Sunday 30 December 2018

30th December 2018

Weather:  W 1, 8/8 cloud, good vis

The last visit of the year by Obs members produced a few interesting sightings including a single Mute Swan, a pair of Pintail and 5 Wigeon.

A single Dark-bellied Brent Goose was found amongst the Pale-bellied Brent Goose flock which numbered 182 and included two colour-ringed birds from Iceland.

At least four Song Thrushes remain wintering on the main island and five Wrens were noted along with 5 Meadow Pipit and a single Rock Pipit.

Thursday 27 December 2018

27th December 2018

Weather: SE force 0/1  cloudy and mild
A visit over the early afternoon tide was quiet bird wise as expected, but as always worth while for the experience. Highlight was probably a single Goosander flypast between the islands and up the west side.
The Eider was there as usual, the Brent scattered and only 137 could be counted,

....... while 200 Common Scoter were out to sea with 3 Red-throated Divers and 6 Great Crested Grebes, but no other duck were present today.
Waders seen included 3,500 Oystercatchers,45 Bar-tailed Godwit, 74 Curlew and 34 Ringed Plover.

..... and of course 5 Purple Sandpipers.
Small birds sneaking about the paddocks  and grassy areas included 3 Song Thrushes, 5 Robins, 5 Wrens, 4 Meadow Pipits and a Pied Wagtail, while 3 Little Egrets and 2 Grey Herons stayed were on the shore.
photos AEH

Wednesday 26 December 2018

26th December 2018

Weather: SE   1   vis 5 mls with mist around the estuary.

 At first light 186 Pink-footed Geese flew over from Wales heading NE,
 ........... much later another 6 followed. Brent Geese were counted at 182.
Five Grey Heron roosted over tide with 4 on the north end of Middle and the fifth on Little Eye.
The 74 Turnstone present included a colour ringed bird which has been wintering here for  at least 10 years now. Other waders included a Bar-tailed Godwit, 80 Redshank, 130 Curlew and 7 Purple Sandpiper. 
Three Red-throated Diver and 19 Great Crested Grebe were off the North End with the ever present Eider which seems to have a damaged wing.
A Woodpigeon landed briefly in the pittospurum in the obs garden, 3 Dunnock were present and a Pied Wagtail was at the North End.
It was lovely to see a flock of 16 Linnet arrive to bathe in the trackway puddles, they were joined by 6 Meadow Pipit.
The only mammals seen today were Grey Seals and one had been stranded by the tide by Middle, when disturbed by visitors it laboriously made its way down the Gutter back to the sea.
There was however, evidence of the Fox being active throughout the Christmas period.
photos AS

Tuesday 25 December 2018

25th December 2018

Weather: ESE  1-2  vis 5 mls  with drizzle early.

Christmas day was a good day for marine mammals, not unusual was the West Hoyle haul out of 42 Grey Seal, but a young Common Seal was out on the North End and was extremely tame, at times resting in the typical Common Seal pose, when photographed again later it wasn’t clear whether it was injured or had just eaten a big fish! 
It was a surprise then to find a second Common out on the rocks at the South end. 
During a brief sea watch a Bottlenose Dolphin was seen at the mouth of the estuary and a Harbour Porpoise with calf in the Swash.
The sea watch only produced 163 Common Scoter, 4 Red-throated Diver and 26 Great Crested Grebe, the Eider and 160 Brent Geese were also noted.
Seven Purple Sandpiper were present,
.............and other waders included 34 Sanderling, 40 Grey Plover,48 Ringed Plover, a Bar-tailed Godwit and 700 Dunlin. A little Egret and 3 Grey Heron were around the islands.
A Rock Pipit appeared briefly at the North End and a couple of Christmas Robins seemed to have joined the locals.
photos AS

Monday 24 December 2018

24th December 2018

Weather: E  1   very poor visibility with thick fog early but improving pm.

Fifty eight Pink-footed Geese flew out of the estuary at first light and later 63 Starling flew south up the island, just above the west cliffs. Two Skylark flew over the north end and a Woodpigeon was flushed from the south End.
On the sea were 326 Common Scoter, 5 Guillemot, 9 Red-throated Diver and 11 Great Crested Grebe. The Eider is still around and a good number of Cormorant were present, 1,250 in total.
 Five Purple Sandpiper roosted over tide and a foggy photo taken !
Along with the 6,000 Oystercatcher on Middle were a Heron and 150 Curlew, with 2 more spending the tide on the main island.
Two thousand Knot were noted along with 37 Ringed Plover and 3 Grey Plover.
There was fresh evidence of the fox around the island and 44 rhisostoma jelly fish had been stranded on the north side of Little Eye.
photos AS

Sunday 16 December 2018

16th December 2018

Weather: still air at dawn, then SW force 2

A brief visit across before dawn (with Venus shining brilliantly) thankfully found very little evidence of any damage due to yesterdays storm. Among the 178 Brent was colour ringed 'HSBW', ringed in Ireland 10 years ago and first seen here 8 years ago. About 100 Pink-footed Geese were seen flying south distantly over Wirral.
Six Field Voles snuggled under shelter, a good number for this time of year. A single Purple Sandpiper was among the Turnstones, a few dozen Redshanks were in the gutter with 15 Dunlin and 2 Grey Plover.
Around the gardens and paddocks were 2 each of Wren, Dunnock and Song Thrush.
photos AEH, CJ

Friday 14 December 2018

14th December 2018

Weather: SE  2-3  poor visibility with mist around the estuary and a temperature of -1
 A pair of Teal were at the North End along with the Eider and 300 Knot flew past going east.

Seven Great Crested Grebe were on the sea and 9 Shelduck flew up the Swash, there were 254 Brent Geese around the islands along with 684 Cormorant. There was again a Rock Pipit at the North End, 3 Skylark flew together over the island and the usual robin, wren and Dunnock were about.
Two Little Egret flew west between the islands and a single Grey Heron was present. Waders were in quite low numbers and were disturbed from feeding in the Gutter by an unsuccessful but persistent Peregrine.
 photos AS

Thursday 13 December 2018

13th December 2018

Weather:  SE force 4/5 cold with windchill
A typical winter movement today of 9 Lapwings flying low to the south, also a Common Snipe which sat at the north end until moved by the incoming tide. The female Eider was still about but was the only duck species seen all day. Principal wader sightings included 4 Purple Sandpipers and 244 Turnstone on the island and 1,500 Knot roosting along the West Kirby shore. A Red-throated Diver and 204 Common Scoter were out to sea. Brent were counted at 193. An adult female Peregrine showed, while more sedentary land birds included 2 Song Thrushes and 2 Robins. On the mammal front fresh evidence of fox droppings were seen, but nevertheless at least 4 Field Voles survive.

Sunday 9 December 2018

9th December 2018

Weather: NW  3 increasing later vis 5 mls
Singles of Rock and Meadow Pipit were on the island with 2 Song Thrush. It was equally poor on the sea with 320 Common Scoter, 680 Cormorant and the Eider, but 7,500 Knot were on the East Hoyle and 4 Purple Sandpiper at the North End.

Thursday 6 December 2018

6th December 2018

Weather: SW  3-4   vis 8 mls with rain showers.

As is expected at this time of year very few birds were on the islands, however 2 Linnet and a Rock Pipit were on Middle, 2 Song Thrush and 5 Meadow Pipit on Hilbre with just a Robin, Dunnock and a few Wren.

On the sea over tide 5 Red-throated Diver were seen along with 17 Great Crested Grebe a Guillemot and 173 Common Scoter. Two male and a female Mallard were in Niffy Bay and an Eider by Middle Eye.
A Peregrine put up the 8,000 Oystercatcher roosting over tide but hunted unsuccessfully, and then spent quite a while ‘playing’ on the thermals by the mast.
Other waders included 9,000 Knot, 630 Dunlin and 5 Purple Sandpiper. Two Grey Heron were at the north end of Middle.
An adult Grey Seal with a wound on its head was hauled out at the North End  and two younger ones seemed very interested in it. Although it looked quite unwell it did move as the tide came up.
 photos AS

Tuesday 4 December 2018

4th December 2018

Weather: W force 2, clear overnight and cold
Calmer and drier this morning with a surprise of a late Goldcrest in the paddocks, also a Woodpigeon, both usually only seen at Hilbre at times of passage. Three Skylarks went through mid-morning and another was down on Middle at midday. Probable wintering birds today included 3 Song Thrushes, 5 Wrens, 2 Robins, 2 Dunnocks and 2 Rock Pipits. A seal was hauled out on the rocks by shell beach and later near the north end.
Sea birds seen were 23 Common Scoter, 8 Great Crested Grebes and 2 Guillemots, while best of the waders counted were 1,500 Knot, 300 Dunlin, 25 Sanderling, 4 Purple Sandpipers with a few Turnstone.

Grey Herons unusually today outnumbered Little Egrets 6 to 1, and there were 2 Eiders, an immature male (below) and a female, and 70 Shelduck rested on the shore after the tide.
 photos AS

Sunday 2 December 2018

2nd December 2018

Weather:  SW 4, 7/8 cloud, showers

A short visit on a grey morning produced a Peregrine on the reef between Middle and Little for observers on the way over.  

The Eider was off the North End as were 180 Common Scoter.

212 Pale-bellied Brent Geese were counted but there were certainly more present below the rocks between the islands.

Lots of waders were around the North Shore and the Tanskies.  The Great Northern Diver remains on West Kirby Marine Lake along with the Little Grebe and the returning Cumbrian colour-ringed Black-headed Gull 2J75.

A single Song Thrush was in the trapping area and a Skylark passed over. 

Saturday 1 December 2018

1st December 2018

Weather:  S 3-4, 8/8 cloud, poor vis (2 miles), rain
An early damp start found 6 Song Thrushes about the island, more than the norm at this time of year.
A Goosander was present, these birds seem to be more common in the estuary during the last few years, unlike Red-breasted Mergansers that may have declined. A female Eider continued the now regular appearance of these ducks at Hilbre. The bad weather hampered much bird finding but waders included 7 Purple Sandpipers, 60 Dunlin, 40 Redshank and a Grey Plover.
Ringing: Song Thrush [555-34]

Friday 30 November 2018

30th November 2018

Weather: WSW 4, 5/8 cloud, good vis

A short visit today was surprisingly productive with a flock of 20 Pintail flying over the island and off south up the estuary as observers arrived.

The single Eider was off the North End and a single Purple Sandpiper fed on the slipway along with good numbers of Turnstone (85).

The Pale-bellied Brent Goose flock has increased and a peak count so far this autumn/winter was made today with 242 birds present.

A single Little Egret fed in the gutter with good numbers of Redshank (180) and Knot (850) also present.

Two Song Thrushes were around the gardens and one bird retrapped today was the returning bird which is clearly now wintering on the islands.

Meanwhile, yesterday an adult Great Northern Diver was found on West Kirby Marine Lake (still present today - photo below by Peter Sutton) joining the Little Grebe that was still present (see below); a real ‘little and large’ double act for the lake!