Monday 31 March 2014

31st March 2014

Weather:- E force 2 , mist
Another large passage of Meadow Pipits today (950) and flybys of several other species including 300 Pink-footed Geese going off north, Woodpigeons in groups of 4 and 2, and 2 Golden Plover travelling south. On the ground or near to it were 10 Chiffchaffs, 3 Pied and 2 White Wagtails, a good number of finches:- 3 Chaffinches, 16 Goldfinches, 6 Siskins, a Lesser Redpoll and 45 Linnets. The only Wheatears today was a male of the Greenland race, and 2 of the nominate race. Alone of its kind was a single Goldcrest. A drake Mallard was the first to appear this spring.
Ringed:-  7 Chiffchaffs, 2 Robins, 1 Goldcrest, 1 Song Thrush                  [ 87-18 ]

Sunday 30 March 2014

30th March 2014

Weather;- Light ESE, mist, increasing slightly force 3/4
Merlin  (CJ)
We thought it would be a good day and it was. The breeze was pushing warmer air from the continent over most of the country and we expected migrants to follow in after. It turned out to be the best ringing day of the spring so far with 24 birds through the ringing desk. Chief amongst these were Chiffchaffs and the 12 ringed represented most of those passing through, likewise the 2 Goldcrests were all that were seen. The 8 Wheatears noted were more elusive and only 1 was caught. An estimated 750 Meadow Pipits passed through and a Merlin gave a fine display of Meadow Pipit chasing (unsuccessful when seen by the observers) on the ridge south of Middle before the tide. There were not many finches ringed,  logged however, were 20 Goldfinch, 6 Chaffinch, 2 Greenfinch, 7 Lesser Redpoll and 3 Siskins. Nineteen Wagtails passed through, 6 were White and the rest Pied. A Reed Bunting was on the ground briefly early in the morning, and 3 single Sand Martins flew down the east side at intervals, 2 Skylarks were heard overhead. Typical Hilbre migrants at this time were in the form of flocks of Woodpigeons (28,12) flying high from north to south, another on the ground and a Canada Goose going west towards Wales. A Rock Pipit was at the north end and a Little Egret between the islands. The sea was again quiet, especially as the mist prevented seeing any distance, the Brent did not stay for the tide but 38 flew into the area on the ebb, and Scoter sightings were restricted to the 20 or so birds loafing off the island.
Ringed:- 12 Chiffchaffs, 3 Linnets, 2 Goldcrests, 2 Wrens, 1 Wheatear, 1 Blackbird, 1 Robin, 1 Chaffinch, 1 Goldfinch.               [ 76-17 ]
(CJ,KMc,NDW,SRW) + Colin Wells & Lynne

Saturday 29 March 2014

29th March 2014

Weather:- SE 2/3, mist later increasing force 5, cloudy with a period of drizzle early then sunny
It didn't look very promising at first with a blank round of the traps, but a brief period of light rain encouraged a couple of Chiffchaffs (left) to drop in with 3 Wheatears and a few finches (during the morning were seen 5 Chaffinches, 5 Goldfinches, 1 Greenfinch and 2 Siskins). Four more Chiffchaffs arrived as the morning progressed. Well over a hundred Meadow Pipits passed in small parties, flitting across the grassy areas, while also moving were at least 6 Pied Wagtails, a Grey Wagtail, a Starling, and a Canada Goose! An unringed Rock Pipit was at the north end. The sea was difficult to observe with the mist, but Common Scoters were plentiful within reach of the islands. The Pheasant was showing well early on and then appeared to leave by walking down the south end slipway, it was however re-found later in its favourite paddock. A Grey Seal pup spent the tide hauled out in the sandy south cove (below), as the tide ebbed it had to be persuaded to move further out for its own safety. Two Little Egrets fed between the island after the tide.
Ringed:- 6 Chiffchaffs, 2 Meadow Pipits, 2 Wheatears.   [ 52-16 ]
(CJ,PSW,SRW)                       photos CJ

Friday 28 March 2014

28th March 2014

Weather:- E, light air
  A cold easterly early morning brought 3 Wheatears to the island, but no warblers today, just a Reed Bunting, and singles of Chaffinch, Goldfinch, Lesser Redpoll, Pied Wagtail and Starling. Meadow Pipits did not feature as a passage today, just local birds were present that may breed on the island (right). Later in the morning a Raven and a Magpie were seen. The Hilbre 'mega' the Pheasant was still present, while the even less truly wild escaped Red-tailed Hawk that has been about West Kirby since last year made an appearance over the marine lake car park. Spring movements of Knot were noted with 12,000 streaming out of the estuary over Black Horse Hill, and a further 8,000 moving north along the coast. Also in large numbers were 20,000 Common Scoter which were again disturbed from the sea by a fast moving vessel.
Common Scoter resting on the rocks
(DB,AEH,PSW, et al)     photos  AEH

Thursday 27 March 2014

27th March 2014

 Weather:- SE force 2/3, mist around the estuary
 A Wheatear caught early on (the only one present) was probably the first Greenland race of the spring, however the nominate form could not be entirely ruled out on biometrics. Greenland Wheatears are more common here a little later into April. There were not many migrants on the ground but 10 Chaffinches, 23 Goldfinches and 2 Starlings went through and a Blue Tit (perhaps one of the 3 seen yesterday) stayed long enough to be ringed (below), unlike a Goldcrest that disappeared early. Later in the morning another scarce Hilbre bird in the form of a male House Sparrow joined the Blue Tit about the gardens.
  After the scarce species the excitement of a real Hilbre rarity when a male Pheasant was seen next to the five-barred gate by the top paddock, the patch often favoured by the rabbit. It entered the top paddock and then walked about by the Heli trap (above). A species scorned by many birders, Hilbre listers were delighted as this is thought to be only the second ever on the islands, as opposed to birds heard from Red Rocks when the breeze is light from the east. Both Kestrel and Peregrine were logged today, also 3 Little Egrets as yesterday.
Ringed :- 1 Wheatear, 1 Chaffinch, 1 Blue Tit, 1 Blackbird       [ 42-16 ]
(DB,CJ, et al)

Wednesday 26 March 2014

26th March 2014

Weather:- SE 0-1, mist
Better than expected conditions overnight produced a good collection of migrants on the ground this morning. Wheatears arrived in numbers (11) and Goldcrests (10), Chaffinches (7), Chiffchaffs (4) and a Redwing were not far behind making it the best day of spring so far. Scarce Hilbre birds also paid a visit in the form of 3 Blue Tits and a female House Sparrow. A Merlin was on the ridge south of Middle early on and 3 Little Egrets on the east side included a pair that were seen to be displaying. A female Blackbird was carrying nesting material ready for the spring season. Other counts from today included a total of 19 Carrion Crows, 23 Common Scoter, 169 Brent Geese ( still 1 dark-bellied), 120 Sanderling flying north east, 5 Red-breasted Mergansers and 130 Turnstones.

Tuesday 25 March 2014

25th March 2014

Weather:- SE force 1, cloudy, some mist around the estuary

 Conditions seemed ideal for migrants this morning but they were obviously 'wrong' during the night to encourage any movement as it was quiet for the most part. A male and 2 female Wheatears arrived during the morning, and one became the first female to be ringed this year (left, looking for a way in to the juicy worms).

Two Canada Geese were logged, as they often are at this time and in addition about 45 Meadow Pipits, a Reed Bunting, a Pied and a White Wagtail completed a poor list of 'migrants'. Birds of the day would be a male and female Eider that flew up the west side and across the north end. Sea highlights were again about 5,000 Common Scoter towards the wind farm, while also logged were 3 Red-throated Divers and 15 Great Crested Grebes. Two Little Egrets which have been scarce lately were also present,
Ringed:- 1 Wheatear              [ 38-15 ]
(DB, et al)

Monday 24 March 2014

24th March 2014

Weather:- SE force 3, later 5/6, sunny

Some typical Hilbre early spring migrants today, many of which are common on the mainland but cause excitement on the island because of their scarcity. A Stonechat was on Middle soon after dawn, a Woodpigeon flew over followed towards noon by another, single Jackdaws twice called over whilst heading west (below), 2 Magpies arrived (above and left) with one staying to tour the island for a while and narrowly avoiding being ringed, and 3 Canada Geese flew in from the northwest across the north end. Pride of place however goes to a total of 5 Sand Martins which are the first to arrive here this spring. There was no big arrival of passerines but 4 Chiffchaffs, 5 Goldfinches and a Goldcrest were around the paddocks early and a Siskin called overhead as did 2 White Wagtails and 3 Pied.. Meadow Pipits were not in such big numbers as sometimes at this time but nevertheless 60 were logged. A large flock of Common Scoter were disturbed by a boat by the wind farm and were estimated at 15,000, while only 2 Gannets could be found. The Brent flock contained 2 dark-bellied birds again. A Peregrine was seen to devour a kill on the sand to the east of the island.
Ringed:- 4 Chiffchaffs                              [ 37-15 ]
(DB,CJ,KMc+SD,et al), also Scott and Liam

Saturday 22 March 2014

22nd March 2014

Weather:- SW 2  ,sunny, later  winds gusting to gale force.
 In the sunshine today some repairs were completed to the island fences
female Wheatear
 and gates and a male Wheatear appeared on the west side and became the first trapped this year (right), later in the morning a female dropped in but left without being caught. Two Goldfinches and a White Wagtail were in the paddocks at some stage but little else.
male Wheatear

Sea watching was more productive with 20 Little Gulls and a Fulmar noted. Meadow Pipits and Linnets numbered about 20 each, some will be local birds about to set up for breeding. A Rock Pipit ringed earlier in the month proved it was still present.
Ringed:- 1 Wheatear, 1 Wren.     [ 33-15 ]
 photos Wheatears SRW) view (JE)

Friday 21 March 2014

21st March 2014

Weather:- SW 4 later WNW 5/6
There are still approximately 150 Brent Geese present (with 1 dark-bellied bird and 2 colour ringed), some are expected to stay for about another 3 weeks yet. Other counts include 3,500 Oystercatchers, 324 Curlews off Little Eye and 140 Turnstones. Small migrants were very scarce just 1 Pied Wagtail, 1 Chaffinch and 1 Chiffchaff were recorded.
(DB, et al)

Thursday 20 March 2014

20th March 2014

Weather:- SW 3, later WSW force 6/7
Some movement this morning with 4 Chiffchaffs present and the first Wheatear of the year to arrive in the form of a fine male at 07.40hrs. One or possibly 2 Wheatears were seen on Middle later in the morning. The sole finches were 3 Goldfinches and a Siskin and 10 Linnets, also noted were 5 Pied and a White Wagtail, a Redwing and a small passage of 110 Meadow Pipits. A Fulmar was prospecting up and down the west side, an occurrence that is repeated in most springs at Hilbre but of course nesting has never happened. There were 324 Curlews in the Little Eye area.

Wednesday 19 March 2014

19th March 2014

Weather:-WSW 3/4, later W force 8
Three Jackdaws flew south west, migrants included 4 Goldfinches and 3 Pied Wagtails. Fifty Sanderling flew north. The first Danish Scurvy Grass is in flower today.

Tuesday 18 March 2014

18th March 2014

Weather:- SW force 3/4, later WNW force 6/7 gusting to gale force, showers
Strong westerlies made sea watching the priority again this morning, and while many seabirds were seen, most were at distance. The totals from the log were 12 Red-throated divers, 11 Gannets, 23 Little Gulls (mostly tracking west out towards the wind farms), 14 Kittiwakes, 25 Guillemots, 8 Great Crested Grebes and 3 Red-breasted Mergansers. Common Scoters seemed to be everywhere on the sea in mostly small parties, although about 200 were off to the north west at one stage. Two dark-bellied Brent were present today, whereas only 1 has been recorded for many weeks now.
Cormorant at the island pond  (CJ)
 Also increased in numbers were Purple Sandpipers when 10 were found on the rock ledges at the north end as the tide spray lashed the area. Small passerines were few, although about 150 Meadow Pipits came in from the sea over the tide, 5 Pied wagtails called over and a single Chaffinch was in the obs garden this morning. A Peregrine flew between the islands this morning and then was seen with prey south of Middle. A ringed Cormorant was the latest unusual visitor to the main island pond.
(DB,CJ,KMc+SD, et al)

Monday 17 March 2014

17th March 2014

Weather:- NW force 4
A very brief visit found unringed Rock Pipits at both the south end of the main island and also on Middle Eye. Two hundred and sixty Curlew were by Little Eye after the tide ebbed. A female Kestel was present

Sunday 16 March 2014

16th March 2014

Weather:- W force 5/6 drizzle
A breezy day suitable for a sea watch and the first Gannets (11) of the year came through on time, as did the first spring Little Gulls (5) after a single winter bird in the middle of last month. Also on the sea were 22 Red-throated Divers, 12 Great Crested Grebes, 5 Red-breasted Mergansers, 7 Guillemots and a Razorbill. The now expected large groupings of Common Scoters did not disappoint the observers with an estimated 3,000 present in the area, while the resident Brent were counted at 178 birds.
Ringed:- 1 Goldcrest              [ 31-13 ]

Friday 14 March 2014

14th March 2014

Weather:- SE light air, fog, later WNW force 6/7 mist
Some movement this morning in the calm conditions. Migrants included 15 Siskins, 1 Greenfinch, 1 Chaffiinch, 6 Linnets, 6 Grey and 12 Pied Wagtails, 4 Chiffchaffs and 3 Redwings, and later a male House Sparrow appeared on the island. About 250 Meadow Pipits passed through and a single Canada Goose made a visit.
Ringed:- 1 Chiffchaff, 1 Greenfinch, 1 Dunnock               [ 30-13 ]

Thursday 13 March 2014

13th March 2014

Thick fog coming and going again this morning, but this time it resulted in many birds grounding if only briefly. The first Chiffchaff of the year was on the island and there were several Siskins and Redwings brought in by the fog.
Middle Eye appearing as the fog cleared


Redwing downed by the fog
Rock Pipit




The Hilbre Rabbit

Ringed:- 2 Meadow Pipits, 2 Chaffinches. 2 Dunnocks, 1 Rock Pipit, 1 Chiffchaff, 1 Greenfinch, 1 Siskin, 1 Redwing.        [ 27- 13 ]

Wednesday 12 March 2014

12th March 2014

Weather:- SSE force 3, thick fog soon after dawn, very cold breeze.
The fog rolled in blanketing the islands after dawn but failed bring any falls of birds, indeed it was quieter than usual for mid-March.The only birds new in on the ground were a Chaffinch, a Greenfinch and a Reed Bunting. Passing through overhead were about 80 Meadow Pipits, 7 Pied Wagtails, 2 Siskins, a Skylark and a Woodpigeon. The dark-bellied Brent and 19 local Shelduck were seen and 2 Rock Pipits were at the south end of Middle.
Ringed:- 1 Chaffinch                 [ 16-6 ]
(DB,CJ, et al)

Tuesday 11 March 2014

11th March 2014

Weather:- SE force1/2, later ESE force 2/3
Plenty of spring movement today. A Merlin was on the ridge south of Middle Eye and a Sparrowhawk flew low through the obs garden. There were 6 Goldcrests and quite a lot of finches:- 18 Siskins, 7 Chaffinches and 15 Linnets. Best bird of the day in a Hilbre context was a Great Tit that arrived during the morning (right), a species not noted in every Hilbre year. Other migrants today included 45 Meadow Pipits, a Skylark, 2 Pied and a White Wagtail, and an amazing flock of 40 Collared Doves that flew south. Brent totalled 175 birds. There were 30 Common Frogs mating at the south end of the main pond.
Ringed:- 1 Goldcrest, 1 Robin, 1 Chaffinch, 1 Great Tit.          [ 15-6 ]
(DB, et al)

Monday 10 March 2014

10th March 2014

Weather:- N force 3/4, mild
Several finches about this morning, 10 Chaffinches, 2 Goldfinches, 1 Greenfinch and 22 Linnets, also 5 Pied Wagtails and a single Goldcrest. Lots of amphibious spring like activity at the south end of the main pond
Ringed:- 1 Goldcrest                   [ 11-5 ]

Sunday 9 March 2014

9th March 2014

Weather :- SE 1/2 , later SW 3/4, mist around the coast early

Record shot of Snow Bunting in flight (SRW)
A pleasant trickle of migrants this morning with a small fall of 7 Goldcrests, about 60 Meadow Pipits passing through, 9 Skylarks in 3 groups, some wagtails including 1Grey, 23 Pied (but no White) and several finches (3 Goldfinches, 2 Chaffinches, 2 Greenfinches and a Siskin). Bird of the day was also a seed eater in the form of a Snow Bunting that flew into Middle Eye from the north, circled and flew back over the main island passing over the obs calling. A search of the island failed to re-locate it.
Frogspawn (SRW)
A House Sparrow was likewise briefly calling near the top paddock, but in this case it was never seen. Six Common Scoter continued to be attracted to the area of the gutter mouth and numbers of Brent Geese are still holding up,165 today including the dark-bellied bird with 15 Shelduck near the islands. A Peregrine was south of Middle, while the female Kestrel was still present.  A flock of about 10,000 Knot were noted distantly south of Tanskey rocks.
Frogspawn from the dried out old obs pond were transferred to the pond in the wildlife garden where they should survive better.

Ringed:- 3 Goldcrests, 2 Chaffinches.       [ 10-5 ]

Saturday 8 March 2014

8th March 2014

 Weather:- SE force 6

Winds from the south brought some early spring migrants to the island today. Highlight of the morning was a female Sparrowhawk caught in the SK trap; the ringing of a Sparrowhawk is a less than annual event at Hilbre. A Merlin had hunted the island from early and was present at the same time as the Sparrowhawk. Also ringed was the first Goldcrest this year, while a Reed Bunting evaded the ringers as did other visitors including a Greenfinch, 2 Goldfinches, a Woodpigeon, a Redwing, and a small movement of Meadow Pipits (45) passing through. Several wagtails were on the list including 6 Pied, 3 Grey and the first White Wagtail this year. A mixed flock of duck comprised 4 male and 4 female Pintail, and a male and female Wigeon.
(CJ,CJW,NDW,TGW,SRW)        [ 5-4 ]

Friday 7 March 2014

7th March 2014

Weather:- NW force 4/5 , Heavy rain
Successive large flocks of Knot (max 1,000) and Black-tailed Godwits (max 150) were seen flying off high to the north west during heavy rain. Two hundred and eighty Turnstones were counted at the flood tide. A Skylark was down at the south end of the island. The first honey bee of the year was seen. The resident rabbit was noted chasing Blackbirds on the lawn of one of the bungalows!

Thursday 6 March 2014

6th March 2014

Weather:- SW force 2/3
Twenty Meadow Pipits, 5 Blackbirds, 450 Knot, 350 Curlew (some flying high early to the north east), 300 Sanderling. One Little Egret. Flocks of Scoter seen again out to the west.

Wednesday 5 March 2014

5th March 2014

Weather: - SW force 2, later W 3/4
A small trickle of migrants today; 2 Greenfinches, a Chaffinch, a Siskin, 2 Pied and a Grey Wagtail and a few (22) Meadow Pipits moving through. Four hundred Sanderlings were notable, waders less so, with only a single Purple Sandpiper to be seen and 112 Turnstones counted. Three Common Seals hauled out on the west hoyle.
(DB et al)

Tuesday 4 March 2014

4th March 2014

Weather:- NW force 5/6 later 3, some rain early
A disturbance by boats out of Mostyn dock produced about 7,000 Common Scoters  flying out in the bay half way to the north hoyle wind farm, the latest in a sequence of sightings of large gatherings of these birds. The Brent Geese were counted at 182 including the dark-bellied bird. Common Scoters (5 males and 2 females) could clearly be heard calling down the east side of the island. A Mute Swan flew east passed the island. A Little Egret was noted. A male Chaffinch was on the feeders for a while, but no other small migrants were present.

Monday 3 March 2014

3rd March 2014

Wind SSE force 1 turning, with the tide, to NW force 3-4 during the afternoon. Sunny all day.

The undoubted highlight of the day was the massive count of 27,000+ Common Scoters. Arriving at the North end for a sea-watch, observers were greeted with hundreds of Scoter close in (above) and constantly moving around with thousands closer to the wind farm.

Suddenly there was a massive movement as at least 15,000 were in the air together flying East with birds moving across the horizon as far as the eye could see part of this movement on attached video. )
Purple Sandpiper

 There were still some 12,000 on the sea and in the air after this huge movement so the total count for the day may well have been an underestimate.

The supporting cast included 27 Red-throated Divers, 65 Great-crested Grebe, 9 Razorbill  6 Guillemot. Brent Geese (left) were counted at 188 with 4 Shelduck returning to territory.
A Peregrine terrorised waders on Middle during the high tide roost.

Three Pied Wagtails, 3 Greenfinch and 7 Goldfinch moved through and a new Robin was ringed, hopefully heralding the start of Spring.
(DB,CS+1,NDW, et al )   [ 3-2 ]