Tuesday 31 May 2016

31st May 2016

Weather: NNW 2-3, 

Very quiet on the bird front.  Sadly the main event of the day was the fire on Grange Hill seen from the island.  The fire service was called from the island and they attended promptly.

Monday 30 May 2016

30th May 2016

Weather: NW 1-2, backing NNE 0-1, 1/8 cloud; 'wall to wall sunshine'

A beautiful day weather-wise proved to be a busy bank holiday for island visitors but very quiet on the bird front.

Early morning a Woodpigeon was found feeding on the 'A1' but departed by mid morning.  A few more fledgling Meadow Pipits were noted along with a fledgling Rock Pipit.

A gathering of Sandwich Terns on the late afternoon tide saw 42 counted but few Common Terns were seen today.

Waders are still appearing and 2 Whimbrel were seen as the tide turned and a flock of 29 Bar-tailed Godwit roosted over the tide on rocks west of Middle.

The male Common Blue butterfly was noted in the Heli paddock again today and a brief dragonfly flew through the Obs garden but was too quick to be positively identified.  Meanwhile a Yellow-tail Moth caterpillar was identified by one of our moth gurus.

Sunday 29 May 2016

29th May 2016

Weather: SE 2, 1/8 cloud, most around the estuary

The day started early with the sound of a singing Chiffchaff in the paddocks.  Two Collared Doves appeared from 'Little Bunting Bush' from where they had perhaps roosted overnight.  Three Goldfinches flew around the islands distracting the breeding Linnets momentarily from the busy day.

Wader numbers have dropped right off with no sign of Friday's Sanderling flock.  However, a Turnstone strutted around the North End resplendant in its summer plumage finery.

19 Black-headed Gulls fed in the gutter as the early morning tide ebbed and were joined by four Little Egrets.

There was a slight increase Sandwich Terns seen today (35) but little else of note on the sea.

The weather was stunning and this helped produce the first Common Blue butterfly of the year in the Heli paddock (see header photo above).  However, the weather also brought out the crowds to Weat Kirby beach and beyond.

The Obs was visited by member Chris Gittins and his extended family today - in part to mark Chris's 90th birthday recently but also to remember his brother John ('JCG') who was a founder member and stalwart of Hilbre Bird Observatory between 1957 and 2001.

John Gittins (see above) was such an influence on many of our members over the years it was great for one of our junior members to meet his brother Chris today and for some of the younger members of the Gittins family to hear about his influence on the Observatory. 



Saturday 28 May 2016

28th May 2016

Weather: SE 2-3, 6/8 cloud, moderate vis

It felt great today but as is often the case at this time of year it was very quiet on the islands other than the breeding species.  The first fledged Meadow Pipits were noted today and the Rock Pipits, Linnets and Pied Wagtails were all noted carrying food.  A new pair of Linnet were also caught and ringed.

The obligatory late spring appearance of, presumably, the local geese population occurred today with 12 Canada Geese and 10 Greylags heard calling then seen alighting on the east hoyle sandbank.

With it being quiet the opportunity was taken to carry out some minor repairs on one of the heligoland traps.

Despite it being quiet our coverage continues to be excellent and we hope to continue this well into June.  Spring is not over quite yet!


Friday 27 May 2016

27th May 2016

Weather: S 0-1, backing SE, 7/8 cloud, 5 miles vis

A singing Chiffchaff around the gardens today was the first phylloscopus warbler for some time.  It was later caught and ringed and prompted the usual discussion about where these late spring Chiffchaffs are going to/coming from.

The first Spotted Flycatcher of the year was found in the SK trap mid morning, incredible considering the numbers that have been seen on the North Wirral (Leasowe and Red Rocks) this spring.

Around lunchtime the Chiffchaff and a late Blackcap were caught in the Heli trap.

Up to five Little Egrets appeared on the ebbing tide but focus quickly turned to the stunning flock of Sanderling (425 plus a further 50 later) on the rocks below the Obs garden.

At least six colour-ringed/leg flagged birds were seen with details of at least 4 obtained.  There were at least four different flag colours involved so we are hoping that they were ringed in four different countries?  Initial enquiries (via https://animaltrack.org - see below) resulted in the first bird having been ringed in Holland in August 2012.


Thursday 26 May 2016

26th May 2016

Weather: N 0-1, cloud 8/8, rain and cold

Another quiet day but presumably the male Whitethroat from yesterday was braving the weather and singing in the Heli paddock in the evening after the rain has stopped. 

Three Whimbrel was noteworthy as was a rather late spring record of a Merlin.    

Wednesday 25 May 2016

25th May 2016

Weather: NE 2-3, 8/8 cloud, good vis (rain by 6pm)

A very quiet morning was enlivened by the appearance of a male Whitethroat at the top of a bush in Obs garden and it even gave a short burst of song.  Incredibly the first warbler on the island for ten days!

Small numbers of passage waders were around the islands with 300 Knot, 120 Dunlin, 13 Sanderling and 10 Ringed Plover noted.

The sea was also generally quiet with just 16 Sandwich and 3 Common Terns recorded but a single Manx Shesrwater seen in the 'Hilbre Swash' from the Hoylake Lifeboat was a first for the year for the Observatory.

Tuesday 24 May 2016

24th May 2016

Weather: SE force1/2, later W force1, warm in the sunshine

Just when we thought we had seen the last of large flocks of Knot, a line of 2,000 flew north out of the estuary at 06.15hrs, Dunlin showed later with about 250 in a group mobile around the island, also a small number of Ringed Plover and a single Grey Plover and Bar-tailed Godwit.

Small migrants were not present apart from a Wheatear on Middle early in the day and a single Redpoll over calling.

Two Peregrines were seen this morning, one was in hunting mode but was not seen to have any luck.

Very little on the sea before the tide, only a few terns, but the high tide later may be more productive.

Ringed: 2 Linnets                         [ 282-24 ]

Sunday 22 May 2016

22nd May 2016

Weather: SSE 0/1 at dawn then NW 1/2 by mid-morning, rain showers
The island is ablaze with flowers at the moment, mainly Pignut,Bluebells,Thrift and Birds-foot trefoil (CJ)
Neither the south easterly at dawn nor the rain showers during the morning brought any migrants to the ground on the island, and therefore concentration was on the sea over the high tide producing records of 60 Gannets, at least 40 Common Terns and 2 Arctic Terns off the west side. A few Swallows lingered with the 4 that seem to be resident and single House Martin and Swift came through with them. About a thousand Dunlin are still present, also logged were 20 Ringed Plover, 12 Turnstone, a Knot, 6 Sanderling and a Whimbrel.

Saturday 21 May 2016

21st May 2016

Weather: S 2-3, dropping to 0-1, before turning SW and increasing by lunchtime, rain occasionally heavy until 11am then clearing

With the wind in the South and moisture in the air observers could be forgiven for having an increased optimism but this was dashed as there was little around the  paddocks and gardens apart from the breeding birds (including Dunnock, Wren, Linnet, Meadow and Rock Pipits).

The highlight of the morning was a pair of Fulmars prospecting up and down the west side of Hilbre and then Middle Eye.  As usual they did not stay long and drifted off to, hopefully, find a more suitable location.

Once again however waders were passing through and included a new flock of 10 Turnstone, whilst numbers of Dunlin, Ringed Plover and Sanderling were similar to yesterday.  Three Whimbrel were also noted.

Common Terns were close in around the main island in good numbers (65) and a couple took time to roost between the islands as the tide rose.

Friday 20 May 2016

20th May 2016

Weather: WSW 2-3, 7/8 cloud, good vis

The weather wasn't conducive for passerine migration and so it proved with little or no evidence of such.

However, the waders continued to provide interest with 2,500 Dunlin present particular on the ebbing tide and these were joined by 145 Ringed Plover and Sanderling had increased as well on recent days.

No doubt the presence of good numbers of small waders attracted the attention of a Peregrine which roosted up on the sands near Little Eye having taken a recent prey.

Thursday 19 May 2016

19th May 2016

A fairly quiet day all round was enlivened when a pair of Swallows entered the Obs for a brief look before exciting through the open door.

Tuesday 17 May 2016

17th May 2016

Weather: SE 1-2, 5/8 cloud, good vis

Despite the wind direction it just 'felt' wrong this morning, probably the continued coldness for the time of year didn't help.

However, observers were pleased to hear and then see a White Wagtail, which alighted briefly near 'Bunting Brow' unlike a rather late Skylark that flew low over the island calling but without landing.  Later a single Lesser Redpoll was around the trapping area and 5 House Martins passed through.

There was very little else around the trapping areas and no warblers whatsoever in the middle of May in a south east breeze must be almost unheard of at Hilbre.

However, focus remained on waders and yesterday's exciting sighting of the leg-flagged Sanderling lived up to expectation when we learned that it had been ringed at Ostgronland, Greenland on 1 July 2013 and had been seen in that area up to 12 July 2013 but that subsequently yesterday's sighting was the first!  A fantastic record for the island and thanks to Jeroen Reneerkens (and info from https://animaltrack.org/).

Other waders included a late Purple Sandpiper on the 'Whaleback' (see top of page); the wintering flock, which has sadly reduced in recent years, having left a few weeks ago now.  

Whimbrels remained very much in evidence with seven appropriately counted today along the rocks around the island and could be heard giving their 'seven whistler' call.

Dunlin numbers remained over 2,000 today but with a solitary Sanderling in tow but Ringed Plovers were scattered amongst the Dunlin flocks. 

A single Gannet was noted offshore and both Sandwich and Common Terns could be heard calling but neither in significant numbers.

The island begins to change from the blue of the Bluebells at the South End to the pink of Thrift as we move into the second half of May (see below - looking south towards the Obs from 'Pete's Path' on the West Side).

Monday 16 May 2016

16th May 2016

Weather: WNW 2-3, 5/6 cloud, good vis, still cool for mid May!

A post-tide visit, to continue the excellent coverage on the island this Spring by a small group of the regular members, produced an interesting array of waders.

The receding tide left the usual patches of mud below the Obs which held good numbers of Dunlin and Ringed Plover as well as the North End seaweed covered rocks and slipway which also held Dunlin, Ringed Plover and 4 Sanderling.  A video of Dunlin feeding after the tide can be viewed by clicking here:  https://youtu.be/gQh8Cy1is-k

One of the Sanderling was leg-flagged and colour-ringed (see above and below) and we look forward to hearing where it was caught as it uses Hilbre for a brief stop-off on its journey North.

A video of the Sanderling can be viewed by clicking here:  https://youtu.be/pYkow_HAU6Y

A single Whimbrel and a few Oystercatchers continued the wader theme for the couple of hours.  Meanwhile, a single Little Egret fished in the pools left by the tide.

There was no evidence of passerine migration until a single late Siskin was heard calling as it passed overhead.

The Atlantic Grey Seals on the West Hoyle sandbank haul out were obviously in very good number today as they were spread from the green marker bouy to the southern tip of the bank.  573 were counted as the sandbank was exposed as the tide dropped; a good number for May as we approach the peak months of June to August for this superb marine mammal at Hilbre.  Photo below is only part of the whole group. 

Meanwhile, the Obs viewed from the South End of the main island is still looking fabulous as a blanket of bluebells covers this part of the island.

Sunday 15 May 2016

15th May 2016

Weather: WNW 4, 8/8 cloud, clearing later to be sunny but still cool

It felt more like March than mid-May today.  In keeping with the March feel, a pair of Jackdaws visited for a matter of seconds and two immature male Eiders were mobile around the tide edge.

Friday's Chiffchaff was still present, otherwise the only migrants were four Swallows moving north.  Five Gannets and four Guillemots flew by at high tide.

An interesting gull call turned out to be from a pair of Herring Gulls mating on the sand on the east side of the island.

The moth trap produced only two marbled coronets and a rustic shoulder-knot. 

The large numbers of Herring Gulls present yesterday morning on the island have been loafing on the sea the last couple of days. Maybe there have been some shoals of small fish.

The end of another weekend at the Obs. Last night's sunset with Trefoil and Thrift in foreground.

Saturday 14 May 2016

14th May 2016

Weather: NNW 1-2, 0/8 cloud, cold!

A stunning morning weather wise on the islands during the early morning tide although it was cold and observers brought out their winter coats and hats!

'The ridge' was productive on the way over as the tide was still in and the waders present were very approachable in the Landrover.  Species noted included Whimbrel, Curlew, Oystercatcher, Turnstone, Dunlin, Sanderling, Ringed Plover, Knot and Bar-tailed Godwit; the latter including a single summer plumaged bird (see below - all shots are 'back of camera photos').

The Dunlin numbers have dropped off in the last couple of days but variation in plumage and bill length was still evident.

Perhaps the most notable sighting this morning was over 2,000 large gulls present 'down' on the island at the North End both on the 'Whaleback' and the rocks off the slipway.  It is unusual to see so many large gulls actually on the main island.

Also notable was a Swallow amongst the locals and 30 or so migrants that hung around the island for 15mins or so showing a rusty washed tone to its breast compared with the lighter shade of the others.  Probably just the usual variation in Swallow but notable nonetheless.