Tuesday 30 April 2019

30th April 2019

Weather:  SE 2, 2/8, mist around the estuary, low vis (<3 miles)

A light south easterly and mist greeted observers and they were not disappointed.  It was a beautiful morning.

At least 20 Willow Warblers arrived during the morning and mid morning firstly a Sedge Warbler was heard singing near the SK (and was later caught) and then a Whitethroat was found by the heli and was also caught.

Tree Pipits continue to pass over with 9 counted today but only 11 flava Wagtails (including 5 Yellow ‘down’).

630 Sandwich Terns were counted along with 62 Common and 2 Arctic Terns flew between the islands calling.  No doubt following the terns north two Arctic Skuas were recorded heading west low over the sea and two Manx Shearwaters were also noted.  A single Razorbill was the first for a while.

30 Whimbrel was the highest count so far and another Common Sandpiper continues a good spring for this species at Hilbre and the small flocks of summer plumaged Dunlin are starting to build up as we approach May.

Ringing: Willow Warbler (13), Whitethroat (1) Linnet, Sedge Warbler, Greenland Wheatear [453-26]

Monday 29 April 2019

29th April 2019

Weather:  SE 0-1, cloud 6/8, moderate vis

The started with the sound of a Chiffchaff singing in the paddocks and gardens.  It was later caught and ringed along with a few Willow Warblers which trickled in over the tide.

The control male Blackcap was still present as were three Eider (two males and a female) and the Dark-bellied Brent Goose.

The sea was quite good with good numbers of Common Tern (150+), along with 65 Sandwich and 8 Arctic Terns.  Gannets were present but mainly well out but closer was the first Manx Shearwater of the year which flew west past the North End seen from the light. Three Kittiwakes were also noted including a moribund individual on the rocks at the North End.

Pre-dawn - Hilbre without its mast
A Golden Plover could be heard calling but could not be seen unlike a calling Common Sandpiper which immediately gave itself up on the tide edge below ‘Shorelark Shelf’ at the North End.

A pair of House Sparrows landed a couple of times on the grass north of the light but eventually headed off south bypassing the gardens.

A single flava Wagtail flew over calling but there were more White Wagtails with 6 noted.

Several finches passed over with some dropping in including two Goldfinches caught but three Lesser Redpoll moved through uncaught.

Butterflies appeared as the day warmed up with two Orange-tips, Red Admiral, Small Tortoiseshell and Green-veined White all recorded.

Hilbre Bird Observatory from the South End of the main island

Ringing: Willow Warbler (5), Chiffchaff, Goldfinch (2), Linnet, Meadow Pipit [436-26]

Sunday 28 April 2019

28th April 2019

Weather:  NW 6-7, decreasing by mid morning, cloud 8/8 showers then brightening.

The storm from yesterday was still strong early morning and blew in some sea birds for the observers. Four Common Terns and 37 Sandwich Terns were recorded.

.........also 25 Gannets

.........and an adult Kittiwake.

Three Fulmars, 27 Common Scoters and 3 Great Crested Grebes were the supporting cast. Best of the waders were 124 Dunlin, a Bar-tailed Godwit and 3 Whimbrel. The dark-bellied Brent continues around the island, as do the 3 Eiders (2male).
Passerines were naturally scarce considering the north westerly airstream but the control Blackcap of yesterday was still present. At least 2 pairs of Swallows are nesting and a female Pied Wagtail is sitting on eggs.

Photos by AEH

Saturday 27 April 2019

27th April 2019

Weather: NW 7-8, 8/8 cloud, rain

A brief visit late morning between squalls to check on the Obs building was unusually productive.

First three Common Terns greeted observers arriving as they roosted on the rocks near the Landrover track (photo by Matt Thomas) out of the wind along with five Sandwich Terns.

A Fulmar battled its way past the Old Obs garden and surprisingly a male Blackcap appeared in the heli garden and was found to be a control British ringed bird.  We look forward to finding out where it was ringed.

Friday 26 April 2019

26th April 2019

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

It was the first quiet day for some time with good visibility meaning very few grounded migrants at all although a single Woodpigeon was down on the island just before dawn.

Three Canada Geese did little to increase the excitement of the day but Whimbrel passage was interesting with 12 birds counted  along with 8 Curlew.

The male Eider was present off the North End and on the ‘Whaleback’ and the Dark-bellied Brent Goose remained around the main island.

It was the end of an era today when North West Construction dismantled what was left of the mast.

Ringing: Linnet [427-26]

Early morning on Hilbre Islands LNR - the last morning of the mast.

Thursday 25 April 2019

25th April 2019

Weather: ESE 1-2, 6/8 cloud, moderate vis

The wind was again in the east south east but with very little mist around the estuary visibility was much improved although a significant increase in cloud cover this morning (compared to the last week or so) meant that expectations were not lowered too much!

The early first round of the islands produced several White Wagtails, which totalled 26 for the day, but less Yellow Wagtails than in recent days with only 5 noted throughout the day.  Meanwhile, Wheatears were only present in small numbers with only five noted all probably of the Greenland race.

A single Willow Warbler was caught early on along with a new Linnet.

The first band of rain arrived just after 7am but by 830am bright skies followed and it proved to have dropped in several Willow Warblers and a female Redstart.

Whimbrel were present again in good numbers (12) mainly calling or down the west side, Dunlin have also started arriving in good numbers with small flocks amounting to 120 mostly in summer plumage unlike the 3 Sanderling on the tide edge.

A Greylag flew past observers as they arrived on the island and at least 2 Jackdaw could be heard calling passing over the island too high to be seen.

A later band of rain dropped in a Whitethroat, a female Blackcap and then as the tide flooded at lunchtime a new male Redstart and male Blackcap arrived both of which were caught and ringed.

As the tide flooded tern numbers were obviously increasing and over the tide 325 Sandwich Terns were counted, along with 32 Common Terns and the first 2 Arctic Terns of the year and no doubt accompanying all these birds heading North the first Arctic Skua of the year was recorded from the Obs balcony.

A nice roost of waders and the Dark-bellied Brent (earlier on the 'whaleback') were present on the North End of Middle over the tide were joined by a pair of Shelduck and a pair of Teal.

A Harbour Porpoise was present close in off the ‘whaleback’ early morning. 

Ringing: Linnet (2), Willow Warbler (7), Redstart (2), Blackcap [426-26]

Wednesday 24 April 2019

24th April 2019

Weather:  ESE 3, 7/8 cloud, low vis slight mist

The migration friendly weather continues but with more cloud cover observers were again optimistic, although the definite drop in temperature lowered expectations.  A single Rook flew around the island once calling.

An early round of the traps produced a new female Redstart but no Warblers whatsoever.  However, there was an obvious early flush of Wheatears with at least 12 observed mainly down the west side.

Yellow and White Wagtails were very much the order of the day again with lots dropping down onto the island again particularly at the North End and on Wheatear Hill.

A jaunt to Middle Eye mid morning produced a Tree Pipit calling from the reef south of Middle which was promptly joined by a second and then remarkably a third bird.  Only another single was recorded during the morning.

The Dark-bellied Brent Goose was back  on the Whaleback early morning as the tide dropped and remained there for much of the morning and a single drake Eider swam close inshore off the North End.

Sandwich Terns were more obvious than in recent days  but generally tern numbers remain low for the time of year (and in comparison with other migrants).

As the tide flooded early afternoon a trap round produced the first Lesser Whitethroat of the year; a species which occurs on average annually but often only with one record a year.  This is quite early for Lesser Whitethroat at Hilbre so we are hopeful of a repeat performance in the coming days and weeks as early May is the peak time for this species here.

Ringing:  Redstart, Lesser Whitethroat, Goldfinch, Meadow Pipit, Willow Warbler (6) [414-26]

Tuesday 23 April 2019

23rd April 2019

Weather: ESE 0-1, 4/8 cloud, slight mist around the estuary, low vis

A very light east south east wind first thing produced little in the way of grounded migrants at dawn with only Wren and Robin caught on the first round.

However, there were Willow Warblers singing in the Obs garden and the paddocks and with slight mist around the estuary birds started to arrive including yet another Blackcap and at least a dozen Willow Warblers and a single Chiffchaff.

There has been a hatch of flies around the island and this has encouraged wagtails, that usually fly over calling, to drop in particularly at the North End and down the West Side.

At least 31 flava Wagtails were recorded including at least 16 ‘flavissima’ Yellow Wagtails and a single unusually plumaged bird with greyish mantle (compared to the obviously olive toned flavissima) and broad white wing bars.  Comments received back are that it could be a variant Yellow Wagtail or even some sort of hybrid.  A single flock of seven birds remained about the North End for some time allowing study and photographs to be taken - but as is usual with this species they avoided the ringer’s potter traps. Probably because of the sheer number of flies available!

27 White Wagtails were also counted including many down on the islands - this species particularly enjoying the south end slipway and surrounding sea-weed covered rocks today.

A solitary Grey Wagtail flew over calling and the pair of breeding Pied Wagtails were noted.

Eight Greenland Wheatears were recorded during the day including two females caught and ringed.

Small numbers of finches once again passed over including the first Redpolls of the year to be ringed, caught in the Obs garden mist net.

The female Redstart remained around the gardens and a Common Sandpiper spent the tide around the main island’s rocky shoreline.

Meanwhile the single Dark-bellied Brent was on the whaleback before the tide.

Butterflies were again impressive for so early in the season with the highlights being another (or the same?) Brimstone, Orangetip, Peacock, Small Tortoiseshell, Red Admiral and Small White.

A single Harbour Porpoise, 136 Grey Seals and 3 Short-tailed Field Voles made up the mammal section of log.

Ringing: Willow Warbler (8), Chiffchaff, Wren, Robin, Linnet, Goldfinch (2), Redpoll (2), Blackcap, Greenland Wheatear (2), Meadow Pipit [404-25]

Photos CJ, PSW and SRW