Friday 31 October 2014

31st October 2014

Weather : SSE force 3/4, later SE force 4/5 some mist around the coast
An impressive day of Starling passage with about 1,000 crossing the island, including a single flock of 230, many flying fairly low towards the west. In contrast just a single Siskin today after the passage of the last 2 days, also 6 Chaffinches and 2 Skylarks. The first dark-bellied Brent Goose of the autumn was at the north end, it kept away from the main Brent flock at first, as they often do, it is certainly fresh in this morning. 
Three Rock Pipits were logged, also 4 Pied Wagtails, 1 Blackbird and 1 Song Thrush. Ducks have been strangely hard to come by this last few weeks (apart from Scoter), today a single Wigeon was logged.
Ringed: 1 Chaffinch              [ 933-37 ]
(DB,KMc+SD) also visitors Dave Steele and his ex WEA class, who we again thank for their generous donation.           photo courtesy of Manu Santa-Cruz 

Thursday 30 October 2014

30th October 2014

Weather : SSE force 3/4, later S 2, some mist
A good migration day with over 40 species recorded, which is more than usual for this time of year. A female/juvenile Long-tailed Duck was found off the north end at about 11.00 hrs, a less than annual visitor to the island. There were again a lot of Siskin records today totalling 75 birds, with 4 Chaffinches, 6 Greenfinches, and a Goldfinch, also over 100 Starling fly-overs, but only 2 Skylarks. Other migrants today were typical late autumn movements of 15 Blackbirds, 2 Redwings and a Song Thrush, while a small passage of Meadow Pipits was slightly more unexpected. Larger species moving were a Merlin, 3 Black-tailed Godwits and 2 Whooper Swans flying south west over the West Kirby shore. A new high of 83 Brent Geese was established this morning, other birds on the shore included 80 Sanderling, 10 Bar-tailed Godwits and 3 Little Egrets.

Wednesday 29 October 2014

29th October 2014

Weather : E force 0/1, later SE 1/2
A still morning produced a few good movements of passerines with 6 Goldcrests on the ground, also a flock of 22 Siskins, and then 38 more over Little Eye. Despite the Siskins only single Chaffinch and Goldfinch were seen, while passing over were 5 Skylarks, 8 Starlings and 2 Grey Wagtails. A Merlin was logged and the most notable wader count was of 148 Grey Plover between Little Eye and the marine lake.

Monday 27 October 2014

27th October 2014

Weather: SSW force 3/4
A very brief visit found 3 Little Egrets in the gutter with 49 Redshank, a Rock Pipit at the south end and a flock of 7 Starlings flying south.

Saturday 25 October 2014

25th October 2014

Weather : SSW 3, later WSW 4/5
A Blackcap on the island this morning was unexpected in the fresh south westerlies but welcome nonetheless. Two Reed Buntings also visited, one of which came down on the ground for a short while, and then later in the morning a Chiffchaff was found by the 'heli' trap, but disappeared and was not seen again. There seemed to be quite a few Wrens about today, hinting at a small movement through of these little creatures which are sometimes regarded as purely sedentary. Several Starling flocks moved about including one large group over towards the West Kirby shore, and the odd Skylark was heard as they passed over. Not much action today on the sea although 4 Red-throated Divers and a couple of Guillemots were seen. The Brent were counted in flight  at 75 birds, just short of the peak total so far this autumn/winter. Two hundred and eighty Curlew rested south of Little on the flood tide, while at high tide 110 Turnstones, 53 Redshanks, 26 Bar-tailed Godwits and 3 Little Egrets were noted  with 6,000 Oystercatchers roosting on Middle.
Ringed : 1 Blackcap (right), 1 Wren                  [ 932-37 ]
(DB,CJ,KMc) + Dave Steel, Dave Bowman and a small group from Woolston (thanks for the cake!)

Friday 24 October 2014

24th October 2014

Weather : S force 1, mild
A new record for the winter of 1125 Cormorants flew out of the estuary at dawn, and 400 Bar-tailed Godwits were seen to fly north at the flood tide. The east hoyle bank produced 348 Curlew and 48 Grey Plover and flocks of  31 Skylarks and 30 Starlings both flying west. Two late Goldcrests were in the paddocks today.

Thursday 23 October 2014

23rd October 2014

Weather : S force 1
A fairly brief visit was quite fruitful with a male Stonechat recorded on the island, also a Merlin was seen flying north. Twenty one Carrion Crows and a Rock Pipit were on Little Eye, with another Rock Pipit at the north end, while wader counts on the flood tide included 54 Grey Plovers and 500 Knot both flying north, 190 Curlew, 150 Dunlin and 76 Redshank. The only small migrants were 5 Skylarks and a Pied Wagtail.

Wednesday 22 October 2014

22nd October 2014

Weather : WNW 7 with squalls, later WSW 4/5 some drizzle
Following the passage of low pressure 'Gonzalo', a sea watch was the option for many birders today as intense storms have been noticeably absent so far this autumn. The wind was still quite strong early in the day and the first Hilbre Leach's Petrel of the year appeared before the high tide (record shot right). It was not to be one of the famous Leach's days on Wirral and just one more appeared during the sea watch and no skuas made it on the list. Other sea birds noted were a good count of 60 Razorbills (over 14,000 were at Bardsey this morning !), 45 Gannets, 20 Kittiwakes, 30 Guillemots, 35b Great Crested Grebes, over 200 Common Scoter and 6 Red-throated Divers.
 The long awaited first Purple Sandpiper of the winter arrived at the north end today (left) and the Brent reached a new high of 76 birds. Not surprisingly very little small bird movement although 40 Meadow Pipits were certainly not all residents, neither was the single Skylark over.  Over 800 Cormorants flew out of the estuary at dawn, a new record for the autumn, a Merlin flew west and a female Peregrine was also seen. Waders noted today included 29 Grey Plover flying south, 15 Bar-tailed Godwits, 43 Ringed Plover and 120 Turnstone.
(DB,PSW et al)

Tuesday 21 October 2014

21st October 2014

A Bonxie and a Manx Shearwater were recorded on the sea today by non members.
(Matt Thomas, Richard Smith)

Monday 20 October 2014

20th October 2014

Weather : SW force 3/4, rain showers
Fifteen Greylag and 23 Canada Geese flew north over Wirral. Between Little Eye and the marine lake 159 Grey Plovers and 128 Redshanks fed on the tide edge. A Rock Pipit was at Little Eye.

Sunday 19 October 2014

19th October 2014

Wind: SW Force 7-8. Cloud cover 1 to 4/8.
Pressure 29.68 Bar
Temp 17 C
Sandwich Tern
Given the weather conditions not much was expected to turn up on Hilbre but the opportunity was taken to observe the waders at close range by following the tide as it ebbed. Good numbers of the commoner waders were seen but the star bird was a very late Sandwich Tern hunkered down with the gulls between Middle & Hilbre. As expected passerines were few in number but surprisingly a female Chaffinch was found in the Obs garden. Later a female Reed Bunting was located in the SK paddock before moving to the bracken at the south end. A female Wheatear also appeared and was picked up flying down the east side from the Obs balcony before landing in the south end cove. 



Ringed Plover
 (PSW)      all photos PSW

Saturday 18 October 2014

18th October 2014

Weather S force 4
Good counts today south of the islands of 682 Shelduck and 717 Curlew. A Lapwing was the highlight, other visitors included 19 Skylarks, 2 Pied Wagtails and 3 Goldfinches. A Greenland Wheatear was still present and 2 Rock Pipits were logged.

Friday 17 October 2014

17th October 2014

Weather : S force 2/3, later SE, sunny
A very quiet start to the morning with surprisingly no thrushes at all, even the locally bred Blackbirds could not be found, there were however about 4 Goldcrests calling and the two Wheatears from yesterday were still there, to be joined later by a new Greenland bird.
Retrapped birds ringed last month (left), and in 2007 (right) in both photos
A Rock Pipit was trapped to be ringed, only the third this year (below,CJ), followed later in the morning by 2 more which were retraps, one of which was ringed a month ago as a bird born this year and the other amazingly ringed at Hilbre in October 2007 see right, AEH). This is almost a longevity record for Rock Pipit in Britain and even more surprising as it has never been retrapped here since. Rock Pipit sightings peak in October at Hilbre, with maybe 1 or 2 staying for the winter, but most seem to be passage birds at this time and moving on before too long. We have no way of knowing whether this bird has avoided the potter traps these last seven autumns, or is returning for the first time, either way it is very interesting evidence towards an understanding of Rock Pipit movements locally.
As the sun came out mid-morning a few things started to happen, a Reed Bunting came down near the obs (left,CJ), Skylarks again began passing over, about 30, also a dozen or so Starlings did likewise and then another highlight of the morning came with the arrival of  3 House Sparrows from the west, landing in the trees in front of the 'heli' trap and became the first of this scarce Hilbre species to be ringed this year (below, CJ). Finches only came through late in the morning with 30 Goldfinches, 8 Greenfinches and a single Chaffinch, while Meadow Pipits were just a very small trickle passing through today. A brief view of a Song Thrush in the obs garden at midday became the first and only thrush of any kind seen today.
House Sparrow (CJ)


  The Brent were hard to find, 3 on the east tide edge (right with a Bar-tailed Godwit, AEH) and another 4 elsewhere, 3 Little Egrets and 3 Bar-tailed Godwits were in the east gutter, 55 Sanderling flew west over the sea, and Redshank numbers were up with 115 counted today. To finish off a good day, later in the afternoon 2 twite flew over the area of the lookout whilst calling. Twite are definitely a less than an annual record at Hilbre.
Ringed : 3 House Sparrows, 1 Greenland Wheatear, 1 Rock Pipit, 1 Meadow Pipit, 1 Goldcrest, 1 Wren.  [ 930-37 ]
(DB,AEH,CJ,CJW et al)

Thursday 16 October 2014

16th October 2014

Weather : SE force 3, later SSW force 2, drizzle early sunny later
One of two late Greenland Wheatears on the island today
A few Blackbirds were down in the paddocks again this morning but unlike yesterday only a single Redwing was to be found. Two Wheatears (possibly the same ones as yesterday) were at the north end but this time a fresh supply of live meal worms did the trick and they were ringed. Only one Wheatear has ever been ringed at Hilbre on a later date, that was 21st October 2006. The Brents did not show at all on the low tide, and single Wigeon and Teal were the only ducks. Passage birds were fairly scarce, though again Skylarks went through regularly, as did Meadow Pipits, also 6 Starlings, about 6 Pied Wagtails, a Goldfinch and a Reed Bunting down in the gardens mid-morning. Looking out to sea only produced 12 Great Crested Grebes, a single Guillemot and 130 Sanderlings flying south west passed the north end. Cormorants exiting the estuary after dawn numbered 423, while waders on the shore included 12 Bar-tailed Godwits, 64 Redshank and 45 Ringed Plovers. Earlier observers had noticed a Mediterranean Gull on the marine lake at West Kirby mid-morning. A Red Admiral and a Small White butterfly enjoyed the late morning warm and sunny weather.
Ringed : 2 Blackbirds, 2 Greenland Wheatears, 1 Meadow Pipit      [ 922-36 ]
(DB,AEH,CJ,KMc+SD,CJW et al)              photo  CJ

Wednesday 15 October 2014

15th October 2014

Weather : SE force 3
Grounded this morning were a few Blackbirds and 4 Redwings, other Redwings seen brought the total to 13 for the day. Some visible migration included several sightings of Starlings, 32 in total, 3 Chaffinches, 4 Goldfinches and a Greenfinch. Late seasonal visitors present were 2 Wheatears and 2 Swallows flying high to the south. Eleven Wigeon were the only ducks today, 5 Bar-tailed Godwits fed on the shore and only 23 Brent were around to be counted, but no doubt more were elsewhere. Later a Merlin was seen to fly south of the islands. Three Rock Pipits were logged.
Ringed ; 2 Blackbirds, 1 Dunnock, 1 Meadow Pipit.            [ 917-36 ]     
(DB et al)

Tuesday 14 October 2014

14th October 2014

Weather : NE force 5
A new high for the season of 43 Pale-bellied Brent were counted this morning, Twelve Carrion Crows were down on the island, and an unusual record today was of a Rock Pipit that was found on Little Eye, it was an individual that had previously been ringed on the island. No small migrants due to the north easterlies, but a single Skylark flew north.

Monday 13 October 2014

13th October 2014

Weather : ENE force 4
A brief visit early morning found a Raven down the east side, a Little Egret, 400 Shelduck near Tanskey rocks, 26 Brent, a Pied Wagtail and a Rock Pipit.

Sunday 12 October 2014

12th October 2014

Weather:  SSE force 2, sunny
Next to nothing was grounded overnight which was not surprising considering the the clear sky, a single Goldcrest was found briefly at the south end and that was about it. Later 4 Goldfinches dropped in to join the female Chaffinch which was still present, other than that observers had to look skywards to see any action. Passing over were 2 Reed Buntings, several Starlings, 6 Pied Wagtails, and about 40 Meadow Pipits. It was not until mid-morning that Skylarks started moving, over 20 all told, mostly in an easterly direction. A lone female Teal sat on the sea off the north end, and later a Mute Swan flew across the obs garden and on towards the Point of Air (right). The count of Brent could not better the 33 of yesterday and there was thought to be 2 Rock Pipits on the island today; other birds on the log were both male and female Kestrel, a Peregrine that was seen to stoop on prey between the islands, also 80 Redshank in the east gutter with 8 Bar-tailed Godwits and a single Little Egret. Best sighting today was not of a bird but of a Red Fox in the vicinity of the telegraph buildings. Very rare sightings of a Fox and frequent signs of faeces have often suggested a permanent presence, but the animals are too secretive to confirm this, and rarely Foxes have also been seen crossing to and from the mainland. Just to put every ones mind at rest the resident rabbit was also showing today.
Ringed: 1 Wren                [ 913-36 ]
(DB+ESCA,CJ,BT) also John Ball               photo CJ

Saturday 11 October 2014

11th October 2014

Weather : SSE force 1/2
Lighter winds made for a pleasant feel to the morning. Soon after dawn 33 Brents were on the tide line to the west of the island, another increase in numbers towards the coming winter peak. The female Chaffinch that has been here for a few days made itself known in the obs garden and continued to call loudly around the rest of the island for about 2 hours (left). At least 1 Chiffchaff crept about the paddocks and a Reed Bunting came down on the 'newton' trees. Skylarks were regularly passing over in small numbers, mostly travelling north east (only they would know why), while Meadow Pipits, again in small numbers, were more predictable with their southerly preference. A Goldcrest unexpectedly appeared in the SK trap when none had been heard on the island. A fine sight this morning was of 8 Little Egrets feeding in the gutter to the east of the obs all at the same time. One or two Red Admirals were still to be seen most likely as a result of the influx noted yesterday.

Ringed:- 1 Robin, 1 Goldcrest       [ 912-36 ]
(CJ)                             photos CJ

Friday 10 October 2014

10th October 2014

Weather : S force 1, then SW 3/4, squalls
Two Rooks (a scarce bird for Hilbre) came down briefly on Middle before exiting west mobbed by Carrion Crows (17 were counted today). Two late Greenland Wheatears, male and female, sat on 'wheatear hill' west of the obs for a time, while a Chiffchaff and 3 Goldcrests had landed overnight. Robin numbers seemed higher than normal this morning and some small influx may have taken place, the same could be said for Red Admirals as 14 were counted, some have been observed arriving in off the sea lately . The female Chaffinch was still present from yesterday, and about 80 Meadow Pipits, a Skylark and 3 Pied Wagtails went through. The regular roaming Linnet flock reached 120, the largest count seen for a long time. The Brent flock was up to a new high of 21 birds today, and 11 Bar-tailed Godwits fed east of the island.

Wednesday 8 October 2014

8th October 2014

Weather: S force 4, some mist down the estuary.
The first Redwing of the autumn was in the paddocks this morning but unfortunately it didn't bring any other migrants down to the ground with it apart from a female Chafffinch. Very little else passed through except a very small number of Meadow Pipits, a Skylark and a Pied Wagtail. The Brent increased to a new high of 17 birds which included 3 juveniles. The flood tide at Little Eye then produced a purple patch of records with 2 Peregrines, a Merlin flying south west, 4 Ravens going east, a Greenshank calling overhead and 25 Linnets flocking. It's not often that Little Eye easily outshines the other 2 islands for bird records.

Tuesday 7 October 2014

7th October 2014

Wind SW force 1 turning to W force 3/4 by late morning. constant rain. 
Rain was the order of the day from first light until early afternoon. The only obvious migrant first thing was a solitary Chiffchaff but it soon became clear there had been an arrival of Wrens with at least 12 birds present, along with six of each of both Dunnocks and Robins. However there was no sign of any of the recent Goldcrests. Later 3 Grey Wagtail and 1 Pied Wagtail moved through. Seven Brent Geese were near Little Eye as were four Wigeon. Wader numbers are building up around the islands with the most obvious being the 12,000+ Oystercatchers. 90 Curlew, 40 Bar-tailed Godwits and 58 Grey Plover were also noted. A sea watch prior to high tide produced 3 Red-throated Divers, 23 Great Crested Grebe, 5 Razorbill, 2 Guillemots, 4 Gannets and 56 Common Scoter. Forty Meadow Pipits were noted in-off during the seawatch. A Rock Pipit was on the edge of West Kirby Marine Lake.
(DB, CS + 1)

Sunday 5 October 2014

5th October 2014

Weather: S force 2/3
The morning found 6 Goldcrests on the island, while both Skylark and Pied Wagtail passed through. Significant counts included 180 Shelduck and 334 Curlew on the east hoyle. Three Red Admirals were present.

Saturday 4 October 2014

4th October 2014

Weather :  NW force 4/5, showers
A brief evening visit encountered 2 Pintail, 4 Little Egrets, 30 Sanderling and a Red-breasted Merganser.

Friday 3 October 2014

3rd October 2014

Weather : SE very early then SW force 3/4, later 4/5
What is expected to be the last of the mild days of autumn passed without great incident although some duck records today hinted at the late autumn yet to come. A flock of 10 Wigeon was noted in the morning (5 drakes and 5 females) followed in the afternoon by 5 Pintail flying west of the island. The Pale-bellied Brent have not increased in numbers, just 4 resting on the whaleback at low tide. The south westerlies are not ideal for sea watching, however 6 Gannets, 2 Great Crested Grebes, 2 Red-breasted Mergansers, 7 Common Scoters, a late Sandwich Tern and a Razorbill were noted. Three Goldcrests were on the south end of the island this morning, either new in or remaining from yesterday and there is still at least 1 Rock Pipit present. Shore records today included 5 Little Egrets and 17 Bar-tailed Godwits, while on the ebb tide 9,500 Oystercatchers and 160 Curlew were counted. The wildlife garden was again worked on with some clearance of bracken.
(DB,CJ,KMc+SD) also Dave Steel, Dave Bowman and Dave Riley from Woolston Eyes and a large party from north east Cheshire. We thank them all for their pleasant company and very generous donation to the obs.

Thursday 2 October 2014

2nd October 2014

Weather: SE force 1, later 2, sunny
Another pleasant day of this long Indian summer started with some Goldcrests calling in the gardens and then up to 3 Chiffchaffs arrived as the morning progressed. A Magpie made a repeat performance of Monday, staying for an hour or two and then disappearing, not the same bird as Magpies had been seen arriving at Red Rocks today (JET).

 Three Pink-footed Geese rested distantly on the east hoyle sands for an hour (left), while 4 Brent were on the whaleback, two of which seemed to be sporting rings of some kind (one was metal) but they could not be read in the field. A Wheatear flew down the east side and then was seen again by the light, the first on the island for some days. A small passage of Meadow Pipits (and Red Admirals) was obvious to those at the north end of the island, while several groups of Skylarks totalling 31 called as they came through from the north.

 This last month has been notable for the lack of finches in general and the 2 Goldfinches with the Linnet flock on Middle today were the first for some time, even of this increasingly regular species at Hilbre. Parties of Sanderling flew west low over the sea, the largest being a flock 80, a flock of Dunlin numbered 700, and other waders present were 30 Ringed Plover and 8 Bar-tailed Godwits. At about noon a Mute Swan flew north east along the tide edge towards north Wirral (right).
Ringed: 5 Goldcrests, 3 Wrens            [ 910-36 ]
(DB,AEH,CJ,AO+1)        photos CJ

Wednesday 1 October 2014

1st October 2014

Weather: WSW force 2, veering WNW force 3
With the wind in the west this morning, no Goldcrests were to be found, although a Chiffchaff was present that could have been from a previous day. The regular Linnet flock was at an all time high of 70 birds, how many of these are birds that have previously bred on the island is an open question. There were good numbers of Bar-tailed Godwits today (15) and Little Egrets (6), while 5,000 Oystercatchers were on Salisbury bank. A Common Seal was noted, also our friend the rabbit who we haven't mentioned for a while.
(DB) also Matt Thomas