Friday 31 March 2017

31st March 2017

Weather: SE force 3 veering  SW 3  showers early then sunny
Overnight a south easterly brought in 5 Chiffchaffs and 3 Goldcrests and a few dozen Meadow Pipits were passing through, but soon the breeze became south westerly with predicable results of no more arrivals, although a Chaffinch was fresh in late morning. Two White Wagtails and a Pied were down on the rocks at the north end and a female Wheatear also stayed in the same general area, with another being on Middle island. The Pheasant is still on the island being seen running through the bracken near the old obs. Brent were counted at 140 but more may be scattered elsewhere. Very few waders were apparent before the tide, only a single Redshank could be found.
Ringed: 2 Chiffchaffs, 1 Chaffinch, 1 Robin, 1 Wren.     [ 53-15 ]

Thursday 30 March 2017

30th March 2017

Weather: SE 2 vis 35 mls decreasing later.
Early in the morning a male Eider was on the tide edge at the bottom of the gutter and a male Mallard alighted briefly on the pond. The first 2 Swallows of the year flew down the east side at 1030hrs, 4 Redwings flew south over the island but other than that the only migrants were 8 Pied Wagtail, a Robin and female Chaffinch and in the evening a lone Chiffchaff calling in the obs garden. The Pheasant seen yesterday was a surprise find in the 'heli' trap today and when escorted out it ran along the path in the paddock in Roadrunner fashion.
Eleven Bar-tailed Godwits were on the north shore after tide but only 4 Redshank. On the sea were 64 Common Scoter, 2 Great Crested Grebe and 60 Cormorants.
A Peregrine was seen flying down the east side and a Grey Heron on the west side was being pestered by gulls.
Ringed: 1 Robin, 1 Chaffinch      [ 48-15 ]

Wednesday 29 March 2017

29th March 2017

Weather: SW 1, vis 5 miles, light rain, vis 35 miles later
One member had 2 Greylag Geese and a Magpie when walking over, then met a male pheasant which was walking between Middle and Hilbre, a real Hilbre rarity, only the 4th record ever. There was very little visible migration today but 7 Sand martins passed the island, with a couple each of Goldfinch and Goldcrest, also a male Wheatear. Two Canada geese flew west between the islands as did 5 Shelduck, and a total of 111 Brent were around Middle as the tide flooded. Nineteen Red-breasted Mergansers and 50 Great Crested Grebes were in the swash, 3 Wigeon flew by with 10 more on the water around the islnads. Wader numbers are falling with only 8 Redshank, 2 Grey Plover, 800 oystercatchersd and 85 Curlew recorded.
Ringed: 1 Robin       [ 46-14 ]

Tuesday 28 March 2017

28th March 2017

Weather: SE force 4/5 thick mist

A very cool south easterly wind greeted observers this morning and Meadow Pipits were moving in the mist right from the off, more than any day this year with some seen arriving in off the sea, together with a few Chiffchaffs, but less Goldcrests were present than in the last few days. Several alba wagtails, 4 Goldfinches and a Siskin passed through and 2 Wheatears turned up on the west side. A Redwing was a welcome find in the SK trap as it was the first ringed this year (below,CJ).


 A Merlin was again on the ridge south of Middle, 2 Canada Geese flew towards Little Eye, and 3 Woodpigeons were over the island briefly.

On the sea today were 4 Gannets, a few Great Crested Grebes and about 20 Common Scoter. 

The afternoon became a raptor bonanza when a Sprrowhawk stayed around Middle, a Peregrine was on the ridge where the Merlin was earlier and a Short-eared Owl was discovered when gulls mobbed it at the north end (below).

Ringed: 1 Redwing, 1 Chiffchaff, 1 Goldfinch (left)          [ 45-14 ]

  Photos AS (Short-eared Owl),CJ (others)

Monday 27 March 2017

27th March 2017

Weather: SE force 1/2   mist about the estuary

The day started well with 2 Peregrine on the sand of the east hoyle. A Song Thrush was on middle and Goldfinch flew over with a further 4 on the main island later, other migrants included 12 Lesser Redpoll (one of which was trapped and ringed, below) 5 Goldcrest and the first Collared Dove of the spring.
Not all of the Linnets present  were ‘local’ as 32 were counted, 8 Chiffchaff were about and a Sparrowhawk entered the Newton trap in an attempt to catch one. A Blue Tit and a Great Tit were in the obs garden.
A male and 2 female Pintail flew up the estuary on the west side in the morning with 4 Little Gulls and a single Gannet later.
Ringed: 5 Chiffchaffs, 2 Goldcrests, 1 Lesser Redpoll    [ 42-12 ]

Saturday 25 March 2017

25th March 2017

Weather: SE force 1, sunny, cold overnight, warm later in the morning
View of north Wales from the island (AEH)
The first Little Gulls of the were identified when 31 were found feeding distantly off the north end, while 4 Gannets became another first for the spring. The sea also produced 8 Red-throated Divers, 18 Great Crested Grebes and 400 Common Scoter off the north shore. Down on the island this beautiful morning were 8 Goldcrests, 6 Chiffchaffs, 8 Pied and 2 White Wagtails, a Stonechat and a female House Sparrow (scarce at Hilbre but annual).
Stonechat (AEH)

House Sparrow (SRW)

A Merlin was on the ridge south of Middle first thing and other sightings typical for this time of year involved an overflying Jackdaw and 13 Canada Geese towards the West Kirby shore. Both Siskin and Goldfinch appeared in singles and a Rock Pipit is still present towards the north end. Waders were scarce over the tide, and just a single Purple Sandpiper could be found. 
Purple Sandpiper (CJ)

Ringed: 4 Goldcrests, 3 Chiffchaffs, 1 Linnet, 1 Meadow Pipit.   [ 34-11 ]

Friday 24 March 2017

24th March 2017

Weather: E force 2
Lesser Celandine flowering  on the east side

Small Tortoiseshell
Another good day of early spring migration in an easterly wind brought 5 Goldcrest, a Chiffchaff, a Wheatear, a Goldfinch, a Skylark and a Grey Wagtail to the island. Scarcer in a Hilbre context was a Woodpigeon passing through, and a true Hilbre very scarce bird was a Great Tit (less than annual) which was trapped for ringing. A Peregrine and a Little Egret were present and 95 Redshank and 20 Turnstone were noted.
Ringed: 3 Goldcrests, 1 Robin, 1 Great Tit, 1 Linnet.     [  25-10 ]
Photos JE

Thursday 23 March 2017

23rd March 2017

Weather: SE force 0/1, later ENE 2/3
A really productive spring morning with the easterly breeze bringing in about 25 Goldcrests, 9 Chiffchaffs and 2 migrant Woodpigeons. Some of the 50 Meadow Pipits would also be migrants, and the Merlin sighting is typical at this time of year. Fifteen Greylag geese flew to the north east and good counts were made of 250+ Brent, 245 Curlew and 540 Cormorants out of the estuary early morning.

Tuesday 21 March 2017

21st March 2017

Weather: WSW force 6
A quiet day as expected in a breezy westerly. On the log sheet was a Rock Pipit, 26 Common Scoter, a Great Crested Grebe, a Bar-tailed Godwit and a Grey Plover.

Thursday 16 March 2017

16th March 2017

Weather: SW 1
The first Wheatear of the spring was found by the mast this morning and after it moved down to 'wheatear hill' it was soon joined by another and an hour later a third arrived to delight members.
It was hatrick of firsts when a Chiffchaff (below) was trapped for ringing in the paddocks and (most surprising of all) an early Whimbrel was heard calling from the shore.

Goldcrests arrived in small numbers during the morning, with about 8 all told but there were not as many wagtails today although a White wagtail was recorded. Finches included 4 Goldfinch and a Siskin. A drake Eider was on the sea off the north end, probably the bird seen yesterday, also 2 Great Crested Grebes. 

Early in the day groups of 8 and then 22 Canada Geese were noted and a male Mallard was in the pond.
Ringed: 3 Goldcrests, 1 Chiffchaff          [ 19-8 ]
Photos AEH(wheatears)
CJ (Chiffchaff)

Wednesday 15 March 2017

15th March 2017

Weather : SW. 0/1, later N 0/1
A very pleasant morning with obvious movements of wagtails (4 Grey and 20 alba), a few Meadow Pipits, half a dozen Goldfinches, 2 Goldcrests and regular Hilbre spring 'migrant' visitors such as a Magpie (below), a House Sparrow, plus  Reed Bunting and Skylark.
 The sea was mostly quiet although a drake Goldeneye and a drake Eider were a bonus. One hundred and fifty seven Curlew roosted the tide on Middle and 82 Turnstones were counted.
Purple Sandpiper
A Bottle-nosed Dolphin swan in the calm sea off the north end, while the afternoon sun encouraged the first butterflies of the year, a Peacock and 4 Small Tortoiseshells to take to the air.
Ringed: 1 Goldcrest, 1 Dunnock. [ 15-7 ]     photos CJ

Tuesday 14 March 2017

14th March

Weather: SW 2
Five Goldcrests were present this morning also 2 Pied Wagtails, a female Blackbird and a Starling. A Scaup made a reappearance on the sea.

Saturday 11 March 2017

11th March 2017

Weather: SSE force 2/3
The first Sand Martin of the spring flew quickly east passed the obs this morning, and spring has now certainly arrived, with a pair of Reed Bunting visiting the island. It was a delight to see the Stonechat pair still on the island and up to 16 Goldcrests present including yesterday's control bird and 2 new birds ringed (both males).

A lone female Long Tailed Duck spent the tide off Niffy bay. Others passing through today were 2 Skylarks, a Goldfinch and 9 alba wagtails. 
Ringed: 2 Goldcrests      [ 13-6 ]  photos AEH

Friday 10 March 2017

10th March 2017

Weather: SE 2/3

The first real passage of spring this morning with at least 10 Goldcrests on the islands, a movement of over a dozen alba wagtails and records of a few Goldfinches and Greenfinches and a Reed Bunting on Middle.
A young male Pied Wagtail was an unexpected find in the 'Newton' heligoland trap.

One of the first three Goldcrests of the year caught this morning was found to be ringed elsewhere so we look forward to finding out where and when.

Another sign of spring was the singing of several Linnets, Meadow Pipits and Wrens in preparation for nesting.
Other records today included 5 Little Egrets and 7 Purple Sandpipers.
 Ringed: 4 Goldcrests, 2 Wrens, 1 Robin, 1 Song Thrush, 1 Pied Wagtail     [ 11-6 ]

Tuesday 7 March 2017

7th March 2017

Weather:  SW 2, 6/8 cloud, sunny intervals 

A very pleasant day on the islands started with a good number of Pale-bellied Brent Geese on the morning tide; although they proved hard to count as they were dispersed around the reef, the North End and the East Hoyle an estimate of 300 birds was probably conservative.

A few Meadow Pipits and wagtails passed over with Grey, alba (5) and a single White Wagtail noted.  Also 7 Jackdaws and 5 Canada Geese flew South; both typical March species for the islands.

Further signs of spring were evident on the island with daffodils flowering and the expanding gorse patch flowering which was just waiting for a good bird to perch up.  Meanwhile work began by Wirral BC around the island repairing some of the damage from Storm Doris (including the slate roof of the Telegraph Station - see below).

A single Wren was caught and ringed and another Stonechat spent the morning around the gardens before being discovered in the SK heligoland trap. Not a species that is ringed annually at Hilbre.

More typical was a very confiding ringed Robin near the day room.

The sea produced small numbers of Great Crested Grebes and Common Scoters and waders were noted around the rocky shores but whilst Purple Sandpipers were conspicuous by their absence Turnstones gave themselves up to one photographer.

Of other interest a Shanny, Blennius pholis, was discovered at the South End under some rocks (see below photo by AS).

Ringed: Wren, Stonechat [2-2]  

Photos by Matt Thomas (@Mattthomas966) (Brents and Turnstone) and SRW (remainder)

Monday 6 March 2017

6th March 2017

Weather: W 2 then NW 1
Two Goldcrest were on the island this morning, the first of the spring. A Skylark was singing on Middle and 8 Pied Wagtails went through, also a Goldfinch was in the old obs garden. The Brent were counted at a still impressive total of 298 birds.

Saturday 4 March 2017

4th March 2017

Weather: SE force 2

An early start paid dividends with early spring passage evident.

 A single female Stonechat outside the obs was soon joined by a pair which moved around the south end of the island chasing each other. 

A party of 5 Jackdaw moved overhead east whilst Pied Wagtails moved through and an early White Wagtail ( the first of spring) alighted briefly. 

Several Meadow Pipits are now singing on both the main island and Middle Hilbre, joined by Linnets also singing.

 A Peregrine spooked the waders at the North end but passed by heading south.
Two Canada Geese joined the cast of spring migrants closely followed by a single Raven which quickly moved east towards the Welsh hills croaking as it went. 
 All photos AEH