Saturday 31 December 2016

31st December 2016

Weather: cloudy, no wind

The 2 Scaup were still on the sea and 34 Common Scoters were also noted. Good counts were made of 1,200 Dunlin, 42 Bar-tailed Godwits and 160 Redshank.

Friday 30 December 2016

30th December 2016

Weather :  WSW force 2, later W 4
Highlights of today were 2 Scaup on the sea and a Golden Plover. Wader counts included 5,000 Oystercatchers, 35 Bar-tailed Godwits, 800 Dunlin, 140 Curlew, 120 Turnstone, 4 Ringed Plover and 2 Purple Sandpipers. Around the islands were 205 Brent, 3 Little Egrets and 3 Grey Herons. Two Rock Pipits were the best of the small birds.

Thursday 29 December 2016

29th December 2016

Weather: SE force 1/2   heavy frost early
Two hundred and six Pink-footed Geese were found roosting on the north shore at first light, they soon took off and headed south east. A Long-tailed Duck was found on arrival, flying off passed the main island,
Long-tailed Duck (record shot, AEH)
 and a Raven flew around Middle and later returned to the island to give close views (below, AEH).
 The male Scaup was on the sea, and also seen was a drake Wigeon, a pair of Mallard (below,AEH), 2 males and a female Common Scoter, 10 Shelduck and 4 Great Crested Grebes.
Roosting waders (AEH)
Brent Geese (AEH)
The rock fall of last year in the morning light (AEH)
Counts on the east hoyle flood tide were as follows: 340 Grey Plover, 280 Curlew, 1,000 Knot and 12,000 Dunlin. A unusual record was of 6 Barnacle Geese flying south west, south of Middle Eye. A Jack Snipe was at the edge of the spartina on the West Kirby/Hoylake shore (in the Hilbre recording area).

Wednesday 28 December 2016

28th December 2016

Weather: S  with large bank of fog from Tanskys to Hilbre. 

Noted from the West Kirby shore were many different flocks of Pink-footed Geese (right) and a Shoveler flying west.

Photo DB

Sunday 25 December 2016

25th December 2016

Ebb tide counts today were 310 Shelduck, 2,500 Knot, 3,500 Dunlin, 10 Purple Sandpipers, 80 Turnstone, 4,500 Oystercatchers, 120 Curlew, 40 Redshank, 2 Ringed Plovers and a Bar-tailed Godwit. A Peregrine was at Little Eye and a Rock Pipit on Middle.
Photo DB

Wednesday 21 December 2016

21st December 2016

Weather:  SW 3/4, vis 5 mls mist then heavy rain showers


A brief visit during which 200+ Pale-bellied Brent Geese were counted on the whaleback and the north shore, including two colour-ringed birds.

Also on the north shore were c600 Bar-tailed Godwit, 170 Dunlin, 9 Grey Plover, 87 Redshank and 27 Curlew. The Scaup was still off the North End.

On the way off a Little Egret flew between the islands and 20 Ringed Plover were east of Middle Eye.

Monday 19 December 2016

19th December 2016

Weather:  South 0/1 increasing later, vis 5mls also increasing

A large mixed flock of waders were on the north shore consisting mainly of Bar-tailed Godwits (c 700) with Grey Plover (60), Dunlin (200), Knot (145) and Redshank (143).  They were put up by a Peregrine and only the Redshank returned.  Curlew numbered 37.

The Scaup was again off the north end and 62 Common Scoter were further out.

The Brent Geese were mainly on the whaleback and were counted at 120.

A Pied Wagtail was at the north end, 3 Rock Pipits were around the island, also a Meadow Pipit, 6 Wrens, 2 Robin and a Dunnock.  A Little Egret and 2 Grey Heron were also noted.

A single Atlantic Grey Seal was hauled out on a ledge on the west side of the north end, with no way off until the tide rose again!

Sunday 18 December 2016

18th December 2016

Weather: SSE force 1  clear

The drake Scaup has reappeared off the island (see below).

The only 'migrant' today was a Skylark passing through. Many parties of Sanderling flew east passed the north end as the flood tide moved them from north Wales towards the north shore, 800 was thought to be the total involved.

Over a hundred Brent (including a dark-bellied) were around the islands although at least twice that number are thought to be in the estuary.

Both Blackbird and Rock Pipit were logged in this short pre-tide visit.

Saturday 17 December 2016

17th December 2016

Viewed from Red Rocks were 7,000 Knot and 3,000 Dunlin on the shore, and at Red Rocks a Short-eared Owl and a Weasel were seen.

Friday 16 December 2016

16th December 2016

Weather: SE force2, some mist
A very brief visit saw a Pink-footed Goose flying south

Thursday 15 December 2016

15th December 2016

Weather: SE force 2/3
A Fieldfare was noted today and 2 Skylarks flew east, and from the spartina off the mainland (but in the Hilbre recording area) both a Common Snipe and a Jack Snipe was flushed. Excellent counts made today at the ebb tide included 630 Grey Plover moving north east, 158 Bar-tailed Godwits on the north shore and 250 more flying east, 4,500 Knot and 12,500 Dunlin. Three Little Egrets were on the shore.

Wednesday 14 December 2016

14th December 2016

Weather: SSE force 4/5 vis 5 mls mist around estuary.

At dawn a constant stream of Cormorants leaving the estuary were estimated to total over 1,000 birds and a female Peregrine was disturbed and flew down the west side of the island.
Over tide 142 Curlew roosted on middle with a Grey Heron and 7,000 Oystercatcher were around the islands. On the west side were 13 Purple Sandpiper, 130 Turnstone and 2 Ringed Plover. A Red-throated Diver was observed flying off the north end. After tide 45 Redshank were feeding in the gutter with a single Grey Plover.
Singles of Rock and Meadow pipit, Crow, Dunnock and Blackbird were on the island with 3 Robin and 3 Wren. Fourteen Starling flew up the estuary.
Of note is the fact that no Brent geese were to be seen around the islands in the last 2 days.
Fresh fox footprints were in the sand at the south end.

Sunday 11 December 2016

11th December 2016

Weather: NW 4, later WNW 2/3
 Roosting at high tide were 7 Purple Sandpiper and 145 Turnstone, while counts from the ebb tide included: 80 Grey Plover, 40 Ringed Plover,7,000 Knot and 5,000 Dunlin. A Peregrine was at Middle Eye and a Kittiwake was found at sea together with the more expected 60 Common Scoter, a Great Crested Grebe and a Guillemot. Small birds on the island included 4 Wrens, a Blackbird and a Rock Pipit.

Friday 9 December 2016

9th December 2016

Weather:  SW force 3
The male Scaup still resides off the island. Cormorants leaving the estuary at dawn numbered 582 this morning and wader counts from the east of the island were 48 Grey Plover, 50 Curlew, 70 Redshank and 58 Bar-tailed Godwits. A Rock Pipit was on Middle Eye and also on the main island.

Thursday 8 December 2016

8th December 2016

Weather: SW 3, later NW 4,  some drizzle after rain overnight
A Goosander was seen flying into the marine lake from the direction of Little Eye. On arrival at the island a Snow Bunting flew west across the track onto the island and spent the rest of the morning on the rocks below the same area.
A Grey seal was hauled out at the north end although it seemed as though it was not too well.
A flock of 30 or so Bar-tailed Godwits flew about the north shore, while the male Scaup was off the north end again (right).

Late morning 2 Fieldfares flew south over the island.

photos AEH & CJ

Wednesday 7 December 2016

7th December 2016

Weather: SE force 2/3, later SW force 4,   some mist
The Scaup still floats near to the island, 7 Purple Sandpipers were counted and 2 Rock Pipits were noted at the north end. A single dark-bellied bird was amongst the 200 or so Brent today.

Tuesday 6 December 2016

6th December 2016

Weather: SSE force 3/4
Eight hundred and five Cormorants exited the estuary at dawn. A single Lapwing was around the north shore, and in the same area were a large count of 682 Bar-tailed Godwits, also 68 Redshank, 60 Sanderling and 35 Grey Plover. The male Scaup is still about and the Brent numbered 227 today. A single Rock Pipit is still on the island.

Sunday 4 December 2016

4th December 2016

Weather: E force 3
Two Red-throated Divers and 3 Great Crested Grebes were on the sea and there was a good number of 12 Purple Sandpipers on the island, while on the whole area from the north shore to bird rock and Little Eye counts of 12,000 Knot and 120 Sanderling were made. Both Song Thrush and Blackbird were present.

Saturday 3 December 2016

3rd December 2016

Weather: E force 1, some mist

Three different colour ringed Brents were noted this morning and the Scaup was still about the island. Three Redwings were present and a Fieldfare flew in landed briefly in the pittosporum bush before continuing off south over middle, 3 Starlings also flew south down the west side. A good total of 309 Bar-tailed Godwits were counted, also 3 Wigeon and 3 Little Egrets, while on the sea were 800 Common Scoters, 6 Red-breasted Mergansers and a single Red-throated Diver. 

A Grey seal was hauled out at the north end (above).

Ringed: 1 Wren (right)          [ 521-30 ]

photos JE

Friday 2 December 2016

2nd December 2016

No wind with excellent visibility, snow could be seen on the hills of the Lake District 


The Pale-bellied Brent Geese were too dispersed for a decent count but a returning colour ringed bird was found on the Whaleback.  This bird had first been seen at Hilbre on the near coincident date of 4th December 2015 (see blog for that date) and had been ringed at Álftanes/Jörfavegur in SW Iceland on 19th May 2015.  It was also seen in Northern Ireland in October/November 2015 before being seen at Hilbre in December but heading to Ireland (Dublin Bay) by 12th January 2016 (staying until February) and remaining on the east coast of Ireland (Co Wicklow and Co Dublin) until March 2016.  It was then seen in Iceland on passage in April & May 2016 before returning to Northern Ireland (Strangford Lough) on 22nd October remaining into November 2016 and finally returning to Hilbre. Thanks as always to the Irish Brent Goose Research Group.

The drake Scaup spent its fifth day around the island. On the north shore were 141 Bar-tailed Godwits, 4 Grey Plover and 200 Dunlin with another 100 flying south up the estuary. About 3,000 Oystercatcher roosted on middle but there were only 6 Purple Sandpiper on the west side of Hilbre today.

On the sea were c1,000 Common Scoter, 3 Red-throated Diver and 14 Great Crested Grebe.

A Blackbird and 2 Redwing were about the gardens early on with 5 Wren, 4 Robin and a Dunnock. A Kestrel was also about and a Pied Wagtail, 3 Rock Pipits and 2 Meadow Pipits were seen.

A Little Egret was in the gutter and a Grey Heron was found roosting in the dark between Little Eye and the shore on the way off.  A Little Egret was also seen earlier on the Marine Lake wall and a single red-head Goodander was on West Kirby Marine Lake early morning only.

Photos by AEH and SRW

Thursday 1 December 2016

1st December 2016

Another quiet day on the island but the drake Scaup showed well off the east side on the rising tide and 10 Purple Sandpipers were roosting.

Photo of Scaup by @mattthomas966

Wednesday 30 November 2016

30th November 2016

Weather: W force 2, vis 30 miles

A very quiet day on the island but the Scaup was still on the east side, also a Little Egret. Eleven Purple Sandpipers roosted on the west side over tide.  A Song Thrush and 3 Redwing were in the sk paddock, 5 Robins and 8 Wrens were noted. A Dunnock and a Meadow Pipit were on middle.

Tuesday 29 November 2016

29th November 2016

Weather: SE 0/1, clear

A single Whooper Swan was seen going south, there was a Blackbird on middle and a Song Thrush on the north end with 10 Starling and a Redwing also noted. Three Pied Wagtails flew over separately and there were 3 Rock Pipits.
A male Scaup was close in on the east side as the tide rose, 163 Common Scoter  were counted with 1 Red-throated Diver and 5 Great Crested Grebes. Only 1 Purple Sandpiper was found but there were 130 Bar-tailed Godwit on the north shore with 120 Dunlin.
In the afternoon a Short-eared Owl was glimpsed briefly dropping behind the fence at the back of the heli trap, it was relocated in the bracken on the north end where a spectacular view was gained.

Monday 28 November 2016

28th November 2016

Weather: NE force 1/2
Best bird of today was a male Scaup that was off the north end after the tide. The only small migrants were 2 Skylarks and a Pied Wagtail overhead, with just the regular birds, (4 Robins, 4 Wrens, 1 Blackbird, 2 Rock Pipits etc.) on the ground. Only 6 Purple Sandpipers could be found, a meagre number compared to years gone by. Up to 5,000 Knot were between the islands and the shore after the tide.
Grey Plover  (CJ)

Brent Geese flying up the east side  (CJ)

Sunday 27 November 2016

27th November 2016

Weather: E 0/1 increasing to 2 later, vis 5mls, mist.

On the walk over in the dark, 48 Redwing were counted by call although no thrushes were found on the islands. A single Red-throated Diver was on a very calm sea with 7 Great Crested Grebes and about 2,000 Common Scoter .
Over the tide 2,500 Oystercatcher roosted on middle and after the tide there were 80 Redshank, 54 Bar-tailed Godwits, 124 Turnstone and 2 Grey Plover feeding at the bottom of the gutter. Twenty one Curlew were also noted.
The only passerine movement seen was a single Pied Wagtail going East over the north end, a Kestrel was viewed briefly over the south end and there were 7 Wrens, 3 Robin, 2 Rock Pipit and 3 Meadow Pipits on the island.
The flat calm was ideal for spotting 2 Harbour Porpoise in the swash, they were observed for 5 mins circling around in the same area (probably feeding) before heading out to sea.
A count of 19 Grey seals on the haul out was very low and possibly due to the cold east wind.

Saturday 26 November 2016

26th November 2016

Weather: light air, some thick fog
A very brief afternoon visit found the new colour ringed Brent (see 23rd) still present.

Friday 25 November 2016

25th November 2016

Weather: E force 1
A better than average day for this time of year. Twelve Redwing were heard on the journey over first thing with another 2 seen later, also 2 Song Thrush and 8 Blackbirds present on the island with a Goldcrest in the obs garden. Other migrants were 6 Skylarks, 4 Starlings, a Chaffinch, a Sparrowhawk, and most unusual was a flock of 28 Lapwings settled at the tide edge near Little Eye. Pink-footed Geese passed over in a flock of 160 and another group of 60 moving to the north east. Shelduck were counted at 450, and 4 Wigeon were also recorded. Seven hundred and forty eight Cornorants exited the esatuary at dawn. Four Little Egrets and 2 Grey Herons were present and some wader counts were 520 Curlew, 79 Redshank and 105 Turnstone.

Thursday 24 November 2016

24th November 2016

Weather: ENE force 3, frost, wind chill.
Three Redwings were heard going over early morning, and during the day groups of 3, 10 and 12 Skylarks did likewise. A Goldcrest was in the new obs garden first thing with 4 Blackbirds on the island, one of which was caught for ringing (below,JE).
Ninety Turnstones and 120 Sanderling were noted but just 2 Purple Sandpipers were logged this morning, together with the now regular Rock Pipits (2) and Little Egrets (4).
On the West Kirby marine lake this morning, the 2 Goosanders were still present, also 5 Red-breasted Mergansers.
Ringed: 1 Blackbird, 1 Wren     [ 520-30 ]

Wednesday 23 November 2016

23nd November 2016

Weather: NE 3 rain early
A Brent Goose with colour rings that we have not seen before was found this morning. It was ringed in Iceland this spring and has a blue ring on the right leg with a number 7, and a yellow ring on the left with the letter P. Two Skylarks passed over and 25 Bar-tailed Godwits flew west, earlier 380 Cormorants flew out of the eastuary at dawn. The 2 Goosanders that were found yesterday were still on the West Kirby marine lake.

Monday 21 November 2016

21st November 2016

Weather: NE force 3/4
A Chaffinch was on the island and 2 Mute Swans flew east. Fifty five Redshanks were in the gutter.

Sunday 20 November 2016

20th November 2016

A cold NE wind greeted observers this morning at first light. 13 Black-tailed Godwits moved West overhead, with several flocks of Knot numbering 4000 in total moved through the estuary during the morning.
A Grey Seal was hauled out at the North End of the island, above, and the colour ringed Brent Goose HDRB was feeding on the Whale Back, below.

A Kestrel was the only raptor of note, below.
All photos  AEH