Sunday 29 June 2014

29th June 2014

Weather: NE 3, 5/8 cloud, exceptional vis with Black Combe visible (in the South West corner of the Lake District NP)

The last day of coverage for June did not disappoint with an exceptional record for the island ... an Orchid was found growing in one of the West Side gardens.

It has been identified as a Common Spotted Orchid - see photos below.

Common Spotted Orchid - July 2014 (photo BSB)

This is the first Orchid to be found on the islands since a Pyramidal Orchid was present on Hilbre in 1979 (photo below by the late John Gittins - founder member of the Obs; from the Obs archive).

Common Spotted Orchid - July 2014 (BSB)
Pyramidal Orchid - 1979 (the late JCG)

Ornithologically it was a fairly quiet day but two juvenile Pied Wagtails, 7 Swallows, a female Common Scoter, a male Kestrel again and two Little Egrets were recorded.


Friday 27 June 2014

27th June 2014

Weather: ESE 2-3, 8/8 cloud, good vis

A family party of 5 Ravens, presumably those seen on 25th, landed on the island next to the main pond.

Waders were again in evidence with 44 Curlew, single Whimbrel, 2 Turnstone and a Redshank recorded.

A male and a single juvenile Pied Wagtail were seen again.

The sea was very quiet but an increase in Common Scoters was evident with 116 birds counted.


Thursday 26 June 2014

26th June 2014

Weather: SE 3, 8/8 cloud, excellent vis

Single Turnstone and Redshank were noted today along with 38 Curlew and 1,700 Oystercatchers - no doubt encouraging the appearance of a Peregrine.

A single male Kestrel also visited the islands today no doubt looking for voles but the some of the breeding birds were also fledging with a juvenile Robin notable.

13 Swifts passed over and a single Raven was seen again on the East Hoyle.  


Wednesday 25 June 2014

25th June 2014

Weather: SSE 3, cloud 7/8, excellent vis

More evidence of wader passage was observed today with a single Whimbrel and 28 Curlew seen but also a single summer plumaged Turnstone came 'in off' the sea to the North End from the North West.  The first seen since 6th June on the islands.

A  Common Sandpiper was also at the North End.

As well as 400 Black-headed Gulls, 3 Common Gulls were recorded and tern numbers increase slightly with 25 Common and 50 Sandwich.

A couple of Pied Wagtails were recorded and 27 Swifts passed over the islands.

The highlight of the day was a party of five Ravens sat on the East Hoyle sand bank opposite the Obs feeding on a dead Common Scoter.

Tuesday 24 June 2014

24th June 2014

Weather: NW 4, cloud 7/8, some rain drops early on, excellent vis

A single Great Crested Grebe was noted flying South West but only single Common and Sandwich Terns were seen.

A male Pied Wagtail was presumably the bird seen with young a few days ago.

The Rabbit was seen again today as was a Meadow Brown butterfly.


Monday 23 June 2014

23rd June 2014

Weather: WNW 2-3, 6/8 cloud, good vis

A very brief visit saw another increase in Black-headed Gulls to 400 including the first juvenile to be seen this year.

A drake Mallard and single Little Egret were the only other noteworthy records today.

(DB v briefly)

Sunday 22 June 2014

22nd June 2014

Weather: NW 3, 5/8 cloud, moderate vis

After the summer solstice yesterday Obs members could be forgiven for suggesting that autumn is on its way already, especially given the appearance of a Common Sandpiper at the North End and an unseasonal Grasshopper Warbler in the East Side trapping area.

39 Curlew was another sign of returning wader passage and 350 Black-headed Gulls showed the start of the summer build up of this species locally.

(ESCA & DB from over)


Saturday 21 June 2014

21st June 2014

Weather: NW 5, 3/8 cloud, moderate vis

1,500 Oystercatchers was an increase and single Curlew and Redshank were also noted.
Linnet - female with brood patch (JE)

A single Little Egret was in the gutter below the Obs.

A couple of Linnets were retrapped including a female with obvious brood patch (see right).

The island's ever changing colours were in evidence today with the pink of the spring thrift dying away to be replaced by Rock Sea-lavender (Limonium britannicum ssp celticum).  This scarce plant is endemic to Britain and is listed as 'Near Threatened' and is confined to small parts of North Wales, Lancashire and Cumbria with Hilbre's colony the only one in Cheshire and Wirral so a bit of a Hilbre speciality.

Rock Sea-lavender (JE)
(JE, SRW later ESCA & DB for evening)

Friday 20 June 2014

20th June 2014

Weather: NW 3, cloud 5/8, good vis

A couple of Gannets and a male Common Scoter were noted on the sea along with 2 Sandwich Tern but little else of note.

Herring Gull numbers remained high with at least 2,000 counted. 

Signs of return wader passage continued with an increase of Curlew with 20 noted. 

Three Little Egret were also present.

Numerous Blue-tailed Damselflies were noted.
(DB, M Thomas, A Burton + Friends of Hilbre)

Thursday 19 June 2014

19th June 2014

Weather: NW 4-5, 8/8 cloud, moderate vis

An excellent count of 658 Grey Seals was undertaken this morning (part of the group in photo above) and other mammal records included the Rabbit.

424 Oystercatchers were counted around Hilbre with a further 450 on the West Hoyle where over 3,000 Herring Gulls were noted.  Other gull counts also showed an increase with 155 Lesser Black-backed and 62 Great Black-backed and 155 Black-headed Gulls - with the colour ringed 'Widnes' Herring Gull still present in and around the gutter below the Obs.

(DB, CJW and SRW (briefly))

Wednesday 18 June 2014

18th June 2014

Weather: NW 3, 5/8 cloud good vis, sea-mist later

A male and female Meadow Brown were recorded today and the first Sheeps Bit Sabious was in flower.

Over 2,000 Herring Gulls were present on the West Hoyle sandbank but only 20 Black-headed Gulls were counted.  Other noteworthy records included 3 Canada Geese flying South West and a single House Martin which flew North.

Tuesday 17 June 2014

17th June 2014

Weather: N 0-0.5, 7/8 cloud, good vis

A brief visit produced an adult male and 2 juvenile Pied Wagtails, 10 Black-headead Gulls and a single Little Egret.

(DB briefly)

Sunday 15 June 2014

15th June 2014

Weather: WNW 3, 8/8 cloud, moderate vis

530 Grey Seals was a good count and a substantial increase from the previous evening.

A single Peregrine was noted as were 3 Curlews and the obligatory 2 Little Egrets.

The Rabbit made a welcome appearance the first for over a week.

The light trap was out overnight for moths and yielded a Buff Ermine, 3 Shoulder-striped Wainscot, 3 Marbled Coronets, 8 Heart and Darts, a Bright-Line Brown Eye, a Lime Speck Pug and a Common Swift.

(ESCA, DB (from over))

Saturday 14 June 2014

14th June 2014

Weather: NW 0-1, 3/8 good vis (9pm)

Observers arrived in the evening which was stunning on the island.  A single Curlew flew north, 2 Little Egrets were noted and 221 Grey Seals counted on the West Hoyle haul out.

20 Cinnabar Moths were counted along with 3 Brimstone Moths.

(ESCA, DB evening)

Friday 13 June 2014

13th June 2014

Weather:  NNE 0-0.5, backing NE 1-2, 3/8 cloud, v good vis

64 Gannets were counted today along with 100 Common and 3 Sandwich Terns and a single Kittiwake.

A single Swift was noteworthy as were three juvenile Pied Wagtails at the South End of Middle Eye.  At least 20 Carrion Crows were around Bird Rock and a couple of Little Egrets continued there vigil in the gutters and pools around the reef.

On the insect front Blue-tailed Damselflies were noted around the main pond and a male Meadow Brown was recorded.


Thursday 12 June 2014

12th June 2014

Weather: SE 1, 3/8, v good vis, hot!

A very brief visit on a hot day produced very little other than a couple of Little Egrets, 5 Sandwich Terns and some of the breeding birds noted.

(CJ briefly)

Wednesday 11 June 2014

11th June 2014

Weather: W 3, backing NE 1, 4/8 cloud, excellent vis

74 Gannets were loafing and diving off the North End and 90 Common Terns were counted.  Three Little Egrets graced the islands with their presence.

Insects were high on the agenda today with Small White, Green-veined White and Red Admiral noted but the highlights of the day were two Hummingbird Hawk Moths feeding on the Valerian above Niffy Bay and a single Wasp Beetle in the Obs garden.


Tuesday 10 June 2014

10th June 2014

Weather:  SSE 4-5, 6/8, good vis

A lovely morning but very quiet bird wise.  However, a build up of Black-headed Gulls (c300) had already been noted on West Kirby beach between WKML and Little Eye and whilst a search of these did not produce anything different there were also good numbers of Lesser Black-backeds in the area.

At Little Eye 7 Bar-tailed Godwits and a single Knot were evidence that waders were still on the move but the Little Egrets fishing the gutter and the Reef's tidal pools were most likely local breeding birds (but where from?)

A few Common and Sandwich Terns were noted offshore as were 25 Gannets and 3 Great Crested Grebes graced the ebbing tide.

(DB, AMC et al)

Monday 9 June 2014

9th June 2014

Weather: (SSE and heavy rain most of morning), NNE 2, 6/8 cloud, good vis, some haze by lunchtime

A brief lunchtime visit after the rain had cleared revealed no ornithological migrants had arrived on the islands overnight.  However, there was a definite increase in insect activity with more Cinnabar moths around (45) and a Painted Lady butterfly graced the Valerian on the East Side.

A single Little Egret flaunted itself in the gutter and 4 Grey Herons were disturbed from below the West Side but otherwise it was another fairly quiet mid-June visit.

(SRW briefly)

Sunday 8 June 2014

8th June 2014

Weather:  SSE 5-6, backing SW, overcast, good visibility

A stunning morning weather wise had observers heading out with tools though rather than any great anticipation (although with other larger well-known Irish Sea islands scoring with good birds over the last couple of days you never know your luck).

The local breeding birds were much in evidence with a flock of 12 Linnets roaming the island and a nest of Meadow Pipit pullus were ringed.

During the afternoon a few Swifts passed over as the clouds darkened and threatened overhead but rain never materialised which meant that repair works to the Heli trap could start before the autumn migration gets under way!

(PSW, SRW and TGW) [597-33]

Saturday 7 June 2014

7th June 2014

Weather:  SW 5, 8/8 cloud, rain
A Curlew called and there was a Little Egret on the rocks south of Middle Eye as the sole observer ventured out today in unpromising and slightly daunting looking weather.

There was lots of breeding activity on the Middle early morning with Meadow Pipits and Linnets.

However, by 8am the skies had darkened and the rain started, there was a torrential downpour for about 45 minutes including impressive thunder and lightning but this appeared to down very little in the way of birds.

Two Grey Herons and the local Herring Gulls seemed unperturbed by the rain and later two Swifts passed over but very little else was noted today and the observer retreated to the mainland rather sodden.


Friday 6 June 2014

6th June 2014

Weather: SSE 2, 4/8 cloud, good vis

Another quiet day was livened up by the presence of the Rabbit, not seen for a few days, and another late Greenland Wheatear whilst a single House Martin passed overhead south.

Eight Canada Geese, which are often seen at this time of year at Hilbre, were seen flying North early on before 12 more were found loafing on the sea for a while.

Three Knot and two Bar-tailed Godwit were evidence that waders were still on the move and the adult Kittiwake remained at the North End.

(DB, SRW (briefly))

Wednesday 4 June 2014

4th June 2014

Weather:  NW 1, 7/8 cloud, good vis

A relatively quiet day on the island, as is expected at this time of year, but breeding behaviour today including a pair of Peregrines seen grappling, locking talons and calling on the East Hoyle sandbank - quite a sight/sound.

The good visibility enabled 4,000 Herring Gulls to be counted and continued the mid-summer presence of large numbers of gulls in the mouth of the estuary.

Two Greenland Wheatears were present again and a single Collared Dove represented the migrant species and a juvenile Blackbird was noted, which was a pleasing sight after one nest was known to have failed earlier in the spring.

Yellow-tail moth caterpillars were observed devouring the shrubs "all over the island" today.


Tuesday 3 June 2014

3rd June 2014

Weather:  NW 3, 7/8 cloud, v good visibilty

Lesser Black-backed Gull numbers have increased with at least 60 counted today and other gulls included a single Black-headed Gull as well as the re-appearance of the rather tame Kittiwake at the North End.

Migrant waders were still in evidence with 4 Whimbrel, a single Curlew and 5 summer plumaged Sanderling on the tide edge.

A single Peregrine hunted the islands and Oystercatcher numbers remained fairly high for this time of year with 2,300 counted.

The only migrant passerines of note were a couple of late Greenland Wheatears feeding around Wheatear Hill most of the day.

The birding highlight of the day was an excellent count of 17 Little Egrets on the ebb tide, however, on the mammal front 378 Grey Seals was a good count and insects featured again with the second record for the island of a Wasp Beetle in the Obs garden.


Monday 2 June 2014

2nd June 2014

A light south-easterly first thing brought two Wheatears but no other migrants.

The rather damp and mild night had produced a light trap full of moths, as some compensation though.

Heavy showers failed to down any other migrants but two Whimbrel, two Little Egrets and three Dunlin fed along the advancing tide edge.

One of four white plume moths in the light trap.


1st June 2014

The day started bright and warm with a south-easterly that brought a Sedge Warbler and a female Greenland Wheatear. These stayed all day but the only other migrants were two Swallows and a White Wagtail passing through in the morning and five whimbrel over the tide.

The breeze shifted to the north west in the late morning and cloud built up. Bird activity was otherwise very limited; a drake Common Scoter sat on the rocks after the tide and Meadow Pipits and Linnets fed recently fledged young. Butterflies included a Red Admiral.

Yellow-tail moth caterpillar

A pair of bulb flies mating, Merodon equestris

(ESCA, DB, GB (from over))