Sunday 31 May 2015

31st May 2015

Weather: NW force 3, rain early
Poor weather conditions this morning were not suitable for much birding, 2 Gannets and a single Manx Shearwater were the best that could be found in the short time available.
(AEH from over, PSW)

Saturday 30 May 2015

30th May 2015

Weather: NW force 4/5 decreasing, drizzle
The aftermath of a strong blow from the west resulted in records of 24 Gannets, 3 Guillemots, an immature Kittiwake and best of all, a Bonxie on the sea off the west side (right,AEH). Male Sparrowhawk and Peregrine were logged, 12 House Martins and 2 Pied Wagtails went through, and on the shore were 2 Little Egrets, 400 Dunlin, 100 Ringed Plover, 8 Turnstones and 3 Whimbrel.
(AEH+JKH, from over)

Friday 29 May 2015

29th May 2015

Weather: W force 5/6 later 7/8
A striong westerly produced sightings of 30 Gannets. Six Little Egrets were in the gutter and 7 Turnstones still remain around the rocks.

Thursday 28 May 2015

28th May 2015

Weather: W force 6/7
The strong wind this morning meant a sea watch was the order of the day. Manx Shearwaters (10), and Gannets (95), were the main species battling the wind with a few terns also logged. Five House Martins passed through going west but little else could be classed as a migrant.

 In contrast to recent days there were more Ringed Plover to be seen than Dunlin (above), it may have been something to do with the state of the tide. The unringed Rock Pipit was at the north east corner of Middle.
Four Little Egrets today (right), that is about the average over the last few weeks.

(AEH)       photos AEH

Wednesday 27 May 2015

27th May 2015

Thrift and Birds-foot trefoil are now in flower (CJ)
Weather: WNW force 3, dropping during the morning
Garden Tiger caterpillars are everywhere on the grassy paths (CJ)
Hilbre bird of the day was not seen from the island but from the marine lake in the form of an Osprey that flew west between Little Eye and Middle Eye at 11.55hrs (AEH). Late May or even June Ospreys are by no means unknown, although most pass through in April or early May. Things on the island were not as exciting with the continued westerly scotching hope of any late migrants. Three Goldfinches landed briefly and a few odd Swallows joined the locals as they passed and a Sand Martin came through at Midday, otherwise it was just the breeding birds on the island, including the pair of Blackbirds which had not been seen for a while, and the unringed Rock Pipit. Several parties of Shelduck flew west including one of 39 birds, and the Dunlin and Sanderlings continue around the island but in smaller numbers than of late. The morning was so cool that no butterflies ventured out and a single Common Darter at midday was the only other sighting. The high counts of Common Seals continued with a peak of 550 today.
Grey Plover with Dunlin (CJ)
Two of the several Sanderlings feeding at the north end (KMc)

Tuesday 26 May 2015

26th May 2015

Weather: NW 3-4, 6/8 cloud

When will the westerly airstream end? Those of us with positive outlooks are dreaming of that first American passerine on Hilbre - a sparrow seems the most likely (or perhaps better put as 'least outrageous') suggestion...

In the meantime the birding is slow.  The highlight this morning was not even seen - a calling Golden Plover was first noted at the North End before being heard from the Obs.

No migrants were noted in the trapping areas but the sea again had a moderate number of Gannets and Sandwich Terns.

Grey Seals on the West Hoyle sandbank increased again to c410 today as we head towards the peak months for these fantastic mammals in the mouth of the Dee estuary.

The temperature needs to rise a notch or two to put insects more on the agenda.

(SRW (from over), DB (pm))

Monday 25 May 2015

25th May 2015

Weather: NW 3, 6/8 cloud sunny intervals

Birding took a back seat today for many reasons (only partly the weather)...

First up the three Queens met up in the mouth of the Mersey and all three were visible from the island albeit in the haze.

Next up it was the Red Arrows heading for the party over the Mersey (poor back of camera shot above).

Then came the dramatic rescue of a man who had ended up in the sea by rocks on the West Side just by Ladies Cave as the tide was rising.

The RNLI lifeguards, who had discovered the man, stayed in the water with him as he was in severe pain from injuries from his fall.

Both West Kirby and Hoylake lifeboats attended quickly and crew members were landed to provide casualty care and equipment.

A decision was made quickly to get him out of the water onto a level board and a joint effort of RNLI lifeguards, RNLI boat crew (with some assistance from the Obs Sec and Dr F Cox from the Cox's bungalow) he was put onto a stretcher and moved above the rising tide from where he was given further medical attention, blankets from the Obs were fetched and paramedics arrived and soon after the RAF sea-king helicopter arrived and airlifted the casualty from the rocks below Wheatear Hill.

A tremendous team effort by the brave men and women of the RNLI & RAF services.  A reminder to all how dangerous the islands can be and what a great job these people do.

We all hope that the casualty recovers and our thoughts are with him, his family and friends.

With the airlift videoed from inside the Obs (by CLW) as the top of the island had to be cleared to avoid the RAF sea-king's down draft:

Back on the island birding had been quiet  with only 3 House Martins and a few Swallows to show on the migrant front and wader numbers were lower again than in recent days but everyone was distracted by the day's events.

A single Four-spotted Chaser dragonfly was in the West Side garden of Telegraph House and hundreds (probably thousands?) of Garden Tiger caterpillars still roamed particularly the South End of the island.

(SRW et al (from over))

Sunday 24 May 2015

24th May 2015

Weather: NW 3, 8/8 drizzle first thing, clearing later 

Drizzle soon after dawn did little to raise expectations considering the wind direction and temperature.  Similarly the poor visibilty did little to increase prospects of much and meant that observers could not even see the arrival of one of the three queens into the Mersey through the murk.

As always though there were still birds and wildlife to be seen around the islands and Little Egrets seemed oblivious to weather as the fished happily in the gutter dancing around.

Sandwich Terns and Gannets were much in evidence on the sea but without the sun yesterday's East Hoyle roost of the former only reached about 30 birds on the flood tide with none present on the ebb.

Waders had decreased in number from yesterday but there were still a few hundred Dunlin,  50+ Ringed Plover, 78 Sanderling and 2 Curlew.

Meanwhile the Peregrine sat menacingly on the sandbank as the tide dropped and was watched stopping at a Dunlin shortly after. 

The summer plumaged Razorbill was seen on the sea off the North End.

A single Whitethroat appeared along the Obs fenceline mid afternoon and was the only passerine migrant noted today.
(SRW et al (from over))

Saturday 23 May 2015

23rd May 2015

Weather: NW 3-4, 7/8 cloud, mod vis, clearing later with wind dropping

It was very quiet again on the island for migrants although a late Greenland Wheatear was seen (possibly the bird from yesterday?).  However, breeding birds were much in evidence particular the Linnets (including the above male singing away on the Obs fence), the male Skylark was noted again, the pair of Rock Pipits were watched in their now usual haunt, the Swallows were quite active and a Meadow Pipit egg fragment was found on the west side in the evening. However, Shelduck numbers remain particularly low and evidence of another Fox may provide some clue as to why.

Once again interest turned to the passage waders and 1,800 Dunlin were counted along the gutters edge on the east side as the tide flooded. Larger numbers of Sanderling than recently were also present with 250 noted along with 85 Ringed Plover and a single late Whimbrel announced its presence with its seven whistles late afternoon as it flew over the island.  A Peregrine was present early morning and returned to once again hunt the Dunlin flocks later afternoon.

The Razorbill sat out on the North End rocks again during the middle of the day but was probably disturbed by day-trippers although they were few and far between despite the lovely weather.

As afternoon turned to evening and the tide ebbed a few Sandwich Terns moved from the rocks on the west side of Middle  to the East Hoyle sandbank opposite the Obs and the 50 or so then called and some pairs displayed and passed fish and gradually numbers swelled to 153 including a yellow colour-ringed bird; although sadly it was too distant to read the lettering/numbering.

The day ended in glorious fashion and despite no forecast of any longed for south easterlies for some time we still wonder what tomorrow might bring ...

(SRW et al (from over), JE, AEH, KMc, AW + TK and TE)

Friday 22 May 2015

22nd May 2015

Weather: W 3, 8/8 cloud then clearing during middle of day before clouding over again.

A single Greenland Wheatear graced the island and spent some time bathing on the wildlife pond.

Apart from that migrants were very thin on the ground but three House Martins passed over (two over the North End and one over the Obs).

The flock of Eiders were still present off the North End with seven birds remaining including six drakes in various stages of maturity.

Waders however were still much in evidence with a build of Dunlin again up to high tide with an estimated 2,500 counted along with 45 Sanderling, 85 Ringed Plover and 3 Turnstone as well as four Bar-tailed Godwit (including one in fine summer plumage) and 75 Grey Plover including a flock of 50 also in fine nick resplendent with their black bellies and silver spangled upperparts. 

6 Little Egrets graced the gutter as the tide ebbed and the resident breeding birds took advantage of the slight increase in temperature as it almost felt like May for a while.

The first Common Blue butterfly of the year was noted in the Obs garden today.


Thursday 21 May 2015

21st May 2015

Weather: WNW force 4/5
A visit to the north end first thing found a Razorbill on the rocks near the entrance to the old lifeboat slipway. It is such an unusual event that it was thought initially that the bird must be sick, but a slow approach proved otherwise as it took off strongly over the west side.
Razorbill (CJ)

Within seconds the visit became a purple patch when 2 male and a female Eider were seen swimming off the whaleback and then another 5 drakes were noticed standing out on the rocks off the slipway.

Eiders, (CJ)

Land birds were very much at a premium as expected in the westerly with no warblers and just a single Wheatear which landed briefly on the obs lawn, and the now seemingly resident Skylark which still moves about the island. The odd Swallow went through and later in the morning 5 House Martins. A brief sea watch in the morning failed to even find any Gannets or terns, but a flock of 9 first summer Kittiwakes flew east passed the north end.
Things improved over the tide with a single Bonxie seen.
Brimstone moth in the obs garden (CJ)

Garden Tiger caterpillar (Nett Furley)   

Ringed Plover (Nett Furley)
Dunlin and Ringed Plover (Nett Furley)
              (CJ, later MGT+1)

Tuesday 19 May 2015

19th May 2015

Weather: WNW 6-7, light rain

Five Bonxies passed through over the tide and was an excellent count for spring at Hilbre and the seawatch also produced 250 Gannets, 30 Kittiwakes and 2 Fulmars.

Later a single Greenland Wheatear and a Grasshopper Warbler were seen on Middle as observers left the island the latter is a late record for the islands.


Sunday 17 May 2015

17th May 2015

Weather: WSW 5-6, 7/8 cloud, moderate vis

Up to 1,800 Dunlin mainly in summer plumage roosted at the North End over the tide with five Sanderling and forty Ringed Plover the highlights of the high tide WeBS count day.

A single Peregrine was seen as observers left the island - one of the birds that have been hunting the Dunlin over the last week or two no doubt.

A single Greenland Wheatear was the only passerine migrant seen today.

(RAE & family (from over))

Saturday 16 May 2015

16th May 2015

Weather: WNW 5-6, 8/8 cloud, moderate vis

A blustery and threatening pre-tide visit produced little in the way of migrants although a Greenland Wheatear was sheltering on the South End slipway.

Similarly a Little Egret did its best to feed in the gutter as the tide flooded.  A few small flocks of Dunlin bustled there way north and Ringed Plovers were below the Obs on the mud.

The sea was slate grey and definitely has potential for producing something over the tide with over 100 Common, 35 Sandwich, 15 Arctic and 11 Little Terns noted in a brief seawatch along with 40 Gannets.

As the sole observer retreated before the tide a line of people in wet suits and floats could be seen marching out to Middle Eye in a scene reminiscent of one from 'Mama Mia' but without flippers and snorkels.

These brave individuals are taking on an extreme swim in aid of several charities including Stick 'N' Step (a respite and conductive education centre for children with cerebral palsy on Merseyside) - we wished them good luck! For more details on this and how to donate please see

No doubt the Grey Seals will keep an eye on them!

As the tide ebbed observers arriving for the 'afternoon shift' enjoyed the build up of Dunlin and found (or re-found) a Curlew Sandpiper (back of camera shot below).

(SRW am, PSW+MP later)

Friday 15 May 2015

15th May 2015

Weather: SE force 1, cool early, warm by noon
House Sparrow (AEH)

Another early start for observers before the tide discovered no immediate arrival of migrants apart from a flava Wagtail calling overhead, and the retrapping of yesterdays Whitethroat confirmed that it could be hard work today. Things improved slowly in the next few hours with some Greenland Wheatears and a Willow Warbler landing and a pair of House Sparrows calling around the island for some of the morning, also a passing Tree Pipit. A couple of Skylarks were singing over the island but moved off to the mainland and in addition to the local Swallows about 100 went through with about 30 Sand Martins, 10 House Martins and 3 Swifts. Four species of tern featured today including 20 Little Terns and 2 Arctic Terns, also close in to the west side was a 1st summer Kittiwake, while the 50 or Gannets logged were mostly more distant. Waders again became a subject of study and a Curlew Sandpiper was found amongst the 6,000 Dunlin, a different bird from the other two seen recently which were in complete summer plumage. Fifteen Whimbrel were on the shore, also 6 Turnstones in their spectacular summer plumage mixed with the Dunlin, about 50 Sanderling, 200 Ringed Plover, a Knot and a Grey Plover. A Peregrine hunted the waders assiduously and was seen to make a kill, while both sexes of Kestrel were present. The male of the pair of Rock Pipits was retrapped briefly in the potters put out for the Wheatears; to see Rock Pipits on Hilbre in May is a new experience for most observers.

Skylark - this male has been around the islands for a couple of weeks now (SRW)
Not a great day for butterflies but noted today were Silver Y and Cinnebar moths and of course the massive numbers of Garden Tiger caterpillars that are everywhere under foot, resulting in care being necessary whilst walking the paths. Meanwhile the first Four-Spotted Chaser Dragonfly was found not far from the pond.

One of the breeding Swallows (AEH)

Rock Pipit (JE)
Whimbrel (AEH)
Turnstone (AEH)

Ringed Plover (AEH)
Ringed : 2 Greenland Wheatears, 1 Linnet, 1 Meadow Pipit, 1 Robin, 1 Willow Warbler  [ 327-33 ]
(JE+JP,AEH,CJ,KMc, SRW et al)

Thursday 14 May 2015

14th May 2015

Weather: ESE 3-4, 5/8 cloud and good visibility

A blustery south easterly produced a small number of migrants this morning including a Whitethroat and a Spotted Flycatcher.

As often heralds the start of the end of Spring along with Spotted Flycatcher a couple of late Chiffchaffs were also caught along with a couple of Willow Warblers.

Several Linnets were caught including this smart male; a returning bird.

A Short-eared Owl was seen heading out over the recording area from Pinfold Lane (West Kirby).