Friday 31 July 2020

31st July 2020

Weather: SE force 3, clear overnight, warm and sunny
A Mediterranean Gull flew west across the island first thing this morning and a single Willow Warbler was in the obs garden (another was in the old obs later). Two groups of 20 and 30 Swallows and a single Sand Martin flew through early and 7 Swifts did likewise during the morning. The best wader sighting was a flock of 120 Black-tailed Godwits flying east near the south end of the island chain, while a single of the Bar-tailed variety showed on the shore in its summer plumage. Only small numbers of other waders included 8 Whimbrel, 25 Ringed Plover and 12 Turnstone. Linnets were present in force (34), and there were at least 4 Rock Pipits among the 'residents'. Sandwich and Common terns fished constantly and about 10 Gannets also dived, mostly further distant. A Kestrel was the sole raptor around today. After the tide a report was recieved of a Ruddy Shelduck flying south between the marine lake and the islands, this is in the Hilbre recording area.
Ringed: 1 Linnet.

Thursday 30 July 2020

30th July 2020

Weather: SE 3, 8/8 cloud, rain overnight and drizzle at dawn, moderate vis
With rain overnight there was low expectation that early autumn migrants would have been grounded and so it proved with no warblers noted.  However, the first round of the traps did produce a Robin and half a dozen Linnets (more were caught later too). Passage included a few Swallows, a Skylark and one and then 5 Swifts.
Waders were much in evidence today with 36 Turnstone counted on the ‘whaleback’ and below ‘Shorelark shelf’ along with 9 Whimbrel seen and heard at various rocky outcrops around the islands.  Seven Ringed Plovers, 120 Dunlin, 125 Curlew and 3 Redshank were also noted, also 7 Little Egrets and 6 Gannets on the sea..
As the early morning tide pushed in good numbers of terns were evident with 650 Sandwich, 180 Common Terns counted at times being harrassed by an immature Peregrine, which also took a disliking to the local Crows and pursued them off to Red Rocks. A single Arctic Tern was later seen.
At least five Rock Pipits were noted around both main islands and another young bird was caught - further evidence of a successful breeding season for this species at Hilbre.
Ringed: 8 Linnets, 1 Robin, 1 Rock Pipit.

Wednesday 29 July 2020

29th July 2020

Weather: SW 0, 7/8 cloud, good vis, first spots of rain
A late evening visit produced the much expected numbers of terns with 480 Sandwich and 120 Common Terns counted as the tide ebbed.
Two Little Egrets fished the tidal pools along the reef and returning waders were very much in evidence with 220 Curlew, 80 Dunlin, 6 Ringed Plover and a single Redshank noted along with 850 piping Oystercatchers.


Monday 27 July 2020

27th July 2020

Weather: SW, force 4/5, then WSW 4/5, but increasing 6/7 at high tide. Steady rain at first
On approach to the islands this morning an adult Mediterranean Gull was seen between Little and Middle Eye and 250 Dunlin were settled at the south end of Hilbre. A very blustery day as can be seen from the weather above, and uncomforable as it was for the observers, they were rewarded with a fine set of sea bird records. Gannets were counted at 173, and there were 21 Manx Shearwaters. Two Ravens were again around the islands, and 4 Rock pipits seen. In addition to the Dunlin waders included 335 Knot, 5 Whimbrel, 5 Sanderling and 25 Turnstone. Both Kestrel and Peregrine were again recorded.
Ringed: 1 Linnet.

Sunday 26 July 2020

26th July 2020

Weather: W force 2,
A female Blackcap and a Willow Warbler were here this morning, despite the westerly breeze. Five Swift went through, whose appearance are less dependant on the wind direction. A pair of Peregrines and a Kestrel showed, and wader highlights were 15 Whimbrel, 10 Ringed Plover, 2 Bar-tailed Godwits, 14 Turnstone, 25 Sanderling and a good roost of 1,500 Knot, showing after the tide, including summer plumaged ringed birds from Iceland in 2017 and Altcar in lancs from March 2018.
The tern roost has not increased much as yet, still at about 90 Common and 300 Sandwich Terns, some feeding young.
Five Little Egrets were around the islands.
photos AEH

Saturday 25 July 2020

25th July 2020

Weather:  WNW 3, 8/8 cloud, drizzle, moderate vis

The ebbing tide revealed an increase in waders with 10 Whimbrel, several Curlew and two Black-tailed Godwits feeding on the freshly revealed beach, a Peregrine surveyed them whilst the female Kestrel annoyed the resident Meadow pipits as it too searched for breakfast. 

As weather fronts moved through the estuary a single Swift sheared over the island and several Rock Pipits, still feeding young got busy before the showers.

Tern numbers continue to increase with several groups of Sandwich (350) on the waters edge and small numbers of Common passed the North End.

Four Turnstones bubbling away as they flew down the West side and several flocks of Dunlin where joined by a flock of Knot.

Thursday 23 July 2020

23rd July 2020

Weather: W force 3/4 with light rain, later WNW 4/5
A female Mallard was seen this morning leaving the south west side of island with 6 young from where they swan north. Mallards are very secretive when breeding and this often the first indication that they have bred. male and female Kesrels were present and a Raven made an appearance on Middle. A single Wheatear was the only small migrant. Waders included 4 Turnstone, 9 Ringed Plover and 5 Whimbrel.
Ringed: 1 Willow Warbler, 1 Linnet.

Wednesday 22 July 2020

22nd July 2020

Weather: SW force 2, very light rain
A morning pre-tide visit found things were very much the same as recently, with Sandwich Terns calling, Swallows still feeding over the island and about 6 Whimbrel around the islands, but small waders scarce at the flood tide. Five more Linnets were  ringed, emphasizing a good breeding season. Two Little Egrets were in the gutter and 2 Rock Pipits were at the north end.
A Peregrine flew over Middle, but no Kestrels were present this morning.
Ringed: 5 Linnets
photo CJ

Sunday 19 July 2020

19th July 2020

Weather: N N W force 3
The best sighting of a pre-tide quick visit were a pair of female type Eiders flying to the east off the north end. A small trickle of small waders arrived with a few Dunlin and Ringed Plover,
 A distant flock of Knot (6,000) flew high to the east and over 1,000 Black-tailed Godwits were in the air south of Little Eye.  Six Redshank and 10 Whimbrel were also noted around the island.
With no obvious small migrants today focus was on views of 2 Peregrines,a Kestrel and the 370 Sandwich Terns with a good number of juveniles.
Little Egrets outnumbered Grey Herons by 4 to 3.

Ringed: 1 Linnet.
photos AEH

Friday 17 July 2020

17th July 2020

Weather:  W force 3  warmer than of late

It's only mid-July but it must be the start of autumn as the first returning Willow Warbler was caught and ringed.

There was a small passage of swifts (21) and a few House Martins and Swallows.

Three Rock Pipits, right (one on Middle) were mid- summer residents, also 9 Wrens and 20 Linnets (below), surely an indication of a decent breeding season

Two Ravens were noteworthy records.
also 24 Shelduck.
Three Whimbrel were about the shore with 34 Curlew and 2 Little Egrets, also 400 Sandwich Terns and 25 Common Terns in the roost to the west of the island.
No less than 3 Kestrels and a Peregrine were seen today.
Ringed: 7 Linnets, 1 Rock Pipit, 1 Willow Warbler.
photos JE & AS

Tuesday 14 July 2020

Bob Anderson

Bob Anderson - RIP

It is with sadness that we have to report the passing of Bob on 9th July. He was a founder member  and good friend of the observatory, also chairman for a short time in the early 1980s. The following are reflections from Barry Barnacal recalling Bob's connection with the observatory.

'Bob went to school with Geoff Pass and they both became members of the school natural history society under the guidance of W.T.C."Daddy" Rankin. He took the group on various field trips, including to Hilbre Island.

The two boys started to visit Hilbre independently and met John Gittins, Tony Bell, George Richards and Prof. Craggs. March 13th 1957 was a memorable day for the group as it was decided to form Hilbre Bird Observatory.

Bob (RAA) trained as a ringer under John Gittins and this experience was a great help as Bob became an annual Brathay Expedition leader to Foula where he ringed many Bonxies and other sea birds.
On Hilbre, friday nights became a feature for Pete Williams, Geoff, Bob and myself which was hugely fun but lots of effort was put in mist netting and dazzling for waders, our prize target being Purple Sandpipers.

We hatched out a plan to clap net waders on the west side on big tides, so we constructed our first effort using a broom handle, garden netting, catapult elastic and 3 lengths of washing line. These were very successful and great sport.

Pete and I decided to invest £40 in a Standard 8, our first Hilbre vehicle apart from John's old Liverpool University Landrover. Bob and Geoff wanted in on this luxury and each coughed up £10. Unfortunately, neither got to ride in the 'Bullet' as Pete Bailey, the island keeper, used it without asking and got it stuck on the west side of Middle Eye, and it was lost to the tide. The approach road in the 1960s was on the west side but very unpredictable.

Bob was also part of our cannon netting team, sadly in his later years arthritis in his hands made it impossible to handle small birds.

RAA also enjoyed being part of our R.S.P.B. Wirral bird race team. Always the ornithological pessimist, he never thought we would win. One year we had seen most of our target species and still had time on our hands. As we were at New Brighton, Bob suggested as we had no chance of winning we should go on the dodgem cars at the fairground and have candy floss....... we still managed to win.

Talking about winning, Bob was a red hot Liverpool F.C. supporter. One year Pete, Bob and I dashed off the island to watch the reds play in a cup final. We watched the game at Bob's elderly parents house in Storeton, where his folks were shocked by two young kopites and their son singing and chanting in their sitting room. YNWA Bob.'

Left to right, Bob Anderson, Pete Williams and Prof. Craggs

Sunday 12 July 2020

12th July 2020

Weather: SE force 1   Lake district visible
A bright summers day but with a few birds to prove autumn is here already !
A juvenile Wheatear was on the west side, a Blackcap and a Chiffchaff were ringed.
Returning waders included 3 Whimbrel, 7 Redshank and a single Turnstone. Six Swift and 3 Swallows fed low over the west cliff and a Woodpigeon flew over at the same time.Two Pergrines agve a nice display off the north west corner and the east hoyle held the Sandwich Tern roost of 300 birds with 125 Common Terns close by. Also on interest were 3 Peacock and several Large White butterflies.
Ringed : 1 Blackcap, 1 Chiffchaff, 1 Linnet.
photos AEH

Saturday 11 July 2020

11th July 2020

Weather: WNW force 3/4
A pair of Kestrels were on the island, possibly taking advantage of the increased presence of Short-tailed field voles, 4 of which were seen today. A Whimbrel showed itself among the 22 Curlews present. Rock Pipit and Pied Wagtail were noted along with other summer residents: 9 Swallows, 10 Meadow Pipits and 28 Linnets. Four Redshank were among early returning waders, also 75 Sandwich and 30 Common Terns.

Friday 10 July 2020

10th July 2020

Weather: NW force 3/4
An out of season pale-bellied Brent appeared yesterday standing on the vehicle track between the islands, we don't normally expect to see any between April and October. An early returning Wheatear was on Middle and was the only small migrant today with the possible exception of the odd Swallow.
The Sandwich Tern roost has built up to 313 birds. Two Little Egrets were present and a Kestrel hunted the island.

Sunday 5 July 2020

5th July 2020

Weather: W force 6/7
The strangest record on a windy day was of a dead Gannet found near the entrance of the SK trap. The singing male Whitethroat was still performing in the same area while other small birds recorded were 2 Rock Pipits, a Swallow, 6 Wrens and a Pied wagtail. Wader counts included 50 Curlew and 500 Knot.

Wednesday 1 July 2020

1st July 2020

Weather: wet
 Twenty Four Shelduck flew out of the estuary early and 2 more were on Middle, 150 Black-headed Gull were around the Gutter along with 2 Little Egret. Only a Gannet and 11 Scoter were noted on the sea but 120 Sandwich Tern were on the East Hoyle with a large flock of 7,000 Knot, all put up by a Peregrine.
The male and female Pied Wgatail were both seen at the North End carrying food,
The Whitethroat was still singing and the pair of House Martin still present.
Also noted 114 Curlew, 1 Dunlin, 18 Wren (lots of juvs, at least 3 broods), 20 Linnet, 1 Rock Pipit,  a Grey Heron.
        and a kestrel.
photos AS