Saturday 28 February 2015

28th February 2015

Weather: WNW force 3
A brief visit produced a count of 203 pale-bellied Brent and a single dark-bellied, a slight increase on recent days, the flock is known to be fluid with some individuals both arriving and departing during the winter. A Stock Dove was bird of the day, and was nearly an ex-bird as it was pursued around the island by a Peregrine but managed to evade capture by diving into the Pittosporum bush by the obs garden. Thirty five bar-tailed Godwits flew north east. The first frog spawn of the year was noticed in the main pond.

Friday 27 February 2015

27th February 2015

Weather: NW force 3
The good news today is that the Common Seal from yesterday appears to have left the islands from the shelter of the east side. The first Chaffinch and Goldfinch were recorded today and the first flowering of Lesser Celandine. A Rock Pipit was at the north end and another on Middle Eye.

Thursday 26 February 2015

26th February 2015

When obs regular Derek arrived in this mornings rain he reported that the Common Seal was still present near the main slipway, and Dave from the ranger service brought across Sarah of the marine rescue service and Phillipa a vet from Leahurst to have a look at it. The opinion was that it may have a gum problem and it was given an antibiotic injection and then released on the east side of the island as it was thought to be well enough to look after itself. Photo below, Phillipa, Sarah and Derek approach the seal.

With little other time available the only bird sighting of note was a flock of 300 Bar-tailed Godwits flying SW to NE.
(DB)    photos Roy Forshaw

Wednesday 25 February 2015

25th February 2015

Weather: W force 4
The sun broke through during the morning leading to thoughts of spring. The few Meadow Pipits (photo AEH) now back on the island were doing their parachute display flight and the Dunnocks and Robins were also in good voice.
The first Daffodils (photo CJ) opened out into bloom, joining the Crocuses (photo AEH) in making a splash of colour, while the first Frog (photo AEH)and Honey Bee appeared.
 Three Skylarks came down around the top of the island and stayed for a short time, at least one was also in song (photo CJ), and another flew strongly north east off the north end. The Brent were counted at 192 including the dark-bellied bird, but only 2 Purple Sandpipers were seen at low tide, more evident were flocks of 120, 100, and 15 Sanderling flying north east just off the tide edge. Soon after dawn 2 Canada Geese flew east across between the islands. The sea was so quiet that it took many minutes looking just to find a single Great Crested Grebe. A male Common Scoter drifted passed the west side and out to sea off the north shore. 
 A Common Seal was parked on a rock just by the main slipway onto the island (photos CJ+AEH), and would not budge despite being closely approached, it may be sick and measures were put in place to have it attended to.
 Our regular mammal the rabbit certainly doesn't seem sick and was seen a couple of times racing through the paddocks. A female Kestrel today (photo AEH) could be new in, as most recent sightings refer to a male.


Monday 23 February 2015

23rd February 2015

Weather: W force 5
The best find today were the paw prints of a Red Fox on the shore at Niffy bay, presumably it had been scavanging around the tide edge earlier. On the log were 160 Common Scoter, 45 Ringed Plover, 2 Grey Plover and 34 Redshank.

Saturday 21 February 2015

21st February 2015

Weather: NW force 6
A very cold blustery day and one of the highest tides of the year saw many Common Scoters moving around mostly distantly, while the Brent could not be counted as they were bobbing about on the choppy sea off the north end, bird of the day however was a male Goosander. A single Rock Pipit was noted. There were no Black-headed Gulls seen over the tide and most of the Herring Gulls were immature birds.

Friday 20 February 2015

20th February 2015

Weather: W force 2
Another before tide visit discovered the Grey Heron on the main pond again, male and female Common Scoter close in and a single dark-bellied Brent amongst the flock.

Thursday 19 February 2015

19th February 2015

Weather: S force 1, rain
A brief visit found a Grey heron on the pond, a Little Egret on the shore and a Peregrine with a wader kill. A group of 4 Linnets visited Little Eye and 3 Meadow Pipits were on the main island together with 2 Robins and 6 Wrens.

Wednesday 18 February 2015

18th February 2015

Weather: SW force 3
Three hundred Knot flew high to the north, 10 Purple Sandpipers, 69 Redshanks and 60+ Turnstone were counted on the high tide. Five of the local Shelducks are back on the east side, 3 Dunnocks were singing and the first yellow Crocus was in flower.

Monday 16 February 2015

16th February 2015

Some wader observations at high tide from the east hoyle today: 3,500 Oystercatchers, 5,500 Knot, 3,000 Dunlin, 494 Curlew, 130 Redshank (Red Rocks) plus 100 Little Eye, 65 Grey Plover, 11 Bar-tailed Godwits flew north calling. Also logged were 2  Little Egrets, a Peregrine and a Red-breasted Merganser.

Friday 13 February 2015

13th February 2015

Weather: SSE force 3/4
A splendid summer plumaged male Eider was in shell bay for a while then stepped out onto the whaleback with the Brents. The Danish ringed Brent was still present, also the regular blue and red ringed bird. A Kestrel flew east.

Thursday 12 February 2015

12th February 2015

Weather: SE force 2/3, mist around coasts
Cormorants flying out of the estuary (CJ)
Dark-bellied Brent, near left (CJ)
The colour ringed Brent that has returned to the island for several years (CJ)
While watching the Cormorants fly out after dawn ( just 785 today), 25 pink-footed Geese were picked up by call going north-east up the West Kirby side of the estuary. Soon afterwards a male Blackbird flew directly off the island towards Red Rocks, perhaps we had a movement of thrushes at last? The hope was short lived although a couple of hours later 2 Song Thrushes were seen, probably fresh in, with 1 becoming the first bird to be ringed this year, such is the scarcity of bird movements in the middle of winter. Two flocks of Bar-tailed Godwits totalling 350 flew from the west side across the north end to the north east, and seemed to have continued on as there was no sign of birds on the north shore. A fairly accurate count of the Brent was possible as the flock grouped obligingly off the east side, and unless there were more elsewhere unseen, 184 pale and 1 dark- bellied Brent was the total. Two Rock Pipits first found at the south end moved around the rocky edges of the island during the morning. Towards midday a Peregrine sat on the sands to the east of the island, and a Raven (the first seen this year) was first heard and then seen flying distantly from the Red Rocks area away to the north east. The sea held 10 Great Crested Grebes (many in summer plumage) and a single male Common Scoter but little else.

Song Thrush (CJ)

Snowdrops almost in flower (CJ)
Knot at the north end, with an exceptionally pale bird (CJ)
 Ringed: 1 Song Thrush        [ 1-1 ]
(DB,AEH,CJ,)         photos CJ

Wednesday 11 February 2015

11th February 2015

Weather: S force 1/2 mist around the estuary
A true migrant today in the form of a Stock Dove that flew on to the cliffs on Middle and then rapidly away to the south west. The 161 Brent today included the Danish ringed bird, also the yellow coded individual. Eight thousand Oystercatchers were on the Salisbury bank, and 135 Grey Plover were noted on the flood tide.

Tuesday 10 February 2015

10th February 2015

Weather: light air
Nine thousand Oystercatchers were on the Salisbury bank, also 429 Curlew and 230 Grey Plover on the esat hoyle. Seven Meadow Pipits seen today were more than most of the winter, while 7 Purple Sandpipers was a typical number for recent weeks.

Monday 9 February 2015

9th February 2015

Weather: NW force 2/3
A brief visit found 2 Peregrines arriving together high up in off the sea at the north end, they carried on calling as they flew to the south east, when they were joined by another male. Seven Canada Geese flew east during the morning.

Saturday 7 February 2015

7th February 2015

Today provided excellent seawatching with 7/8 cloud cover ensuring there was no glare and an almost flat calm sea.
Pale-bellied Brent
The east side looking towards West Kirby
The old Lifeboat house doorway
It became immediately obvious that there were far more birds around than recorded recently with almost the first birds seen being two Eider flying north up the west side. A conservative estimate of 4000 Common Scoter were strung out in one large flock out towards the wind farm and 209 Great Crested Grebes were counted in a full sweep encompassing the west, north and east. 20 Red-throated Divers were recorded along with a flock of 18 Scaup that drifted in on the flooding tide. Highlight though was a Black-throated Diver that was picked up distantly on the water which then flew towards Point of Ayr. Also logged were 2 Red-breasted Mergansers, 6 Guillemot and a single Razorbill.
Roosting waders were in abundance although the large roost on Middle Eye was disturbed by a party of canoeists who landed at the south end of Hilbre for their lunch. 2 Grey Plover were a good record at the north end and a winter high of 11 Purple Sandpipers saw out the tide on their preferred ledge on the west side. 160 Redshank, 84 Turnstones(above) and 4000 + Oystercatchers were recorded. Brent numbers were down on recent counts with only 86 being seen. The colour ringed Turnstone from 2010 was seen again. Passerines were scarce apart from the resident birds but a pair of Linnets and a single Meadow Pipit were seen. The ringed Rock Pipit was again present at the north end.
(PSW)   photos PSW

Friday 6 February 2015

6th February 2015

Weather: No wind, mist around the estuary
Flocks this morning of 750 and 100 Pink-footed Geese flying to the north east, also good numbers of sea birds on a calm sea including 25 Red-throated Divers, 60 Great Crested Grebes, 11 Red-breasted Mergansers, 3 Guillemots and 4 Scaup with Common Scoters off the north end. The Common Scoters were estimated at 3,000 birds including those seen distantly in flocks. Unusually The Brent were seen feeding far out south of the west hoyle.

Thursday 5 February 2015

5th February 2015

Weather: N force 0/1
On a flat calm sea, 12 Goldeneyes (possibly disturbed from the marine lake) and 8 Red-throated Divers. Two Little Egrets today, which have become more scarce recently.
(DB,MGT(at Red Rocks)

Wednesday 4 February 2015

4th February 2015

Weather: N force 3
An adult male Eider flew south west, other birds seen on the sea were 3 Red-throated Divers, over 100 Common Scoters out by the wind farm. Some other counts from today were 320 Turnstones, 38 Ringed Plover, 20 Grey Plover, 80 Redshank, 328 Curlew, 1,000 Knot, 400 Dunlin, and 5,000 Herring Gulls on the north shore/eest hoyle area.

Tuesday 3 February 2015

3rd February 2015

Weather: NE force 1/2
A cold and clear morning with the moon descending over the obs just as the sun rose in the east. It was a quiet but pleasent day with few bird highlights, the best being the recapture of the Rock Pipit which was first ringed in October 2007 and was retrapped in October last year (see blog for 17th Oct). This bird (below) seems to have spent the winter with us and is now only 18 months short of a longevity record for this species in Britain.

The Rock Pipit eyeing up the meal worms in the potter trap
Very little seen on the sea today, only singles of Red-throated Diver and Great-Crested Grebe, a pair of Red-breasted Mergansers and about 100 Common Scoter. Seven Purple Sandpipers saw out the tide with about 260 Turnstones, mostly in Niffy bay together with 80 Redshank. After the astonishment at the number of Cormorants see recently at dawn, less than a hundred flew out today. Up to 9 Wrens are about the islands, some of which are not ringed, the only obvious new small visitor today was a Skylark heard around the island on a couple of occasions. Counts of waders today included 6,000 Oystercatchers, 290 Curlew and 30 Ringed Plover.

The new lifeboat out again on manoeuvres
Purple Sandpiper

(DB,CJ)     photos CJ

Monday 2 February 2015

2nd February 2015

Weather: NNW force 2/3
A very brief visit before the flooding tide noted a dark-bellied Brent with over 200 pale-bellied Brent, 414 Curlew on the east hoyle, a male Peregrine and 12 Linnets at Little Eye.