Thursday 30 April 2015

30th April 2015

Weather: WNW 4-5, heavy rain

A tough day for observers with conditions hard going with heavy rain and a blustery WNW hampering migration although 6 Wheatears pushed through.

However, there were no warblers on the island today.

5 Little Egrets was a reasonable number and Dunlin increased to 2,300.

(DCT, PT, NDW (from over), ME, PSW)

Wednesday 29 April 2015

29th April 2015

Weather: Wind West 3-4, good vis

A very quiet day with ornithological highlights being 600 Dunlin and three Little Egrets.

The overnight moth traps were also quiet with a double striped pug, dark sword grass and white-shouldered house moth the only species found.

(DCT, PT, NDW (from over))

Tuesday 28 April 2015

28th April 2015

Weather: W 7, 5/8 cloud good vis

Despite the blustery conditions a Black Redstart was seen briefly down the East Side firstly below the Old Obs garden and then back in Niffy Bay (see blog for Saturday 25th April).  Presumably the same bird as Saturday that has been hiding from the wind as much as from observers!

The single Dark-bellied Brent Goose from yesterday was seen again and some nice wader numbers were noted with 16 Ringed Plover, 6 Whimbrel, 6 Sanderling and 800 Dunlin counted.

The Rabbit remains and the ringed Rock Pipit was seen again.

(DCT, PT, NDW (from over), BSB+JJK, CJW)

Monday 27 April 2015

27th April 2015

Weather: E 0-1, backing N then W 4-5, 0/8 cloud increasing 6/8 through the day, good vis

A promising start to the day weather-wise  didn't materialise into migrants with only a single White Wagtail and half a dozen Swallows (and some of them are breeding) the only migrant passerines in the island today.

However, as usual no matter what the conditions noteworthy records are never too far away and the highlight of the day was a single Dark-bellied Brent; not an untypical sighting for this time of year in recent years.  The last of the wintering flock of Pales, included a single Dark-bellied, were last seen on 16th of the month. 

(DCT, PT, NDW (from over), CJW)

Sunday 26 April 2015

26th April 2015

Weather:  NW 4-5, 3/8 cloud

A pleasant sunny day but with a cool blustery breeze produced very little in the way of migrant passerines.  In fact it was a quiet day all round until just after lunch.

A couple of Dunlin flocks had built up in the gutter and at the North End and these were joined by further birds and Ringed Plovers below the Obs on the flooding tide and a lovely Summer plumaged Curlew Sandpiper was found.

It was watched from the Obs balcony for at least an hour and enjoyed by all.

A short video of the Curlew Sandpiper can be found here

The St George's day parade reminded us of Hilbre Sundays of days gone by with hundreds of people enjoying the sunshine and the islands.

(DCT, PT and NDW (from over), SRW briefly)

Saturday 25 April 2015

25th April 2015

Weather:  SW 3-4, 8/8 cloud, rain at times

The only species of moth in the overnight trap was Dark Swordgrass (see below).

A few Willow Warblers dropped in during the morning and a female Whinchat was only our second of the year so far.

Frustratingly a male Black Redstart was seen briefly on top of the bird hide above Niffy Bay but after it dropped into the bay it could not be relocated despite searching.

However, during one of the searches for the elusive Black Red a Common Sandpiper was found down the sheltered East side before moving to the gutter with Ringed Plovers and Dunlin.

A few Greenland Wheatears dropped in and a single female was caught and ringed.  A singing Skylark was again present and this raised premature hopes of this species returning to breed on the island.

Little Egrets seemed to be enjoying the wind and rain more than observers!

A few hours difference in the day with rainstorms passing over from North Wales in the middle of the day...

...but by the evening the sunset was stunning over Hilbre Islands LNR.

(DCT, PT and NDW (from over), JE + JP, AEH, CJ and SRW) Photos AEH and SRW [275-31]

Friday 24 April 2015

24th April 2015

Weather: SE, light air, mist around the coasts

What could to be the last of the warm southerly days for the time being promised much, and delivered in part but without any great numbers of migrants. It was obvious immediately that there would be no large fall of warblers in the paddocks although encouragement came from overhead Yellow Wagtail and Tree Pipit, a few Redpolls calling and a flock of 4 Collared Doves. Wheatears were on the ground right from the onset but only the odd Willow Warbler. A Sedge Warbler, the first this year, was found in the main pond which later arrived in the garden mist net and amazingly was discovered to be sporting a ring from San Sebastian in Spain, details are eagerly awaited.

A stunning male Whinchat stayed around the island all morning, which was also a first of the year, as usual obliging the photographers by perching in prominent places, but frustrating the ringers by the same habits. A male Blackcap appeared in the obs garden and was ringed, one of several so far this spring. Other migrants included 10 Goldfinches, 2 Siskins, 25 Swallows, 12 House Martins and 7 Sand Martins, (many of the hirundines moving before a front arriving from the south west). A Skylark was singing over the island several times, it is probably too much to hope it may stay to breed. Waders today included 120 Dunlin, 40 Ringed Plover, and 4 Whimbrel.

Late afternoon the first Whitethroat of the year flew past observers into the SK heligoland trap and was caught and ringed rounding off another great day on the island.

Ringed: 6 Willow Warblers, 1 Whitethroat, 1 Blackcap, 1 Greenland Wheatear, 1 Redpoll, 1 Goldfinch, 1 Linnet. [ 267-31 ]

(CJ, SRW, later DCT, PT, NDW) photos  CJ and SRW

Thursday 23 April 2015

23rd April 2015

Weather:  SSE 0-1, 0/8 cloud, slight mist

A promising looking morning weather-wise did not really produce the grounded migrants hoped for but vis-mig started well with a couple of Flava Wagtails heard passing over, a few hirundines passing through, Whimbrels could be heard calling and a Collared Dove flew south.

An unusual wader call was heard and identified as a Little Ringed Plover, a scarce but increasing species at Hilbre.  The 'LRP' was then spotted as it flew up the East Side and around the island and then circled observers before being joined by a second bird and both LRPs flew off south-west calling as they went.  A lovely start to the day.

Three Canada Geese flew over the South End and several Greenland Wheatears appeared along the West Side but apart from a single Willow Warbler very little else was noted until another Grasshopper Warbler appeared in the bottom shelf of the Old Obs mist net.

Ringed Plovers and Dunlin increased over the tide as Oystercatcher and Turnstone numbers have tailed off.

Ringing:  2 Linnets, Willow Warbler, Grasshopper Warbler, 2 Wren

(AEH, CJ and SRW) [255-29]

Wednesday 22 April 2015

22nd April 2015

Weather: SE force 1/2, later ESE 2

The morning started with a small fall of Willow Warblers (including a pale grey looking bird - see below) but surprisingly little else, no visible migration and no other species grounded, but over the next few hours it became apparent that birds were arriving unseen.

A male Blackcap was ringed and another seen at the south end where it had just arrived on the sandstone on the South West corner of the island.

A Grasshopper Warbler was glimpsed in the tea bush by the Old Obs and was later also caught in the Heli before it became clear that another was also present.

The most unusual sighting of the day was of 3 Magpies flying together south over the island, one is a scarce bird here but 3 together is rare indeed. A Sparrowhawk was mobbed by Crows over the east hoyle sands and resorted to circling to try and avoid attention.

The first Common Sandpiper of the year was at the north end in the early afternoon firstly on the slipway before moving to the Whaleback; typical habitat and timing for this Spring migrant at Hilbre.

A few Goldfinches and a Chaffinch were logged and several White Wagtails and a Grey passed through and hirundines continued to arrive in this fine weather; 50 Swallows, 12 Sand Martins and 9 House Martins. On the sea were 15 Sandwich Terns and 25 Common Terns which are now building up in numbers for the summer, and 3 Whimbrel again today on the shore, also 32 Ringed Plover.

On the butterfly front the sunshine brought out 8 Peacocks, 1 Green-veined White and 2 Small Tortoiseshells.

Ringed: 20 Willow Warblers, 4 Linnets, 2 Robins, 1 Meadow Pipit, 1 Wren, 1 Goldfinch, 1 Blackcap, 1 Grasshopper Warbler,       [ 249-29 ]

(AEH,CJ,NDW et al)

Tuesday 21 April 2015

21st April 2015

Weather: NW force 3, haze
With the breeze being from a northerly direction overnight, little in the way of migrants was expected, and a short visit in the morning proved the case. Most surprising was a Common Snipe at the south end of the island, very unusual at this time of year. A small amount of Swallows went through, also a single Greenland Wheatear. Later in the afternoon a female Blackcap was found. The best of the other records today was a male Red-breasted Merganser and 3 Whimbrel. Six Peacock butterflies were on the wing, and a Map spider was found.
(AEH,CJW, later DB)

Monday 20 April 2015

20th April 2015

Weather; SE force 2
Several Wheatears were noted passing down through the island ridge just after dawn but none were on the main island till some time later when 2 appeared on 'Wheatear hill'. Willow Warblers were just a trickle and finished early in the morning. Overhead a few White Wagtails called as did a single Redpoll and Yellow Wagtail, and that was about it for small migrants apart from about  8 Goldfinches flitting about. Hirundines comprised 25 Swallows, 5 House Martins and 4 Sand Martins (the first Swift cannot be very far away now). There are up to 4 Whimbrel now on the shore, and other odd visitors today included 3 Starlings that flew in low over the island, a Woodpigeon on Middle and a Rook that flew east. The pair of Rock Pipits are still present on the west side, and indeed singing. Small Tortoiseshell and Peacock butterflies showed in the sunshine.

Ringed: 5 Willow Warblers, 1 Robin, 1 Linnet, 1 Goldfinch                  [ 218-29 ]
 (ME,CJ, et al ) +
Tim Kinch                            photos  TimKinch

Sunday 19 April 2015

19th April 2015

An early morning visit before the tide was rewarded with a few new birds despite the wind being from the south with no east in it. Two Greenland Wheatears, two Willow Warblers & a female Blackcap were new in and duly caught & ringed. A Whimbrel was seen and heard along the west side and two Jackdaws & a Collared Dove flew over. 4 Goldfinches made a brief appearance in the Obs garden before heading off to the mainland. The rabbit made an appearance & 76 Grey Seals were hauled out in the West Hoyle bank.
Ringed: 2 Greenland Wheatear, 2 Willow Warblers & a Blackcap.        [ 210-29 ]

Saturday 18 April 2015

18th April 2015

Weather: E force 1, slight frost overnight, beautiful sunny day

The first few hours of the morning brought in less warblers than yesterday, just half a dozen Willow Warblers a Blackcap and of the course the compulsory Redstart; today's bird however was a full adult male with jet black throat, white forehead and blue-grey greater coverts (below).
 Later in the morning 3 Wheatears arrived, one of which became the first Greenland race ringed so far this year, likewise a few White Wagtails with a single also becoming the first of its race in the potter traps this year. An even greater prize of a Yellow Wagtail narrowly eluded us, but it stayed around the west side for some time giving hope, while a Grey Wagtail completed the trio of wagtails present.

Greenland Wheatear

White Wagtail
A Collared Dove stayed from early (at one time with a Woodpigeon), and was the first of this species to be caught and ringed this year when it was found in the Heli in the afternoon.  Apart from the Linnets, 6 Goldfinches were the only finches found and also passing through were at least 6 Swallows and 2 House Martins, 1 or 2 of the Swallows gave the impression they may be locals arriving back early to breed.

Shore and sea did not produce big numbers (apart from the distant 4,000 or so Scoters off Hoylake with 3 Velvets seen from the island) but varied species included 4 Red-throated Divers, 18 Sandwich Terns, 1 Guillemot, 1 Whimbrel, 1 Little Egret, 50 Dunlin, a Knot, and 40 Canada Geese seen flying up the West Kirby/Red Rocks shore and 2 on the sea off the island.

Two Rock Pipits are giving hope they may stay the summer, and a Skylark sang over the south end, a rare occurrence in the last few years.

Collared Dove

Meanwhile Hoylake RNLI Lifeboat was called out to rescue a Yacht that had broken down south of the island and west of Middle and was watched from the Obs.

Ringed: 4 Willow Warblers, 3 Linnets, 2 Wrens, 1 Blackcap, 1 Redstart, 1 Greenland Wheatear, 1 White Wagtail, 1 Collared Dove.   [ 205-29 ]

(JE, CJ+VB, PSW+5, NDW, SRW, TGW), + Tim Kinch, & Hugh
Photos: Skylark, Yellow Wagtail, Swallow & Dunlin by Tim Kinch, Rescue by PSW, others by CJ & SRW

Friday 17 April 2015

17th April 2015

Weather:  SE 3-4, blustery and cold at times, 7/8 cloud, good vis

The first round of the morning just after 6am produced a small fall of phylloscs with 10 birds caught mainly Willow Warblers but including a male Redstart and a male Blackcap.

The small fall continued until around 9am at which time it disappointingly petered out but by the end of the day 26 birds had been caught the majority Willow Warblers.

Some small overhead passage was noted including a couple of Siskin, 2 Tree Pipits and a few wagtails and Goldfinches that included some that alighted in the blackthorn and a couple were caught and ringed.

A pair of Eider passed up the West Side and flew North and were closely followed by a second drake and 7 Canada Geese were noted.
(CJW(f), GIW, SRW and TGW (from over), CJ) [191-26]

Thursday 16 April 2015

16th April 2015

Weather:  No wind first thing, backing ESE, then NNE later, 3/8 cloud, good vis; a glorious day!

Another glorious April day on the island began with an early morning flava Wagtail passing over calling and a small trickle of phylloscs with 2 Willow Warblers and 2 Chiffchaffs caught and ringed.

A Merlin was seen near the light and the male Kestrel showed well hovering at various points around the island (see below).

Kestrel - hovering over the Old Obs garden (note the ring, possibly the bird caught on 11 September 2014 which had been ringed 8 years previously at Meols, Wirral as a pullus on 2 June 2006)
 A male Blackcap was caught but attention soon turned to sea-watching with Little Gulls in good numbers in the mouth of the Dee with 63 counted.
Little Gulls - record shot (iPhone-scoped video grab) off the West Side of Hilbre
Harbour Porpoise - one of three seen off the West Side (following six yesterday in similar area)
Three Harbour Porpoises were seen on the flat calm sea following six seen briefly yesterday.  The sea also provided over 70 Red-throated Divers in various stages of plumage and a single Black-throated Diver in partial summer dress.

At around midday the highlight of the day appeared from the West and flew over the island pursued by gulls - our first Osprey of the year; a few calls, texts and tweets later and it was picked up at several locations further along the North Wirral.

Osprey - the first record this spring passes over the North End of the island

Wheatear - a first year male caught in the SK
Rock Pipit - the first to be ringed this year on Hilbre and quite late for this species on Hilbre
To top a great spring day a Rock Pipit was caught on Wheatear hill in a potter trap; the first to be ringed this year on the islands.

As the tide flooded in the evening the first flocks of spring Dunlin and Ringed Plover appeared below the Obs and Whimbrel could be heard calling down the estuary.

(CJW(f), CLW, FPW, GIW, SRW, TGW from over and DB) [165-26]