Monday 30 September 2019

30th September 2019

Weather:WSW force 1/2
A decent movement of Meadow Pipits (160) passed through this morning, also 8 Skylarks, while on the ground were 3 Goldcrests, 2 Chiffchaffs and a Wheatear. A flock of 73 Linnets was impressive, perhaps flushed from the nearby West kirby shore marsh by the very large high tide.
The Magpie is still here, other records today were 12 Brent, 20 Shelduck, 2,000 Oystercatchers, 4 Guiollemots, 2 Great Crested Grebes, 5 Little Egrets, 22 Bar-tailed Godwit, 12 Sanderling, 32 rEdshank, 2 Rock Pipits, 2 late Sandwich Terns and a single Swallow.

Late insects flying today included 100+ craneflies, a Painted Lady and 3 Small White butterflies and a Migrant Hawker dragonfly.
Ringed: 1 Goldcrest, 1 Robin      [ 692-31 ]

Sunday 29 September 2019

29th September 2019

Weather: ESE force 3     rain showers
 A Common Snipe was sitting on the track between the islands as observers approached in the half light of the morning. This proved to be the best sighting of the first hour or so as there were no migrants apparent in the gardens, although a while later a Chiffchaff called near the obs and a few dozen Meadow Pipits came through the island. 
 The Brent soon appeared along the west side, with 29 being present.
The now regular Magpie made its presence known, 4 Rock Pipits were heard and 9 Swallows cruised over of the island.
 Thirty Eight Bar-tailed Godwits were feeding off the east side when a Greenshank called and was seen in the same area.
As the very high tide flooded a Golden Plover was found resting near the reef south of Middle before flying off south. In the afternoon the Kingfisher showed again, it seems it is finding plenty of food here. A Greenland Wheatear was present later.
A count of Grey Seals at the low tide found just 60 hauled out on the west hoyle.
Ringed: 1 Wren       [ 690-31 ]
photos AEH CJ

Saturday 28 September 2019

28th September 2019

Weather:NW force 6 to 8 intermittent showers and rain
 A sea watch in rough weather found good numbers of Common Scoter, Guillemot and Sandwich Terns but very little else.
Waders stuggled to find space on Middle with the spring high tide reducing the available rocks, while 40 Redshank were roosting in Niffy Bay.
Despite these conditions 4 Goldcrests were present with one being ringed and another retrapped from Wednesday..
The Shag seen over the last week or so was still here.
Ringed: 1 Goldcrest       [ 689-31 ]
photos JE

Friday 27 September 2019

27th September 2019

Weather: SW 4 with thick cloud and heavy rain.
Appaling weather conditions for much of the day led to a seawatch being the preferred option. Three red-throated Divers (below, record shot), 3 Gannets, 3 guillemots, 13 Great Crested Grebe and 320 Common Scoter were counted, along with a good count (for the time of year) of 28 Sandwich Terns, However there was no sign of the Brent Geese over the tide at either end of the island.
Wader numbers continue to build with 5,000 Oystercatchers roosting on Middle, as were 5 Little Egrets. Two harbour Porpoises enlivened the seawatch as they swam past the north end.
Unsurprisingly, considering the conditions passerines were in short supply but single Rock Pipoits were noted at the north end of both Middle and the main island.
A Goldcrest on the rocks by the seawatching hide was possibly new in but 2 Chiffchaffs in the obs garden bioth sported rings so presumably have been on the island for a few days fattening up before moving south. A Wheatear was the only other migrant braving the weather.

photos CS

Tuesday 24 September 2019

24th September 2019

Weather:  SE 2, 7/8 cloud, good vis between rain showers

A quiet start to the day with 'heavy' overhead cloud cover and intermittent rain showers. A male Eider flew south and between the islands early on and a single Wigeon was on the high tide edge by Middle.

Looking South from Middle towards Little Eye along 'the Reef'
Three Pale-bellied Brent Geese roosted between the main islands over the high tide before moving to the 'Whaleback' at the North End of Hilbre to feed on the ebbing tide.

Looking north towards Hilbre from Middle
An immature female Peregrine was present by Little Eye, then on the Reef and later it caught a Bar-tailed Godwit near the gutter.

Up to six Little Egrets fed around the ebbing tide.

Just south of Middle a female/immature Goosander was found feeding before flying off south.

Meanwhile on the island a single Grey Wagtail flew over and a few Meadow Pipits were moving between rain showers and the wind had dropped and up to six Chiffchaffs were flycatching in the gardens and paddocks.

Ringing: Chiffchaff (3) [666-31]

Monday 23 September 2019

23rd September 2019

Weather: SSW 2-3, 1/8 cloud, good vis

The day started with a good bird, although one was seen recently, when a Kingfisher was spotted on seaweed covered rocks to the south east of Middle.  It soon moved and was seen to dive into a pool to the south of Middle along 'the Reef'.  It seems more likely that this is the bird seen on Friday rather than a new bird - as it is only the fourth for Hilbre (photo below from Friday 20 September 2019).

Sixty five Shelduck were around the edge of the receding gutter and a Peregrine was at Little Eye.

Great Black-backed Gulls have been around in good numbers recently - but mainly offshore or on the sandbanks - this bird was sat down the west side.

Two Sandwich Terns were noted but waders included 50 Curlew, 40 Knot, 6 Sanderling, 55 Redshank, 33 Ringed Plover and 24 Bar-tailed Godwit.


Ten Crows were riding the thermals on Middle Eye.  On Hilbre 3 Swallows and a Skylark flew over, a few Goldcrest and a Chiffchaff were present (but only one Goldcrest was caught and ringed).

Also noted were 15 Meadow Pipits and two Rock Pipits and a rather tame Wheatear at the North End by the 'Khyber Pass'.

The morning finished as it started - with a good bird! Whilst having tea and cake in the Obs a harrier was spotted through the open door!  It was soon seen to be a young Marsh Harrier which came in from the east and passed right over the Obs heading towards Wales.

Photos by AS and SRW

Ringing: Goldcrest [663-31]

Sunday 22 September 2019

22nd September 2019

Weather: S 3, 8/8 cloud, poor vis and heavy rain showers

A very quiet morning on the island mainly in heavy rain showers. However, observers still managed to see a single Snipe flying over, a Wheatear on ‘Buzzard Hill’ and the first Blackbird of the autumn was being elusive in the Old Obs garden.

Five Grey Herons were noted along with four Little Egrets.

Eleven Sandwich Terns were noted as well as the Shag off the North End and a single Pink-footed Goose was recorded.

Three Common Frogs were noted along with a single Common Darter dragonfly but the highlight of the morning was a good overnight moth catch which included three Vine’s Rustic (see above); only the second to fourth records for the island following a single in August this year. 

Saturday 21 September 2019

21st September 2019

Weather: SE 4, 1/8 cloud, moderate visibility with slight mist around the estuary

An early start by members staying over on the island proved fruitless but as soon as the sun rose above the horizon things began to pick up.

A single Raven flew south along the reef early morning and two more appeared passing the Obs before also heading off south.

A single Rock Pipit was noted amongst 12 Meadow Pipits, 3 Grey and 2 Pied Wagtails.  Meanwhile, 9 House Martins flew south and a few Swallow (8) were noted.

Six Pintail flew south between Hilbre and Red Rocks.

Seven Snipe flew up from seaweed covered rocks below ‘Shorelark Shelf” and flew south in tight formation.

A lovely adult winter Mediterranean Gull flew west off the North End.

The real highlight of the day was a dragonfly found in the ‘heli’ garden which was identified as a male Black Darter - only the second record for Hilbre following a sighting on 3 October 2014 (see blog here 

Late evening a flock of c400 Pink-footed Geese flew over the estuary calling.

Friday 20 September 2019

20th September 2019

Weather: SE 3, 1/8 cloud, mist around estuary, vis less than 5 miles

Regulars had been convinced that today would be the day that brought migrants and maybe a good bird thrown in and they weren’t disappointed!  The day began with a lovely colourful pre-dawn sky above the Obs.

The middle of the day over tide was again more like the Mediterranean than the Irish Sea!
Five Black-tailed Godwit flew over the Obs which was a lovely sight during the morning and a Shag remained around the North End.

Meanwhile, Goldcrests could be heard calling from the gardens and three birds were caught and ringed.  A couple of Chiffchaffs were also grounded and the mist was certainly helping with migrants.
A few Grey Wagtails and a couple of Reed Buntings passed over and there was a definite increase in Linnets with a couple of large flocks seen around the islands particularly the west side. 
However, the bird of the day was found at the North End as the tide started to flood - a Kingfisher which quickly moved roost positions a couple of times evading observers before everyone managed to get good views as it flew around the North End and landed on some rocks in shell bay.

Only the fourth record for the island following records of singles on 3 January 1963, one also near the North End on 5 October 1972 and one which flew low over the island calling on 5 September 2014.  Today’s bird fell neatly at the mid point between the two dates of the previous records (5th September and 5th October).

It was last seen at c1pm by visitors as it again flew from the rocks at the North End around towards the east side gutter.
Later a Snipe flew over calling and the Magpie appeared but there was no sign of the Kingfisher by early evening. 

Photos by CJ, CJW and SRW
Ringing: Chiffchaff, Goldcrest (3), Wren, Robin [662-31]

Thursday 19 September 2019

19th September 2019

Weather:  SSW 0-1, 1/8 cloud, moderate vis increasing and bright sunny day

Garden Warbler

With such a bright sky, moderate visibility and the wind just west of south observers could have been forgiven for thinking today would be a wipe out for migrants.  However, the very light breeze backed SSE for a short time and there were a couple of Chiffchaff, 4 Goldcrests and more Robins (including another caught and ringed). 

Visible migration was also in evidence with 5 Grey Wagtails passing over along with single Skylark on Middle and another ‘in off’ at the North End.  Another Sparrowhawk was seen hunting the east side and a Golden Plover was heard calling. 

Eleven pale-bellied Brent Geese were present early on at the North End but this flock promptly disappeared and a mixed pair was then present on the whaleback (a single each pale and dark-bellied) along with two Shags and two Grey Herons (see above).

Pale-bellied (left) and Dark-bellied (right) Brent Goose - North End, Hilbre Islands LNR
Things seemed to go quiet as the day started to warm up until a mid morning round of the traps produced a female Blackcap and a Garden Warbler in the Newton heligoland.  The latter had a fat score of 40 and had clearly been gorging itself on the many blackberries ok the island and may well have been present some time.  It became the first Garden Warbler to be ringed this autumn (see photo at top of blog).
Blackcap (female)

A Stonechat appeared at the south end and was initially assumed to be the same bird as yesterday, however, better views showed that this was clearly a different bird.

As the tide flooded up to 14 Little Egreets could be found roosting on the reef south of middle Middle or feeding on the tide edge.  It was a stunning day on the islands and felt more Mediterranean than Irish Sea.

Ringed:  Robin, Blackcap, Garden Warbler [656-31]