Sunday 22 November 2015

22nd November 2015

Weather: ENE force 0/1    some rain early
Lighter winds brought a good day for birds with records of both Great Northern Diver and Slavonian Grebe on the sea, also 10 Common Scoter, 2 Red-breasted Mergansers, 1 Red-throated Diver and 4 Great Crested Grebes. Passage birds included 15 Blackbirds and 3 Song Thrushes, while a Short-eared Owl and a Lapwing (at Little Eye) were good records for the islands. No less than 20,000 Herring Gulls were estimated on the east hoyle shore between Middle Eye and Meols, other large counts were 5,000 Knot, 3,000 Dunlin, 180 Curlew, with smaller numbers of Shelduck (90), Turnstone (85), Redshank (10), Ringed Plover (5), Grey Plover (4), Bar-tailed Godwit (1) and Purple Sandpiper (1). Grey Herons outnumbered Little Egrets 4 to 2, and a single Shag was logged. The few land birds of note not in the thrush family included a Rock Pipit and a Goldfinch. A thousand Cormorants were estimated on the east hoyle, but a single ringed bird was found dead by the main pond almost certainly as a result of a fox kill.

Saturday 21 November 2015

21st November 2015

Weather: NNW force 5/6

The high winds of the previous couple of days had eased slightly but it was still blowing force 5-6 NNW so a seawatch was in order. Virtually the first bird seen was a single Leach’s Petrel coming in from the west although distant. This was the only one seen during the three hour vigil!

The Great Northern Diver was seen on the sea again and a single Red-throated Diver flew west. A female Eider was fairly close in and spent most of the time with her head tucked under her wing.

The weather was much colder than it had been recently and evidence of cold weather movement was provided with the record of 6 Lapwings flying west towards the Point of Ayr. Two Wigeon were also seen flying west low over the sea and a party of 15 Pink-footed Geese flew over the island early afternoon. Two Meadow Pipits were also see flying low over the sea.

As the tide receded thousands of gulls gathered and fed on a huge wreck of starfish and razor clams washed up on the West Hoyle bank.

On land two un-ringed Blackbirds were at the south end and a single Goldfinch landed briefly in the Obs garden.


Friday 20 November 2015

20th November 2015

record shot of Leach's Petrel (AEH)
Weather: WNW force 6

The slight northerly element in the wind made for a good lunchtime sea watch (1115-1245hrs), the bird of the day was a Grey Phalarope that flew east close inshore (the first record since 2012). A single Leach's Petrel (see iPhone scoped slow motion video here lingered for a while although no others were seen by 1pm when Obs members had to leave but 3 Bonxies were still in the area. 600 Common Scoter, 6 Kittiwakes, a Red-throated Diver, a Guillemot and 7 Great Crested Grebes completed the typical sea birds.

(Last November Grey Phalarope was this one in 2010
Less expected but very welcome were 2 female/immature Eider, a drake Goodsander and a pair of Gadwall which are rare at Hilbre; only the thirteenth record for the Obs since 1957 (see below). A Common Snipe and a flock of 300 Starlings were the best of the rest today.

Gadwall (SRW)


Thursday 19 November 2015

19th November 2015

Weather: W force 3/4
A Great Northern Diver was off the north end, presumably the same as the bird that was seen on Monday. A Merlin posed on the rocks for the camera, while on the sea were 300 Common Scoter, 6 Gannets, 12 Great Crested Grebe and 5 Kittiwakes. A single Goldfinch was the only land bird of note.
Merlin (AEH)
Meanwhile the recent gales produced two Great Crested Grebes on West Kirby Marine Lake (WKML) today.

(AEH et al)

Wednesday 18 November 2015

18th November 2015

Weather: WSW 5-6

Another blustery day and a late afternoon tide and visit produced another good seawatch.  With the wind increasing all afternoon the North End was almost cut off by wave spray after high tide but the overcast conditions cleared to reveal a bright moonlight sky.

At least nine Great Skuas (Bonxies) were noted with 4 or 5 birds lingering in the bay and several more powering west.

Presumably the Great Northern Diver that flew close inshore yesterday was found in heavy seas off the North End and proved somewhat more difficult to photograph as it dived for long periods and continually disappeared behind the large waves.

The female/immature Eider remained also in the tide off the North End but numbers of other species were lower than on Monday with Kittiwakes (36), Gannet (22) and Red-throated Diver (4) counted.

139 pale-bellied Brent Geese and 3 dark-bellied were recorded between the islands and 600 Sanderling moved from the East Hoyle passing the North End as the tide flooded.


Tuesday 17 November 2015

17th November 2015

Weather: SW force 2
Eleven hundred and eighty two Cormorants were counted exiting the estuary in the morning, and 4 Shags were around the islands. The female or immature Eider was seen again today, and a Woodpigeon visited the island. A single Goldcrest was present and 14 Greenfinches passed through, and the local Linnet flock numbered 70. Three Little Egrets and 5 Bar-tailed Godwits were on the shore. Later on the east Hoyle bank 110 Golden Plover flew north towards Formby, a good record for Hilbre, and 60 Sanderling and 20 Ringed Plover were near the tide.

Monday 16 November 2015

16th November 2015

Weather: WSW force 4/6

The wind continues to blow and today brought in the first Leach's Petrel of the year for the islands flying west at 3.30pm, also a close fly by of a Great Northern Diver earlier at High Tide.

The 5 Bonxies seen could have included at least three birds 'hanging around' from Saturday, but a couple powered through and another distant unidentified skua species was certainly a new bird as were the remarkable 360+ Kittiwakes logged after none at the weekend.

Other sea birds today included 6 Red-throated Divers,40 Great Crested Grebes, 30 Guillemots, 2 Razorbills, 1 Red-breasted Merganser and 8 Gannets. 

A female or immature Eider was another highlight of the day.

(MGT and SRW)

Saturday 14 November 2015

14th November 2015

Weather: WSW force 4

Recent gales brought sea watching into focus and the highlight today were 5 Bonxies, one of which was seen to catch and drown a juvenile Herring Gull.

Other sea-birds on the list were 16 Red-throated Divers, 120 Great Crested Grebes, 1,200 Common Scoters, 12 Guillemots, 12 Gannets and 2 Razorbills. 

A single Little Egret hunkered down behind seaweed covered rocks out of the wind as observers left the island.

The only significant passerines were 2 Chaffinches, 2 Song Thrushes and 2 Rock Pipits, one of which was photographed so well it could be seen to be the one of the breeding pair that was ringed in April 2015, occasionally the Rock Pipit was also joined by a Pied Wagtail.

It was great to see the Purple Sandpipers increasing to 16 (a good number for mid November in recent years but sadly well below historical figures of this declining species at Hilbre) and over 2,500 Knot were noted.

(PSW and SRW)

Wednesday 11 November 2015

11th November 2015

Weather: W force 4/5
Breezy from the west but still a few migrants on the island with 3 Goldcrests, 2 Siskin and a Chaffinch, also over 50 Starlings moving through including a group of 40 birds. On the sea was a Red-throated Diver, 200 Common Scoter,154 Great Crested Grebes, 2 Gannets and 5 Guillemots.
 A Peregrine sat on the sands with a kill (below,AEH).
The high tide found many waders roosting on the island including 200 Turnstones and 100 Redshank, one of the Turnstones was a colour ringed bird from 2007/2008. A selection of waders today, below (AEH).

The only duck seen today were a flock of 8 Pintail.

Friday 6 November 2015

6th November 2015

Weather: SE force 2, some drizzle
Pale and dark bellied Brent (AEH)
Colour ringed bird
A quiet morning, the only small migrants were 2 Redwings (one on middle), a Goldcrest, a Starling, a Song Thrush and a Goldfinch. The Brent were counted today at a new high of 146 birds including the red/blue colour ringed bird and 3 dark-bellied individuals, while there are 3 Purple Sandpipers.  
Little Egret (AEH)
 Other waders at the early morning high tide were: Oystercatcher 5,300, Dunlin 4,000, Curlew 450, Knot 310, Sanderling 250, Bar-tailed Godwit 47, and Redshank 35. Sea watching produced 10 Great Crested Grebes, 6 Guillemots and a Razorbill. Feeding around the islands today were many egrets/herons with 5 Little Egrets and 7 Grey Herons.
Shelduck are still in good numbers, mostly to the south and east of the islands, today there were 290.
The season remains very mild and many plants are still flowering including Thrift, Yarrow, Red Campion, White Clover, Red Valerian and Wood Sorrel.
Grey Heron
(DB,AEH,AS,CJW et al)

Thursday 5 November 2015

5th November 2015

Weather: SE force 3/4

A check of the island mid-morning just before the rain arrived found a Short-eared Owl flying around the west side and then moving towards the north end,(below) where it landed in the bracken before finally flying high off to the north east.

Equally impressive for the observers were a pair of Peregrines calling whilst displaying over the island for some ten minutes (below).

Sadly the run of successive days with thrush movements came to an end and only a single Blackbird could be found, likewise small migrants were equally missing with no Goldcrests present and the sole finch being a Goldfinch perched in one of the gardens (above).

Counts today included 118 Brent Geese, 120 Turnstones and 2 Purple Sandpipers. An interesting Oystercatcher with a colour ring was at the north, but on this occasion we were unable to read the ring (right).

(AEH, CJ, CJW)           photos CJ

Wednesday 4 November 2015

4th November 2015

Weather: SE force 2

The thrushes continue to arrive, but fewer this morning with 7 Fieldfares and 9 Redwings, but surprisingly only a single Blackbird and no Song Thrushes. In compensation 3 Bramblings made it to the island, with one in the obs garden for a while and another down on the rocks at the north end.
Bramblings have been very scarce in recent years especially those landing on the island. Eight Skylarks and 16 Starlings passed overhead, mostly in ones and twos, and were the most frequent reason to look up, but 5 Greenfinches, a Goldfinch and several Meadow Pipits were also moving through. Larger Hilbre 'migrants' were 3 Collared Doves and a Woodpigeon.
The south easterlies overnight had brought in 3 late Goldcrests calling in the paddocks this morning.
There was no repeat of the duck fest of  yesterday, just 3 Common Scoters and a drake Teal to be found.
Waders today included 7 Grey Plover and 8 Bar-tailed Godwits, with only a single Purple Sandpiper found at the low tide, other sightings were of a Peregrine, 3 Little Egrets and 4 Great Crested Grebes. Another Red Admiral butterfly flew today in this exceptionally mild autumn period.
Ringed: 2 Goldcrests               [ 603-40 ]
(CJ, AS, CJW and SRW) 

Tuesday 3 November 2015

3rd November 2015

Redwing( CJ)
Weather: SSE, then SE force 4  misty around the coast

Redwing (CJ)
male Blackcap (PSW)

Yet another day with a significant passage of thrushes, probably the most yet as Redwings (23), Fieldfares (13), Blackbirds (22) and Song Thrushes (2) passed through in the morning albeit mostly without touching down.

Nearly 200 Starlings were counted, but just 3 Skylarks went over, while migrant finches were limited to 4 Goldfinches, 3 Chaffinches and a Siskin. Found in the paddocks were 2 Goldcrests and both male and female Blackcap.
A Raven was a good record, flying down the east side early in the day

female Blackcap (CJ)
 If it wasn't for the thrushes today would have been the day of the ducks with as good a variety as are likely to be seen on Hilbre at one time, the rarest in the Hilbre context were 4 Shovelers which flew south off the west side and then were refound later on the whaleback. Shoveler is a less than annual species at Hilbre, but possibly becoming more regular in recent years.
Wigeon and Teal (CJ)
Pintail (top) with Brent and Wigeon (CJ)
Shoveler (CJ)
Parties totalling 22 Wigeon and 7 Teal hung about off the east side with the Brent, as did a single Pintail with 3 others off the west side, and not to be ignored were 5 Mallard including 3 drakes, also a Common Scoter. Three Purple Sandpipers are now here with more expected soon, while 107 pale-bellied and a dark-bellied Brent were the totals seen this morning.
Shoveler (CJ)

Ringed: 5 Blackbirds, 1 Song Thrush, 1 Redwing, 1 Blackcap, 1 Chaffinch        [ 601-40 ]

Monday 2 November 2015

2nd November 2015

Weather: S force 3/4, thick fog at times
A modest passage of thrushes this morning (by recent standards), there were 8 Blackbirds, 3 Song Thrushes, 5 Redwings, 2 Fieldfares. Ten Skylarks went through with just a single Starling and 3 Chaffinches and 3 Goldcrests grounded. The Brent reached a new high count for the autumn when 126 pale-bellied were logged, including the Blue and red ringed bird. Best birds of the day were possibly the 5 Scaup on the sea, with the only other ducks today being 6 Teal and 2 Common Scoter. When the fog cleared temporarily, 45 Great Crested Grebes appeared out of the mist off the north end.
Ringed: 1 Goldcrest, 1 Song Thrush                           [ 592-40 ]

Sunday 1 November 2015

1st November 2015

Weather E, force 0/1  thick fog at times
Middle Eye not visible from the main island (AEH)
The heavy mist became thick fog at intervals during the morning with visibility down to about 200 yards or so. A party of 11 Long-tailed Tits, a very scarce bird for Hilbre, flew around the gardens first thing but left the island quite quickly, perhaps sensing their way back to the mainland. There were not as many thrushes passing through as some days in the past week, a couple of Redwings were logged and up to 6 Blackbirds and 4 Song Thrushes were about the paddocks. A male Blackcap was glimpsed briefly while 5 Goldcrests stayed around for the whole morning and 6 Chaffinches, 10 Greenfinches, a Siskin and a Reed Bunting visited on occasions. Small parties of Starlings flew south, totalling 24 birds, also 5 Skylarks called in the mist overhead. Shore birds were hard to see in the fog, a few Brent were off the west side, 2 Little Egrets in the gutter and a Grey Plover called.

Essential equipment this morning (AEH)
Even the spiders webs were damp (CJ)
male Chaffinch (CJ)
Reed Bunting (CJ)
Ringed: 3 Blackbirds, 3 Goldcrests, 1 Wren         [ 590-40 ]