Tuesday 30 September 2014

30th September 2014

Weather: S force 1,
Goldcrests again arrived in good numbers (16), also 2 Chiffchaffs and a Grey Wagtail, not many other records today as work on the wildlife garden took priority, but a moth discovered in the garden as the work was in progress was of great interest as it is probably the first live example seen on the island. It was a Red Sword-grass (see below, photo by Matt Thomas)

Monday 29 September 2014

29th September 2014

Weather:- E force 0/1 , slight mist
A Magpie spent a couple of hours on the island (left, CJ), we see these infrequent visitors more often in spring than autumn and its been some years since one was ringed, and this bird also failed to comply and left without troubling the ringers. Another bird that escaped ringing was a Garden Warbler, first glimpsed near the old buildings and later in the paddocks. Although it is a very scarce visitor it is by no means unprecedented for a Garden Warbler to turn up this late in the autumn at Hilbre. Two Goldcrests were ringed out of about double that number around, and a single Chiffchaff was present while other singles noted but passing over were a Swallow, a Skylark and a Grey Wagtail. Observers became aware of a small passage of Meadow Pipits this morning. Just 2 Brent appeared today although others may be somewhere in the area. A Grey Plover called and 6 Bar-tailed Godwits and 3 Little Egrets were logged. Two Kestrels flew around again, one of which was an adult male.
Ringed:- 2 Goldcrests (left, this years bird with pointed tail feathers, right adult with rounded tail) 1 Chiffchaff, 1 Wren, 2 Linnets, 1 Robin, 1 Meadow Pipit   [ 902-36 ]
(DB,CJ,NDW, et al)

Sunday 28 September 2014

28th September 2014

Weather: SE force 2
Amongst the 7 Brent Geese seen today was an individual that was colour ringed in Canada by the Irish Brent Goose Research Group and has been seen at Hilbre each winter for the last 7 years (above, SRW). Only 3 days ago it was seen feeding at Strangford Lough in Northern Island as a stopover on its way from Canada. Migrants continue to arrive in small numbers, today 5 Goldcrests, 1 Chiffchaff, 2 Grey Wagtails, 65 Meadow Pipits and a Wheatear. A high tide sea watch logged a Great Skua, 25 Red-throated Divers, 15 Great Crested Grebes, 4 Sandwich Terns, 6 Razorbills and 100 Guillemots. Previously 2 Harbour Porpoises were noted on the calm sea.
Ringed:- 3 Goldcrests                 [ 894-36 ]
(NDW,SRW,) + Jeff Clarke and party

Saturday 27 September 2014

27th September 2014

Weather:- S force 2, clouding over
Pale-bellied Brent  (CJ)
A few more Goldcrests this morning (including one seen flying over Little Eye) but no Chiffchaffs, although a small number of Meadow Pipits and wagtails seem to be passing through, with a Grey Wagtail at the north end. The only other obvious migrant was a Reed Bunting in the bracken at the south of the island. A single pale-bellied Brent rested beside the tide edge to the north east (probably fresh in this morning) and later 4 others already present came in to land on the whaleback off the north west side (right).
Two Peregrines sat on the east hoyle sand between hunting trips. The sea was quiet except for the surprise of 95 Sandwich Terns flying off to the north west, an unexpectedly large number this late in the autumn.
Ringed:- 3 Goldcrests, 1 Wren, 1 Robin   [ 891-36 ]

Friday 26 September 2014

26th September 2014

Weather:- WNW force 5/6
Five adult Pale-bellied Brents were logged, also counts of 16 Bar-tailed Godwits, 250 Curlew, 8 Sanderling, 42 Turnstone and 22 Redshank. Migrant passerines were at a premium, just 3 Goldcrests and a female Wheatear. A Rock Pipit seen between the islands will also probably pass on as the autumn progresses and others arrive particularly during October and November. A red-throated Diver and 2 Guillemots were on the sea. Both male and female Kestrel hunted the island today.
(DB et al)

Wednesday 24 September 2014

24th September 2014

Weather:- NW force 6, rain showers
The first moderate blow from the north west this September produced a species most sought after on sea watches at this time of year. Two Long-tailed Skuas appeared over the surf from Hoylake direction at 11.30am and passed west across the north end of the island. The rest of the sea watch was otherwise uneventful with just 2 Gannets, 15 Common Scoter and a single Sandwich Tern. The wind direction completely killed the steady passerine migration of the last few weeks and only a single Goldcrest still around. Visitors staying on Middle island again prevented the waders from roosting there during the high tide, they may think it is harmless but thousands of birds are prevented from accessing a valuable resting place. A single Bar-tailed Godwit was on the shore and A Black-tailed Godwit flew over observers near Little Eye. Mammal of the day was a large frog noted on the island.

Tuesday 23 September 2014

23rd September 2014

Weather:- WSW force 1/2, slight mist
South west winds this morning did not prevent a continuation of the presence of a small number of warblers, today there were 4 Goldcrest and 2 Chiffchaffs, also 3 Grey Wagtails and a Skylark that came down on the island. wader counts included 8,000 Oystercatcher, 310 Curlew, 75 Redshank, 50 Turnstone, 30 Ringed Plover, 100 Dunlin, and 3 Bar-tailed Godwits. Also on the shore were 150 Shelduck (at Little Eye), 4 Grey Herons and 2 Little Egrets.

Monday 22 September 2014

22nd September 2014

Weather:- S force 1, veering north west force 2 before midday
The balmy September weather continues and Chiffchaffs and Goldcrests still arrive on most days, even in fairly small numbers and today was no exception with at least 14 Goldcrests and 8 Chiffchaffs feeding in the gardens, bracken and Blackthorn areas. The were no Swallows or Wheatears today and just a single Skylark. News headline of the day was the sighting of the first 4 Brent Geese of the autumn/winter to arrive as the tide flooded near the reef south of Middle, it remains to be seen if they will stay or pass on elsewhere before others arrive in the next few weeks. Other geese/duck/ wader sightings were 200 Black-tailed Godwits flying passed Little Eye and over Grange Hill, 2 Pintail flying south and 6 Canada Geese going north, 40 Sanderling travelling north east, also 400 Redshank and 450 Shelducks by Tanskey rocks. A Rock Pipit was again between the islands.
Ringed:- 5 Chiffchaffs, 4 Goldcrests, 2 Robins, 1 Linnet    [ 883-36 ]

21st September 2014

Weather:   Wind NNE. Force ½


Another small fall of birds occurred overnight with crests, Robins and Chiffchaffs being present at first light. As morning progressed an unidentified ‘beaky’ looking passerine was seen skulking in the Obs garden and then later in the bracken at the south end.

Eventually it showed itself well enough and was identified as a juvenile Spotted Flycatcher. It then moved north to the garden of Telegraph House where it spent the remainder of the day before finally departing after the tide had dropped.

The male Kestrel controlled on Hilbre recently continued its stay on the island and was observed frequently during the day.

Visible migration was far more prominent today with small parties of Skylarks and Swallows passing over but the highlight was the first Pinkfeet of the autumn with a skein of 90 birds heading west over the island.

Wader numbers are increasing with good numbers of Turnstone , Redshank, Ringed Plover and Dunlin choosing to roost on the island along with two Sanderling. A leucistic Oystercatcher was picked out on the sand between Hilbre and Red Rocks but there are no Brent Geese or Purple Sandpipers yet.

Ringed: 4 Robins, 4 Goldcrest, 5 Goldcrest.

(DB&ESCA, PSW) [871-36]

20th September 2014

Weather:  ind NNW Force 1/2

An early tide meant getting to Hilbre whilst it was still dark and it was obvious immediately that there had been a small fall of migrants with crests and phylosc’s calling in the dark.

A misty morning meant visibility poor and neither West Kirby or Wales could be seen from the Island. Once the sun rose and the mist cleared most of the birds departed. Visible migration included a Skylark that briefly settled on the track leading to the look-out.

Four Greenland Wheatears spent the duration of the tide along the west side but resolutely refused to enter any of the potter trap.


After the tide the Obs was visited by a group of 40+ from Chester Zoo’s junior section led by Penny Rudd. With so many visitors there wasn’t room in the Obs so the children sat on the lawn whilst given a talk about bird ringing followed by a question and answer session that threw up some surprising questions such as ‘what is the shortest migration’.


As has been usual during this warm spell Red Admirals were plentiful and a single Small White butterfly was also seen.


Ringed: 3 Goldcrest, 2 Willow Warblers, 3 Robins & 1 Common Whitethroat


(PSW) [858-36]

Friday 19 September 2014

18th September 2014

Weather:  Wind SE f1-2

A fall of Phylloscs mostly Chiffchaff but also Willow Warblers present continued throughout the morning and was still producing new birds when observers left at 1pm.

A nice surprise was another Stonechat which was caught in the Newton Heligoland, a first year bird like yesterday's.

Two more of the Chiffchaffs caught were large birds with wing measurements 
of 66mm and weights of 8.5g & 8.1g respectively and resembled Willow Warbler in appearance.

Sightings included 3 Little Egret, Gannet, Skylark, 30 Swallow and male Peregrine.

(DB, AEH, AO) [844-36]

Monday 15 September 2014

15th September 2014

Weather: ESE 0-1, backing NE 2-3 by 7am, 8/8 cloud, 6mi vis, light drizzle at 730am

Fifteen Canada Geese were seen over the shore early morning.

However, it was generally another very quiet start to the day with a single Robin caught and ringed and no grounded migrants on the island prior to 8am.  However, a couple of Goldcrests could then be heard around the main island and a single Chiffchaff was calling in the Obs garden before a Willow Warbler found itself in the Old Obs mistnet mid morning.

A single Snipe flew east over the island before another was seen flying up the reef as the tide flooded.

Two Linnet flocks combined over the main island during the afternoon with a count of 68 made; many utilising the wildlife garden pond for a good bathe as usual, perhaps they will pull something else in...

A single Wheatear appeared below the mast as the tide began to flood and remained on the island for the tide and seven Little Egrets were noted.

Over the tide a single Arctic Skua was seen, something of a rarity so far this autumn.

The moth trap was again used overnight and produced mostly lesser yellow underwings but also a few Feathered Ranunculus (see below).

(DB, GB, KMc+SD, NDW et al) [787-35]

Sunday 14 September 2014

14th September 2014

Weather:  E 2, 8/8 cloud, 5 miles vis, mist around estuary

Despite the favourable winds there were few migrants around with only a couple of Goldcrests on the island at first light. Just before high tide however a Chiffchaff and Willow Warbler dropped in and the Chiffchaff was caught in the Old Obs mistnet.

Good numbers of waders roosted around the island with the Turnstones preferring the ledges on the west side cliffs out of the easterly wind. They were joined by a few Dunlin and Ringed Plover whilst the main wader roost on Middle Eye held the usual of Oystercatchers but included Knot and two Whimbrel.  However, two Snipe were a nice record.

Invertebrates included a female Southern hawker Dragonfly caught in the SK Heligoland and released, after giving the ringer a nip, and four Red Admiral butterflies.

Linnets numbered 52 birds which is noteworthy in recent times.

Ringed Plover - on West Side (PSW)
Dunlin - West Side out of the easterly wind (PSW)
Whimbrel (centre with Redshanks and Oystercatchers) - one of two seen today (PSW)
Oystercatchers (PSW)
Ringing: Chifchaff, Linnet

(DB&ESCA, PSW later) [785-35]

Saturday 13 September 2014

13th September 2014

Weather: SE 3, 8/8 cloud, poor vis (5miles), slight mist around estuary

A late night bat detection session last night revealed over 20 passes of Pipistrelle Bats - what better way to spend a Friday evening?

Despite the pessimism of some this morning - it was a nice morning again on the island with an early trap round producing a Goldcrest and the first of four Reed Buntings made its presence known by its persistent calling from the blackthorn in the lower trapping areas.

Overhead migration remained a little thin but once again Grey Wagtails were well represented with 12 counted during the morning, a few Swallows passed over a nice flock of 12 House Martins.

5 Wigeon flew around the North End early on and 7 Teal flew in and landed on the edge of the East Hoyle sandbank for a short while.

Grey Wagtail - it has been a good few days for this species passing over the island and today saw several bird grounded briefly (SRW)
 The predicted later arrival of phylloscs  (a feature of the last few days) started at about 840am when 2 Chiffchaffs and a Willow Warbler had found their way into the Old Obs mist net.

With several more Chiffchaffs caught and ringed during the morning, a couple of new Meadow Pipits and a control Robin which was in the Obs garden (we look forward to finding out where this bird was ringed).

Robin - an adult ('4') control ringed elsewhere (JE)

A Raven appeared from over Middle Eye and flew in towards Hilbre before doubling back to Middle where it was joined by a second bird.

Raven - joined a second bird over Middle (SRW)

Pimpla rufipes - an ichneumonid that parasitises Lepidoptera pupae was found on the Obs window during the morning (SRW)

(JE+HVJ, ME+HE, SRW, TGW) [783-35]

Friday 12 September 2014

12th September 2014

Weather: SE 3, 8/8 cloud, 3 miles vis, mist around estuary

Lime Speck Pug
It felt good again this morning and the promising weather conditions again delivered.  Phylloscs started arriving a little earlier than yesterday and at least 12 Chiffchaffs and 3 Willow Warblers drifted in during the day along with half a dozen Goldcrests.

Green Carpet
Meanwhile the moth trap provided some invertebrates interest including a Green Carpet and Lime Speck Pug as well as Sexton Beetle.
Sexton Beetle (PSW)

Two Whimbrel were noted on the shoreline and a single Golden Plover was heard passing over mid morning.

Whimbrel - one of two seen or heard today

Greenland Wheatear - one of four caught today (PSW)
Skylark - West Side
A few Greenland Wheatears started arriving mid morning and by the end of the day four had been trapped for ringing and a further five were seen passing through.  A single Skylark alighted briefly on the West Side.

The sea was fairly quiet with a few terns, a single Fulmar, 8 Guillemot and a Razorbill as well as a frustrating distant skua spp.  However, as the wind dropped to almost nil a single and then three Harbour Porpoise were seen.

Just as observers were on the final 'round' of the day all of the Oystercatchers and gulls took flight and once again a frantic search of the skies for a raptor produced an Osprey seen drifting between the islands and West Kirby before drifting off south down the estuary putting up more waders and gulls as it went.

Osprey - the second of the Autumn
Ringing: Wren, Robin (2), G Wheatear (4), Chiffchaff (9), Willow Warbler (2), Goldcrest (3), Linnet (3), Meadow Pipit (2)

(DB, JE +HVJ, AEH, CJ, KMc, PSW, TGW et al)  [769-35]

Thursday 11 September 2014

11th September 2014

Weather: SSE 3, 0/8 cloud, mist all round estuary, 5 miles vis

Another promising morning weather wise started slowly with a couple of Goldcrests on but very little else until about 8am when a Chiffchaff was observed flying in off.  Two more appeared and it was apparent that the mist was helping to produce a nice trickle of birds.

At 940am a Firecrest appeared in Pallas's Privet and made its way along the top wall and conveniently into the Heli trap (see right).

After release it disappeared for quite some time before reappearing in the Privet and happily fed in the sycamores along the Telegraph House West Side garden all afternoon and evening allowing some photographs and video to be taken and also some visitors to see this stunning little gem of a bird.

Firecrest - spent the afternoon and early evening feeding in the sycamores (SRW)

Meadow Pipits were definitely passing over in numbers today with 150 counted along with 7 Grey Wagtails and 6 Albas and 3 Skylarks were noted on the main island and on Middle.

Things went very quiet around mid to late morning but the wind had died down by lunchtime and the excitement was reignited at around 1410hrs when a male Kestrel found its way into the Obs garden mist net, when extracted it was found to be a control, we look forward to finding out where it was ringed soon.  The stunning bird was photographed by visitors Rob and Terry.

Kestrel (male) - controlled (Terry)
Kestrel (male) - Rob Williams
At around the same time it was apparent that a few more phylloscs had arrived and a Willow Warbler and a further two Chiffchaffs were caught during the afternoon.

Robin - one of many passing through the islands in the last week or so (SRW)
A short video of the Firecrest is posted here http://youtu.be/rUXDvEraRqI

Ringed:  Chiffchaff (5), Willow Warbler (1) Goldcrest (2), Firecrest (1), Wren (1), Linnet (2), Robin (1) + Kestrel (control male)

(DB, CJ, SRW - PSW later + Rob W & Terry) [743-35]

Wednesday 10 September 2014

10th September 2014

Weather: SE 0-1, 3/8 cloud, 6 miles vis, mist around estuary

Promising weather did not disappoint with a small trickle of Goldcrests (4) single Chiffchaff and Willow Warbler and a female Blackcap was the best of the ringing today.

'Vis Mig' was also good with single Reed Bunting, 75 Meadow Pipit, 32 Swallow, 6 Grey Wagtails and 3 Rook which flew right over the Obs.

A flock of a dozen Teal flew south down the West Side and 300 Starling flew in from North and headed over West Kirby.

Rook - one of three passing over the Obs
Ringing:  Goldcrest, Chiffchaff, Willow Warbler, Robin (2), Blackcap

(DB, CJW et al) [730-34]

Tuesday 9 September 2014

9th September 2014

Weather: light air variable direction, cloud from time to time but mainly sunny

The lack of any definite wind direction caused uncertainty in predicting what would happen this morning, in the event very little did. Goldcrests were very few and a single Chiffchaff the only other warbler, with 2 Wheatears (one on Middle) and again a small arrival of Robins on the island. About 50 Swallows and 2 House Martins fed for a short time while passing through mid-morning and apart from a small number of Meadow Pipits that was about the sum total of passage birds.  Shore birds today included 5 Little Egrets, 3 Grey Herons, 1 Whimbrel and 3 Bar-tailed Godwits. Two Kestrels were present as yesterday.  On the calm sea a mini 'pelagic' in a small boat by Obs members logged 200 Common Scoters, 55 Sandwich Tern and 1,500 Dunlin.

Ringed: 2 Robins, 1 Goldcrest, 1 Chiffchaff, 1 Wren.  

(DB, CJ, KMc, PGR, CJW, NDW et al +Tony Duckels & friends)  [724-34]

Sunset over the Hilbre Islands LNR - from WKML (SRW)

Monday 8 September 2014

8th September 2014

 Weather : W force 3, later NW 1, sun breaking through
Another trickle of Goldcrests with a westerly element in the wind, a phenomenon that has been noted for many years at Hilbre, this time with the addition of a Whitethroat that was extremely elusive during the day but gave itself up for ringing in the afternoon. Just a single Wheatear today but Robins were again in good numbers, a small steady flow has been observed for the last week or so.
Pied Wagtail

Nine Barnacle Geese flew south west early in the morning, a rare record in any conditions and at any time on the island. A female Sparrowhawk was found sitting on the 'heli' garden wall, but it soon made off towards Wales, while there were at least 2 Kestrels (male and female) present and possibly another male. Our resident rabbit made itself at home today when it was seen in the obs garden near to the building. Departing the island a member saw 6 Pintail flying south and also a Golden Plover flying north east.
Ringed: 4 Goldcrests, 1 Robin, 1 Whitethroat, 1 Linnet.   [ 720-34 ]
(DB,KMc+SD)     photos  KMc

Sunday 7 September 2014

7th September 2014

Weather:  NW 3, 3/8 cloud, good vis

It was a shame that on a WeBS count day that the roosting flocks of waders on Middle Eye were constantly disturbed over the high tide by a procession of water crafts including canoes, small catamarans and even kite surfers!  With other members of the Obs at Hoylake watching photographers on the beach as the tide pushed up it was a frustrating day all round for the waders and observers alike.

The highlight of the day was the second record of Ruff this autumn which flew North East.  Four Wheatears were around the island during the morning but in a moderate north-westerly there were few other migrants.

The weather continued to improve all day and a very brief late afternoon visit saw a Wheatear still present and 3 Goldcrests including a ringed bird from yesterday.

Wheatear - upper paddock (SRW)

Goldcrest - East Side (SRW)
View from 'Buzzard Hill' - looking South (SRW)

 (DB&ESCA, SRW (v briefly))