Wednesday 31 December 2014

31st December 2014

Weather: SSE force 2/4
There seems to have been a small movement of Wrens through the islands this morning with at least 10 present, with 2 being ringed. Three different colour ringed Brents were showing well today on the whaleback among the 175 or so birds that included a single dark-bellied individual. Colour ringed Turnstone and Oystercatcher were also recorded.

Colour ringed Brent Geese
Colour ringed Oystercatcher


 Ringed :- 2 Wrens     [ 942-38 ]

(AEH,KMc)    photos KMc (Brent), AEH others

Happy birding in 2015


Tuesday 30 December 2014

30th December 2014

Weather : S force 1, frost
At least 1794 Cormorants came out of the estuary this morning, later 3,500 Oystercatchers were on the Salisbury bank to the west, while 198 Brent geese were counted around the island. A large flock of 332 Bar-tailed Godwits flew from the south west and then alighted on the north shore. Two Little Egrets fed on the shore. Wintering birds include 6 Wrens, 3 Dunnocks, 4 Robins and 3 Blackbirds (one male, 2 females).

Monday 29 December 2014

29th December 2014

Weather : NW force 2/3
A very short visit found 208 Brent Geese present (including 1 dark-bellied). On the West Kirby marine lake were 6 Goldeneyes and 5 Red-breasted Mergansers. It seems our rabbit will survive for yet another year following several sightings this last week.

Sunday 28 December 2014

28th December 2014

Weather : no wind, slight mist
A cold night with snow showing on Snowdonia and ice on the island ponds, but some good records today. A total of 1395 Cormorants exited the estuary at dawn. Wildfowl featured prominently today with 150 Brent Geese counted, duck records included a huge flock of 320 Pintail flying out over the west hoyle, 13 and 11 Wigeon off the west side with 2 Teal and 14 Shelduck in flight. At 6pm a flock of 100 Pink-footed Geese flew over Red Rocks to the south west whilst calling ( visible due to the street lights !). Waders logged were 30 Bar-tailed Godwits flying south west, also 10 on the north shore, 45 Redshank and 40 Sanderling. A flock of 23 Linnets dropped into the wildlife pond when the ice began to break up.
(DB, later AAB,GB)

Saturday 27 December 2014

27th December 2014

Weather : NNW force 3/4, showers
Waders noted today included 40 Turnstone, 25 Redshanks, 4 Ringed Plover and 20 Bar-tailed Godwit. Wrens were noted again roosting in the hole under the obs roof.

Friday 26 December 2014

26th December 2014

Weather : S force 1, slight mist
Thirty Bar-tailed Godwits flew north, 3 Little Egrets were on the shore. Only 3 Purple Sandpipers could be found, they are very scarce this winter. Three Blackbirds are on the island. Leaves of Lesser Celandine showing at the south end, also Daffodil bulbs are emerging.

Tuesday 23 December 2014

23rd December 2014

 Weather: SW force 6, showers

Peregrine over Middle Eye
On a blustery day with threatening clouds the best of a sea watch was an adult winter plumage Black Guillemot showing off the north end. Black Guillemot is a rare less than annual visitor to Hilbre and a difficult bird to obtain for any Cheshire list. Other seabirds noted were 3 Guillemots, 30 Common Scoter, 5 Red-throated Divers, 10 Great Crested Grebes, 3 late Gannets and unexpectedly a pair of Mute Swans flying east.

A single Shag was also on the sea, both male and female Peregrines were logged, and 3 Wigeon were the only duck.

Purple Sandpiper
 Six Purple Sandpipers sat out the tide at the north end.
(AEH,KMC)               photos: Peregrine AEH, all others KMc

Thursday 18 December 2014

18th December 2014

Weather: SW force 6/7 squalls
Some counts from Little Eye on the ebb tide were 3,500 Oystercatchers, 1,600 Dunlin, 350 Knot, 180 Curlew, 20 Grey Plover and 30 Ringed Plover.  The Brent were very approachable at this state of the tide

Oystercatcher and Curlew

Purple Sandpipers continue to be scarce on the island this year with just 4 found today. Seventy Turnstones and 50 Redshank were around the island and a single Bar-tailed Godwit. Also noted were a Kestrel, 3 Blackbirds and a single Linnet.
(DB,AEH)     photos AEH

Tuesday 16 December 2014

16th December 2014

Weather: NW force 4/5, some rain
For the first time a light-bellied Brent Goose from the eastern Atlantic flyway (breeding in the Arctic areas north of Europe) has been identified at Hilbre. It was colour ringed at Limfjord Staging area, Denmark (with the code YTGR) on 3rd May 2011, and has been seen previously at Lindisfarne in north east England on 26th March 2013. Most of the Brent wintering in eastern England are from this population, whereas our birds breed in the area of northern Canada. Unfortunately the bird sat for most of the time so that the rings were not visible (below).

Ringed Canadian Brent that has been regular at Hilbre
A fair passage of 500 Herring Gulls west this morning and there was another record count of Cormorants exiting the estuary (1518). At least 1 Rock Pipit is still at the north end.
(DB,AEH)                     photos AEH

Monday 15 December 2014

15th December 2014

Weather: WNW force 4, showers
A very brief visit produced an excellent count of 261 light-bellied Brent and a single dark-bellied bird. There were 2 Little Egrets and 4 Bar-tailed Godwits.

Friday 12 December 2014

12th December 2014

Weather: WNW force, 4 later SW 4 showers 
 Some spectacular looking clouds were seen today during a week of turbulent weather. An inspection of the island revealed very little damage except to the window on the tide gauge roof.
The best bird sighting of the day was of 130 Pintail flying out of the estuary to the north. The small number of resident Wrens, Dunnocks, Robins and at least 3 Blackbirds are probably all here now to spend the winter. Both male and female Peregrines were about today, while waders included 500 Knot and over 5,000 Oystercatchers (below). At least one dark-bellied bird was with the Brent flock. Three Little Egrets fed on the shore.

 (AEH,CJW)          photos  AEH

Wednesday 10 December 2014

10th December 2014

Wind W force 5 increasing to force 7/8 as the day progressed.
With gale force Westerly winds, a seawatch seemed a good idea so the (fool) hardy single observer hunkered down in the seawatching hide for three and a quarter hours over high tide, effectively cut off from the rest of the island by the waves lashing the North end. The reward for this was scant - one Kittiwake, three Red-breasted Mergansers and six Scoter! Only Cormorants and a few large gulls seemed at home in the conditions. Prior to the tide, several counts of the Brent Geese in the gutter produced a maximum of 130 birds. No passerine migrants were noted with just the regulars present, including the Rock Pipit between the main islands.

Wednesday 3 December 2014

3rd December 2014

Weather: SE force 1/2
A surprise as members arrived on the island following the early tide was a very late Blackcap perched in the copse at the bottom of the obs garden (below (AEH)), it was seen again later near the 'heli' trap but failed to become available for ringing.
  Just as unexpected was a Whooper Swan that was found sitting on the sand between Hilbre and shore at a point south of Red Rocks (right (CJ)), it was still present early afternoon and may just have been a little exhausted but as a precaution the RSPCA were requested by the ranger service to get involved. While the Whooper Swan sat on the shore 2 Mute Swans flew east just north of the marine lake.
 A flock of 98 Bar-tailed Godwits flew high over the island moving to the north east (left (CJ)). Very little on the very calm sea, apart from 11 Great-Crested Grebes and a few dozen Common Scoters. Still no increase in Purple Sandpipers (2) and the Brent gathered off the west side (below (CJ)), although others were too scattered to count definitively. The 4 Blackbirds seen all appear to be females, and Wrens and Robins showed well today (maybe about 6 apiece), while there were at least 3 Rock Pipits about. A pair of Goldeneyes were on the marine lake, they have so far been elusive at this regular wintering site.
Grey Herons (AEH)
Wren (AEH)
Dunnock (AEH)

Hilbre at ebb tide (AEH)

 Better views were obtained today of the new Hoylake lifeboat on manoeuvres off Hilbre (CJ)

 (AEH,CJ,KMc et al)   

Monday 1 December 2014

1st December 2014

Weather: SE 2, 7/8 cloud, mist poor vis

A brief morning visit produced some nice records not least the first record of a December Moth for the island found by the Telegraph Station Lookout steps (see below).

The Pale-bellied Brent Geese were in good number with 182 counted along with a single Dark-bellied bird.  They were between the islands as the tide ebbed in the morning but soon moved to the North End and the Whaleback feeding on seaweed.  Those at the bottom of the lifeboat station slipway were joined by four Purple Sandpiper; sadly a low number of this Hilbre speciality even by recent winter standards.

The new RNLI Hoylake Lifeboat 'the Shannon' was watched arriving in the mist with the Bird Obs chairman (CJW) on board; it has been brought from Poole in Dorset.

There were 13 Red-throated Divers and small numbers of Great Crested Grebes and Common Scoters on the sea and a pair of Wigeon flew south off the West Side.  Meanwhile the male Kestrel remains around the island.

(BSB, SRW) Photos - lifeboats BSB, others SRW