Wednesday 30 September 2015

30th September 2015

Weather: Light air, then SE force 2, soon backing to the east.  Misty around the coasts
Part of the group of eleven Teal  (CJ)
The small migrants followed a similar pattern to yesterday with only 2 Goldcrests on the island early, again a number of Wrens continuing to find Hilbre to their liking, and with a few Chiffchaffs dropping in later in the morning. Six Pied and a Grey Wagtail were other visitors as was a single House Martin. The first Chaffinches (2) and Greenfinch of the autumn moved through rapidly and 5 Skylarks emphasised the late autumn feel, as did the 11 Teal off the east side on the flood tide. Between the islands a pair of Peregrines hunted a Wood Pigeon which seemed to disappear but must have gone to ground as shortly afterwards it flew the length of the island. Later a Merlin flew down the west side scattering the Turnstones, meanwhile the male Kestrel continued to do its thing unfazed by the other raptors.
There was no sign of any Wheatears on the island today but a single bird was on rocks at West Kirby Marine Lake as observers retreated to the mainland before the tide.

Meadow Pipit passage (see below) has been poor so far this autumn over the islands so it was nice to catch a new bird today in the potter traps which have been more used to Rock Pipits recently! In the late morning several dozen Meadow Pipits were seen crossing the sands of the east hoyle towards the shore, also a Lapwing which is a scarce bird in the Hilbre area.

Ringed: 3 Wrens, 2 Chiffchaffs, 2 Linnets, 1 Goldcrest, 1 Meadow Pipit   [ 471-35 ]
(DB,JE,CJ,CJW,PSW, et al)

Tuesday 29 September 2015

29th September 2015

Weather: SE force 1/2  misty around the coast

A Great Spotted Woodpecker flew into Middle Eye early morning and as there are no trees on Middle it had to make do with the small wooden posts that mark the path. Unsurprisingly it did not stay long and seemed to head off to the south. Great Spotted Woodpeckers occur on Hilbre on average once a year, but this is the second for 2015.

Meanwhile on the main island a Golden Plover flew south passing the island on the east side whilst calling and a Reed Bunting was seen in the old obs garden (below) and then found itself in the mist net and when extracted all were surprised that it already bore a ring from elsewhere (a 'control'), especially as we catch very few Reed Buntings in an average year. Later another unringed Reed Bunting was also seen in the same garden.

Before the very high tide flooded 30 Wigeon flew north off the west side, and after the tide 63 Shelduck were off the north shore but only a single Brent could be found today. Ringed Plover (56) were prominent among the small number of waders roosting on the main island (below), while 5,000 Oystercatchers were mostly undisturbed today in the roost on the north end of Middle Eye.

Sixteen Sandwich Terns still on the sea with 1 Common Tern, also 12 Common Scoter, 6 Guillemots and 2 Great Crested Grebes.A Shag was off the east side. (below)

The passerine migrants grounded were few, with possibly only one new Goldcrest, 6 Chiffchaffs coming in during the morning and quite a few Wrens continuing their movement through Hilbre during the last few days. The first 3 Starlings of the autumn arrived in for a short stay and a few Meadow Pipits passed going south, also a White and Pied Wagtail and a calling Siskin. Two Ravens were seen from the shiore to pass over Little Eye (MGT). A few butterflies flew including a Comma which is very scarce at Hilbre.
Meanwhile a Lesser Spotted Dogfish was found on the shore this morning.

Ringed: 5 Wrens, 2 Chiffchaffs               [ 462-35 ]
(DB, CJ, SRW)                    photos CJ and SRW

Monday 28 September 2015

28th September 2015

Weather: ESE  force 2 mist around the coasts
Clear again overnight but the lunar eclipse did not bring us many birds, just 4 Goldcrests present, at least one of which was still here from 2 days ago, and a single Chiffchaff that moved on rapidly through the islands. the only other evidence of migration were 4 Grey Wagtails, 3 Pied wagtails, 2 House Martins and a Skylark, while again there seemed to be several more Robins than usual. The highlight of the high tide came in the form of a Short-eared Owl that was first noticed when it disturbed the wader roost on Middle and was mobbed by gulls as it flew across to Hoylake. The Owl was possibly flushed off West Kirby marsh by one of the highest tides of the year. Roosting on the top of the north end rocks during the tide were some Ringed Plover, 65 of which were logged today. Sea birds seen during the tide were 5 Guillemots, 5 Great Crested Grebes and a Red-throated Diver. 
Short-eared Owl over Middle Eye
The same Owl as viewed from the garden in Hoylake that held the Yellow-browed Warbler today (JET)
The ringed male kestrel that has been present for some time (CJ)
Spectacular sunset over the estuary tonight (AEH)
Ringed: 2 Wrens, 1 Goldcrest.         [ 455-35 ]
(DB,AAB,CJ,AS,CJW et al)

Sunday 27 September 2015

27th September 2015

Weather: SE force 2/3
The wind is in the south east at last and immediately brought in 5 Chiffchaffs (right), a Blackcap, a few
Goldcrests, 2 Blackbirds, 2 Grey Wagtails and the first 3 Skylarks of the autumn. A Common Snipe was about early on and later a Great Northern Diver and a drake Eider flew passed the island (below). Thirty two Sandwich Terns were a good amount for so late in the autumn, other sea birds included 4 Gannets and 4 Common Scoter.

 Ringed: 4 Chiffchaffs, 1 Blackbird       [ 452-35 ]
(DB,AS,NDW,PSW,SRW) also Tim Kinch, Elliot Montieth        photos  SRW

Saturday 26 September 2015

26th September 2015

Weather: SSE force 0/1

Shag at the north end

The first multiple arrival of Brents to the islands this autumn took place this morning (following the single bird found a week ago) as geese were seen firstly south of Middle and later between the islands at the ebb tide (above). There were 10 pale-bellied birds and another individual thought to be a dark-bellied. Four Wigeon also hung about the east hoyle tideline at the flood tide. Despite being very clear overhead in the night, 9 Goldcrests and 4 Chiffchaffs were grounded and 6 Grey and 3 Pied wagtails Wagtails flew about and a Song Thrush and Reed Bunting were noted early in the morning. The large Linnet flock that has been a feature over the last few weeks reached a new high this morning with 165 on Middle and another 40 at Little Eye. Also in the Little Eye area at the flood tide were 230 Shelduck and 256 Curlew.

Ringed:  5 Goldcrests, 3 Chiffchaffs, 1 Robin, 1 Wren     [ 447-35 ]
(DB,JE,CJ,PSW,SRW)    photos  CJ

Wednesday 23 September 2015

23th September 2015

Weather: WNW force 4
Some of the 6 Goldcrests today may have been yesterdays arrivals although Goldcrests are not completely unknown on a north westerly wind, and this may also apply to the Wheatear, we shall never know. The presence of 6 Robins reflects the numbers on the island lately. A Shag was present and single Gannet and Great Crested Grebe were logged. The count of 520 Curlew was a significant number. The Linnet flock held 130 birds today.

Tuesday 22 September 2015

22nd September 2015

Weather: E force 1/2, later NNW force 3, fog, heavy showers, sun
We had all the seasons in one morning today as an easterly breeze (not forecast) brought Goldcrests and Robins to the island, followed by a thick bank of fog rolling in to make Middle Eye invisible from the obs, followed by a front of thundery looking rain from the west to soak the ground, and then sunshine to make it feel pleasantly warm for the remainder of the morning. The rain brought in a few more Goldcrests and in the sunshine after midday a late Willow Warbler appeared suddenly in the obs garden (below).

 The number 4 haunted us all day with 4 Goosanders flying north out the Dee, 4 Shags being on the whaleback, 4 Razorbills off the north end, 4 Greenland Wheatears during the morning and at least 4 Rock Pipits seen including 3 which were young birds all trapped in the potters with one being newly ringed today (left)

A Greenshank spent all morning in the gutter to the east side (right), calling almost continually.
 Other records today were 2 Little Egrets, 1 Gannet, 4 Bar-tailed Godwits, 10 Sandwich Terns, 6 Pied Wagtails, 80 Linnets and a male Kestrel.
A look around the Tansky/Little Eye area on the ebb tide earlier found 116 Shelduck, 326 Curlew, 10 Grey Plover, 6 Grey Herons, 3 Little Egrets and 2 Wheatears, also a flock of 14 Canada Geese flying over from Wales (DB).  
Ringed: 7 Goldcrests, 2 Robins, 1 Rock Pipit, 1 Wren, 1 Linnet   [ 437-35 ] 
(AEH,CJ,PSW)  photos CJ

Sunday 20 September 2015

20th September 2015

Weather: SW force 2/3
A very quiet morning with no migrants on the island, and even a sea watch could only find a single Gannet and a Razorbill diving close to the north end (right). The newly arrived Brent Goose from yesterday was on the tide line to the west of the islands early in the day. The Red Fox that is now a regular sighting mimicked one of the Rabbit's regular movements and went from the path through the fence into the SK paddock.
Ringed: 1 Robin      [ 425-35 ]
(DB+ESCA from over, CJ)   photo CJ

Saturday 19 September 2015

19th September 2015

Weather: S force 0/1,  mist  

Octopus on the shore
The first pale-bellied Brent of the autumn was found this morning on the tide-line of the east hoyle opposite the north end. A few birds arrived this morning on the island, including another small passage of Robins (up to 9), Wrens (up to 8), a few Swallows, 2 Chiffchaffs, 5 Goldcrests, 2 Grey and 5 Pied Wagtails, a Whitethroat and a Wheatear. Four Rock Pipits were confirmed today, and another of the young that bred on the island was ringed. The Linnet flock is really building up with 120 birds logged today. An Octopus was an unexpected find on the shore between Little and Middle Eye this morning, and 2 Lion's Mane jellyfish were on the east hoyle sands. Fourteen Silver Y moths and 2 Red Admirals flew today.
Both young Rock Pipits

Ringed: 3 Goldcrests, 2 Robins, 2 Wrens, 1 Chiffchaff, 1 Rock Pipit.    [ 424-35 ]

Friday 18 September 2015

18th September 2015

Weather: S force 1 with showers, in the afternoon N force 2
Highlight today was a Goosander flying west, while a few birds were present this morning which included 2 Goldcrests, 6 Robins, 5 Wheatears, 5 Grey wagtails, with a male kestrel and an immature Peregrine. Ten Bar-tailed Godwits, 52 Ringed Plover were among good shore counts, and with most terns now having departed south a single Little Tern was a good find amongst the dozen or so terns logged today. Five Guillemots and 5 Great Crested Grebes were the best of the other sea birds.
immature Peregrine
Devil's Coach Horse Beetle
Yellow Cow-Pat Toadstool

Pimpla rufipes an ichneumonid that parasitises lepidoptera pupae

Ringed: 1 Robin         [ 415-35 ]
(AS,AW from over,AAB,CJW et al)

Thursday 17 September 2015

17th September 2015

Weather: NW force 3/4
The wind in the north west eased during the day and was not strong enough to produce the hoped for sea birds, although single Red-throated Diver and Kittiwake were seen, also 11 Common Scoter, 8 Great Crested Grebes, 7 Guillemots, 3 Razorbills and 2 Gannets. Early morning a Merlin flew through the islands. On the ebb tide 31 Shelduck were by Little Eye.

Wednesday 16 September 2015

16th September 2015

Weather: N force 1,  mist
A lovely feeling for observers to the almost airless start to the morning found Goldcrests calling in several places, about 16 thought to be on the islands, together with 3 Chiffchaffs and a passage of Robins, which happens quite often at Hilbre and at least 8 were new in this morning, also 6 Grey Wagtails calling as they went through. A single Whitethroat and the Whinchat (right, that has been here now for some days?), were also noted. A male Sparrowhawk flew around for a short time early in the day, and just before midday a noisy Magpie dropped into the pittosporum in the obs garden before soon leaving the island.

Carrion Crow chasing the Sparrowhawk
Ringed: 9 Goldcrests, 6 Robins, 2 Chiffchaffs.    [ 414-35 ]
(ME,RAE,AEH,CJ,AS,AW,CJW, et al)      photos  CJ

Tuesday 15 September 2015

15th September 2015

Weather: NW force 4
A brief visit found a Goldcrest, a Wheatear and 2 Pied Wagtails despite the north westerly. Other sightings included 40 Common Scoter, 20 Sandwich Terns and a Harlequin ladybird.
(CJW et al)

Monday 14 September 2015

14th September 2015

Weather: SE force 2/3
An adult Hobby flew in off the sea over the whaleback at 09.00hrs and continued south down the estuary passing over Middle Eye on the way. Hobby is less than annual at Hilbre and more often appears in spring than autumn. The Whinchat still stays around the island and in addition this morning there were 3 Willow Warblers, 2 Goldcrests a Whitethroat and a Wheatear. The small number of local Swallows remaining were joined by 3 passing House martins and a Sand Martin. Best of the waders were 68 Turnstones, 2 Grey Plovers, 2 Bar-tailed Godwits and a Whimbrel. At least 3 Rock Pipits were present.
The rabbit by the obs this morning
Clumps of Spartina are now appearing half way across to the islands
 Ringed: 1 Willow Warbler       [ 397-35 ]   
(DB,AEH,CJ, et al)                 photos  CJ

Sunday 13 September 2015

13th September 2015

Weather: SSE force 2/3

     One of the better days of this September, with small migrants arriving steadily during the morning, with at least 10 Chiffchaffs, 5 Willow Warblers,10 Goldcrests, 6 Wheatears, a Blackcap, a Whitethroat, and later the first Firecrest for Hilbre this year was found near the 'heli' trap. The Firecrest was duly caught and ringed, as most have been at Hilbre over the years. Earlier a Sparrowhawk made an appearance and 60 Golden Plover flew south, which is an unusual record in modern times, while a Grey Wagtail went through and the first Song Thrush of the autumn was on the island. The Whinchat was reported to be still somewhere in the vicinity.
Ringed:  3 Chiffchaffs, 1 Willow Warbler, 3 Goldcrests, 1 Firecrest, 1 Blackcap    [ 396-35 ]
 photos Firecrest & Goldcrest SRW, others AEH

Saturday 12 September 2015

12th September 2015

Weather: ESE force 5
The Whinchat was still present this morning and the breeze brought in 3 Goldcrests and 8 House Martins while 6 Wigeon were found and 91 Sandwich Terns are still about the islands.
Ringed: 1 Goldcrest       [ 387-34 ]
(AEH from over, SRW)

Friday 11 September 2015

11th September 2015

Weather: SE force 2/3, later 4/5
Early in the morning a Greenshank flew in off the sea at the north end and stayed a while and fed in the east gutter at the same time as 3 Teal were in the vicinity, shortly afterwards another Teal flew south with 5 Wigeon for company.

Already on the island from an overnight arrival were 6 Goldcrests, a Wheatear and a Willow Warbler, which were then joined briefly by three Collared Doves. Notable this morning was a mixed flock of about 50 Swallows and House Martins, avidly feeding over the top of the island as they passed south.

A Tree Pipit called overhead, as did 3 Grey Wagtails, and mid-morning a Whinchat arrived in the SK paddock area, but rapidly worked its way south, and showing just once more before apparently disappearing.

Five Gannets were just about the sum total of sea birds logged, while shore birds included 3 Whimbrel, 3 Bar-tailed Godwits, 35 Ringed Plover and 120 Dunlin.

The male kestrel that has been about for a couple of days was today seen from photographs to be ringed. A juvenile Red Fox was at the north end this morning and the ubiquitous rabbit also put in an appearance. Later 2 Ravens flew east to the shore.

The Heteropelma amictum, a nice-looking ichneumonid (see below) was found in the trapping area this afternoon.  It is an anomalonine (i.e. subfamily Anomaloninae) which parasitises caterpillars.

Ringed: 1 Willow Warbler, 1 Goldcrest               [ 386-34 ] 

(DB,CJ,BT,NDW, et al) Photos BT et al

Thursday 10 September 2015

10th September 2015

Weather: SE 1 mist around the coast

The weather conditions for yesterday and today were very similar 'on paper' but had a completely different feel, yesterday felt cool while today felt very pleasently warm in the early morning and made observers expectant of a few migrants. The birds duly arrived, not in large numbers, but a wide variety of species during the morning. Firstly a Common Snipe flew over Little Eye on the observers approach to the island, followed by a female Redstart and a Goldcrest caught on the first round of the traps. Redstarts are much more frequent in spring than autumn at Hilbre, so quite unexpected, as was the fly-over Yellow Wagtail type that also normally favours the spring. The autumn made a quick reappearance when 4 Pintail flew south down the Dee. Best bird of the day however  was seen to fly in from the sea and land on the old obs fence, a Great Spotted Woodpecker! This species is about a once a year event at Hilbre, often in October. After stopping briefly near the 'Heli' trap the juvenile bird managed to narrowly avoid the Newton trap on its way south down the island and off presumably to the mainland.

A Garden Warbler was the next entry on the list when it was seen feeding in the 'SK' paddock, but not relocated afterwards.
A Golden Plover called in flight off the west side and shortly after a Reed Bunting was nearly trapped in the 'Heli', but did not hang about to be ringed. There were very few passage Swallows today but a surprise came in the form of a late Swift that shot through travelling south. All the time this was going on there were up to 8 Grey Wagtails seen, 3 Willow Warblers were grounded and a total of 5 Goldcrests found. An excellent day all round.

Later in the day the sun warmed the island and a number of insects were seen including Painted Lady, Red Admirals, Green-veined White and Small Tortoiseshell butterflies as well as this Common Darter  dragonfly.

Ringed: 2 Goldcrests, 1 Willow Warbler, 1 Redstart, 1 Robin  [ 384-34 ]