Saturday 31 October 2015

31st October 2015

Weather: SSE force 3
Not a massive numbers of thrushes through today, just 2 Song Thrushes, 2 Blackbirds and a Redwing, but a good passage occurred of 9 Goldcrests, 22 Greenfinches and 2 Chaffinches, also 10 Starlings, a Grey Wagtail, a Pied Wagtail and a Reed Bunting. A Common Snipe this morning was not unexpected at this time of year but is still a decent record for the island. On the shore were 22 Bar-tailed Godwits, 250 Knot, 4 Grey Plover and 4 Little Egrets.

Friday 30 October 2015

30th October 2015

Weather: E 1 with heavy mist, later SW 2 and then SE 2
Another day of significant thrush movement, this time mainly in the first 2 hours after dawn, and again the 9 Fieldfares (right,CJ) and 31 Redwings present evaded trapping for ringing, with 2 Blackbirds (below,CJ) ringed out of 8. Five Song Thrushes were on Middle first thing also 2 Goldcrests on the main island early but they immediately moved on. Casual passers by included 8 Starlings, and a total of 11 Skylarks. The early morning mist enveloped a Short-eared Owl which was being harassed by a crow as it flew over the islands towards the West Kirby shore.

The visitors to the obs from the Manchester area were treated to a good sea watch with 7 Red-throated Divers (right,CJ), several dozen Great Crested Grebes, 18 Common Scoter, 3 Razorbill and a group of 3 Harbour Porpoises swimming off the north west corner of the island.

Chief prize among the many waders seen was a Purple Sandpiper (below,CJ) which afforded close views to the visitors.
The afternoon became quite warm and a Red Admiral butterfly took advantage of the sunshine.
Ringed: 2 Blackbirds, 1 Wren                       [ 583-40 ]
(AEH,CJ,KMc+SD)          plus Dave Steel, Dave Bowman, and party

Tuesday 27 October 2015

27th October 2015

Weather: SE force 3/4, very misty around the coast
Redwing (AEH)
If yesterday was the day of the Chaffinch, today was certainly the day of the thrush, with a steady passage in small groups during most of the morning of  Redwings (30), Fieldfares (16), and Blackbirds (24), while over 600 Starlings passed through constantly, mostly in parties of less than a dozen but with one flock of 150 birds. On the way to the islands a Lapwing flew over the east hoyle, a Common Snipe flew up from the ridge south of Middle (2 more flew over the main island later) and a couple of Song Thrushes were on Middle itself together with sightings of Redwings and Blackbirds and 9 Wigeon near the lagoon (another drake stayed around most of the day, below right CJ).
first year male Blackbird (CJ)

The first round of the island caught 4 Blackbirds in the Newton, but neither Redwing nor Fieldfare seemed interested in entering the traps, and this applied all morning. A male Blackcap was found in the obs garden and 2 Reed Buntings flew around late morning, also late morning the first of 3 Skylarks called overhead and then a Brambling and a Goldfinch went over, the only finches today (in complete contrast to yesterday) apart from the 30 Linnets. Four more Blackbirds were caught in the 'heli' in one go and then another in the SK, which also a while later sprung the surprise of a Chiffchaff that was new in (right CJ), the first seen on the islands for over 2 weeks. Other land birds logged were 3 Pied Wagtails and 4 Rock Pipits and both Peregrine and male Kestrel were seen during the morning. One of the highest tides of the autumn produced a roost on Middle Eye of at least 4,000 Oystercatchers with 85 Curlews and a Purple Sandpiper, another was at the north end of the main island, while a flock of 2 thousand Knot could be seen towards the West Kirby shore.
Oystercatchers on Middle at high tide (CJ)
Oystercatchers (AEH)

 Two Eiders were seen from the obs flying south down the east side (left,CJ), meanwhile a sea watch from the north end produced many records including 5 Red-throated Divers, 5 Gannets, 1 Red-breasted Merganser, 54 Common Scoter, 37 Guillemots and 29 Razorbills.

Guillemot (AEH)

Colour ringed Brent (AEH)
The Brent peaked at a new high of 90 birds including the dark-bellied bird and the blue and red ringed individual, while 100 Shelduck were off the east side on the ebb tide and on the shore were 4 Little Egrets.


A Comma butterfly (above, CS) was a late and scarce record for Hilbre.
In summary an exciting day of visible migration and varied bird records.
Ringed: 9 Blackbirds, 1 Chiffchaff, 1 Wren         [ 580-40 ]

Monday 26 October 2015

26th October 2015

Weather SE force 5/6
A probable Rough-legged Buzzard was seen today when a buzzard flew off the west side over towards Wales. A very white tail that was dark tipped was obvious as it flew away from the observer over the sea; a very rare bird for Hilbre but on a typical date for the species. The day was also very much the day of the Chaffinch with a total of 300 seen, 100 of which were down on the island, calling all over the paddocks and gardens. Unfortunately no ringers were present to take advantage of this unusual passage of finches. Other records were 43 Starlings, a Skylark, a Fieldfare, 6 Gannets, 2 Red-throated Divers and 23 Great Crested Grebes.

Sunday 25 October 2015

25th October 2015

A beautiful autumn day on the island but unfortunately no grounded migrants. Highlights were a Whooper Swan that flew in off the sea from the North East and over the Obs before heading across to North Wales (above). Small parties of Skylarks passed overhead and also moved towards Wales. Good numbers of waders were seen with the autumns first Purple Sandpiper being found feeding with Turnstones on the 'whaleback' as the tide continued to drop.
(PSW)           photo PSW

Friday 23 October 2015

23rd October 2015

Weather: SSW   force 3/4  cloudy
Shelduck over the ridge (AEH)
An early morning tide at 07.45hrs  made for a later start but it seems little would have been missed as the trapping area was all quiet at first although 2 Goldcrests appeared as the morning went on. There were many Shelduck about the islands on the ebb tide with 250 off the east side and another 100 between Little Eye and Tanskey rocks, all flying off when the sands became exposed. The only visible migration were typical late autumn birds, a flock of 70 Starlings crossing Middle Eye with 3 more over later, and then a total of 6 Skylarks calling over the main island. Two Gannets were close to the north end with another further out and a Razorbill sat distantly off the north end. Four Rock Pipits were noted and at least 64 Brent Geese were south of Middle as the tide ebbed.
Ringed: 1 Goldcrest           [ 569-40 ] 

Tuesday 20 October 2015

20th October 2015

Weather: NE
Noted on the island today by a member doing work in the paddocks were 5 Goldcrests, 2 Pied Wagtails and a Redwing in the Blackthorn.

Monday 19 October 2015

19th October 2015

Weather: ESE force 0/1, later SW

Efforts were made to make sure the island was 'covered' on what is forecast to be the last of the easterlies for a while, and observers were rewarded with a pleasant and interesting day. Two Grey Wagtails were in 'fisherman's cove' on Middle and Goldcrests were heard immediately on arrival at the main island but probably only about 5 birds in total. 
After a round of the trapping area records came thick and fast; a female Peregrine was pursued by Crows near the mast, a Mediterranean Gull in adult winter plumage sat distantly on the sea off the east hoyle, with a drake Scaup in a similar location.
Next a Short-eared Owl flew out from north of the mast over the sea in the direction of Wales, only to return towards the islands after completing a semi-circle over the Dee, it was later flushed from the west side of the island and again headed out to the west.
More excitement occured when 2 Fieldfares arrived (an unusual bird for Hilbre) and spent a long time moving about the trapping areas but managed to evade being ringed.
Visible migration was sparse although flocks of 4 then 3 Greenfinches made it to the ground, 2 alba wagtails went through, and 6 single Skylarks called high overhead, as did a Reed Bunting. In addition to the Scaup, sea birds seen on the flat calm sea included over 50 Great Crested Grebes, 600 distant Common Scoter, 6 Guillemots, 2 Razorbills.
Just as interesting as the birds of today was the sighting of a Weasel or Stoat on the fence between the obs and the wildlife garden. It could not be properly identified as the view was very brief and only the head and fore part of the body was seen, either way it is a rare record. Over the next 20 minutes or so 3 Wrens were alarming continuously in the wildlife garden but the object of their attention could not be seen. We will be looking for the creature over the next few weeks.

Ringed: 3 Goldcrests, 1 Robin         [ 568-40 ]   

Saturday 17 October 2015

17th October 2015

Weather: NE force 2 then 3/4 during the morning, cloudy

A Redwing was at the south end of Middle early on then another was by Niffy Bay and a Skylark passed over, otherwise there were no movements through the island this morning and observers had to be content with examining the Brent geese and waders on the shore.
The dark-bellied Brent showed clearly (right, AEH) but counting the pale-bellied was a problem with parties scattered around the islands.

Four Little Egrets and 13 Bar-tailed Godwits were on the shore after a single Black-tailed Godwit flew across the island. Seven Gannets flew out of the Dee up the west side this morning passing close to the north end on the way (above,CJ), while later at high tide an Eider and a Scaup were sitting on the sea, but only 1 Red-throated Diver could be found. Bird of the day arrived also at high tide when a Short-eared Owl came in off the sea and landed in Telegraph house garden.

Friday 16 October 2015

16th October 2015

Weather: NE force 3, later NNE force 4
Small migrants this morning were just a Goldcrest, a Reed Bunting and 2 Pied Wagtails. Sea watching was better with 34 Great Crested Grebes, 46 Guillemots, 14 Common Scoter, 2 Red-throated Divers and 2 Gannets. Thirty five Redshank, 11 Ringed Plover and 7 Bar-tailed Godwits were the pick of the waders.

Thursday 15 October 2015

15th October 2015

Weather: NE force 0/1  sunny early, clouding over
A brief before tide visit found that no warblers, crests or wheatears were present. A Merlin flew up from the west side over the centre of the island and then promptly disappeared back from whence it came, not to be seen again. Yesterday afternoon a count of the Brents reached 80 (DB), but this morning a large group between the islands numbered only 59 including the dark-bellied bird, no doubt more were elsewhere, however the blue and red ringed bird that has been seen for many winters reappeared amongst them today
 Two Redwings flew about the obs garden briefly before moving on, a Skylark and a Grey Wagtail went over and a Chaffinch was in the obs pittosporum bush calling. The chirping of a House Sparrow was heard in the SK blackthorn, and on investigation there were 3 birds, a male and 2 females which stayed for a while.
Observations from the lifeboat at sea recorded 2 Red-throated Divers, 2 Razorbills, 50 Common Scoters, 25 Guillemots and 13 Great Crested Grebes. (CJW)
 Ringed:  1 Robin       [ 564-40 ] 
(CJ)        photos  CJ

Wednesday 14 October 2015

14th October 2015

Weather:  ESE 0-1, 10 miles, slight frost at dawn, increasing sunshine throughout the day

A lovely still morning on the island and observers arriving early were immediately aware of a minor thrush movement with three Song Thrushes and a Blackbird leaving Middle calling and heading high.

On the main island both species were present but only a solitary Song Thrush was caught and ringed.

At least seven Goldcrests were present today (after only a single yesterday) and there was a definite increase in Wrens with two new birds caught.  Up to four Reed Buntings could be heard and then seen down on the island at various points during the day.  Three Starlings (two and a single) were seen on various island vantage points.

However, visible migration was slow but for small numbers of Mipits, Skylark, Redpoll, Goldfinch and Greenfinch passed over with three of the latter being caught in the Old Obs garden mist net.

There were at least four Rock Pipits around the main island today and we were delighted to catch another new bird in the potter traps; however this is the peak month for passage birds so we do not know whether this was a Hilbre bred bird or a visitor from elsewhere. 

The Brents spent the tide around the larger two islands today and a party of Pintail (20) were watched heading north-east off the North End and visibility had increased to such an extent that the Lake District was just visible in the distance.

The sea was a little quiet although at least 25 Great Crested Grebe were counted and small parties of Common Scoter could be seen back off the East Hoyle sandbank and an early drake Scaup associated with a pair of Common Scoter for a while as the tide flooded.

With the sun out it felt more like August than October and the butterflies thought so too with several Red Admirals and this single Painted Lady taking advantage of the unseasonal temperatures.

Ringing: 4 Goldcrest, 2 Wren, Meadow Pipit, Rock Pipit, 3 Greenfinch and a Song Thrush 

(JE, AEH, CJ, CJW, NDW et al) [563-40]

Tuesday 13 October 2015

13th October 2015

Weather: E then ENE force 2/3    dry and sunny, cloud in the afternoon

The highlight for the visiting party from the Manchester area was the close sighting of 3 Harbour Porpoises off the west side and later at the north end, while bird wise the main event of a relatively quiet day was the arrival overnight of over 30 Brent Geese bringing the total to 53 pale-bellied and 1 dark-bellied, and it was again noticed that a large proportion were first year birds, for instance 15 out of a flock of 22 were youngsters.

On the ground a Wheatear was at Little Eye and another on the main island, just a single Goldcrest called in the Obs garden whereas there have usually been many over the last couple of weeks, and a flock of 9 Goldfinches, also 5 and 4 Greenfinches flirted with the Old Obs garden trees but decided not to stay. Eleven Skylarks passed south including a flock of 6. The sea was also quiet, a Red-throated Diver, 3 small groups of Common Scoters, and about 30 Great Crested Grebes were the highlights.

(CJ, KMc+SD, AS et al)    + Dave Steel and party

Monday 12 October 2015

12th October 2015

Weather: SW 0-1/2, backing NW and freshening by late morning, mist first thing with a front of rain arriving mid morning

What little wind there was first thing shifted between SW and S and mist early on brought the bird of the day, the second Firecrest of the autumn, which was found early morning in the Obs garden.

It spent its time between the pittosporum and the stunted sycamores before eventually finding its way into the Obs garden mist net.

There were at least 15 Goldcrests around the islands and a Song Thrush was also present in the Obs garden.

Visible movement produced at least 4 Reed Buntings, up to 50 Meadow Pipits, 3 Skylarks and a couple of Alba Wagtails but little else of note.

Four Teal were noted and 12 Sanderling passed the North End, meanwhile five Little Egrets remained around the islands during the day.

A male Blackcap was caught late morning but had also been present from earlier.

It was a strange morning weather-wise with the rain clouds arriving from the Irish Sea and the mist making the estuary appear dark even by 10am (when photo below was taken).

Ringing: 6 Goldcrests, Firecrest, Blackcap and Song Thrush

(DB, CJW and SRW) [551-40] Photos CJW and SRW

Sunday 11 October 2015

11th October 2015

Weather: E force 1/2, mostly cloudy

Gannet off North End (CJ)
No sign of the Yellow-browed Warbler this morning but the Slavonian Grebe was found first thing close to the east side before flying around to the west side and drifting south, it was not seen at high tide or later, just a great many Great Crested Grebes which seem to be numerous off the north shore at the moment. The sea in fact was quite productive this morning even with the easterly breeze, and in addition to the grebes were 78 Gannets, 6 Red-throated Divers, 46 Common Scoter, 12 Guillemots and 13 Razorbills.

Slavonian Grebe (photo by SRW from yesterday)

Slavonian Grebe (today's brief sighting in the gutter SRW)

Reed Bunting (CJ)
Lapwing by the gutter early morning (CJ)
A Lapwing sat on the east hoyle early on, by no means an everyday bird at Hilbre, while on the island other late autumn fare were 2 Reed Buntings, 41 Starlings (including a flock of 30), 3 Skylarks, about 8 Pied Wagtails, a Chaffinch and 2 Jackdaws flying over. Goldcrests were few today, possibly 5 with 2 Chiffchaffs. One dark-bellied Brent was with 20 pale-bellied, which included 9 juveniles, obviously they have had a good breeding season in the arctic.
Starling (CJ)

A large gathering of 444 Shelduck were on the east hoyle at high tide with another 92 by Little Eye and around Hilbre and Middle Eye 165 Turnstones were counted.

Ten Red Admirals flew this morning despite the weather being overcast and feeling slightly cooler.

Ringed: 1 Chiffchaff, 1 Goldcrest                         [ 542-40 ]

(AEH, CJ, KMc and SRW)

Rock Pipit - North End of Hilbre (CJ)