Monday 30 April 2018

30th April 2018

Weather: N 3, 4/8 cloud, very good visibility

A very cold biting northerly wind greeted observers this morning so exception was not high.  However, with the final morning of the month being covered by Obs members that is another month of 100% of days covered by a small group of Obs stalwarts and friends.

The highlights of the morning were a nice count of 22 Little Terns feeding with other terns (40 Sandwich and 30 Common) off the West Hoyle sandbank as the tide began to flood.

A few Dunlin (60) appeared on the gutter edge as on the flood and were joined by a partial summer plumaged Grey Plover.

There was nothing of note around the gardens.

We now look forward to May with the usual anticipation and with coverage looking to remain high hopeful that the effort will continue to reap the rewards...

Sunday 29 April 2018

29th April 2018

Weather: NE force 1, mist around the estuary, cool
A nice looking morning with light winds but feeling very cool early on. There was very little over head moving but a small fall of at least 15 Willow Warblers was present in the paddocks but little else until 2 Redstarts were found with a female being ringed before the tide approached.

A Woodpigeon was flushed from Middle soon after dawn and several Wheatears were scattered over the island from early morning.

A Common Sandpiper flew along the tide edge off the west side but disappointingly failed to show again. A single Starling, a White Wagtail and a few Swallows passed through adding to the now resident birds

Groups of 5 and 6 Shelduck showed more activity than of late near to the islands. On the sea note was made of 8 Red-breasted Mergansers, 12 Great Crested Grebes and 2 Red-throated Divers.
A post tide visit found a few Willow Warblers still not ringed including this bird enjoying yellow pollen from the Blackthorn (below) and a Common Snipe flushed from the south end. One of the redstarts was still present.

Ringed: 12 Willow Warblers, 1 Redstart, 1 Linnet       [ 276-22 ]
photos AEH,SRW

Saturday 28 April 2018

28th April 2018

Weather: light air, then N 2 later, slight mist, sunny.
Very quiet on the passerine front this morning, 5 Wheatears were about but although they stayed for the whole of the morning, they did not venture near the traps.

A Woodpigeon flew about first thing and a Sand Martin passed through but there were no further migrants until a single Willow Warbler turned up in the SK at noon.

The local Swallows which have now arrived flew continuously around the island and seemed to be settling in the 3 regular nesting sites. Many Linnets were nest building and the pair of Pied Wagtails were also busy. It was nice to see a Robin at this time.
The sea was very calm and another 2 Harbour Porpoises were therefore easy to find swimming off the west side, while 27 Red-throated Divers, 38 Great Crested Grebes, 22 Guillemot and 12 Red-breasted Mergansers were also obvious in the good light, as were many Sandwich and Common Terns.
No sign this morning of the 1 remaining Brent but the 2 Eiders are still sitting out the tide. Several Whimbrel were the best of the waders which are now much reduced in numbers as we head towards the breeding season.
Ringed: 1 Willow Warbler      [ 262-22 ]
photos JE, CJ

Friday 27 April 2018

27th April 2018

Weather:  SE 1, 6/8 cloud increasing 8/8 and rain late morning

The day began with singing Chiffchaff in the gardens which was later caught and ringed along with a single Willow Warbler.

Four Wheatears were present during the morning two of which were caught and ringed and found to be Greenland race birds; unsurprising at this time of the spring.

A Sparrowhawk was disturbed from rocks below 'Subalp steps' and flew off towards Wales.

A flock of 132 Pink footed Geese flew out of the estuary early on but sadly did not contain the recent Snow Goose from Denhall Quay.  Other wildfowl included a single Mute Swan which headed first North and then West off the West Side and a single Canada Goose which called whilst sat on the flooding tide towards West Kirby.  The two immature drake Eiders were joined again by an adult drake and all three birds could be heard calling off the East Side.

Waders were again in evidence with 13 Whimbrel noted (including six roosting on the rocks) and single Bar-tailed Godwit and Curlew noted.

The only visible migration of note was a single lava Wagtail calling overhead, 2 White Wagtails, 4 Redpoll and a single Siskin.

For a very calm day the sea was very active with 18 Red-breasted Mergansers off the West Hoyle sandbank, 14 Great Crested Grebes and 23 Red-throated Divers but the highlights were twofold: firstly 7 Manx Shearwaters feeding in the mouth of the estuary between Hilbre and the Point of Ayr and secondly five Harbour Porpoise feeding around the swash and the North End.

Thursday 26 April 2018

26th April 2018

Weather: W  5 decreasing slightly later, visibility moderate but improving later.

A very windy day found 2 Phylloscopus Warblers sheltering in the blackthorn, 3 Goldfinch over and the (presumably) local pair of swallows feeding and roosting in Niffy Bay. Also sheltering there were the small number of Redshank,  Turnstone and Whimbrel present. Over a hundred Dunlin were around the islands in small flocks.
Four Shelduck were in the Gutter east of Middle with the two Eider. Noted during a sea watch were 80 Common Scoter, 9 Great Crested Grebe and 23 Gannet, plus 11 each of Guillimot and Red-throated Diver (all of the Divers were flying into the mouth of the Dee to the west of Hilbre). About 40 Sandwich Terns were present with Common Tern half that number. Bird of the day was a Red-necked Grebe in summer plumage seen to fly over the Swash west of Middle towards Point of Air.
photos AS

Wednesday 25 April 2018

25th April 2018

Weather: W  3-4 with moderate visibility

Although the wind direction meant that there was no passerine movement other than 10 Goldfinch, it was a pleasure to discover that one of ‘our’ pairs of Swallows were checking out last year’s nest site in the lookout, a third bird was also noted. 
The pair of Pied Wagtail were looking around the buildings and Wrens, Dunnock and Linnets were all singing. Two Peregrines were seen, 1 on the sand north of Little Eye with prey then later 2 over Middle, one of which came over to Hilbre and was seen to be a male.
A single Brent Goose remains along with the 2 Eider. Fourteen Ringed Plover were below the obs after tide, Turnstone, Redshank and Dunlin were all present in small numbers but there was a good count of 21 Whimbrel  which includes a group of 7 Whistlers that flew passed the hide !
A sea watch saw 3 Red Throated Diver, 2 Fulmar, 3 Great Crested Grebe and 24 Guillimot. Common Scoter flew by in small groups totalling 35, 17 Gannet were mostly far out, as were the Terns but they moved closer after the tide when 65 Sandwich, 20 Common and the first 2 Little Tern of the year were noted.
As the tide ebbed a Wheatear was found on the south end and 2 Little Egrets were feeding in the Gutter.
A solitary Peacock butterfly was seen in the gardens.
photos AS

Tuesday 24 April 2018

24th April 2018

Weather:  WSW 1-2, 8/8 cloud, good vis

The weather was obviously not conducive for passerine migration but a brief visit this morning proved that waders were very much on the move with 16 Whimbrel counted along with 6 Curlew and 18 Dunlin but the highlight was two Common Sandpipers; one which flew down the west side between the islands and off down the reef and a second bird which spent the morning around the North End.

The breeding Swallows appear to have returned around the Telegraph Station and Fog Cottage.

Monday 23 April 2018

23rd April 2018

Weather: W 4-5, 8/8 cloud, moderate vis

A very quiet morning produced a few things on the sea with 78 Common Scoter, a pair of Red-breasted Merganser, 6 Gannet, 3 Razorbill and 3 Fulmar as well as 32 Sandwich and 3 Common Terns.

There was absolutely no passerine migration but a few waders moved through with 6 Whimbrel, 57 Curlew and 2 Dunlin noted along with 13 Turnstone.

The two immature drake Eiders were around the islands.

Sunday 22 April 2018

22nd April 2018

Weather:  W 1, 8/8 cloud, rain showers later 

The day started with promise with one observer staying overnight and hearing a Grasshopper Warbler singing before dawn in almost flat calm weather.  Unfortunately, that was not a sign of things to come and with the wind shifting to the west it seems our migration friendly weather is finally over (for now).

However, like the Gropper, there were one or two arrivals this morning with two Willow Warblers noted and a single female Blackcap caught and ringed mid morning - amazingly, this became the eighth morning in a row that we’ve caught a new Blackcap on the island. 

A couple of small parties of Pink-footed Geese were noted first thing passing out of the estuary heading north but only 67 were counted today.  A single Pale-bellied Brent was on the whaleback.

Vis mig was also slow with a single Tree Pipit the highlight as well as 3 White Wagtails and only a few Meadow Pipits and finches (including one Siskin and the breeding Linnets).

Two Harbour Porpoise were noted off the West side and a pair of Eider again temporarily joined the two immature drakes.

Saturday 21 April 2018

21st April 2018

Weather: ENE force 1 at dawn, later SE 4 vis 10 mls
The reappearance of the Puffin seen on 15th (or another) caused the biggest excitement amongst the members this morning when it was seen distantly off the north end at 08.00, it seemed to be drifting out with the tide. Still a rarity at Hilbre, and a 'mega' for Cheshire listers, Puffin sightings in this area are few and far between.
Despite the Puffin, the main focus today was on the good birds passing through the islands, the highlights being the first Whitethroat of the year (above), 2 more Grasshopper Warblers (both heard reeling at dawn and later trapped for ringing, below), 2 Blackcaps and a male Redstart (bottom),
Also 9 Wheatears, 15 Willow Warblers (below), a Chiffchaff and a calling Brambling over the shore early and later a Tree Pipit doing the same over the island.

Background birds today included several White Wagtails, Goldfinches, Redpolls, Swallows and 8 Linnets ringed indicated a passage independently of the breeding birds.
Pink-footed Geese flew out again at dawn, but this time only 223, while a single Brent was seen (as often happens after the main departure) and the 2 immature drake Eiders are still here. Three male Mallards are about the island, a female is probably being elusive.
Eleven Whimbrel and 30 Sandwich Terns were counted.
An evening visit was made just as the light faded and the thunder clouds rolled in on a fantastic day, found 3 Wheatears still present but few other birds although the first House Martin of the day was logged.

Ringed: 8 Willow Warblers, 1 Chiffchaff, 2 Grasshopper Warblers, 1 Whitethroat, 1 Blackcap, 1 Redstart, 1 Goldfinch, 8 Linnets.                  [ 251-22 ]
photos CJ,BT,AEH

Friday 20 April 2018

20th April 2018

Weather: light air, mist around the estuary then thick fog before sun breaking through mid-morning
On arrival at the island a bank of thick fog rolled in from the sea, visibility 50yards, and failed to clear until the sun broke through 3 hours later at 09.00. The fog may have done us some favours as during this early period a few phylloscopus were on the ground (one a long winged (73mm) 'northern' type Willow Warbler, below) and a single Goldcrest.
 and together with the now expected Blackcaps, a fine male Whinchat, the first of the year for us.
A Song Thrush suddenly appeared in the obs garden and minutes later a Redwing was also in the garden, quite a late record here and it became the first ringed this year.

A Common Sandpiper was found on the shore off the south west corner, but became elusive when photos were attempted. A single Tree Pipit called overhead and a female Sparrowhawk flew low to the west over the south end. No Porpoises today but lots more terns with 45 Sandwich and 86 Common and 18 Red-breasted Mergansers were noted near the west hoyle as the tide started to flood.
Wheatears increased as the sun came out and 9 were on the islands this morning, including the one that was ringed yesterday. There were no martins and just 7 Swallows noted. Meadow Pipits seemed not to be moving today and only 8 Goldfinches, 8 White Wagtails, 3 Lesser Redpoll and a single Skylark passed through.
About 300 Dunlin gathered on the east side as the tide approached with a few Ringed Plover. Only 5 Whimbrel were seen, also 1 Little Egret.
Ringed: 3 Willow Warblers, 2 Chiffchaffs, 1 Blackcap, 1 Whinchat, 1 Redwing, 2 Wrens, 2 Linnets.
[ 228-21 ]

Thursday 19 April 2018

19th April 2018

Weather: SE force 1  clear sky, warm and sunny
A really lovely Hilbre morning, with t-shirts the order of the day. What could be nicer than standing on the west side in the warmth of the sun watching 4 Harbour Porpoises swimming in the calm waters of the Dee?
Earlier at dawn the Pink-footed Geese resumed their procession out of the estuary with several parties totalling over 2,500 during the morning, how many more are there still to travel north?
As expected migrants arrived, but in small numbers compared with the north Wirral coast. grounded today were 15 Willow Warblers, 4 Chiffchaffs, 7 Greenland Wheatears (below), and 3 Blackcaps (a few of which have landed for several days running),

also a trickle through of Meadow Pipits and about 15 White Wagtails, a flock of 9 Lesser Redpolls paying a brief visit, and 2 Grasshopper Warblers (first of the year at Hilbre, one was on Middle and one on the main island that was heard briefly before becoming the first ringed this year).
Another first of the year was an Arctic Tern sitting on the sea with a Sandwich Tern off to the north west. A close pass by a Little Gull was in the same area. Others seen on the sea included an adult Gannet, 30 Sandwich Terns, 8 Common Terns, 12 Great Crested Grebes and 17 Red-breasted Mergansers.
Fly-by visitors were a Collared Dove, 2 Woodpigeons (one staying for a while), 6 Swallows, 2 Sand Martins, 1 House Martin, a Canada Goose east-west over the island, 6 Goldfinches, 1 Siskin, about 3 dozen Linnets and 2 Skylarks.
Eleven Whimbrel called their flutey whistle from the shore, about the same number as yesterday, 25 Sanderling, 30 Ringed Plover and 60 Turnstone were also logged.
Raptors have been fairly scarce this spring so far and a Kestrel was the sole representative today.
Ringed: 7 Willow Warblers, 2 Chiffchaffs, 2 Blackcaps, 1 Grasshopper Warbler, 1 Greenland Wheatear, 1 Wren, 1 Meadow Pipit, 4 Linnets.   [ 216-19 ]
photos SRW