Sunday 30 November 2014

30th November 2014

Weather: WNW, cloud cover 1-3/8

A generally quiet day but three Blackbirds were seemingly new on the island. One was caught and ringed. The only other passerines present were the regular Dunnocks (see below), Wrens & Robins.

Before the island got busy with day trippers the Brent Geese showed well at the north end and once again colour ringed HSWB was picked out amongst the flock. Juveniles are pretty scarce this year so it was nice to see a family group sticking close to their parents.

The Rabbit was seen twice and seems unconcerned by the presence of people. As previously noted a Fox seems to have made itself at home on the island although it remains elusive to the photographers.

3 Purple Sandpipers were hard to pick out at low tide as they fed amongst the rocks at the end of the old slipway. The sea was very quiet with only single Great –crested Grebes and Red-throated Divers being seen.

Ringed: 1 Blackbird

(PSW) All photos PSW [941-38]

Saturday 29 November 2014

29th November 2014

Weather: SE 2, mist, 5/8 cloud

A brief morning visit was rewarded with a few nice birds.

A small flock of six Starlings flew south over the main island as the sole observer arrived, signs that migration is still underway.

Four Little Egrets were feeding in the remnants of the gutter and in 'egret flash'. Signs of changing times.

The Pale-bellied Brent Goose flock were 'lounging' about on the Whaleback with some birds feeding but most were snoozing!  The colour ringed bird 'HSWB' was present with 152 others (see below). This bird was ringed at Dungarvan Pitch and Putt Golf Course, County Waterford, on 18th December 2008 and was first seen at Hilbre on 12th November 2010 having been at Strangford Lough, County Down, that autumn until 20th October and has returned to the islands every winter since (along with the Canadian ringed bird 'HDRB' also present this autumn). Thanks, as always, to the Irish Brent Goose Research Group for the information.

A pair of Wigeon were loafing on the sea before walking out onto the East Hoyle Bank but other than a few Great Crested Grebes the sea was fairly quiet.

A single Bar-tailed Godwit (see below) fed in the gutter with Oystercatchers and Redshank and a few small flocks of Grey Plover flew south up the estuary.


Thursday 27 November 2014

27th November 2014

Weather: SE 0/1 mist
Lapwing on the shore

An accurate count today found a new peak number for the Brent Geese of 189, we expect even higher numbers as the winter arrives. No sign of any thrush movement this morning although a female Reed Bunting was very welcome. A Lapwing came down on the shore. Still only 2 Purple Sandpipers present, and today there were 11 Bar-tailed Godwits on the east hoyle.
(DB,AEH,KMc+SD)  photos AEH

Our resident rabbit still survives in its usual place near the 5 barred gate

Wednesday 26 November 2014

26th November 2014

Weather: NE force 0/1 drizzle
There seems to be at least 140 Brent geese now present, a new high for the season, very little else to report from a brief visit.

Tuesday 25 November 2014

25th November 2014

Weather: S force 0/1, low mist
Twenty four Pink-footed Geese flew south west this morning and other fly over records included a single Black-tailed Godwit (west), 220 Grey Plover (north), 225 Sanderling (north/north east). The only obvious small migrants today were 3 Siskins and a Starling, although there still seemed to be quite an abnormal amount of Wrens about. Two Peregrines put on a good show by chasing each other by the east gutter. two Purple Sandpipers were at the north end, while on the shore were 26 Bar-tailed Godwits and 5 Little Egrets.

Monday 24 November 2014

24th November 2014

Weather: WSW force 2/3
A very brief visit this morning logged 12 Bar-tailed Godwits, and at Little Eye, 4,000 Dunlin, 140 Grey Plover, and 120 Sanderling. No migration but a Blackbird and Song thrush were both present.

Thursday 20 November 2014

20th November 2014

Weather: SE force 2, later SSE force 3/4
Following the Great Northern Diver of yesterday, another scarce seabird appeared in the form of a male Velvet Scoter flying to the north east. Other highlights from the sea were 5 late adult Gannets, 62 Common Scoter, a Red-breasted Merganser and a Razorbill. A fine visible migration this morning with thrushes and Starlings coming in off the sea at the north end, logged were 12 Blackbirds, 4 Song Thrushes, 8 Redwings,10 Starlings, also 10 of that little considered Hilbre migrant, the Wren. At least one dark-bellied bird was amongst the 120 + Brent seen today, while counts from the east hoyle included 20,000 Knot, 2,000 Dunlin, 300+ Grey Plover, and 300 Sanderling. The only ducks of the day were 4 Teal that swam in the pool between the islands. Little Egrets are again in good numbers, today 8 were about the islands. Fox faeces were found at the south end, examination of which concluded that it has been feeding mainly on mice or (more likely) Short-tailed field voles.

Wednesday 19 November 2014

19th November 2014

Weather: SE 2/3, mist around the estuary
A stunning close sighting of a Great Northern Diver today when a juvenile was feeding 50 yards off the east side of the obs at 10.50hrs and later drifting out on the ebb tide at noon. Other seabirds noted included an adult Gannet, 76 Common Scoter, 38 Great Crested Grebes, 4 Red-throated Divers, 2 Guillemots and a Razorbill. Three Redwings and 2 Siskins passed over, also 21 Starlings in 4 groups. A Sparrowhawk was logged today as well as the more usual Peregrine and Kestrel. Five hundred Shelduck were in the Little Eye area.

Tuesday 18 November 2014

18th November 2014

 Weather: no wind initially, later E 2/3, mist around the coast, mild
It felt like late summer rather than late autumn this morning, and a couple of Red Admiral butterflies arrived to support the deception. The birds however were indeed 'right' for the season with groups of 3,10 and 6 Lapwings hanging about the ridge south of Middle and then over the main island, also Starlings in small parties totalling about 60 and a Raven flying over Little Eye and later seen grappling with a Peregrine over the shore. A few new Blackbirds were in but just a single Redwing which frustratingly landed at the mouth of the 'heli' trap but then flew off south without further ado. A male Goldcrest in the paddocks early on was the sole small migrant. The Brent could not be counted, but 560 Shelduck at Tanskey rocks was notable, the only other wildfowl today were a flock of 4 Wigeon. Purple Sandpipers (above) are up to 8 in number, and other waders today were 3,700 Knot and 22 Bar-tailed Godwits. Eight Little Egrets outnumbered Grey Herons (3), illustrating how times have changed in just a few years. The sea was extremely quiet, even in such good viewing conditions, the best was a single Gannet and 2 Red-throated Divers. Two Rock Pipits flew together from the south end and settled at their favourite feeding place at the north end.
Ringed:  1 Goldcrest, 1 Blackbird        [ 940-38 ]
(DB,AEH,CJ,KMc+SD)          photos AEH

Monday 17 November 2014

17th November 2014

Weather: NE force 4/5
A quick check on the island confirmed all was quiet, flocks noted were 400 Shelduck at tanskeys, 3,000 Dunlin moving over the east hoyle, 7,000 Oystercatchers and 5 Grey Plover.

Sunday 16 November 2014

16th November 2014

Weather NE force 1
Another very brief visit found 5 Blackbirds on the island (one on Middle), plus a Song Thrush and 8 Wrens and a Rock Pipit (also on Middle)

Saturday 15 November 2014

15th November 2014

Weather: SE force 2
A very brief visit produced little of note, the best sighting of the day by far was made from the mainland when a Great White Egret was seen flying from Red Rocks to Middle Eye in the morning (MGT)

Friday 14 November 2014

14th November 2014

Weather: SSE force 5, torrential rain early, no wind by noon
Driving rain in the morning prevented any chance of bird movements and observations were therefore confined mostly to the waders around the estuary. The north shore held 300 Sanderling and 120 Bar-tailed Godwits, and around the island were 65 Redshank, 35 Ringed Plover and 4 Little Egrets. Male and female Wigeon settled on the whaleback while flying were flocks of 21 and 12 Shelduck.

Thursday 13 November 2014

13th November 2014

Weather: SE force 4/5, later 6/7
News was received today from Stapley gardens rehabilitation centre regarding the Pomarine Skua taken into care (see 7th Nov), sadly it died at the centre and an autopsy revealed it had been suffering from a fungal infection of the lungs, and no amount of care could have prevented this. The obs staff were commended on all that they did on it's behalf since it was found to give it the best chance. The Brent Geese are now up to 140 strong, today they were at the north end. A flock of 150 Starlings flew west and 60 Bar-tailed Godwits were on the north shore, otherwise very little else this morning.

Wednesday 12 November 2014

12th November 2014

Weather: SE force 2/3
Another new high for the Brent Geese today when 131 were counted. Three Wigeon were logged and on the flood tide the east hoyle held 200+ Grey Plover and 4,500 Dunlin. Starlings continue to trickle through with 14 seen today.

Tuesday 11 November 2014

11th November 2014

Weather: SE force 3/4, squalls
Seals seldom haul out on the main island, however today a pale Grey seal pup was on the north end rocks with a female (parent?). Dark-bellied Brent reached a new high for the season of 6 birds, while the ring markings of 2 of the pale-bellied birds were read in the field to confirm their reappearance from previous years. Fifteen starlings went through, and 6 Pintail flew to the south west.Sixty two bar-tailed Godwits were on the north shore with 20 Grey Plover and another 21 Grey Plover were at Little Eye.

Monday 10 November 2014

10th November 2014

Weather: SSE force 1/2, later SE 2/3

Pleasing weather at the start of the day found about 8 new Blackbirds on the island and Common Snipe dropping into the east side gutter. Starlings soon came through in small parties all morning without any massive flocks, most seem to be moving west but strangely not a single Skylark was logged. At midday a Black Redstart appeared in the old obs mist net, it may have just arrived at the north end of the island as there was no sign of it earlier in the day. Black Redstart is very much a less than annual bird at Hilbre, mostly in spring, and this bird is only the third to be ringed in the last 21 years, the last being in March 2010.
The Brent could not be counted as they were too dispersed, but a bird seemed to be wearing blue and white colour rings, hopefully it may stay so full details can be obtained, also a dark-bellied individual was present. None of the huge number of divers seen yesterday were seen although Great-crested Grebes (about 75), Common Scoters (113) and a single Razorbill were noted in the sea watch.  
A previously ringed Rock Pipit was still at the north end as it has been for some time (above). A late Peacock butterfly flew in the late morning sunshine.
Ringed: 4 Blackbirds, 1 Black Redstart.         [ 938-38 ]
(DB,CJ,KMc)                photos CJ

Sunday 9 November 2014

9th November 2014

Weather: SE 4
A high tide stay for the WeBs survey produced more than was bargained for with massive counts of 176 Red-throated Divers and 210 Great Crested Grebes, also about 200 Common Scoter, 2 Gannets, 15 Guillemots and a Razorbill. The diver count was especially exceptional and hints at the number that are normally in Liverpool bay unseen. The Pale-bellied Brent reached a new peak of 95 at the island, with a single dark-bellied, and estimates of 500 Sanderling and 10,000 Oystercatcher are also a new high for the autumn, as were 1483 Cormorants moving out at dawn. The main passerine passage consisted of 7 Skylarks and nearly 400 Starlings, while other notables were a Redwing, a Brambling, a Grey Wagtail, a Song Thrush and 5 Goldfinches at the garden feeders.

Friday 7 November 2014

7th November 2014

Weather: Wind WNW 1-2 increasing to 3-4 by 1200hrs, squally showers throughout.

An injured juvenile Pomarine Skua, first noticed yesterday, was today taken into care. The bird seemed to have a damaged wing but was otherwise healthy and took food and water. Back on the mainland the skua took more food and water and bathed and preened and seems to be doing well. It is to be collected tomorrow and taken to Stapely Grange for further rehabilitation, and hopefully it can continue its journey south in the near future.

The weather was not conducive to passerine movement and 17 Starlings moving east was the only visible movement. A sea watch over the high tide produced 35 Great Crested Grebe, 124 Common Scoter, 14 Guillemot, one Kittiwake, three Red-throated Divers and one Great Northern Diver which flew west just off the North End. Brent Geese were counted at 57 but there were undoubtedly others around the islands. Purple Sandpipers have increased to four.

 (DB, CS et al)          photos CS

Thursday 6 November 2014

6th November 2014

Weather: SE 4/5, later SSE force 7, slight drizzle at times
An excellent day with 47 species recorded with sea birds, shore birds and small migrants all featuring. A Pomarine Skua was found on Middle in some distress, possibly with a strained wing, but could not be taken into care in the strong near gale. Sea birds in their usual element were 7 Red-throated Divers, 8 Great Crested Grebes, 39 Common Scoter, 20 Guillemots and 4 Razorbills. Increased wader counts today were 8,000 Oystercatchers, 7,000 Knot and 140 Redshank, while Cormorants also peaked with 1422 exiting the estuary at dawn. Six Fieldfares were the first seen this year, with 2 Redwings and a Song Thrush also present, and finches excelled today with 76 Chaffinches, 7 Goldfinches and 2 Siskins on the log. Notable other visitors included 2 Wigeon, a Lapwing and a Golden Plover flying west. Over 500 Starlings passed through, and a single Grey Wagtail added to the variety.

Wednesday 5 November 2014

5th November 2014

Weather: NE force 4/5
A Fox was disturbed first thing this morning in one of the bungalow gardens, further evidence of a secretive presence on the island. Best bird of the day was a Shoveler that flew south, an uncommon visitor to the islands. Six Goldfinches came down in the obs garden, probably attracted by the feeders. The early high tide saw 160 Turnstones and 68 Redshanks roosting in Niffy bay. Sea birds logged included 1 Red-throated Diver, 12 Great Crested Grebes and 10 Guillemots. Three hundred Sanderling were on the east hoyle. The mild conditions of this autumn means that some Thrift is still flowering.

Tuesday 4 November 2014

4th November 2014

Weather: W force 2/3, rain showers, and the first snow of the year was seen on Snowdonia this morning

Highlight of the day was a light phase Pomarine Skua that flew west passed the north end at about 13.00hrs. Three adult Gannets were also off the north end and after another joined them they departed down the welsh side of the estuary, while other sea records today were more mundane with 5 Common Scoters and 4 Great Crested Grebes. The high tide roost for the small waders today was in Niffy bay with 130 Turnstones and 120 Redshank, but there is still only a single Purple Sandpiper present. A Merlin was again logged, there seems to be one around the islands regularly at the moment. The Brent could not be counted today but new highs were achieved for Curlew(582), and Shelduck(480), and 3 Wigeon made the log sheet. The only migrant passerines were 3 Skylarks(one on Middle), 4 Starlings and 1 Greenfinch.

 (DB,AEH,KMc)                  photos AEH

Monday 3 November 2014

3rd November 2014

Weather: SW force 3
Some observations this morning made from the Hilbre recording area (not the islands themselves) included 13 Canada Geese over the marine lake, a Sparrowhawk flying by the shore, an overhead passage of Starlings to the south and south west with one flock of 270, 18 Carrion Crows on Middle Eye, also 352 Curlew and 450 Shelduck between Little Eye and the east hoyle.

Sunday 2 November 2014

2nd November 2014

Weather WNW force 3
Now 2 Purple Sandpipers at the north end with 140 Turnstone and 115 Redshank. Three Wood Mice were a diversion from bird matters.

Saturday 1 November 2014

1st November 2014

Weather: SW force 5/6
A late afternoon arrival noted 2 Pintail flying south west, 150 Shelduck flying north at the flood tide and a single Purple Sandpiper bathing at the north end which may have just arrived.