Monday, 31 August 2020
31st August 2020
Sunday, 30 August 2020
30th August 2020
Weather: ENE force 1
Nine Pale-bellied Brent were found on the west side between the islands this morning, these are the first arrivals of the autumn. Just a single Willow Warbler was present but there was a minimal movement of 2 Grey and 4 alba wagtails, 5 Wheatears and 6 Robins on the island. A Razorbill again was noted, possibly the same as recently and 2 Kittiwakes, 5 Common Scoter and 2 Shags were also on the sea. A large number (estimated at 520) Curlew were at Tanskey rocks but wader numbers were generally small apart from 3,000 Oystercatchers, although 2 Whimbrel and 5 Bar-tailed Godwits were notable. Both Peregrine and Kestrel hunted the area. For once Grey Heron outnumbered Little Egret 3 to 2. Five Rock Pipits were logged, while among the insects flew 3 Red Admirals, a Peacock and a Small Tortoiseshell.
Saturday, 29 August 2020
29th August 2020
Weather: N force 4
Best bird on a quiet day was a Raven, a regular visitor lately. Tern numbers are now declining here as the autumn approaches and today there were 25 Sandwich and 4 Common Terns logged. Some waders seen included 2 Whimbrel, 22 Curlew, 45 Turnstone and a Bar-tailed Godwit, but Oystercatchers are by far the most numerous with about 3,500 today. Given the northerly wind it was no surprise there were no small migrants present. What will tomorrow bring?
Friday, 28 August 2020
28th August 2020
Weather: NE force 4 drizzle later
On a brief visit 6 Gannets showed close in to the island and an Arctic Skua was seen, also a Razorbill off the west side. Eight Little Egrets was a good count.
Thursday, 27 August 2020
27th August 2020
Weather: SE force 1/3 rain later
After sea watching following the gales, lighter winds made for more normal birding. The moulting Yellowhammer popped up again after a couple of days, two Willow Warblers and a Whitethroat were around, also a Reed Bunting making us think autumn cannot be far away. Five Wheatears were present and a small movement of a dozen or so Swallows and 3 House Martins passed through. Three Kittiwakes and 12 Guillemots were the aftermath of the gales. The stand out count of the small waders were 230 Sanderling. A Shag was noted and 6 Little Egrets were on the shore. Plenty of Linnets today, 48 flew around the island.
Wednesday, 26 August 2020
26th August 2020
Weather: WNW 6, dropping, 8/8 cloud (clearing later), early drizzle, poor becoming good
Tuesday, 25 August 2020
25th August 2020
Monday, 24 August 2020
24th August 2020
Things were much quieter on the sea and the light north west wind and clear blue skies did little to produce many grounded warblers with just a single Willow Warbler noted.
However, Wheatears were moving through with 8 birds counted today including 4 on Wheatear hill at any one time. Unfortunately they were being kept away from the potter traps by the resident Rock Pipits with two birds (an adult and a young one) retrapped (from March and July respectively).
The moulting Yellowhammer was still present but still being fairly elusive.
A few waders were noted including 5 Whimbrel and terns were less noticeable but there was a large Sandwich Tern roost after the tide in the evening.
The juvenile Robin was still present.
Ringing: retraps only Rock Pipit (2), Robin (1)
Sunday, 23 August 2020
23rd August 2020
The day began with a nice record of Golden Plover and the first Teal (4) of the autumn. The promised gale force winds did not materialise but observers were still hopeful for a good seawatch.
Intriguingly the male Yellowhammer, which had not been seen since Thursday, was caught in the heli trap. Only the second to be ringed at Hilbre in the last 20 years. It was found to be moulting and may remain on the island for a while longer to complete its moult.
After the excitement of the reappearance of the Yellowhammer - two Kestrels were found fighting in a bramble bush outside the Obs gate. They were distracted by their fight and ignored the photographers. Perhaps an indication of how the recent moribund bird came to a sad end?
Seawatching was better than expected given the moderate wind and only occasional rain squall. Highlights included two Great Skuas, 5 Arctic Skuas, 50 Manx Shearwaters, 65 Kittiwakes, 75 Gannet and good numbers of terns with 600 Common, 333 Sandwich and 26 Little Terns counted.
Waders were also well represented today with 2 Purple Sandpipers notes, 7 Whimbrel, 64 Ringed Plover and a single Grey Plover.
A juvenile Robin caught and ringed was perhaps further evidence of successful breeding of this species at Hilbre this year and likewise another Rock Pipit was caught. Meanwhile, amongst other natural history sightings a male Common Blue Damselfly was noted.
Saturday, 22 August 2020
22nd August 2020
Weather: SW 2/4
The wind had dropped a good deal from yesterdays blow but nevertheless sea birds still in good numbers for the observers at the high tide. The first Bonxie of the year was the chief prize although 100 Manx Shearwater, 150 Gannets, 50 Common Scoter, 6 Kittiwakes, an Arctic Skua, a Fulmar, and a Razorbill and Guillemot, were close behind. The lighter breeze encouraged 4 Willow Warblers and 3 Wheatears to the island. The single Purple sandpiper was still present and a moulting summer plumaged Curlew Sandpiper was found, although it was a different bird from that of 2 days ago. Amongst the waders were 25 Ringed Plover 5 Whimbrel.
Friday, 21 August 2020
21st August 2020
Weather: SW force 6 rain
The highlights of a sea watch in response to the strong winds arriving were a count of 175 Manx Shearwaters passing and a single juvenile Black Tern, the first here this autumn. Almost as impressive were 200 Gannets counted with 2 Kittiwakes, 2 Guillemots, 28 Common Scoter and 25 Little Terns among the over 1,000 terns seen. Also about the island were 2 Shags, 7 Whimbrel and 4 Little Egrets. There are still 2 Kestrels. The only 'migrants' as such were 2 Starlings and a Swift.
Thursday, 20 August 2020
20th August 2020
Weather: SE force 3, mist around the estuary.
The Yellowhammer was again flitting about the island all morning, never staying long enough in one place to pose for pictures, before disappearing this afternoon. It is far from certain that it has gone for good as it was not seen at all on Sunday despite observers being present most of the day. A Spotted Flycatcher took a liking to the east side of the island, first appearing in Niffy bay and then spending most of it's time in the rangers east side garden.
A very high tide at this time of year meant attention was paid to the roosting small waders around the rocks which duly paid dividends in the form of a Curlew Sandpiper and a Little Stint being found amongst them. They were hard to pin down as the flocks of 1,200 Dunlin and 200 or so Ringed Plovers kept rising when disturbed and the Curlew Sandpiper was quite elusive (even though it was in partial summer plumage) but the juvenile Little Stint was eventually located for pictures.
With Dunlin for size comparison.
The Curlew Sandpiper in partial summer plumage.
A less expected arrival on the north end was a Purple Sandpiper which moved with the Dunlin flock to the west side to roost. Normally a winter resident a single Purple Sandpiper (centre of picture) often makes it here in mid-summer, they are thought to be just passing through from elsewhere.
Besides the Dunlin and Ringed Plover, other waders today included 5 Whimbrel, 700 Knot and 6 Sanderling. A Red-breasted Merganser flew passed the island but sea birds in the fresh southerly breeze were at a premium apart from the Sandwich and Common Terns.
Only 3 Willow Warblers were about the paddocks today, and possibly just 2 Wheatears, with a few extra Swallows passing through. Two Kestrels hunted the island and a Peregrine flew across between the islands.
Insects included the odd Common Blue butterfly, a Red Admiral and best of all a Painted Lady, a nice record for today, while 2 Migrant Hawker dragonflies were near the 'heli' trap.
Ringed: 2 Willow Warblers, 1 Linnet, 1 Meadow Pipit
Wednesday, 19 August 2020
19th August 2020
Weather: ESE force 2
Highlight of the morning was the reappearance of the Hilbre MEGA: yellowhammer (from Saturday!) spending time around the light, heli and SK paddocks.
The rare status of Yellowhammer at Hilbre was not always the case, One member recalled how 21 were recorded on 15th February 1969 during a cold weather movement of hundreds of birds. See his notebook entry below!
About 15 Willow Warblers arrived today, with 5 being ringed,
also 6 Wheatears and a notable count of 8 Rock Pipits were present. A single Swift went through and a few dozen Swallows joined the local birds. A Black-tailed Godwit flew south
Eight hundred Dunlin were among the smaller numbers of other waders. A sea watch was not that rewarding, only yielding 3 Gannets, 14 Common Scoter and a Guillemot. Six Little Terns were noted with the Sandwich and Common Terns. An Eider drifted in at the north end after the tide.
Ringed: 6 Willow Warblers, 5 Linnets.
photos PSW & SRW
Sunday, 16 August 2020
16th August 2020
Weather: E force 3, rain and drizzle
The rain as forecast duly arrived and it was hoped it may drop some migrants in, a few Willows arrived and a little later a trickle of Wheatears moved down the West side together with a few Meadow Pipits. Two Common Sandpipers bobbed about the north end before heading east, Terns and Waders were again evident as the early tide flooded although numbers had dropped possibly due to the large numbers of people across the beach and banks yesterday. A nice flock of Dunlin fed along the gutter on the flood including a colour ringed bird, a Grey Plover showed well and Ringed Plovers numbered 125 in a single flock. The resident Linnets are doing very well this year with several broods I successfully adding to the population, Wrens, Meadow and Rock Pipits have also had a successful year, even while being monitored by the Kestrel.
Despite the showers and increase in wind speed the moth traps again caught well, see list below;
Copper Underwing, Vines Rustic, good numbers of Setaceous Hebrew characters, several Spectacles, Brimstone Moth and the ever present Silver Y were amongst the catch.
As the tide dropped a second Hilbre mega for the weekend in the form of a Cuckoo flew past Middle, circled and headed out towards Wales, a great bird to see and increasingly rare especially on the islands.
Saturday, 15 August 2020
15th August 2020
Weather: ESE force 2, later S force 2
The easterly produced a few early Wheatears and a handful
of Willow Warblers, a small movement of Meadow Pipits and small numbers of
Greenfinches. Willow Warblers maintained a small but steady passage with 45 being noted and 28
ringed throughout the morning. Bird of the day was a nice calling
Yellowhammer, a very scarce bird on the islands, which alerted observers by calling at
the south end and remaining around the paddocks for a few hours. No apologies for including this record shot of what in recent years has become a rare Hilbre bird.
At least 3 Rock Pipits are here at the moment.
and 48 Linnets were counted today including many young juveniles.
Two photogenic Collared Doves stayed awhile.
and terns continue to surround the islands with 420 Sandwich 180 Common and 45
Little being counted. Turnstones are also building up, some in their splendid
ruddy plumage, unlike this bird.
800 Dunlin fed on the shoreline and 26 Sanderling joined them on the East Hoyle. Gull counts are increasing with a notable increase in Black-headed later in the day, with a Mediterranean Gull present among them. Twenty Eight Swifts screamed over the island as a weather front threatened to move in later, 26 Swallows were counted including the residents.
Small Tortoiseshell (10) (see below), Red Admiral (6) Small white (14) Green-veined white (8) Gatekeeper (1) and Common blue (6) butterflies were noted and at least 3 Migrant hawker dragonflies.
The moth traps did well including Yellow Straw and the
beautiful Angle Shades being recorded.
Ringed: 28 Willow Warblers, 1 Linnet