Thursday 31 July 2014

31st July 2014

Weather WNW force 4
Insects continue to be the main attraction until the autumn migration of birds gets fully underway at Hilbre.
Sandwich Tern
The first emergence of Buff-tip moth caterpillars (right) this autumn happened today in its regular place in the obs garden. Butterflies were not in large numbers but Common Blue, Gatekeeper, Red Admiral and Peacock all featured at some stage together with a male Emperor dragonfly. An Arctic Tern was a good find sitting amongst the Sandwich tern roost.

A single Willow Warbler was the sole non resident passerine while waders counted included 12 Whimbrel, 16 Ringed Plover, 25 Turnstones, 20 Redshank and a Bar-tailed Godwit. A pair of Common Scoter were on the sea.


The small glasswort plant found some time ago on the rocks at the north end, still shows to those who are observant. Although common elsewhere it is possibly the first on the island for 60 years.

(DB,AEH,TO)                    photos  AEH

Monday 28 July 2014

27th July 2014

Weather: NW 4-5, 6/8 cloud, excellent vis, rain overnight

The rain passed through early on and left a pleasant sunny but blustery day, a slight contrast to the previous week.

The weather brought little in the way of grounded migrants but wader passage was evident with 12 Turnstone appearing (none being colour ringed several were obviously fresh in with their spanking summer plumage dress).  A single Bar-tailed Godwit fed along the shore, small flocks of Dunlin totalling 150 were pushed up as the tide flooded, a couple of groups of Knot flew through and a couple of Whimbrel were calling around the islands over the tide.

Turnstones - on the flooding tide between the islands (SRW)

Again tern numbers were impressive with adult Sandwich Terns feeding youngsters on the East Hoyle sand bank as the tide flooded totalling 350, 52 Little Terns were counted before the tide but only 35 Common Terns were noted.

Butterflies included a Meadow Brown and numerous Green-veined Whites.
Meadow Brown - Heli Paddock, Hilbre (SRW)
Green-veined White - by the 'Air Raid Shelter', Hilbre (SRW)

Glasswort (Samphire) - North End

(SRW et al et al (from over)) 

Saturday 26 July 2014

26th July 2014

Weather: SE 2-3, 4/8 cloud, slight mist, poor vis, warm and humid

Classic weather for a small drift of migrants did not disappoint with a small drift of 7 early Willow Warblers and a single Sedge Warbler that was caught and ringed in the Obs garden.

Other birds caught included a young Meadow Pipit, Dunnock and Linnet as well as a new Robin (this year's bird).

One of our colour-ringed Turnstones (Green over Yellow) that was ringed in 2007/08 was seen at the North End with other Turnstones today, the first sighting of this bird back from its breeding grounds already.  This bird (or another from the same period) was seen and photographed on passage in Iceland a few years ago and has been seen returning to Hilbre each year since.

A Yellow Wagtail was seen by one visiting birder and was possibly the bird seen the other day.

The Secretary gave two talks about the Obs to visiting birders on the combined RSPB/Wirral Ranger Service visit and showed the group the Sedge Warbler.

As the tide ebbed the good numbers of Sandwich Terns that had been obvious over the tide (450) were supplemented opposite the Obs by 107 Little Terns - the best count of the summer so far.  The sight and sound of these terns feeding up and down the gutter with adults feeding juveniles and landing on the sand banks is an annual mid-late summer occurrence at Hilbre.

Butterflies were again much in evidence around the main island today including this showy Peacock.

Meanwhile the Rock Sea Lavender looks fantastic down the West Side of the main island at the moment.

(SRW, CLW, TGW, CJW (f), GIW, FPW (from over)+3 later, ESCA, DB +3 later) [604-33] photos by SRW

Thursday 24 July 2014

24th July 2014

Weather: ESE 2-3, 0/8 cloud, mod vid but hazy

Despite the date and the blazing weather mid summer can still produce fantastic rewards on the island and today was one of those days.

A colour ringed Sanderling was noted amongst a small flock of 7 birds and preliminary enquiries revealed it may have been ringed as an adult on Orkney in 2012.  We look forward to full details in due course.

The birding was outshone by the insects today that saw at least 4 Emperor Dragonflies, 12 Migrant Hawker and a Common Darter (as well as an emergence around the island many teneral stage).  However, a stunning influx of butterflies occurred with 'vis mig' counts that included Small White (60), Green-veined White (80), Small Tortoiseshell (25), Peacock (27), Red Admiral (10), Meadow Brown (12), Grayling (5), Common Blue (5), a Painted Lady and a Small Skipper.

The star of the show however was a stunning female Dark Green Fritillary which was found near the Old Obs garden and is the first record for the island.  The photo below is from Freshfield NR by BSB.

Dark Green Fritillary - Freshfields NR (BSB)


Wednesday 23 July 2014

23rd July 2014

Weather;- ESE force 2, dry with hot sunshine (28 degrees in the estuary in the afternoon !)

A most unusual record for July occurred when a Yellow Wagtail (right) was feeding on the rocks at the north end with 3 Pied Wagtails early morning. The Pied Wagtails were undoubtedly the birds that have been here some time and probably bred on the island, while the Yellow Wagtail seemed to have attached itself to them for a short while this morning, it could not be found later. The first Willow Warbler to be ringed this autumn (left) arrived before midday (although another had been seen on the island 3 weeks ago), also moving through at this time were about 60 Swallows in a loose party and the first 9 Ringed Plovers of the autumn were on the shore, while the Turnstones are now up to fourteen. Seventy Little Terns fed with about 700 of the larger species, mostly Sandwich Terns which are now forming a regular roost on the east hoyle. A juvenile Wren was ringed, quite a surprise as no Wrens have been seen or heard this summer and it was assumed none had bred. As expected in this fine weather insects were thriving and 3 Emperor, a Migrant Hawker and a Southern Hawker were about, one of the Emperors caught itself in the SK heligoland trap, others were patrolling the main pond. Butterflies of 9 species were seen including 5 Graylings by the mast, a single Painted Lady and about 20 Red Admirals arriving in off the sea.
Migrant Hawker


Ringed:- 1 Willow Warbler, 1 Wren.    [ 596-33 ]
(DB,CJ, PGR+3)     photos CJ

Tuesday 22 July 2014

22nd July 2014

Weather:- SW force 1 , then NNE force 2, sunny and hot
A Whitethroat was still around the obs garden, presumably the bird ringed here about 10 days ago. A female or immature Eider was off the island, also a female Scoter. Little Egrets numbered an impressive 12, and Whimbrel 10, and a good find were 7 Black-tailed Godwits, a typical date for these waders to appear on the east hoyle at Hilbre. Oystercatchers are now building up in numbers and amongst them was a leucistic individual on the reefs south of Middle. Counts were made of 35 Little Terns and 530 of larger species. Turnstones now number 11 back from their the breeding grounds.Three juvenile Dunnocks seen in the garden confirmed that they had bred on the island.

Monday 21 July 2014

21st July 2014

Weather;- NW force 4/5
A brief early morning visit produced a Gannet, a Whimbrel, 340 Sandwich Tern and 9 Little Tern.
(DB et al)

Sunday 20 July 2014

20th July 2014

Weather:- NW force 2/3
Counts today of increasing numbers of Whimbrel (10) , Curlew (366). Both male and female Common Scoter stayed close to the island. A female Kestrel was present.
The moth trap was deployed last night with excellent results, especially the 50 Garden tigers caught, although this would be no surprise to those that experienced the huge number of Garden Tiger caterpillars about the island in the spring. See species (right)
(DB et al)

Thursday 17 July 2014

17th July 2014

Weather:-  SW 1 then NNE 2  very hazy
Very little to report apart from 6 Swallows, 2 Whimbrel and 388 Sandwich terns. Plenty of insects to enjoy, especially the many Blue-tailed Damselflies, with some pairs in tandem on the main pond, also 35 Small White butterflies and 10 Small Tortoiseshell, 4 Gatekeepers, a Red Admiral and a Grayling.

Wednesday 16 July 2014

16th July 2014

Weather:- SE 2, later SSW 3/4, thunder at 08.00hrs
A Swift flew west, as did 4 Sand Martins (the first this autumn). An early returning Bar-tailed Godwit was in brilliant summer plumage on the shore, while 70 Curlew flew west and 2 Little Egrets were logged. Evidence of breeding was everywhere, with Blackbirds carrying food and young Linnets and Dunnocks about the island.

Tuesday 15 July 2014

15th July 2014

Weather NW force 3/4
A juvenile Wheatear was on Middle Eye, the first of the autumn and a classic place to find one, especially on the worn path area on the west side. There was little else to report other than 3 Whimbrel, a Bar-tailed Godwit and 250 Sandwich terns. Lepidotera seen today included Buff Ermine and Small Magpie moths, and Grayling and Meadow Brown butterflies.

Sunday 13 July 2014

13th July 2014

Weather:  NW 5-6, 6/8 cloud, moderate visibility

The Whitethroat was still present this morning but in the North Westerly blustery conditions it was no surprise that attention turned to seawatching with the highlight being a count of 95 Manx Shearwaters passing the North End.

Also noted were 150 Gannet, 2 Kittiwake, 250 Sandwich and 40 Common Terns.

A couple of Whimbrel and 40 Curlew were the only waders noted apart from 1,500 Oystercatchers.

(CJW et al)

Saturday 12 July 2014

12th July 2014

Weather: SE 2, 0/8, moderate to good vis

A Kestrel made an appearance around the islands today but was the sole raptor seen.

A couple of Swift provided evidence of a little movement and the Whitethroat was caught and ringed.

Terns were represented by 250 Sandwich, 24 Common and 2 Little and waders by 50 Curlew, 2 Whimbrel, 2 Redshank, 1,500 Oystercatcher and a single summer plumaged Knot.

Butterflies were again in evidence on a hot day with temperatures touching 21.4 degrees C with small numbers if the commoner species noted.

(CJW et al)

Friday 11 July 2014

11th July 2014

Weather: WNW 1-2, 7/8 cloud v good vis

Good numbers of gulls were counted again today particularly Black-headed, as they continued their usual summer increase at West Kirby beach although no 'Meds' were noted.

Also 138 Sandwich Terns were in the east gutter and 19 Common Terns were also seen.

On the flora side of things a glasswort species ('Samphire') was found at the North End today, the first recorded sighting on the islands since the 1960s?

(DB, CJW et al)

Thursday 10 July 2014

10th July 2014

Weather: NW 3-4, 3/8 cloud, good visibility

A gloriously sunny day produced a quiet day bird wise on the islands although great news that the Swallows that nested appear to have fledged four young with two adults and four young feeding around the island for the last few days.  Swallows struggle on Hilbre, mainly due to the exposure to the elements but they have been successful for the last two years now.

Other successful breeding birds included the Dunnocks with at least two recently fledged young around the Obs garden today and 3 adults also seen around the main island.

Meanwhile at West Kirby shore good numbers of Black-headed Gulls were present (including several juveniles) as well as a dozen Common Gulls joining the party! Sandwich Tern numbers had increased to 118 roosting birds including a juvenile being fed by adults.  But there was no sign of any Med Gulls this morning,  however, three stunning summer plumaged Bar-tailed Godwits fed on the tide edge by Little Eye until, along with all the gulls, terns and Oystercatchers, they were disturbed by a dog walker.


Wednesday 9 July 2014

9th July 2014

Weather:  NNW 5, 8/8 cloud, good visibility

A juvenile Whitethroat was present in the Obs garden and the first returning Dunlin were seen with 6 summer plumaged birds noted.  Other waders included a good count of 145 Curlew and 11 Redshank.

The Polish colour-ringed Black-headed Gull ('TMEN') has returned and was seen on West Kirby beach on 7th July 2014 having been around the area last winter from 6th September 2013. 

TMEN Black-headed Gull - ringed in Poland (SRW)
This morning it was back on the pontoons at WKML.  Also in the Black-headed Gull roost between WKML and the Tanskey Rocks 75 Sandwich Terns were counted and two adult Mediterranean Gulls were found (one the same bird as yesterday).

Mediterranean Gull (adult summer) - West Kirby beach (SRW)
(DB, SRW (at WKML))

Tuesday 8 July 2014

8th July 2014

Weather:  WNW 1, 8/8 cloud, heavy rain clearing later

A single Chiffchaff and a Grey Wagtail were both first records for the 'autumn'!

208 Curlew was a nice count for July and 6 Redshank is noteworthy recently.  The first juvenile Sandwich Tern of the year was noted amongst 45 others.

Meanwhile as the build up of Black-headed Gulls at West Kirby beach increased to over 1,000 birds two Mediterranean Gulls were found feeding at the South End of West Kirby Marine Lake (WKML) as the tide pushed up in the evening.

Mediterranean Gulls (second summer left and adult summer right) - South End of WKML (SRW)
Mediterranean Gull (second summer) - South End WKML (SRW)
The tide then pushed the Meds off into the Hilbre recording area as they flew north and joined the Black-headed Gull roost between WKML and the Tanskey Rocks. 

(DB, SRW (at WKML)

Monday 7 July 2014

7th July 2014

Weather: W 2, backing N 2, 3/8 cloud, good vis

Never a dull day on the island and the Chairman assisted a pet owner with a injured dog today, the dog had a twisted stomach and was rushed off to the vets where it was operated on immediately with a successful outcome.

Back on the island 256 Curlew were counted on the ebb tide early morning and two Little Egrets were along the reef.

A single Whitethroat was in the Ovs garden again.

A summer plumaged Mediterranean Gull was seen on the beach near Little Eye and the polish colour-ringed Black-headed Gull ('TMEN') was back on the pontoon at WKML.

Rounding off an eventful, if not bird-filled, day the Chairman gave a talk about the Observatory and our work to a local School.

(DB (v briefly), CJW, NDW)

Sunday 6 July 2014

6th July 2014

Weather:  SE 2, 1/8, good vis

An unseasonal Blackcap was found in the Obs garden today but very little else migrant wise was recorded apart from 20 Swallows which passed over North.

A single Little Egret was seen again.

(ESCA, DB & GB (from over), AAB & friends)

Saturday 5 July 2014

5th July 2014

Weather:  NW 3-4, 8/8 cloud, mod vis

Singles of Bar-tailed Godwit, Whimbrel and Redshank were noted today along with a Little Egret.

Lingering Whitethroat and Pied Wagtail provide evidence of local breeding but the focus was again on butterflies with Small Tortoiseshell (8), Meadow Brown (3), Red Admiral, Large White and Green-veined White (11) all recorded.
(GB (from over))

Friday 4 July 2014

4th July 2014

Weather: W 5, 8/8, good vis

A Common Sandpiper greeted one observer on the Landrover track at the South End of Middle Eye on the way on.

The Common Spotted Orchid is losing more flowers by the day.

A Whitethroat was around the Telegraph House gardens and in the SK trapping area again but there was very little else noted apart from 2 Black-tailed Godwits. 

(GB (from over), SRW) Photo SRW

Thursday 3 July 2014

3rd July 2014

Weather: WSW 3, 8/8 cloud, good vis

Vying for quietest day of the year on the bird front today produced a single Ringed Plover, a Pied Wagtail and a Grey Heron.

A few butterflies provided some interest with two each of Red Admiral, Green-veined White and Meadow Brown and a single Small Tortoiseshell.

(GB from over)

Wednesday 2 July 2014

2nd July 2014

Weather: S 1, 0/8 cloud, good vis but hazy

News of the Orchid, found on Sunday, filtered through to the mainland and was duly twitched by a couple of members.

Common Spotted Orchid - photographed on Sunday with more flowers showing (DB)

The first Willow Warbler of the autumn arrived and presumably the same  Whitethroat from yesterday was still present.  A juvenile Pied Wagtail remained around the islands and a Common Sandpiper was noted.

Chrysis ignita (BSB)

Meanwhile a couple of Chrysis ignita were found in the Obs (see above). These are a Ruby-tailed Wasp, a cuckoo (nest parasite) of species including Mason Bees.


Tuesday 1 July 2014

1st July 2014

Weather: S 1, 0/8 cloud, moderate vis but hazy

Six Redshank were seen today and a Whitethroat was present on the island.

A drake Eider drifted off the North End by the Tide Guage.