Monday 30 March 2015

30th March 2015

Weather: NW 5-6, 4/8 cloud

A brief visit produced some interesting sightings not least a Jack Snipe seen flying South past Little Eye.  Despite being fairly frequent in Winter in the West Kirby/Red Rocks Saltmarsh they are not recorded annually at Hilbre.

200 Redshank were counted along the tide edge, with 8 Grey Plover and a decent count of 320 Curlew at Little Eye.


Friday 27 March 2015

27th March 2015

Weather: WNW force 2/3
male Linnet

The long awaited first Sand Martin of the spring flew through Hilbre today, on about an average date although in some years they can appear slightly earlier.

A late Snow Bunting flew over the south end but unfortunately did not stop to feed, the only small migrants noted were 5 Pied Wagtails, a Goldfinch and a Goldcrest that was ringed. Twenty one Carrion Crows gathered on the north shore, an unusally large party. There seem to be still at least 142 Brent Geese, most are expected to depart within the next 2 weeks.

Observations made from the east hoyle bank managed to relocate the Surf Scoter (SRW et al) also Velvet Scoter and Long-tailed Duck, (see blog for 25th). Four Red-breasted Mergansers were out by the west hoyle bank.

dark line of 1,000's of Common Scoter very distantly off the east hoyle

flowering Lesser Celandine

distant Mergansers on the west hoyle

 Dutch scurvy Grass

Ringed: 1 Goldcrest,       [41-13 ]
(DB,AEH)    all photos  AEH

Surf Scoter (above and below second cal year) - off East Hoyle Sandbank, Hoylake (SRW)
Videos of this bird can be seen and

Wednesday 25 March 2015

25th March 2015

Weather: light breeze, variable direction, frost early before sun.
With no discernible wind direction, this morning was entirely unpredictable, but in the event there was no passage of Meadow Pipits,Wheatears, Chiffchaffs or Goldcrests (except for one mid-morning) and we had to be content with the odd visitor from the mainland.
 A Reed Bunting (right)) appeared in the obs garden early on, and later a female House Sparrow (below) landed briefly in the heli garden.

A Magpie was on the island very early and another came in to stay longer about 09.00, and was eventually caught for ringing by some judicious baiting of the heligoland traps. Surprisingly this became only the 3rd Magpie ringed at Hilbre in all those years, the other 2 were in 2000 and 2006.
Also noted (passing over the islands) were 3 Goldfinches, 2 Chaffinches and 2 Pied Wagtails, while a roaming flock of 24 Linnets may have contained some of the local breeding birds.  Two un-ringed Rock Pipits (below right) were at the north end at the same time. A Merlin sat for a while on the rocks to the west of Middle Eye.
A Goldeneye flew south down the west side early in the day and 9 Red-breasted Mergansers were out by the west hoyle, but the chief event on the sea was the sighting (obs member AMC+KD) from the east hoyle tide edge of a Surf Scoter amongst the 10,000 or so Common Scoters out towards the wind farms. The bird was too distant to be seen from the island but was probably just outside the Hilbre recording area and will no doubt become the first to be 'accepted' for Cheshire and Wirral following a drake seen flying west close inshore off the North End of Hilbre on 23rd November 1969 was not submitted to BBRC - JCG et al.
 Two Mallards rested on the main pond and a Small Tortoiseshell butterfly was the first this year on the island.
Ringed: 1 Magpie, 1 Robin      [ 40-13 ]
(DB,AEH,CJ,KMc+SD)         Photos AEH (magpie in hand),CJ (others)

Tuesday 24 March 2015

24th March 2015

Weather: NNE force 3/4 rain and sleet showers
A very brief visit in bad weather conditions produced little, although 4 Purple Sandpipers and a Little Egret were present and 2 Rock Pipits at the south end appeared to be displaying.

Monday 23 March 2015

23rd March 2015

Weather: WSW force 2/3, later NW 4, some rain
A short visit logged a Merlin and a Sparrowhawk flying from Red Rocks to Hilbre. The only other bird that could possibly be said to be a passage migrant was a female Blackbird on Middle Eye. The rabbit again showed it is surviving well.

Saturday 21 March 2015

21st March 2015

Weather: N force2/3
A beautiful morning but little sign of too many migrants, nevertheless another first sighting for the year with 15 Little Gulls flying off the north end, and indeed sea watching probably had the edge today with records of 15 Red-throated Divers, 8,000 distant Scoter off north Wirral, and 2 Drake Eiders. Two dark-bellied Brent were amongst the flock of over 100 birds this morning.

Still present (probably the same as yesterday) were Stonechat, a single Merlin which showed well on Wheatear Hill (see above and video at, Peregrine and 2 Rock Pipits. Just about the highest tide of spring saw the waves lapping well up onto the rocks and slipways about the islands.

(PSW & SRW) Photos SRW 

Friday 20 March 2015

20th March 2015

Weather: NW force 1/2 then W 4 with mist
The lining up of the earth, moon and sun resulted in one of the highest tides of the spring on the island. Like most people on Wirral observers were treated to a partial eclipse made easily visible by the high cloud arriving just at the crucial moment.

Merlin seeing out the eclipse on Middle
Birds were still moving in a westerly airstream with arrivals of 2 Chiffchaffs, 5 Goldcrests, 14 Goldfinches, 4 Greenfinches , 3 Chaffinches, 20 + Meadow Pipits, a Redwing, 3 Grey and 8 Pied Wagtails, and the first White Wagtail of the year. Jackdaws continue to fly over in small parties and predators were varied with Kestrel, Peregrine and 2 Merlins (above) about the islands, also 2 Sparrowhawks over the Red Rocks area.

 One of the Merlins amused itself by chasingsome of the small migrants about for a time. The best find today was a Woodcock that was flushed from behind the bramble in the old obs garden and then flew about the south end until it disappeared (above). In the afternoon a Stonechat appeared and also took a liking to the south end of the island. It was quiet on the sea but 6 Great Crested Grebes and 200 Common Scoter were logged.

Ringed: 1 Dunnock, 1 Goldcrest      [ 38-12 ]

(DB,CS, SRW) Photos SRW

Thursday 19 March 2015

19th March 2015

 Weather: WNW force 2, misty around the coast.
Fieldfare enjoying a mealworm
 Another good day for birds, even though there were not as many of them, but a varied species list kept interest alive. Probably the best bird of the day was a Fieldfare that spent most of the morning around the island, even landing on the grassy path  beyond the lookout and stealing  the mealworms that had escaped from the potter trap intended for the 2 Wheatears that were on this morning. The other star bird was a Great Tit in the paddocks which was later ringed. Others on the ground today included 2 Chaffinches, 3 Goldcrests, a Chiffchaff, a new Blackbird, a Wood Pigeon that landed briefly and a Reed Bunting at midday. Flying through but not stopping today were 6 Pied Wagtails, 2 Lesser Redpolls, about a dozen Meadow Pipits, 27 Jackdaws (which included a party of 24), and a Rook (scarce at Hilbre). A Sparrowhawk flew down the west side in the morning and later shot over the obs garden fence and did a circuit of the lawn no more than a metre above the grass. Five Common Scoter staying close in to the east side and a flock of a dozen or so dropped in off the east side and gathered together into a tight group splashing the water vigorously and calling loudly together, maybe spring is in the air for them.

Common Scoters having a party

Great Tit

Purple Sandpiper
Ringed: 2 Chaffinches, 1 Blackbird, 1 Great Tit, 1 Goldcrest.     [ 36-11 ]
(CJ)       photos  CJ

Wednesday 18 March 2015

18th March 2015

 Weather: WNW force 3, fog and mist
A splendid day for migration even though the breeze was from the west, for instance there were plenty of finches: 10 Chaffinches, 8 Greenfinches, 8 Goldfinches, 3 Lesser Redpolls, also a Reed Bunting, a Grey Wagtail, 22 Pied Wagtails, 2 Starlings, and a Skylark. A hundred and fifity Meadow Pipits came through and 15 Goldcrests were on the ground, but no Wheatears present today. Larger species noted today were also reminders that spring is here. Twelve Jackdaws went over and 3 Woodpigeons (one was trapped) and a Collared Dove paid a visit, as did a Common Buzzard (very unusual at Hilbre) that flew west over the island and then back to Red Rocks, while other birds of prey seen today were 2 Peregrines, a Kestrel and a Merlin. On the sea was a Red-breasted Merganser (not as frequently recorded at Hilbre lately), a Great Crested Grebe and 6 Common Scoter.

Essential repairs were made to the obs roof and outside steps.

Ringed: 11 Goldcrests, 1 Woodpigeon     [ 31-9 ]
(PSW,CJW)      Photos  CJW

Tuesday 17 March 2015

17th March 2015

Weather: SSE force 1/2, mist around the coast
Very little movement today despite the apparently ideal weather, a new Song Thrush was found in the paddocks, a Goldcrest dropped in later (left), and a Wheatear was about the north end. A small flock of Meadow Pipits passed through mid-morning, also a couple of Pied Wagtails. Counts from the early ebb tide were as follows: 390 Curlew, 220 Shelduck, 250 Redshank, 85 Grey Plover, 15 Sanderling. Ten Purple Sandpipers were feeding at the north end. A flock of 40 Common Scoter flew east on the sea, and 2 of the 6 Great Crested Grebes on the sea were displaying to each other.
Ringed: 1 Song Thrush, 1 Goldcrest     [ 19-8 ]

Saturday 14 March 2015

14th March 2015

Today was mainly about maintenance with repairs being carried out to the west side wire mesh on the SK trap and cutting back of some of the Blackthorn. 

However, some birds were noted with a Little Egret fishing in the gutter providing some nice photo opportunities and a chance to study its fishing behaviour. 
A pair of peregrine Falcons flew over the island mid-morning displaying and calling to each other whilst a single Grey Wagtail headed south. A male Wheatear made a late appearance just as the tide was beginning to flood and a Rock Pipit was noted at the south end as the observer was leaving.

(DB + PSW)    Photos PSW

Friday 13 March 2015

13th March 2015

Weather: NE force 4/5
With the northerly element to the wind this morning, a much quieter day, with single Stock Dove, Redwing and Wheatear the only migrants, while the Stonechat still finds Middle Eye to its liking. The Brent were counted at 167, so some may be starting to trickle north. Kestrel and Peregrine were both present today, as was our old friend the rabbit. Frog spawn was much in evidence in the old obs garden (right).
(DB,AEH)       photo AEH

Thursday 12 March 2015

12th March 2015

Weather: SSE force 5, mist around the estuary
The south easterly ignited the start of spring proper today with a varied selection of birds species appearing for the first time this year which were Starling (73), Greenfinch (2), a Chiffchaff (above) and a male Mallard back on the island pond. Another first showing was a Short-eared Owl that flew across the sands and landed on a small Spartina clump for a short time, while both Merlin and Peregrine were also noted today. Moving through this morning were over a 100 Meadow Pipits, 25 Redwings (bottom right), 7 Chaffinches, 5 Pied Wagtails, 3 Wheatears (below) and a Skylark down in one of the paddocks. The female Stonechat continues on Middle Eye (bottom left). A brilliant start to the early spring.
 Ringed: 2 Redwing, 1 Greenfinch, 1 Chiffchaff     [ 17-8 ]
 (DB,AEH, et al) Photos AEH

Wednesday 11 March 2015

11th March 2015

Weather: SSE force 5, later 7
The first Wheatear of the year was found near the lookout this morning, this is a few days earlier than average, and the fine looking male was most welcome.Other firsts for this year were 2 Collared Doves, a Sparrowhawk that flushed about 70 Redshanks as it flew between Hilbre and Red Rocks, and 3 House Sparrows that dropped in at the south end. A single Goldcrest was in the trapping area, a Wood Pigeon was also logged, and the female Stonechat was still on Middle Eye.

Tuesday 10 March 2015

10th March 2015

Weather: NW force 3/4
A female Stonechat is still present on Middle Eye, a Goldfinch and 2 Pied Wagtails were new today, while at least 1 Linnet was back on territory. Twenty crows were counted around the islands area. Fifty Sanderling and 6 Grey Plover were on the north shore. The only seabirds were a single Red-throated Diver also 1 Common Scoter. At least 5 Harbour Porpoise were noted off the north end.
Ringed: 1 Robin       [ 13-6 ]

Sunday 8 March 2015

8th March 2015

Wind WSW turning to WNW later. Heavy rain but sunny later.

Today was Web’s count day and although initially  wet and windy the forecasters got it right as the weather cleared around midday. There was plenty of activity on the sea with thousands of Common Scoter flying around in small groups. Highlights for the WeB’s count were 2 pairs of  Red-breasted merganser, a flock of 8 Goldeneye (2 males & 6 females) and a small party of 3 Scaup  (2 males & 1 female). A single Red-throated Diver was recorded. There was a decrease in wader numbers seen around the islands but 12 Purple Sandpipers roosted above the tide gauge (below). Around high tide an increase in Robin numbers was noted and 4 were eventually caught and ringed along with a female Blackbird. 

The female Stonechat (above) ringed yesterday was still on the island and as the sun came out showed well in the paddock adjacent to the Newton. Meadow Pipits are starting their territorial flight displays and the local Dunnock’s were also singing.
Ringed: 4 Robins, 1 Blackbird (right) [ 8-4 ]
(PSW)     photos  PSW