Friday 31 May 2013

31st May 2013

Weather: W 3, cloud 2/8, vis 20 miles

View from the Obs garden

A stunning day for sun worshippers on the island but birds were again a bit thin on the ground.  
View of the South End of Hilbre

However, over 500 Common Terns were present in the mouth of the estuary on the flooding tide mainly surface dipping rather than diving, fewer Sandwich Terns were noted (125) and a single Great Crested Grebe and 3 Gannets were also recorded.

A few hirundines passed over the island as the day heated up but focus turned to invertebrates with at least 26 Garden Tiger Moth Caterpillars counted in the Obs garden (some of which see above), a Cinnabar Moth (see above) was found in the heli garden and the first Damselflies were found just long the south fence with two Large Red and a female Blue-tailed found (see photos below).

Twelve Little Egrets were counted today mainly on the tide edge south and west of Middle.

(CJW(f), GIW, SRW & TGW (from over), BSB, SC, CLW & FPW) (Photos by SRW)

Thursday 30 May 2013

30th May 2013

Weather: WNW 4 (dropping), 8/8 vis 10miles intermittent drizzle

With the wind backing NW and set to remain from that quarter into next week the semi-residents could be forgiven for taking a lie in - but unsurprisingly there was very little in the trapping areas during the morning.

With news of numerous Red-backed Shrikes all down the east coast and Common Rosefinches reaching certain Irish Sea islands in recent days hopes spring eternal with south-easterlies forecast for the middle of next week.... 

12 Little Egrets were recorded today and the Herring Gull rehabilated and ringed at Widnes on 12th September 2007 as a first year bird (and first seen around Hilbre on 19th October 2009) had disappeared towards the end of 2012 reappeared last month and has been seen fairly regularly again recently (see above and below). This adult bird is distinctively pale on the wings and mantle compared to other adult Herring Gulls around.

(SRW, TGW from over) 

29th May 2013

Weather: NE 4, 7/8 

A blustery North Easterly with overnight rain did not inspire confidence and we were not wrong! There was little evidence of any migrants other than the odd hirundine (Swallow and House Martin) and no warblers at all.

However, the breeding birds were much in evidence with Linnets and Meadow Pipits carrying food and surprisingly six Mallards seen (including five drakes). Only the male Blackbird was seen so presumably the female is sitting still.

The most unusual sighting of the day was a Pink-footed Goose seen loafing off the East Hoyle sandbank (actually found and identified from the mainland (AMC) who alerted the Obs) - it was always distant from the Obs balcony.

Six Little Egrets were present with two Grey Herons on ebb and the final action of a not so action packed day was a Fulmar which flew over the Obs garden and gracefully sheared down the east side in the evening.

(CJW(f), GIW & SRW (from over), DB, CLW, FPW & TGW)

Tuesday 28 May 2013

28th May 2013

Weather: SE 4, cloud 8/8 drizzle early, wind dropping before rain came back in as the tide flooded.

The wind had turned to the South East overnight but it was still strong at dawn and more rain passed through at first light. However, the first bird heard (and seen) was a Yellow Wagtail which landed briefly opposite the Obs (see below).

Common Terns were calling and passing over the island during the morning whilst others fed offshore along with a few Sandwich Terns.

A couple of Willow Warblers were caught and ringed along with a new Linnet and a Whitethroat appeared in the Obs garden mist net late morning.  A few Swifts passed through before the rain came back in at lunchtime.

Good numbers of Ringed Plovers and Dunlin continue to grace them island at high tide.

(CJW(f), CLW, FPW, GIW, SRW, TGW (from over), BSB, CJ) Photos by SRW and TGW (Ringed Plovers and Dunlin from 25th) [492-29]


Monday 27 May 2013

27th May 2013

Weather: SSW 5, 2/8 and sunny first thing, 8/8 and light rain by lunchtime.

With the wind switching to the south hopes of a few migrants were dashed on the early round when nothing new was noted, although a few Swallows passed over.

A flock of eleven Greylag Geese flew over the South End calling and landed on the tide edge (see below). 

As the dark rain clouds approached a couple of Willow Warblers dropped in (with one caught) and a Whitethroat was found in the Newton trap.

An unseasonal Jackdaw flew over the island calling mid morning and a few Swifts (10) moved through. This sea watching was a little disappointing with single Gannet, a distant skua spp and a Razorbill the highlights.

Eight Little Egrets were seen together South of Middle on the ebbing tide and later a count of 13 was made including birds from Little Eye to 'Egret flash' below the Obs.

(CJW(f), CLW, FPW, GIW, SRW & TGW (from over)+4, JE, CJ+1, PSW) (Photos by SRW) [488-29]

Sunday 26 May 2013

26th May 2013

Weather: SSE 1, 0/8, slight mist

Another stunning morning weather wise (showing off the yellow flowering Bird's foot Trefoil and pink Thrift - see above and below) but very quiet for birds livened up by the discovery of a Dark-bellied Brent Goose on the flooding tide (see below).

(DB&ESCA from over, PSW, SRW) Photos by SRW (top) and PSW (others)

Saturday 25 May 2013

Blog Updates

The blog has been updated with records and photos over the last week. With the spring being so late migrants are still passing through (for example Sedge Warblers and Whitethroats) - albeit in very small numbers, however, history tells us that it is usually more the case of quality than quantity at this time of year. Coverage by Obs members remains excellent and will be daily until at least the end of the month so perhaps the 'big one' will be on the next round ...

25th May 2013

Weather: no wind first thing before picking up slightly from NNW over the tide, no cloud, wall to wall sunshine!

A glorious day on the island which at times felt more like the Med than the Irish Sea but birds were fairly thin on the ground. Single Whitethroat, Sedge Warbler and Chiffchaff appeared with the Sedge Warbler being caught and ringed.

The high tide and very few grockles (visitors to the island) meant that the Dunlin flocks (c3500) managed to spend some time roosting on the North End along with at least 100 Sanderling, which were enjoying the numerous flies around, and 250 Ringed Plover.  The Obs photographers enjoyed the sun, light and the waders (see photo).

A Swallow obligingly flew into the Obs ringing room and was caught by hand and ringed before being released. Today we saw the first 'local' Swallows appearing on the island so perhaps this was one investigating the ringing room!

(BT, LT+2, SRW, TGW) Photos - BT (waders), SRW (others) [470-28]

Thursday 23 May 2013

22nd May 2013

The strong NW wind proved difficult for small migrants with just 10 Swallows struggling North early in the day and a lone Wheatear at the South end as the tide ebbed.  Consequently attention turned to the sea and a two hour seawatch prior to the high tide was very productive with 150 Gannets, 150 Common Terns, 60 Sandwich Terns, 13 Kittiwakes, 8 Arctic Skuas, 8 Guillemot,  4 Great Crested Grebes, 1 Manx Shearwater and 1 Red-throated Diver. 2 or 3 drake Scoters spent the day around the islands while 3 Little Egrets appeared after the tide. Waders were still well represented including 2,000 Dunlin which were frequently harassed by a Peregrine.


Monday 20 May 2013

20th May 2013


The weather had been unpromising and work, illness and family commitments kept the regular members away this morning (which was unfortunate considering there was a Bee-eater heard over nearby Red Rocks LNR).  However, a late afternoon visit (4pm onwards) surprisingly produced a female Blackcap (see below) two Sedge Warblers and a Whitethroat (see bottom of post) caught and ringed.

(SRW) [468-28]

Sunday 19 May 2013

19th May 2013

Weather: No wind at 4am, SE by 6am, backing N later. 7/8 cloud some mist, vis 8mls

Three late Goldcrests were on the island today with a couple caught and ringed, a couple of Willow Warblers were also caught and 5 Greenland Wheatears were noted with one also caught.  Another Whinchat was trapped and ringed today; this one caught in a potter on Wheatear wall (see below).

Nine Little Egrets were noted around the islands, a good count for Hilbre. Less expected were the ten Mute Swans that flew north passing Red Rocks late morning. Two adult Kittiwakes sat on the North End and two drake Eiders drifted on the tide before flying off towards the West Hoyle.

Common Pipistrelle Bats were recorded overnight and a Garden Tiger Moth caterpillar was found in the Obs garden (see below).

A return visit as the tide flooded in the evening produced even more Dunlin (4,500) and Ringed Plover (700) and a partial summer plumaged Curlew Sandpiper was found in amongst the Dunlin on the ridge south of Middle.

(DB&ESCA (from over), CJW, SRW & TGW) Photos SRW  [464-28]

Saturday 18 May 2013

18th May 2013

Weather: NW 5 backing WNW 6-7 later, 8/8 cloud and drizzle first thing - cold!

The weather wasn't productive for grounded migrants today but singe Sedge and Willow Warbler were present. The sea was more productive with 180 Gannet, 250 Sandwich and 51 Common Terns counted and a single Razorbill was noted. Taking advantage of the inhospitable weather some maintenance jobs were completed in the Obs.

(CJW (from over), BT, then DB&ESCA pm)

Friday 17 May 2013

17th May 2013

Weather: E 2, 8/8 cloud, mist

The first round of the traps didn't reveal the hoped for Spotted Flycatcher in the right conditions but a less expected, and less frequently caught, Whinchat was captured in the Newton (wall trap) (see below).

Passage waders remain much in evidence with 11 Whimbrel, 200 Ringed Plover, 3,500 Dunlin and a summer plumaged Grey Plover.

The Rabbit has been seen fairly frequently recently - with the Stoat long since disappeared it has the run of the island again, particularly early mornings.

Three drake Goosanders were a fine sight off the North End mid morning and 2 Wigeon were also a late spring record.

130 Swallows, 60 House Martins and 12 Swifts passed through and Sedge Warblers drifted in later in the morning with two trapped (see below).

(DB, AEH & SRW (briefly)) Photos AEH (Sedge Warbler) & SRW (others) [454-28]

Thursday 16 May 2013

16th May 2013

Weather: SSW 2, rain overnight but only very slight during the morning, wind backing SE by 8am

Large numbers of Dunlin (3500) and Ringed Plover (550) were counted on the gutter edge early morning.  At least 7 Whimbrel were noted mainly down the West Side of Hilbre and Middle. Some summer plumages Knot appeared on the ridge on the way off (see bottom of post).

A few Willow Warblers and a single Chiffchaff were caught and two Whitethroats were grounded including one caught and ringed.

A few Swallows and House Martins as well as a Swift passed over and a White Wagtail was around the island pond. A single redpoll spp passed over and a Goldfinch was caught in the old obs garden.

A single drake Eider flew down the West side.

Such a late Spring this year has meant that the south end of the island is only just turning blue with bluebells.

A Ruby Tiger was found in the Newton heligoland trap and two Common Seals were hauled out near the main Grey Seal haul out.

At 950hrs huge numbers of gulls went up off the East Hoyle sandbank (off Hoylake/Meols) but despite frantic searches the suspected large raptor could not be found. However, at about 1030hrs the gulls off the West Hoyle decided to taunt observers on the island again but this time the suspect was found - an Osprey slowly drifted westwards towards the Point of Ayr (Wales), it circled higher and higher and disappeared drifting towards the North Wales coast. The third Osprey of the Spring for the island. 

(DB, JE + 1, et al) [449-27] Photos JE & SRW

14th May 2013

Weather: SW 2-3 rain @ 10.00hrs . Later NW 4 7/8. 

Despite the wind dropping 100+ Gannet were estimated but things picked up on the island with 7 Willow Warbler and single Whitethroat and Sedge Warbler noted.

A small number of Swallows (41) passed through along with 2 House Martin and a single White Wagtail.

A single Little Egret was noted and the Rabbit was seen again as was a garden tiger moth caterpillar.


Monday 13 May 2013

13th May 2013

Weather: WSW 6-7.

A single dark phase Arctic Skua, 20 Manxies, 350 Gannets, 200 Kittiwakes and 10 Arctic Terns were the seawatching highlights over the high tide today with two more Arctic Skuas and 2 Bonxies being seen on the ebb and 2 Little Terns completing the set of all four regular tern species.

Five Whimbrel were seen around the islands and 30 Swallows passed over.

(DB, MGT + KD)

Sunday 12 May 2013

11th May 2013

Weather: W 3 (increasing 6-7 later) 7/8 cloud, intermittent rain and even hail

The wind had been southerly overnight no doubt bringing in the half a dozen Willow Warblers to the island but there were hardly any other migrants present. A new litter of Short-tailed Field Voles was discovered today.

The three Scaup were still present on the flooding tide (a drake and two ducks).

Members had to leave before the tide despite the increasing wind turning slightly north of west and large numbers of skuas, particularly Pomarine, reported elsewhere in the Irish Sea.  However, a brief visit on the ebb (4-5pm) produced over 500 Gannets, 12 Kittiwakes, 37 Manxies, 130 Sandwich and 75 Common Terns and a single Bonxie flew west (as well as a distant large skua spp).

(DCT, PT+VT, CJW, PSW, SRW & TGW) [440-27] (Photos by SRW)

Thursday 9 May 2013

9th May 2013

Although the forecast predicted due south and then south west for the wind it stayed all morning in the south east but increased to a strong force 6/7 later. The first round of the traps found 6 Willow Warblers in the area with 4 being trapped but this proved to be a false dawn as no other migrants were later found on the ground apart from a couple of Wheatears. With little to excite the members attention turned to the overnight moth trap which produced a first for Hilbre no less when a Streamer moth (right) was confirmed to be present. Later in the morning a male Reed Bunting was found, and amazingly the Sedge warbler seen feeding on the seaweed at the north end 2 days ago had not left but was still exhibiting the same behaviour off the slipway. Logged today were 3,000 Dunlin, 300 Ringed Plover and a Little Egret.
Ringed:- 4 Willow Warblers.           [ 434-27 ]

Wednesday 8 May 2013

8th May 2013

A strong south easterly this morning with showery rain starting just before dawn gave some hope that migrants may have been grounded. In reality there was a steady trickle of 25 Willow Warblers up to mid-day (right) but no sign of a any of the larger and scarcer warblers expected at this time in May. Visible migration made it very worthwhile to listen and look overhead, there were about 500 Swallows arriving from the north west, battling against the wind,with them were 30 House Martins, 3 Swifts together and a single Sand Martin, also small parties of Redpolls and a single Siskin. Scarcer species included a Tree Pipit, 2 White Wagtails and 3 Yellow Wagtails, one of which dropped briefly to the ground (below). A visiting Woodpigeon flew about on its own for a short while. A Common Sandpiper was found late morning on the east side of the island while Whimbrel only seemed to be in single figures today and wader numbers generally appeared to be lower than earlier in the week. Sea birds that were seen despite the wind being unsuitable to bring them close included: 35 Gannets, 6 Razorbills, 2 Guillemots, a pair of Red-breasted Mergansers and a Manx Shearwater off the west side.
Ringed:- 15 Willow Warblers, 2 Linnets.     [ 430-27 ]
(CJ,DCT,PT,NDW,CJW+PLN, et al)        photo  CJ 

Tuesday 7 May 2013

7th May 2013

Weather SSE 1, cloud 3/8, vis 25 miles
Garden Warbler
 Another beautiful day with some typical May birds. A Garden Warbler found itself in the old obs mist net, the first of its kind seen at Hilbre this spring, and one we can miss out on altogether if we are unlucky. Another Whinchat, not the bird of yesterday arrived at the south end mid-morning but again proved elusive for the ringers, as did the half dozen or so Wheatears on the island today. A Cuckoo was seen flying off from the west side and being mobbed by Swallows, an hour later it again showed itself as it headed purposely towards Red Rocks. Cuckoo is less than an annual occurrence at Hilbre these days. A drake Eider dropped in the sea close by the rocks to the west of the obs, and the Common Scoter that has been around for a while now immediately flew in to join it almost as though he recognised it as a suitable companion.  

About a dozen Willow Warblers were present , also a Whitethroat and a Sedge Warbler that strangely fed on the seaweed at the north end for more than an hour, but did not appear later in the apparently more suitable habitat. Birds passing through today included a Tree Pipit, 2 Yellow Wagtails, 2 White Wagtails, several Lesser Redpolls and Goldfinches, 50 Swallows and a Sand Martin. A surprise at noon was the capture of a Siskin in the Newton heligoland trap, while by no means a rare bird as a migrant it was the first of its kind ringed at Hilbre this year. Whimbrel were in very good numbers, up to 22 today, and the large flocks of Dunlin flying around as the tide pushes in and out were in the order of between 2 and 3 thousand. Seventy Sandwich and 7 Common Terns were logged.


Eider with Common Scoter

Ringed:- 9 Willow Warblers, 1 Garden Warbler, 1 Whitethroat, 1 Lesser Redpoll, 1 Siskin, 1 Linnet, 1 Goldfinch, 1 Meadow Pipit.           [ 413-27 ]
(DB,CJ,DCT,PT,PSW,et al)       photos CJ

Monday 6 May 2013

6th May 2013

Weather: SE 1/2, cloud 5/8, vis 25 miles

For once a good weather bank holiday with favourable winds for migrant arrivals at Hilbre. About a dozen Wheatears were passing through early on and a few more landed later together with the first Whinchat for Hilbre this spring. There was not a massive amount of migrants but a slow quality trickle in during the morning of 8 Willow Warblers, 2 Sedge Warblers, a Tree Pipit, 3 White Wagtails and a Grasshopper Warbler. Lesser Redpolls and Goldfinches also came through but not in huge numbers, Swallows numbered about 275 (mainly during the afternoon), five House Martins moved through mid-afternoon and a group of three Swifts arrived from the west during the morning and continued towards Wirral.

Some of the best records of today surprisingly came from the sea and shore, not least of which was a Harbour Porpoise that headed steadfastly down the Dee in full view of the members. A sudden commotion amongst the gulls at the north end heralded the arrival of a Bonxie (presumably the same bird as yesterday) that continued south west down the west side for all to see from the Obs garden. Previously 12 Manx Shearwaters were off to the north west and Sandwich Terns and Gannets seemed to be diving everywhere. Other seabirds today included 8 Guillemots, 45 Common Scoter (including the drake that is now semi-resident).

On the shore a Common Sandpiper stayed for quite a while, likewise the 12 Whimbrel and the 2,000 or so Dunlin which have become a feature recently. The pair of Canada geese of the last few days also showed again and 2 Little Egrets fed around the Middle Eye area.

Ringed: 5 Willow Warblers, 3 Greenland Wheatears, 1 Grasshopper Warbler, 1 Sedge Warbler, 1 Linnet, 1 Goldfinch,1 Lesser Redpoll, 1 Wren.    [ 397-25 ]

(DCT,PT,NDW,CJ,CJW,RTW,SRW,TGW,CLW,CJW,GIW,FPW,+SRR)  photos CJ (Bonxies and Swift) and SRW (Whinchat and Common Sandpipers)

Common Sandpiper

Bonxie over the Dee