Saturday 30 September 2017

30th September 2017

Weather: SSE force 3, rain showers

Although things were generally quiet this morning Goldcrests are still about, 8 today also a single Chiffchaff and a Wheatear.

A Wigeon was the only duck seen, not taking into account the over 200 Shelduck recorded, other sightings were 2 Peregrines, 4 Little Egrets and 13 Sandwich Terns still remaining in the area.
Ringed: 6 Goldcrests                  [ 577-34 ]

Friday 29 September 2017

29th September 2017

Weather: WSW force 3, rain dying out early in the morning

A quiet morning with only 3 Goldcrests on, at least 2 of which were ringed here a few days ago, although a Chiffchaff and 2 late Willow Warblers were a surprise to see. A male Blackcap was found in the Newton trap, a species which has been particularly scarce this year at Hilbre. Three Wheatears were on the island and passing through were 25 Goldfinch (including a flock of 15), 2 Skylarks and 2 Grey Wagtails but no Swallows. A Common Sandpiper was seen between the islands late morning (most records of this species are in spring). Other records today were 1,000 Common Scoter, 4 Great Crested Grebes, a Gannet, a Guillemot, 59 Shelduck, 150 Curlew, 4 Bar-tailed Godwit, 4 Sanderling and 7 Little Egrets. The 2 pale-bellied Brent that have been here for a few days now have increased to 5.

Ringed: 1 Blackcap, 1 Willow Warbler         [ 571-34 ]

Thursday 28 September 2017

28th September 2017

Weather: W force 2, sunny and warm

A beautiful day on the island weather wise.  However, there were no Chiffchaffs this morning but still 5 Goldcrests in the gardens and 5 Wheatears on the island. 

Overhead passage was quite good with 100 or so Meadow Pipits, 15 Swallows and 6 Skylarks going through, also 9 Goldcrests and a Siskin.

Just the two Brent have arrived at the moment with 2 Wigeon visiting today. A sea watch produced 2 Gannets and 7 Guillemots with 3,000 Common Scoter out towards the wind farms while terns were represented by 10 late Sandwich Terns, with an adult and young bird roosting the tide at the north end.

A Greenshank was on the shore with the 93 Redshank counted; other waders included 2 Bar-tailed Godwits, 2 Grey Plover and 21 Ringed Plovers. Five Rock Pipits were more than of late, but 5 Little Egrets is about normal these days.

An immature Peregrine was seen, presumably the same bird that has been hanging around the island lately and frequently sitting on the mast.

Wednesday 27 September 2017

27th September 2017

Weather: S 2, backing SE 4/5, mist clearing later

It felt promising first thing and observers were once again greeted by the sound of Goldcrests and Chiffchaffs.

However, the wind quickly picked up and became blustery so most birds were keeping low.

A couple of Wheatears were keeping themselves safe above the cliffs and a couple of Peregrines, including an immature which once again landed on the mast, attacked and captured a solitary Knot. 

Small groups of duck including Wigeon (13) and Teal (2) were noted during the morning and the two Pale-bellied Brent Geese were still present.

A single Reed Bunting passed over but there were very few Meadow Pipits passing over today.

Late morning the Firecrest from yesterday was refound in the Obs garden and gave brief views in the blustery conditions (photos from yesterday).

Tuesday 26 September 2017

26th September 2017

Weather: SE 1, 8/8 cloud, must, low vis (1 mile)

After yesterday's fall of Goldcrests observers could've been forgiven for thinking that these things rarely occur two days running, however, optimism was back on the agenda today with the wind in the right direction, mist all around the estuary but you could just make out Little Eye from the mainland.  Perfect conditions - and so it proved.

With observers on early and the first mist net already erected Goldcrests could once again be heard calling from the Obs garden bushes.  However, today they were outnumbered by Chiffchaffs.

On the first round a brief sighting of the head of a phyllosc poking out of the bracken had one observer exclaiming 'Yellow-browed' but the bird quickly disappeared and was thought to have flown South.  Despite a good search of the south end and the Obs garden it could not be found.  However, upon returning to the trap round it was rediscovered in the Newton trap!

This was our earliest ever Yellow-browed Warbler at Hilbre and only the second ever September record (following one on 30 September 1975).  Following release it was seen again in the vicinity of the air raid shelter/lower paddock and later in the Obs garden.

Meanwhile, Chiffchaffs continued to arrive with at least 35 present during the day (20 being caught and ringed) and 3 late Willow Warblers were noted amongst them (see photo below of Willow Warbler, left, and Chiffchaff, right).

Goldcrests also passed through in reasonable numbers with 25 logged.

Visible migration today increased with small numbers of Grey and alba Wagtails over, 6 Skylarks, small parties of Goldfinches (including one caught and ringed) and 450 Meadow Pipits; the best count so far this autumn.

A few Sandwich Terns were still offshore with a juvenile and a ringed adult on the Whaleback over the tide.  A Greenshank was heard calling over the tide and then found roosting on the North End of Middle along with two Pale-bellied Brent Geese.

A couple of flocks of Wigeon were noted during the morning and an immature  Peregrine returned to perch on the mast - perhaps forming a new habit?

The final highlight of the day came late afternoon when one observer noticed a small bird flying towards him from the North End, it dropped into a small bramble below the Telegraph Station ('Lookout') steps and began feeding around the floor; a stunning male Firecrest.

After a while of good feeding the Firecrest hopped over the wall and into the gardens. About an hour later it had made its way south into the 'Heli' trap at the same time as a Goldcrest which made for a lovely comparison and stunning end to a fabulous day on the islands.

With more south-easterlies forecast surely tomorrow can't top today ... can it?

Ringing: Chiffchaff (20), Willow Warbler, Yellow-browed Warbler, Goldcrest (15), Firecrest, Wren (2), Goldfinch, Robin (2) [569-34]

Photos AEH and SRW

Monday 25 September 2017

25th September 2017

Weather:  W 3, 8/8 cloud, poor vis (3 miles)

The day began with a light westerly wind which did little to raise the hopes of observers who'd been promised south-easterlies for the foreseeable!

However, it turned out to be a blessing in disguise and today was another lovely autumn day on the islands.

The highlight without doubt was a fall of Goldcrests which began in the morning but increased dramatically around midday after a bank of mist and then some light drizzle downed a number of birds.  

At least 50 Goldcrest were estimated to be on the main island today (with 27 birds caught and ringed), 8 Chiffchaffs also appeared (with none ringed before 1pm, five were caught and ringed subsequently).  Many of the Goldcrests were clearly finding plenty to feed on.

Visible movement was a little more restricted but 7 alba Wagtails and a single Grey were noted along with a flock of six Starlings, two Skylark, small groups of Goldfinch (totalling 19 birds) and 60 Meadow Pipits (an increase for us on recent days).  Three Rock Pipits were also noted.

A single Kestrel was present during the day and seen to take a Short-tailed Field Vole despite the excess of Goldcrests on offer.  A Peregrine dried itself out on the mast for some time - either a migrant caught in the drizzle or a bird that had somehow ended up in the water.

Less predictable was a Sparrowhawk which glided over Middle mid morning and temporarily put the gulls and waders up and the semi-resident Crows into a spin!

Also grounded by the drizzle at midday was a fine male Stonechat at the south end which was chased off by a Chiffchaff at one point.

A seal pup had managed to strand itself again near Middle but made its way slowly back towards the tide early on.

Finally, a jellyfish was found below the Obs garden and considered to be a rhizostoma pulmo.

Ringing: Goldcrest (27), Chiffchaff (5) [536-32]
Photos AS and SRW 

Sunday 24 September 2017

24th September 2017

Weather: SE 4, 7/8 cloud, good vis

A pre-dawn start (well it has to be done at this time of year doesn't it?), resulted in observers waiting for the sun to come up with the sound of a Goldcrest in the Obs garden.  However, it was not the pre-cursor to a fall of birds but it still proved to be a lovely autumn morning on the islands.

A single Chiffchaff was found in the trapping area and caught and ringed meanwhile 2 Starling moved south in off the sea.

A Ring Ouzel was first seen flying fast south over the island down the east side before alighting briefly on Middle.  It must have decided that it preferred the main island as it returned to Hilbre.  It repeated this manoeuvre on a couple of occasions during the morning appearing to attempt migrating into the brisk south-easterly but  on each occasion giving up and returning to the island.  It briefly settled in Niffy Bay on a couple of occasions.

It was a good day for wildfowl with 7 Pintail seen on the tide edge at dawn before flying up the estuary and later nine Wigeon were seen on the flooding tide.

A brief post-tide visit this afternoon also produced the two Pale-bellied Brent Geese between Middle and Little Eye.

Ringing: Chiffchaff [494-32]
Photos JE (Wigeon) and SRW (remainder)

Saturday 23 September 2017

23rd September 2017

Weather: SE 3-4, 7/8 cloud, good vis

A late afternoon visit to keep up our continuous coverage produced a few left over grounded migrants from this morning with 3 Wheatear and single Chiffchaff and Goldcrest in the gardens.

Two Great Crested Grebe drifted just off the North End slipway and 3 Rock Pipits chased each other around, well, the rocks!

With south-easterlies forecast for the next few days we hope to continue the high level of coverage of the islands that we've obtained this year.

Friday 22 September 2017

22nd September 2017

Weather: SE force 2, wind and cloud increasing from the west

Highlight of a pre-tide visit was a fly-past of Goosanders down the east side, across between the islands and away to the west. Goosanders are still a scarce species at Hilbre.

Migrants grounded this morning were 9 Goldcrests, 3 Chiffchaffs and 3 Wheatears, with passing through a trickle of Meadow Pipits, 3 Swallows and an early (for Hilbre passage) Skylark.

Two Kestrels flew over the island together and a Peregrine sat south of the main island early in the day. The 2 Brent were at the north end, where a single Sandwich Tern was feeding, most have now moved off south.

Ringed: 4 Goldcrests, 2 Chiffchaffs [493-32]

Thursday 21 September 2017

21st September 2017

Weather: SE force 3/4, drizzle then rain, later clearing WNW 3
Passing flocks this morning of 30 Canada and 60 Pinkfeet geese came overhead, while 3 Chiffchaffs, a Goldcrest, a male Blackcap and 2 Wheatears were the small arrivals today.
 A sea watch over the tide found 10 Red-throated Divers, 10 Guillemots and 8 Great Crested Grebes, and waders in good numbers included 6,500 Oystercatchers, 500 Dunlin, 2 Sanderling, 65 Curlew 150 Redshanks, and 20 Ringed Plovers.
 Only 5 Sandwich Terns could be found, the 2 Brent are still about, also 2 Rock Pipits and a Kestrel.

photos AEH

Wednesday 20 September 2017

20th September 2017

Weather: SSE force 2
Observers arrived just before dawn to see an asio owl (presumably a Short-eared) appear over the grass in front of bungalows and float off south down the east gutter, unfortunately it could not be relocated. It soon became apparent that migrants were scarce and  no Goldcrests or warblers were present with only a very small passage of Meadow Pipits, about 10 Robins and a single Wheatear saving the day. Two Peregrines and the 2 Brent from yesterday were seen, a Wigeon flew west passed the north end, a Rock Pipit was present and a Grey Wagtail went over, otherwise most sightings were fairly routine.
Ringed: 1 Robin                     [ 487-32 ]

Tuesday 19 September 2017

19th September 2017

Weather: S force 1, cloud and mist clearing then sunny and warm

A very pleasant day started with a dozen or so Goldcrests on the ground and a Chiffchaff in sub-song in the obs garden.
At least 4 Wheatears were about the island and a small passage of both Meadow Pipits and Swallows continued through the morning, also 2 Grey Wagtails, 2 Sand Martins and 5 Goldfinches. A harbinger of late autumn/winter came in the form of 9 Wigeon, 3 Rock Pipits and 2 pale-bellied Brent.
The Bonxie reappeared today, scattering the waders in the area, then resting on the sea for a while before flying out of view.  The best of the sea watching were the 10 Bottle-nosed Dolphins circling while feeding and occasionally jumping out the sea off to the north (thanks to Richard Smith at Red Rocks for the tip off)
Other seabirds logged were a Gannet, 2 Red-throated Divers and 30 Guillemot.  A few butterflies flew in the sunshine, also a  Migrant Hawker dragonfly.

Ringed: 4 Goldcrests, 1 Chiffchaff [486-32]. Photos AS and SRW

Monday 18 September 2017

18th September 2017

Weather: no wind first thing, backing W, 8/8 cloud rain arriving midday

A small movement of 25 Meadow Pipits was noted this morning in hardly any wind and there were at least two Rock Pipits still.

Three Wheatears graced the main island during the early tide.

Three Teal were noted (a single and a pair) but it was the flat calm conditions on the sea that resulted in the best sightings of the day with 188 Great Crested Grebe counted, c4,000 Common Scoter estimated and 63 Guillemot and 3 Razorbill logged.

The highlight of the day were two surfacing Harbour Porpoise off the west side.

There was little in the way of grounded mirgants but half a dozen Robin were noted with one caught and ringed.

After the tide observers retreated to the mainland with the onset of an advancing front and rain set in for the afternoon.

Ringing: Robin [481-32]

Sunday 17 September 2017

17th September 2017

Weather: ESE 2, backing NNE 2 later, showers

Migrants were a little thin on the ground this morning although two each of Chiffchaff and Goldcrest were noted.  Rock Pipits numbered five, which is an excellent count for this species at Hilbre at the start of the main passage period.

The waders and gulls were spooked a couple of times during the morning and the culprit have itself away in spectacular fashion when a Bonxie (Great Skua) powered over the South End, over the pond and back past the Obs over observers heads.

Five Red-throated Divers were seen today including a loose flock of four (two of which photographed above) but otherwise the sea was quiet.

The single Pale-bellied Brent was on the 'whaleback' again, but there was no sign of yesterday's undoubted passage Purple Sandpiper.

Ringing: Chiffchaff, Goldcrest [480-32]

Photos by AEH, PSW and SRW