Monday 31 October 2016

31st October 2016

Weather: S, force 0/1, increasing soon to SE force 2/3 heavy mist and fog.
Thick fog and mist around the shore and the island for most of the morning was the story of the day. Viewing was restricted mainly to what was on the ground, although some flyovers such as Skylarks (over 20) and Starlings (8) were noted, also 6 Redwings and a Fieldfare which were mostly very early on before the fog descended. Also grounded were 6 Goldcrests, 2 Blackbirds, 3 Song Thrushes, 4 Pied Wagtails and a Chaffinch which may have been the bird from yesterday. Similar numbers of Wrens (9) and Robins (10) present today as yesterday, but no sign of the Yellow-browed Warbler here the last 2 days. A Canada Goose was heard over the island in the fog and a Merlin was perched on the lookout roof before sitting at the north end (below,CJ).

 Not surprisingly very few sea birds recorded ( 2 Great Crested Grebes, 1 Common Scoter), while the wader highlight were 3 Purple Sandpipers on the west cliff before flying to roost on Middle with the 3,500 Oystercatchers (only seen vaguely through the mist).    

Dark-bellied Brent when the sun appeared at midday (CJ
 Ringed: 4 Goldcrests, 2 Blackbirds, 2 Song Thrushes             [ 516-30 ]

Sunday 30 October 2016

30th October 2016

Weather: SW 1 vis 5mls with mist but clearing later.

Yesterdays ringed Yellow-browed warbler was found early on in the old obs garden with 11 Goldcrests about the island,Wren numbers were down to 10 with 6 Robins and 1 Dunnock. Small groups of Skylark went over through the day totalling 30, 16 Linnets, 22 Meadow Pipits and 2 Rock Pipits were on the island with a single Chaffinch that spent the morning in the area of the lookout. There were also 2 Goldfinch, 2 Pied Wagtail and a Blackbird on the ground with 3 Starling passing over. The brief sea watch was a little more interesting than yesterday with 6 Red-throated Diver, 26 Great Crested Grebe, 15 Guillemot but only 8 Common Scoter. The highlight though were 2 harbour porpoise watched on the west side for about 10 mins. Waders counted were 71 Curlew, 122 Bar-tailed Godwit, 18 Turnstone, 94 Redshank and a flock of 180 Dunlin. The Brent count today was 128 and there were 2 Grey Heron with 3 Little Egret in the gutter.

Saturday 29 October 2016

29th October 2016

Weather: SW force 0/1, some heavy mist
Yellow-browed Warbler (JE)
The 4th Yellow-browed Warbler at Hilbre this year was first found this morning in the obs garden, it stayed the afternoon, visiting the paddocks where it was caught for ringing in the heligoland trap. It became the latest appearance date of all the 13 previous birds to visit the island. Heavy mist this morning encouraged an arrival of 25 Redwings and a Fieldfare that was grounded for a time.An immature Sparrowhawk gave cause for concern when it was in the SK paddock at the same time as the Yellow-browed Warbler and 3 Goldcrests, all ended well however. One of the Goldcrests was trapped and was found to be a control (ringed elsewhere), always an exciting find for a ringer. Wrens were in large numbers today, 18, no less and there were also 8 Robins. One hundred and eleven Brent were seen, there are probably more.
Ringed: 1 Yellow-browed Warbler       [ 508-30 ]

Friday 28 October 2016

28th October 2016

Weather: W force 4, visibility 10 miles
Very quiet in the morning, a Kestrel flew east and 35 Bar-tailed Godwit went north, but then things picked up at high tide when the first 4 Purple Sandpipers of the winter were found roosting the tide on the west side. A sea watch only produced 1 Red-throated Diver, 4 Great Crested Grebes and 25 Common Scoter. Mist and drizzle later brought down 16 Meadow Pipits, 20 Goldfinches and 5 Linnets, and after the mist lifted a flock of 32 Skylarks flew east. Shelduck(448) and Brent (129) were in the area over the tide. Towards dusk a Peregrine was disturbed by the sea watching hide and 4 Goldcrest came down by the SK paddock. Others on the log today were 3 Little Egret, 3,500 Oystercatcher, 47 Curlew, 16 Turnstone, 5 Dunlin, 27 Redshank, 2 Carrion Crows, 11 Wren, 8 Robins, 2 Dunnocks, 1 Pied and 2 Rock Pipits.

Thursday 27 October 2016

27th October 2016

Weather: W force 2
Finally after many weeks the wind is longer from the east, and true to form the westerly calmed things down from a birding point of view. The only Goldcrest present was ringed 5 days ago (below), although the Wren and Blackbird ringed and some of the 7 Robins present could be new visitors.
 A Great Crested Grebe was close in to the east gutter, a Common Scoter was on the island and in the afternoon 70 flew east. Three Rock Pipits were present, it seems that a visit to Hilbre now will encounter Rock Pipits at any time of year not just at late autumn/winter as previously. Oystercatchers roosted the tide at the north end of Middle as usual but only 3,500 today, perhaps disturbed by the presence of the boat stranded there 10 days ago on the highest tide of the month. 
The Brent were counted at 146 in the evening, and 76 Redshank, 4 Bar-tailed Godwits and 2 Little Egrets at the same time.
Ringed: 1 Wren, 1 Blackbird                 [ 507-30 ]   All photos  JE

Tuesday 25 October 2016

25th October 2016

Weather: E force 1
A Richards Pipit was at Little Eye this morning at about 9.00 am and then flew towards the marsh at Red Rocks/ West Kirby. This is the second record this autumn although there is a possibility it could be the same bird. A light easterly made it a very good day for migration all round which included records of  282 Starlings (with a large flock of 215), 23 Skylarks (with a group of 10), also varied species including a flotilla of 6 Whooper Swans and a Mute Swan floating down the west side (below), 5 Jackdaws flying south east, a flock of 67 Pink-footed geese going south, 13 Wigeon to the north and another 8 later, also 3 Teal, and 6 Lapwing seen south of Middle Eye.
1of 6 Lapwings
On the ground this morning were 11 Goldcrests, 3 Blackbirds, 2 Song Thrushes, 10 Wrens and a Chiffchaff, while also passing were 4 Chaffinches, 2 Grey and 7 Pied Wagtails and an immature male Sparrowhawk. Records of sea birds today were 30 Common Scoter, 4 Great Crested Grebes, 3 Guillemots and a Razorbill, and waders seen included 96 Redshank, 17 Curlew (below) and 10 Bar-tailed Godwits. Three hundred and 50 Shelduck were out on the east hoyle.
 As the tide flooded in the evening 114 Brent Geese came into view (below, 3 juveniles and an adult).

Ringed: 5 Goldcrests, 1 Wren, 1 Song Thrush.   All photos AEH        [ 505-30 ]

Monday 24 October 2016

24th October 2016

Weather: E force 2, visibility 10 miles
A similar start to the day as yesterday, but just a single Peregrine with a kill on the rocks south of Middle.  Very few birds on the islands although there were 4 Goldcrests about, plus 1 Blackbird, 6 Wrens,11 Robins, 2 Dunnocks, 4 Pied wagtails, 15 Meadow Pipits, 1 Skylark, 10 Crows and a Rock Pipit.
The sea was equally quiet but 96 Common Scoter went east and 6 Great Crested Grebes and 6 Guillemots showed, but then things looked up for a little when a female Eider drifted passed the obs on the ebbing tide. A Teal was found on the west side and Greylag flew west over the island. Before the evening tide 123 Brent were around the lagoon area between the islands including the red/blue ringed bird.
Unusually a Grey Seal was hauled out on the north end but did not seem at all ill. On the shore were 9 Little Egrets, 2 Grey Herons, 55 Bar-tailed Godwits with 59 Curlew, 2 Knot, 30 Dunlin, 92 Redshank, 21 Shelduck, 2,500 Oystercatcher, 3 Ringed Plover and 1 Grey Plover.

Sunday 23 October 2016

23rd October 2016

ENE 3/4  increasing to 5/6 rain early visibility 5mls
Two peregrines in the air above Middle encouraged observers approaching the islands, one flew towards Hoylake golf course and the second disappeared over the west side. Later presumably this same bird flew from the north end of Hilbre towards Little Eye and unidentified evidence of a fresh kill was found. Eighty four Brent geese were in 2 separate groups, the majority on the whaleback with a colour ringed bird (red and blue) amongst them. A common scoter was close in on the west side, 2 Great Crested Grebes and 7 Guillemot were off the north end. Egret numbers had dropped to 2 after yesterdays good count, 2 Grey Herons, 26 Bar-tailed Godwits and a small flock of 40 knot were seen.
There were few birds on the island – 2 Blackbirds, 2 Wrens, 9 Robin 8 Meadow Pipits, 2 Dunnock, and 3 Rock Pipits on the north end . Eleven Carrion Crows were around the island and the only visible migration were 3 Pied Wagtail, 3 Chaffinch and a Siskin.

Saturday 22 October 2016

22nd October 2016

Weather: SE 0/1
This settled October continues to make birding on the islands a pleasant experience, with the occasional 'good' bird as a bonus. This morning it was a ringtail Hen Harrier that excited as it flew east over the east hoyle from the direction of the north end and was mobbed by a group of 10 Carrion Crows that had gathered on the shore (below AEH). It continued it's way towards north Wirral.
The day as a whole had plenty of typical late autumn birds, there were over 20 each of passing Starlings and Skylarks, about 8 Blackbirds, 10 Goldcrests and a single male Blackcap down on the ground, 5 Redwings were recorded, along with a Grey Wagtail, 5 Pied Wagtails, 6 Chaffinches and a Brambling, while Wrens and Robins have not diminished in numbers.

Goldcrest (AEH)
Little Egrets still find the shore attractive, a total of 14 today, and 50 Sanderling were among the small number of waders noted at low tide. A flock of 43 Pink-footed Geese calling as they flew north directly over the island (below,AEH) and 2 dark-bellied birds were amongst over 100 Brent Geese floating on the tide.

One of the Pink-footed Geese (CJ)
Brent Geese (AEH)
Meadow Pipit (AEH)

Ringed: 5 Goldcrests, 2 Robins, 2 Wrens, 2 Blackbirds, 1 Blackcap       [ 498-30 ]

Friday 21 October 2016

21st October 2016

Weather: S force 0/1     high cloud and some mist early

This morning there were 3 Song Thrushes and 4 Blackbirds about that were definitely 'new in' and a Stonechat which was first seen at the south end and stayed the rest of the morning. A light passage of Skylarks (16) took place in small numbers and 6 Pied and a Grey Wagtail went through and again there were more than expected Wrens and Robins present. A single Goldcrest turned out to be a bird that was ringed yesterday.

Highlight for the members however was the capture and ringing of a male Sparrowhawk caught in the SK trap (left CJ), the first ringed this year.

Nine Little Egrets stayed near the islands and a Peregrine gave a display of hunting power over the east side and 2 Pintail flew south down the Dee. The 5 Rock Pipits this morning included the Norwegian ringed bird back from its visit to Red Rocks the other day.

Three red-head Goosanders flew west between Middle and Little Eye just after noon.

After the tide 113 Pale-bellied Brent Geese were counted on the ridge in the evening light on a very still evening.

Ringed:  2 Blackbirds, 1 Song Thrush, 1 Sparrowhawk       [ 486-30 ]

Thursday 20 October 2016

20th October 2016

Weather: NE force 3

Several migrants went through this morning despite the north easterly breeze. Seven Goldcrests were calling and Wrens and Robins seem to be everywhere, possibly 16 Wrens and 12 Robins about, and the first Greenfinch and Siskin passing over for a good while, also small flocks of Meadow Pipits, 6 Skylarks, 4 Goldfinches and a Reed Bunting.

Thrushes however were not in numbers, just a single Blackbird on Middle and another on the main island.

A Merlin was seen a couple of times around the south end and between the islands, and a Kestrel landed on the mast briefly.

The Brent reached a new high total of 62 birds, while 80 Shelduck were seen from the north shore, where there were 64 Bar-tailed Godwits feeding the tide edge.  Huge flocks of Common Scoter could be seen off Meols but far too distantly to be find any less usual species amongst them.

Ringed: 3 Goldcrests, 1 Robin, 1 Wren               [ 482-29 ]

Wednesday 19 October 2016

19th October 2016

Weather:  NNW force 5/6

A short sea watch was made today after the strong winds of yesterday but just 6 Gannets and 8 Guillemots were noted on the sea with in excess of 8,000 Common Scoter estimated swirling about distantly off North Wirral.

The Brent Geese have suddenly increased to 56, and other birds today logged in the short time available were 7,500 Oystercatchers, 180 Curlew, 124 Shelduck, 2 Little Egrets and a Peregrine.

Interestingly the Norwegian ringed Rock Pipit was noted at Red Rocks in the afternoon (photo from Hilbre).

Monday 17 October 2016

17th October 2016

Weather: S force 2/3, later in the morning W force 4 and then dropping, sunny and fairly warm when the cloud had cleared.

A Richard's Pipit was first heard as it flew from the main path down the west side, it soon reappeared and toured the top of the island for a few minutes including the top paddock where it dropped down but was then chased by a Meadow Pipit to the grass outside the obs gate before flying back north and east and disappearing off to the south east towards West Kirby/Red Rocks saltmarsh. Other Richards Pipit's in the last few years have also been very reluctant to stay long, and only record flight shots could be obtained today which is slightly better than no photos at all, which has been the previous experience.

Uncropped 'record shot' of the Richard's Pipit above

There was a small passage of over 100 Meadow Pipits this morning and a couple of Goldcrests and a Blackcap were ringed, while a single late Swallow flew south passed the north end.

The Norwegian ringed Rock Pipit was retrapped this morning, it was one of at least four on the island, perhaps it will stay for the winter?  Photo below shows the Scandinavian bird on the left with a retrapped Hilbre-ringed bird on the right.

The other Rock Pipits spent time bathing and preening in the October sunshine (see below) and avoiding our potter traps!

A prolonged sea watch during the very high tide today was very fruitful, the highlights being a Scaup, an Eider, a Mediterranean Gull, plus all the regulars: 5 Red-throated Divers, over 5,400 Common Scoters (including a flock of 5,000), 55 Guillemots, 4 Razorbills, and 8 Great Crested Grebes.

Oystercatchers roosted the tide on Middle and the south end of the main island, numbering 7,500 and 180 Curlew were also on Middle. There were 80 Dunlin at the North End (see below upper), but other small waders were difficult to count (such as Ringed Plover - below lower) as many stayed the tide on Middle.

The 20 Brent included the 'HDRB' blue/red ringed bird (ringed in Canada) with his partner and two juvenile/first winters (see below).

Ringed: 2 Goldcrests, 1 Blackcap, 1 Meadow Pipit, 1 Song Thrush.             [ 477-29 ]

Sunday 16 October 2016

16th October 2016

Weather: earlier heavy rain, afternoon S 4-5, 3/8 cloud, good vis

A brief afternoon visit after the tide (and the rain) found a single Redwing on the island, which was caught and ringed. The other news was of a sighting of a colour ringed Rock Pipit which will (almost certainly) be the bird controlled earlier this week although it has not been seen around the islands since caught on Monday 10th.

Five other Rock Pipits were present and counts were made of 350 Cormorants, 4,500 Oystercatchers, 250 Shelduck, 184 Curlew, 138 Redshank and 64 Turnstone.

Ringed:  1 Redwing, 1 Robin.         [ 472-29 ]

Saturday 15 October 2016

15th October 2016

Weather: SE force 1,  mist and rain am.

Two Goldcrest landed this morning and a Song Thrush, 2 Blackbirds, and 15 Robins were also on the ground, while also passing through were 3 Pied Wagtails and a Skylark and 18 Meadow Pipits. Logged on the sea were a Red-throated Diver, 3 Gannets, 27 Guillemots, 2 Razorbills, 2 Great Crested Grebes and about 1,500 Common Scoter. Also noted today were 4 Little Egrets, 1 Kestrel, 250 Knot, 700 Dunlin, 16 Bar-tailed Godwits, 35 Turnstone, 90 Redshank, 3 Rock Pipits and 22 Linnets.

Ringed: 2 Goldcrests.    [ 470-29 ]

Friday 14 October 2016

14th October 2016

Weather: E force 0/1, later SE force 2   mist

Three Pied and 2 Grey Wagtails, together with a Chaffinch were on the only obvious migrants today, although again large numbers of Robins (9) and Wrens (13) indicated a passage through.
On the sea were 28 Guillemots, 2 Razorbills, 4 Great Crested Grebes and 60 Common Scoter, while shorebirds included 70 Redshank, 10 Bar-tailed Godwits and 26 Turnstone. Four Rock Pipits on the island this morning.

Thursday 13 October 2016

13th October 2016

Weather: NE force 3/4

A cool north easterly greeted observers this morning at the start of a day devoid of migrants first thing. A few Meadow Pipits passed through during the morning and a Chaffinch dropped in briefly, otherwise there was little to excite. More interesting was the sighting again of our old friend the colour ringed Brent 'HDRB' that has appeared now every winter since 2008 after being ringed the previous year in Canada, (below).                          
A late Whimbrel called down the east side, and 12 Wigeon flew north, whilst on the sea about 350 Black-headed Gulls were still feeding as they did yesterday this time off the north end, and also joining in were 10 Guillemots, 3 Razorbill, and an immature Gannet. A Kestrel was on again today so maybe the fortunes of the voles have improved.

Wednesday 12 October 2016

12th October 2016

Weather: E force 1, later NE 2 with sunshine

Going to the island in the dark, 26 Redwings called overhead, and on arrival the most obvious grounded migrants this morning were Robins, with about 20 around the island although some will be local birds. There were no new Goldcrests or any Chiffchaffs but a female Blackcap was in the obs garden at midday and an adult male Blackbird was caught for ringing.

A couple of Skylarks, a Grey Wagtail and 3 alba wagtails passed over this morning but little else.

The high tide today only reached a point west of  Little Eye and Tanskey rocks, where an amazing total of 850 Shelduck were counted with another 58 nearer the main island, also here were 420 Curlew, 19 Brent, 2 Pintails, 2 Wigeon further north and a Peregrine scaring the waders. A late Sandwich Tern, (possibly the same one as yesterday) flew up the west side, and on the sea this morning were logged 41 Guillemots, 3 Razorbills, 19 Common Scoter, a Gannet and a Red-throated Diver.

Shorebirds included 8 Little Egrets and about 120 Bar-tailed Godwits. Three Rock Pipits were seen this morning but not the norwegian colour ringed bird.

Ringed: 1 Blackbird, 1 Wren                 [ 468-29 ] 

Tuesday 11 October 2016

11th October 2016

Weather: SE force 0/1, later NE 2 clouding over mid-morning

There were probably no new Goldcrests this morning, at least 3 of the 4 seen today were ringed birds from yesterday, but there were a few thrushes in the shape of 3 Redwings, 3 Blackbirds and 2 Song Thrushes, while 2 Reed Buntings were down for a short time (below,CJ) and Robins again seemed to be everywhere, with 12 recorded today and a single Chiffchaff was ringed.
Minimum overhead passage occurred, and only 4 Skylarks were noted. Another roost of 7 Little Egrets were on the rocks south of Middle and 7 others were also in the area. A trio of Pintail were glimpsed in flight and 2 Shoveler (still very scarce at Hilbre) flew from the west and landed at the tide edge west of Middle. A lone late Sandwich Tern cruised up the west side (right,CJ) where there was also a Common Scoter and 2 Guillemots and about 200 Black-headed Gulls gathered together to furiously feed on something unknown in the shallow water.

Wader counts were insignificant due to the very low tides at the moment. But Turnstones, Redshanks, Ringed Plovers and Dunlin were noted in small numbers and a Curlew was on the 'whaleback'.

Four Red Admirals were still in flight around the island today and a single Short-tailed Field Vole was noted a scarce sighting in recent times.

Ringed: 2 Blackbirds (first yr male below), Song Thrush (above), 2 Robins, Chiffchaff, Meadow Pipit.     [ 466-29 ]

Photographers - CJ as noted, remainder AEH, thrushes and below SRW