Wednesday 30 September 2020

30th September 2020

Weather: SE showers

The weather was not conducive for passerines with even resident birds keeping a low profile and just a couple of Pied Wagtails moving through. Oystercatcher numbers continue to build up with 7000 roosting the tide on Middle. The only other wader of note was a Snipe on the rocks at the North end soon after first light. A sea watch over the tide was relatively productive, despite the wind direction, with a Great Northern and 14 Red-throated Divers (many still in summer plumage) being the highlights.

Two hundred and fifity Common Scoter, 2 Guillemots and a Razorbill provided the supporting cast. The Brent Geese were scattered and difficult to count but about 100 were present. Two Ravens flew low over the island late afternoon and two Kestrels were seen, one of which arrived in-off from distance at the North end.

 The last remaining flowers on the Rock sea-lavender and Thrift are in the sheltered areas

photos CS (diver), PSW (others)

Tuesday 29 September 2020

29th September 2020

Weather: S  light air variable   light rain mid- morning then mostly sunny

A milder day than yesterday and with very little breeze made it a pleasent experience scouring the island for that elusive 'good' bird that we always feel must be here at this time in the autumn, but that must wait for another day. Nevertheless there was plenty to keep the observers interested. There were no warblers present today, but right from the off 2 Reed Buntings roamed about and both were eventually caught for ringing in the 'heli' trap (below), as were 6 Linnets as part of a flock of 65, only 1 of the catch had been previously ringed on the island.

A pair of Goldcrests seemed to arrive mid-morning and after being ringed visited just about every bush on the island for the rest of the day. Robins and Wrens were again in good numbers and other passage birds included a flock of 16 Swallows flying south, both Northern and Greenland Wheatears came through, 8 Skylarks and a Grey Wagtail called while moving over, while a few Goldfinches stopped to feed on the ragwort.

Brent had increased markedly during the night and 110 were counted this morning. The pick of the waders were a group of 7 Bar-tailed Godwits in flight and 7 Sanderling flying east off the north end. The sea was mostly flat calm and a couple of Porpoises swam off the north end, while resting quietly on the tide were 3 Red-throated Divers, 6 Guillemots and a Razorbill. A flock of 16 then 4 Sandwich Terns flew south off the west side. Raptors in the form of 2 Peregrines, a Kestrel and a Merlin entertained observers while hunting and interacting with each other.

Ringed: 5 Linnets, 2 Reed Buntings, 2 Goldcrests, 1 Wren

photos CJ & SRW

Monday 28 September 2020

28th September 2020

Weather: S then SE     partly cloudy

A decent autumn day with quite a lot of birds to look at. The first dark-bellied Brent of the season was idenitfied among the 50 or so pale-bellied forms.

Other wildfowl seen today were a Wigeon flying south early and a Pintail south west later, also a skein of about 800 Pink-footed Geese distantly south east of the islands, while 2 Common Snipe were other typical birds of autumn. Two summer plumaged Red-throated Divers flew passed today as had others recently, while also on the sea were 59 Common Scoters 3 Great Crested Grebes and 3 Sandwich Terns.. As the tide was only a small one waders did not gather in large numbers but included 43 Turnstones and 14 Knot although towards the West Kirby shore were 250 Curlew and 120 Shelduck.

A female Sparrowhawk tussled with Carrion Crows on Middle before coming to the main island, two Peregrines scattered the Oystercatchers several times and 2 Kestrels hunted the island voles. A group of 4  Ravens appeared sporadically, once together but usually as singles.

Six migrating Swallows flew south over the obs, also 3 Grey Wagtails and Skylarks called overhead, including a flock of 8.

On the ground this morning were 2 Chiffchaffs, a Reed Bunting and 2 Goldfinches briefly, while the 4 Wrens ringed indicated a passage. A flock of Linnets over the last few days continued here with 85 counted today. Meadow Pipits at 35 were more than of late, while 6 Rock Pipits still remain.

Ringed: 4 Wrens, 1 Chiffchaff, 1 Robin.

Sunday 27 September 2020

27th September 2020

 Weather: NNE force 3/4

The Brent reached a peak of 66 birds today,

and a male Eider flew to the north west. An immature female Sparrowhawk (below) made a welcome appearance and the Kestrel (bottom) still humted the now more numerous voles on the island.

Ten Wrens at this time probably means there are a few 'migrants' amongst them. The best on the sea was a summer plumaged Red-throated Diver, also logged were 65 Common Scoter and 1 Great Crested Grebe. Cormorants totalled 650, most were heading out to sea early morning.

Eighty five Linnets toured the island in flocks, the only other finches were 2 Goldfinch. Only half a dozen Meadow Pipits were recorded.

photos CJW


Saturday 26 September 2020

26th September 2020

 Weather: NNW force 4

 A sea watch following the strong winds of yesterday hoped to find some scarce sea birds, but the wind had backed off and only regular fair was on offer with 2 Gannets, 600 Common Scoter, 2 Red-throated Divers and 6 Sandwich Tern noted. A Shag, Little Egret and Grey Heron were about, also a Peregrine and waders in small numbers; Sanderling (12), Redshank (20) Ringed Plover etc. 

Single Goldcrest and Song Thrush were on the island representing migrants.

photo SRW

Thursday 24 September 2020

24th September 2020

 Weather: SSW force 3

 An unexpected visit in the afternoon to see a Firecrest found in the rangers garden by Matt Thomas, found it still present and already feeding in the SK trap. It was naturally then ringed.

A Stonechat was also present on the island with 2 Wheatears and a Goldcrest. The Brent had increased to 40, and the small number of waders seen included a summer plumaged Grey Plover. The fiekld voles are now numerous (14 seen today), no wonder the Kestrel has been around so much lately. A late Hummingbird Hawk moth in the obs garden before the rain arrived was a real bonus for the observers.

 photos SRW

 Ringed: 1 Firecrest, 1 Robin 


Tuesday 22 September 2020

22nd September 2020

 Weather: S force 2/3, later W 3/4   fog early.

A foggy morning when anything could turn up and 4 Chiffchaffs, 1 Goldcrest and a Wheatear did so, while passing species included 3 Grey Wagtails, 2 White Wagtails, 2 Goldfinches and 5 Starlings but other visitors were confined to larger species in the form of a calling Golden Plover, a female Pintail and 2 Snipe, one south of Middle and the other heard from the main island. There were 11 Brent, also 6 Common Scoter and a Red-breasted Merganser. Eleven Bar-tailed Godwits, 45 Ringed Plovers, 3 Little Egrets and 2 Grey Herons were among the shore birds

 photo SRW

Monday 21 September 2020

21st September 2020

 Weather: SE force 2/3  mist around the estuary

 A light south easterly brought us a good day of migration. Stopping over on the island were 5 Chiffchaffs, 1 Willow Warbler, 5 Goldcrests, 2 Wheatears, a Whitethroat, 2 Stonechats (below) and a female Blackcap (bottom).

From a Hilbre viewpoint the rarest bird today was the arrival of a Great Spotted Woodpecker to the island, about a once a year event. It naturally had difficulty finding a suitable tree to cling to. 

Passage visitors today included 4 Grey Wagtails, 2 Swallows, 2 Skylarks, 2 Goldfinch and a Song Thrush. A Goosander was another good record today, also a Sparrowhawk around the island and a late Whimbrel. Decent counts were made of 85 Ringed Plover and 62 Turnstone, while 38 Shelduck, 2 Wigeon and 4 Brent were the sole wildfowl recorded.

Ringed: 4 Goldcrest, 3 Chiffchaff, 1 Stonechat, 1 Blackcap, 1 Linnet, 1 Robin. 

photos SRW

Sunday 20 September 2020

20th September 2020

 Weather: E force 1

A quiet morning, but a Whitethroat was present, which have been scarce this autumn, also a couple of Wheatears which are always welcome.

There were about 8 Robins about, some will be new birds, a Pied Wagtail showed up and 3 Swallows went through. Regulars here also included 30 Meadow Pipits, 5 Rock Pipits and 21 Linnets. A Peregrine was logged, while only small numbers of waders (20 Ringed Plover, 30 Turnstone, 40 Redshank)  were noted at the low tide.

photos CJW

Saturday 19 September 2020

19th September 2020

Weather:  E force 1

Wildfowl today included 21 Pintail flying north and 17 Wigeon, althlough no Brent were logged. Passage migrants were few with a single Reed Bunting present, a Skylark over and over 20 Swallows passing south. Insect migrants fared better when at least 50 Red Admirals flew in off the sea at the west side in the late morning period and 50 or so Small Whites fed about the island. Waders noted included 240 Dunlin, 40 Ringed Plover, 30 Turnstone and 4 Grey Plover. Both Kestrel and Peregrine were present. 

Friday 18 September 2020

18th September 2020

 Weather: ENE force 1/2, then NE 2/3    bright

A very good September day started with a Chiffchaff and a couple of Goldcrests in the paddocks and several Wheatears including 1 on Little Eye and 3 on Middle. Two male Stonechats were soon seen appearing in all parts of the island and first one then two Redstarts, one of each sex, showed on the paddock fence lines, as a Wren looked on.

A Whitethroat gave a brief appearance in the bracken by the bunker but failed to show again as did a male Blackcap in the obs garden. Also logged today were 5 Skylarks, a Pied Wagtail and 35 Meadow Pipits. A Golden Plover flew across the island calling and 2 Ravens came in at the north end with one flying around the island.


A sea watch produced 6 Red-throated Divers, 6 Guillemots, 2 Gannets and 20 Common Scoter. Only 4 Brent could be found, the rest must have been elsewhere in the estuary on the very high tide or moved on. Apart from the 3,000 or so Oystercatchers in the roost waders were mostly in small numbers including 38 Ringed Plovers, 1 Grey Plover and 30 Redshank. A Kestrel was present, also 3 Little Egret and a Grey Heron. In the afternoon at least one, possibly both, of the Redstarts was still present and 5 new Wheatears dropped in near the north end. On the whole an excellent day with a lot of the most sought after of the regular September species showing.

 Ringed: 1 Redstart, 1 Robin. 

photos CJ, AS

Thursday 17 September 2020

17th September 2020

 Weather: SE force 2 fresh breeze, sunny, mist around estuary.

Another nice day at the obs, but with little cloud expectations were moderate, and so it proved. A single Chiffchaff and 3 Goldcrests fed in the paddocks and a Grey Wagtail and Goldfinch briefly visited.. Among the 6 Wheatears was this lovely male with a Rock Pipit photo bombing. 

Highlight of the waders were 2 Greenshanks arriving in the east gutter to feed, a scarce visitor to Hilbre but typical at this time of year.

the supporting cast  included 50 Turnstone, 32 Redshank and 20 Dunlin.

Many parties of Common Scoter flew about at the (very high) tide, also 2 Guillemots, 2 Gannets; 3 Great Crested Grebes but an obliging summer plumaged Red-throated Diver was the star.

Both Kestrel and Peregrine amde an appearance. The only wildfowl seen this morning were a flock of 5 Teal flying in to the north end, 6 Shelduck and the 28 Brent now residing. 

Ringed: 1 Chiffchaff, 1 Goldcrest.

photos CJ

Tuesday 15 September 2020

15th September 2020

 Weather: SE force 1/2   high cloud and some mist around coasts

 Similar weather to yesterday, the change being some cloud drifting in early morning, resulting in a completely different day migration wise. Right from the off 3 White Wagtails were at the north end, others came through later, and a Spotted Flycatcher was fly catching in the obs garden and was joined by a few Chiffchaffs and Willow Warblers around the bushes. Four Wheatears together on 'Wheatear hill' added to the feeling of a 'good' day to come. Nine Skylarks made it to the island, some landing on 'buzzard hill' for a time.

 A large flock of 46 Linnets flew about and a Lesser Redpoll called overhead as did 6 Grey Wagtails while  a number of Meadow Pipits were moving through including a leucistic bird that caused initial consternation.

Two unringed Dunnocks were a surprise as none has been seen here for some time. Not to be outdone several Goldcrests came in a sort of second wave of arrivals, while all the time the Spotted Flycatcher toured just about every suitable inch of the island before being eventually caught for ringing in the SK trap. 

Ducks made a strong appearance today with 12 then 6 Wigeon, a Teal and scarcest of all in a Hilbre context a pair of Shovelers. Eighteen Shelduck were a more normal sight. Pink-footed Geese showed for the first time this autumn when a skein of about 270 birds flew south down the Wirral coast as seen from Hilbre. A Raven called in the area, keeping up the recent series of appearances here. The Brent seem to be numbered at 29 now, while on the sea were 12 Gannets, 1 Guillemot and 3 Razorbills.

The Kestrel is still here, today unsuccessfully having a go at the flycatcher and a Peregrine passed down the east side.

Ringed: 4 Goldcrests, 2 Chiffchaffs, 1 Spotted Flycatcher, 1 Robin, 1 Dunnock.

Monday 14 September 2020

14th September 2020

Weather: SE force 1/2         cloudless sky with a small amount of coastal mist

A disappointing morning on the whole with migrants very scarce, just single Wheatear and Willow Warbler and the first Goldcrest ringed this autumn, although there seemed to be more Robins around than usual. The now regular several Rock Pipits were showing well at the north end.

Some 24 Gannets, 15 Scoter and 12 Guillemots were off the north end and 2 Wigeon flew up the west side, a sign of the late autumn to come.

Ringed: 1 Robin and 1 Goldcrest

Sunday 13 September 2020

13th September 2020

Weather: SW force 5/6

A sea watch on the early morning tide was surprisingly good with the main highlight being a Pomarine Skua seen towards Red Rocks and along the shore.

 The supporting cast included 4 Manx Shearwater, 2 Razorbill, 2 Guillemot, 350 Common Scote, 50 Gannets and a summer plumaged Red-throated Diver.
A Merlin flew north west and a Stock Dove west, although naturally small migrants were sparse in these conditions, just a Goldcrest and 2 Grey Wagtails.

photos AEH

Friday 11 September 2020

11th September 2020

Weather: WNW force 5

A midday check of the island came up with 2 Common Snipe, also the first Goldcrest of the autumn, The Brent were counted at 23 including 5 juveniles. On the sea were 6 Gannets, 95 Common Scoter and 2 Guillemots and 6 Great Crested Grebes. Best of the waders were 8 Bar-tailed Godwits, 22 Ringed Plover and 62 Redshank. Eleven Little Egrets were more than usual and 135 Sandwich and 14 Common Terns were noted.

Thursday 10 September 2020

10th September 2020

 Weather: WSW force 0/1   light rain

A mid-morning visit found 6 Wheatears around, a small movement of Swallows and a couple of House Martins. A Skylark was by the light and a Raven continued the run of records lately by this species. The Brent Geese suddenly increased to 21 birds including a few juveniles. There are still a good number of Sandwich Terns about which together with some gulls attracted an Arctic skua to the area where they gathered. Waders included 39 Redshank, 32 Turnstones and 2 Bar-tailed Godwits while also on the shore were 9 Little Egrets and a Shag on the sea.

Monday 7 September 2020

7th September 2020

.Weather: SW force 2/3   light rain in the morning heavier spell early afternoon

Another quiet day with no small migrants to add interest but at least there were 3 Ravens near to the Little Eye area, one of which came to the main island and was promptly seen off by the local Carrion Crows.

 A single pale-bellied Brent Goose stood on the north end rocks off the slipway early on and then promptly disappeared. Very little to be seen on the sea at low tide except a Guillemot drifting in to the north end and fishing .....

 but more Guillemots were noted  at high tide together with several Gannets. At least 5 Rock Pipits were present also 3 Little Egrets, 2 Grey Herons and either 1 or possibly 2 Kestrels. A Peregrine took a kill at the north end and went to Little Eye with it. Two Bar-tailed Godwits were the best of the few waders at low tide. Only 2 Linnets were seen all day, and observers had to wait until late in the afternoon for the first Pied Wagtail. 

photos CJ

Thursday 3 September 2020

3rd September 2020

 Weather: WSW    rain early morning

A short visit found it quiet with the only migrants being 3 Wheatears, and a House Martin. Five resident Rock Pipits were noted and 28 Turnstones and 18 Redshank were among the waders present. There are still 75 Sandwich Terns reluctant to set off south, and 2 Little Egrets and a Grey Heron were also on the shore.

Wednesday 2 September 2020

2nd September 2020

Weather: SE force 2/3    

Headline of the day was a Wood Sandpiper heard calling as it went over, possibly towards the north west of the island, but was not relocated. Wood Sandpiper is a very scarce Hilbre visitor indeed, not seen in most years. Minimum passage earlier in the morning included a Chiffchaff, 2 Wheatears, 2 Grey Wagtails and a Yellow Wagtail in flight across the top of the island. Waders included a Whimbrel, 3 Bar-tailed Godwits.and a summer plumaged Grey Plover.

Two Kestrels and a Peregrine were about and at least 6 Rock Pipits were seen, while 22 Linnets still flit around the island.. In the afternoon 4 Pintail came in from the sea, possibly to winter in the area, in any event the first of the autumn to arrive.

photos CJ

Tuesday 1 September 2020

1st September 2020

 Weather: SE force 1, slight mist around the estuary.

A clear sky meant no grounded small warblers, although the Chiffchaff from yesterday was still here and later on a Whitethroat fed about the obs garden bushes. Rock Pipits were very active and at the moment appear to be more numerous than Meadow Pipits. A couple of Wheatears stayed a good while and showed well.

The wader roost on Middle was unfortunately well disturbed by a paddle boarder but several Dunlin and Ringed Plover rested on the main island including this colour ringed bird, the origin of which will be researched.

A Raven was again a visitor, arriving from the welsh direction and a single Golden Plover flew from the north east and across between the islands. A Razorbill dived off the west side,

 while the best of the other sea birds were a couple of Gannets and quite a few terns. There were just 6 Brents here this morning after the seasons first arrival of 9 yesterday. After the tide a big surprise was the miraculous re-appearance of the Yellowhammer after not being seen for a number of days, this time it seemed to favour the rangers garden, although that area has been checked several times since its last showing. 

As the tide ebbed the Oystercatchers and Little Egrets were reluctant to leave their roost on top of the south end of Middle.

 photos CJ (others), SRW(dawn)