Wednesday 31 May 2017

31st May 2017

Weather: no wind first thing, backing SE 1-2 later, 0/8 cloud, good vis

A glorious morning greeted observers staying over. However, as is often the case at this time of year migrants remained very thin on the ground.

Highlight of the day was a drake Shoveler (see above left) that appeared in a small pool next to Middle with a drake Mallard (the female of the pair of Mallard having been seen earlier).

Shoveler is not a common species at Hilbre spring and autumn being the best time although they are never predictable.

A Kestrel appeared over the island mid morning having been absent for some time, perhaps a bird feeding chicks from nearby Hoylake.

Meanwhile, a single Grey Heron vied with the Little Egrets for the prime position in the receding gutter before the hordes of 'grockles' descended on the islands in the hot holiday weather.

The moth traps were once again set but with a clearer, colder night there was less than the two previous night's although species such as Marbled Coronet, Lesser Treble-bar (see below), Heart and Dart, Shears and Common Pug were noted. 

Sanderling outnumbered Dunlin today  and were showing wonderfully at the North End.

Three Canada Geese flew between the islands and small flocks of terns (Sandwich and Common circled the island at high tide).

The day ended as it began - in stunning style.

Ringing: Linnets (2) [389-32] photos SRW

Tuesday 30 May 2017

30th May 2017

Weather: WSW 1, 8/8 cloud, rain during morning, clearing later 

A quiet day bird-wise on the island with very little around the gardens and trapping areas apart from the breeding birds.

The pair of Mallard were back in the gutter this afternoon and three pairs of Shelduck were around the islands.

There was very little on the sea apart from a few Sandwich and Common Terns.

Waders were still in evidence though with 315 Dunlin, 123 Sanderling and 57 Ringed Plover noted in roosts on the west side.

Large gull congregations were noted particularly on Middle and Little Eye as the tide dropped including large arrival of Lesser Black-backeds.

The moth trap was good overnight with the list compiled by a budding young naturalist (LJW - 10yo).

Monday 29 May 2017

29th May 2017

Weather:  NW 3, rain first thing, 8/8 all day but dry during afternoon, poor vis

The day began late as rain battered down on the Obs first thing.

There was little in the way of migrant arrivals but the moth trap (set last night) was full of interesting species which kept members (young and old) busy between rounds of the island.

Waders were again very much in evidence with another nice roost below the mast on the West side including Dunlin, Sanderling (still in varying stages of plumage but no colour-ringed birds yet), Ringed Plovers and a lone Turnstone; but there was no sign of yesterday's Little Stint which has presumably moved through.

A pair of Eider were the only other noteworthy record today; they drifted south past the Whaleback and down the west side opposite the Obs.

The highlights of the moth trap included the easily identifiable Angleshades, several Marbled Coronets, Shoulder-striped wainscot, a couple of Bright-line Brown-eye and a Netted Pug.

With the poor weather and less people around it was a quieter day for the RNLI (West Kirby inshore and beach patrol on exercises).

Photos SRW & TGW

Sunday 28 May 2017

28th May 2017

Weather: NW 2/3, 8/8 cloud, mod vis

Observers arrived late today as the weather did not look conducive for any migration; and so it proved with just a singing Chiffchaff around the gardens (possibly the bird from yesterday).

With the tide rising fast a few waders appeared and a post high tide roost was found down the west side below the mast and produced the goods.  400 Dunlin were counted amongst which 85 Sanderling (in varying states of summer finery), 52 Ringed Plover and a solitary Turnstone was found.  However, the highlight of the day was a lovely Little Stint.  Our second of the spring - a species normally associated with August/September at Hilbre. 

It was another stunning evening on the island and the moth trap is set at the Obs.

Saturday 27 May 2017

27th May 2017

Weather:  ESE 2, 5/8 cloud, moderate vis, shower at 7am clearing later

Another early start yielded very little on the migrant front until a rain shower around 7am dropped in a typical solitary end of May Chiffchaff (or more likely it was the singing bird from the last couple of days that had somehow evaded the heligoland traps).

The highlight of the day, ornithologically speaking, may also have been dropped in by the rain, a Cuckoo which flew out from the Obs garden (accidentally flushed by a junior member) shot down the island falcon-like (as they do!) heading north and dived into cover somewhere north of Telegraph House with the local Meadow Pipits in hot pursuit. Too quick for the photographers amongst us but another nice record for the island of a species which is not recorded every year at Hilbre.

A single Collared Dove appeared again (sadly we've been waiting a long time now for another Turtle Dove) and a few Swifts and the odd House Martin passed over during the day.

Attention again turned to other wildlife (as it does at this time of year!) and particularly insect life with 2 Common Darter dragonflies bored along with a different Red-veined Darter from yesterday as well as a single Common Blue Damselfly.

Bees were also present including the presumed Bombus terrestris (see header photo) but the workers are very hard to separate from Bombus lucorum.  Many dozens of Turnip Sawfly were also noted in the west side garden (see below); sometimes these turn up at the coast in large numbers and it's assumed they are immigrants.

Butterflies included Red Admirals (15), Painted Lady (8), Small White (4) and Green-veined White (8).

Back on the bird front waders were still moving through with 3 Whimbrel, 58 Ringed Plover, 25 Sanderling and 350 Dunlin recorded.  But even these small numbers did not get much chance to settle with jet skis, kite surfers and even water skiers passing close to the islands during the high tide.

To end the day a catamaran crashed into rocks on the west side - fortunately there were no injuries.

Ringing:  Chiffchaff [387-32]

Photos SRW

Friday 26 May 2017

26th May 2017

Weather: SE 3, 0/8 cloud, good vis

The day started early for observers staying on the island and eeking out the last migrants of spring.

Two Woodpigeon flew off the island first thing and these were followed by the arrival of a single Collared Dove; a species that has been scarce on the island this spring.

A singing Chiffchaff could be heard in the Obs garden - perhaps a new migrant or the bird from the paddocks yesterday.

Several Swifts arrived 'in off' as did small numbers of House Martins.

Butterflies were again much in evidence battling the increasing South-easterly breeze with Painted Ladies and Red Admirals the predominant species.

The ornithological highlight of the day was seen by a visiting birder (with Obs members off island or working in the shed!) when three Spoonbills flew low over the islands heading south.  A great record and only our sixth ever (and first multiple sighting) but the fifth since 2010 (when one was seen on the similar date of 30th May - see our blog for that date).

The other highlight of the day was the discovery of a Red-veined Darter in the east side trapping area.  This is only the second record of this stunning dragonfly for Hilbre.

It is interesting that the first record of Red-veined Darter on Hilbre was May/June 2009 at a time when we experienced the largest influx of Painted Lady butterflies ever, which was of course the forerunner to Hilbre's first ever Paddyfield Warbler...

With Obs members (young and old) staying on the island this week our coverage promises to remain high until the end of spring whatever that may bring. This evening Obs members once again helped members of the public by calling the coastguard.  The West Kirby RNLI attended and a couple were taken off the island as the tide rose and the sun set.

Ringing: Linnet [386-32]

Thursday 25 May 2017

25th May 2017

Weather: light air, fog, later SE 1/2 very warm and sunny

The fog in the estuary early on soon cleared leaving a loving day to be on the island. The breeding Linnets now have many youngsters busily fluttering about the paddocks and 11 juveniles and an adult were ringed today (and there's more on the way - see below). 

A late migrant Chiffchaff was singing but was particularly elusive, unlike the Shorelark which was showing well again as usual in its favoured places although could not be found in the evening in a brief search.

A single Wheatear was on the west side, this species has been unusually scarce this spring.

A Fulmar paid a brief visit to examine the cliffs of Middle Eye and 2 Collared Doves stayed a few minutes around the buildings, while passing through were 4 House Martins, some mixing with the Swallows before they moved on and a group of 4 Swifts speeding to the south.
A Whimbrel was present, also a few Sanderling with the 150 or so Dunlin around the shore and 4 Bar-tailed Godwit rested briefly at the Middle Eye high tide roost.

As with many species Mallard is particularly elusive during the breeding season at Hilbre and the sight of a pair bathing and dabbling in a pool between the islands in the evening may be a sign that the female has been down on eggs somewhere unknown.

There were not many butterflies considering the fine weather, but a few Green-veined Whites, two Red Admirals and a Painted Lady brightened the scene.

However, by late evening over 25 Painted Ladies and 8 Red Admirals had arrived and were enjoying the evening sunshine.

Ringed: 12 Linnets, 1 Meadow Pipit