). A few birds obliged but no large numbers as may be hoped for later in the spring. The two best birds were a Blue Tit and a male House Sparrow (left), both common on the mainland but scarce visitors to Hilbre, each stayed for about an hour but neither being caught for ringing (although the Blue Tit came very close, shooting back out of the box end of the SK trap). A female Chaffinch was more obliging for the ringers. Only a few Meadow Pipits were about, one showing a display flight, but there were 2 new Blackbirds on the island and 8 Pied Wagtails, 2 Grey Wagtails and a Siskin few over while a Skylark was flushed at the north end before disappearing. A sea watch was mostly fruitless, just a couple of Great Crested Grebes and a female Scoter (which has been around for a few days) to be seen. A dead Conger eel was noticed on the sands to the east of the island and was the subject of interest by a pair of Great Black backed Gulls. It was brought to the obs garden for inspection and it proved to be a very impressive huge female that measured almost 6 feet in length and would have weighed about half a hundredweight. Spring really arrived today in the wildlife garden when frog spawn appeared in the pond, it wasn't there on Sunday ! 


Ringed:- 2 Blackbirds, 1 Chaffinch       [ 14 - 7 ]

Common Scoter

(DB,CJ,KMc+SD)      photos  CJ

Conger Eel

Frog spawn

Sunday 3 March 2013

3rd March 2013

Small movement of 6 Chaffinches, 7 Siskin, a Greenfinch and a Reed Bunting. A Rook flying east, a Jackdaw down on the island, 6 Wigeon and a Little Egret.

Friday 1 March 2013

1st March 2013

Nine jackdaw over flying north east, a pair of Wigeon, 25,000 Knot flying from the north wirral shore south passsed Hilbre, and a sighting of 'thumper' the rabbit.