Thursday 30 June 2016

30th June 2016

Weather:  W2, 7/8 cloud, good vis

A brief visit produced a nice tern roost involving 68 Sandwich and 4 Common Terns and there were increasing numbers of Black-headed Gulls arriving as the tide receded.

A single Little Egret was noted in the gutter along with the colour-ringed Herring Gull.

Tuesday 28 June 2016

28th June 2016

There were three Little Egrets to the south of Middle Eye and 6 returning Curlew flew up the estuary with 8 more seen feeding in the gutter.

A Wren was singing on Middle Eye and a single Common Scoter was on the rocks to the east of the island, three male Mallard flew up from the bracken when disturbed. 

Four Shelduck were on the beach at the South End of Hilbre and two Grey Heron in the rocks on the West Side.  A Woodpigeon flew low over the observatory and four of the local Swallows were noted, also the two adult Pied Wagtails feeding a juvenile (hopefully there are more) but birds of the day were two Gadwall seen briefly at the North End of the gutter before flying up the estuary.

A Garden Tiger Moth was found on the slipway onto the main island.

Monday 27 June 2016

27th June 2016

Weather: W3-4, 6/8 cloud, good vis

The main focus today was a visit to the Obs by years 5 and 6 of West Kirby Primary School.  Three groups visited the Observatory and viewed the Grey Seals through the telescope (525 seals were counted today) and each group had a talk on the work of the Obs, birds of Hilbre and other aspects of Natural History around the islands by the Records Officer.

The children appeared fascinated and asked all sorts of interesting and sometimes difficult questions.

On the bird front the increased number of Black-headed Gulls (120 were counted) prompted the appearance of the first Mediterranean Gull of the summer; a first summer bird noted on the east side of the gutter on the East Hoyle sandbank as the tide receded.

Four Manx Shearwaters were seen off Hilbre from the Hoylake Lifeboat and were bang on time.

Tuesday 21 June 2016

21st June 2016

Weather: S force 1, later W force 3 , mainly sunny and warm
A quiet day on the island produced little to excite the observers, although again there was a feeding flock on the sea to the north that comprised about 50 Gannets and a couple of hundred terns, both Sandwich and Common joining with gulls to take advantage of the unseen food source that lasted most of the high tide. A Rock Pipit showed today for the first time in the last few visits as did a Peregrine that sat on the sands of the east Hoyle after the tide.

Greater Sea-spurrey (CJW)

Yellow-tail moth caterpillar (CJW)

Sunday 19 June 2016

19th June 2016

Weather: SSW force 2, cloudy
A very short pre-tide visit found many of the breeding species now have young out and about. A family group of 2 adults and 4 juvenile Swallows were on the rocks below the old obs, it is not certain at this stage from which of the possible 3 nests they originate. Other young flying this morning were 10 Linnets, 4 Meadow Pipits and a Dunnock. Two Swifts flying through were the only visible movement. Waders were again scarce, with Grey Plover, Curlew, Knot, and Dunlin all in single figures, mainly on the flood tide, the advancing waters also pushed up 3 Little Egrets and a Great Crested Grebe, while Common Terns flew with food south west towards the Dee.
Ringed: 1 Linnet         [ 297-26 ]

Saturday 18 June 2016

18th June 2016

Weather: NE 3, backing NW 3 by midday,  4/8 sunny and warm then cloud increasing and overcast

There were a few good records today considering it is the middle of June. A pair of immature male Eiders were distantly off the east hoyle tide edge at the flood, but they quickly flew off to the north, later at high tide a male Sparrowhawk flew down the island with the local Swallows in attendance until it left the island to the west (below,SRW). Both of these species are more expected in spring and autumn.

All morning there were about 150 Gannets feeding in a certain of the sea out towards the wind farms, it seems likely there were shoals of fish in the area, while many Common and Sandwich Terns were also diving, some close to the island.  Others on the sea were a flock of 15 Common Scoter and 4 Great Crested Grebes. Waders were particularly scarce, just 62 Oystercatchers, 2 Curlew and a single Grey Plover; none of the smaller wader species were found even at high tide.  [296-26]

Thursday 16 June 2016

16th June 2016

Weather: NE force 3, high cloud
record shot of Tufted Duck (AEH)
A quick visit mid-morning visit produced a Tufted Duck (very scarce at Hilbre) that flew around with Oystercatchers by Middle Eye and then did a circuit to the west of the islands before disappearing. Seven Little Egrets were to the south of Middle on the ebb tide and 12 Knot were noted, but few other waders except for a 100 or so Oystercatchers that seem to be staying with us this summer. Two Gannets (one adult) were distantly off to the north. In addition to 30 Common Terns there were 25 Sandwich Terns, some of which may form the start of the autumn roost on the East Hoyle bank. Several juvenile Linnets were noted in the paddocks today.
Common Tern (AEH)

Large Yellow Underwing (AEH)

Tuesday 14 June 2016

14th June 2016

Weather: ESE force 2
Along with 10 Sandwich and 25 Common Terns, the sea today held a juvenile Gannet and an adult Kittiwake. An encouraging sign was a Rock Pipit that was seen to be carrying food

Monday 13 June 2016

13th June 2016

Weather: NW 3 , rain and heavy squalls
Best sighting today were 2 adult male Eiders sitting off Niffy bay. There are not many waders about now but 4 Curlew and 20 Knot were present. Many juvenile Herring Gulls have been a feature around the island lately and today there were 450. Six Little Egrets were on the shore, and between the East gutter and Little Eye numerous Comb jellyfish were to be found, most were very small in size.

Friday 10 June 2016

10th June 2016

Weather: SW force 1
A quiet morning as expected, with mainly the breeding birds in evidence including 3 pairs of Shelduck, 2 Rock Pipits, 4 Swallows and 2 Pied Wagtails. Butterflies noted were 3 Red Admirals, 5 Small Whites, a Painted Lady and 60 Garden Tiger caterpillars, while 5 Diamondbacked Moths and a Large Yellow Underwing completed the picture.

Thursday 9 June 2016

9th June 2016

Weather: SE force 4/5  warm again with hazy sunshine
A short visit was vivified by the finding of 4 Shoveler (including 3 males) on the east hoyle tide edge. Shoveler are still very scarce birds at Hilbre (especially in mid-summer) although generally less so in the last few years.
record shot of Shoveler with Oystercatcher (CJ)
Other sightings were more expected with 8 Swifts and 2 House Martins heading into the southerly airstream, and around the islands were noted 8 Black-headed Gulls, 500 Herring Gulls, 2 Sandwich Terns, a Common Tern, a Little Egret and a single Bar-tailed Godwit. Only 4 Painted Lady butterflies could be found this morning with 2 Red Admirals and a Green Veined White.
Ringed: 1 Linnet, 1 Meadow Pipit             [ 294-26 ]

Tuesday 7 June 2016

7th June 2016

Weather: WSW 1-2

Another quiet day with the only 'write-on' being a flock of 25 Canada Geese followed by a single.

Five Swift went through during the morning and a group of 7 Knot moved through.

Monday 6 June 2016

6th June 2016

Weather : SE 2-3, 1/8 cloud, hot then hotter

Surely the hottest day of the year so far on the island resulted in very few new arrivals bird-wise.

Although a party of 9 Ringed Plover and 3 Dunlin along the ridge South of Middle Eye were new as were 9 Turnstone and a single Dunlin roosting in the sun at the North End.

The moth traps were both in operation last night and it was another good catch.  Perhaps more on that later if we have time...

Sunday 5 June 2016

5th June 2016

Weather: SE 0-1, 1/8 cloud, hot, sunny and hazy

Very little in the way of bird news today apart from a mixed flock of Canada and Greylag Geese in the morning, the breeding birds and a few waders, the day was definitely more about the insect life of the islands.

The Painted Lady influx has reached us after a single last night there were 39 counted on the main island today (see above) and good numbers of Diamond-back moths (500+) some of which were found in the overnight moth trap (70+).

Even before the trap was opened several species were noted nearby including this Green Carpet.

Other species seen around the islands included Silver Y and Brimstone.

The moth trap contained more than 20 different species including 21 Marbled Coronet (see above) and 3 Netted Pugs (see header photo by BSB) both Hilbre specialities.  

With the temperature remaining high tonight and some cloud cover we are hopeful of another good overnight moth catch.

Adding to the insect theme an ichneumonid was found in the moth trap (see below) and considered to be Netelia infractor, a parasitoid of a variety of caterpillars on trees and bushes.


Saturday 4 June 2016

4th June 2016

Weather: N 0, 8/8 cloud, good vis

Hardly any wind but the first overcast conditions for days prompted a brief pre-tide visit this morning but as is often the case at this time of year there were no passerine migrants grounded.  A single House Martin was heard though and waders still moved through with 4 Bar-tailed Godwit flying around the North End and then later 26 were counted as the tide flooded.

Breeding birds were evident and there was optimism for both Shelducks and Mallard as they were both seen 'down' on the islands; not a frequent occurrence this spring with a fox in residence earlier (we hope it has moved on but we do not know for sure).

Meanwhile, three pairs of Swallows remain as do the Pied Wagtails, although the latter are being particularly secretive.

Over 200 Diamond-back Moths were counted again this morning after a slight lull yesterday; but this will only be a small amount of the actual number present on the islands as they are disturbed as people walk through the grass or paddocks so the rest of the undisturbed island could hold 1,000s.

An evening visit produced a Painted Lady butterfly and news from the east coast is that an influx may be underway of this incredible long distance migrant.  

Friday 3 June 2016

3rd June 2016

Weather SE 0-1, 1/8 cloud, good vis

The day started early with renewed optimism for the regulars with a very light South East breeze.

The first round of the day produced a most unexpected find; a Water Rail was discovered in the 'Heli' trap flushed from the long grass.  It was caught and ringed and became only the fourth record of this secretive species for the islands following records in early August 1952 (which was also caught and ringed before the Obs was founded), one on the slipway at the North End on 5 November 1968 and a third seen first near 'Buzzard Hill' before again moving to in between rocks near the North End on 24 October 2007.   

Therefore, today's bird became the first Water Rail to be ringed by the Obs.  It was released in the Obs garden and flew a short distance before quickly running off into long grass/bracken and was not seen subsequently. 

There was little else migrant-wise on the island in respect of birds so attention turned to the contents of the overnight moth trap.  Only 18 moths were caught of four species, namely: Marbled Coronet (see above), Shears, Shoulder-striped Wainscot and Heart and Dart (see below).  However, there were significantly fewer Diamond-back moths with only 25 counted today.

Ringed: Meadow Pipit (juv), Linnet & Water Rail


Thursday 2 June 2016

2nd June 2016

Weather: N 1-2, 1/8 cloud, good vid

An evening visit did not expect to produce much but the rising tide saw some remnants of passage waders with 4 Bar-tailed Godwit, single Turnstone, Dunlin and Sanderling on Middle along with 12 Knot in non-breeding plumage.

Two House Martins were a late migrant for the time of day (and year).

The highlight of the evening were the large influx of Diamond-back Moths with 488 counted mainly around the South End, West Side and the lower paddock (trapping area). This micro moth species from the continent has been arriving in large numbers around the country (particularly South Coast bird observatories and then slightly later in the East) now it seems they have penetrated as far west as Hilbre.

Wednesday 1 June 2016

1st June 2016

Weather: NNE 1-2, 7/8 cloud

A very quiet day on the islands was much as expected at this time of year with these slightly cooler northerlies.

The breeding birds are taking advantage of the dry spell and several more fledgling Meadow Pipits were noted.

Our coverage continues and you never know what is around the next morning ...