Wednesday 28 October 2020

28th October 2020

 Weather: S S W force 3, later WSW force 4,  showers

Good counts from the island today included 400 Shelduck, 300 Knot, 72 Redshank, 

 also 80 Dunlin, 2 Grey Plover, a Bar-tailed Godwit, 158 Turnstones and 3 Purple Sandpiper,

 while looking at the sea was productive with 6 Red-throated Divers,

 Also 650 Common Scoter, 5 Great Crested Grebes, a Red-breasted Merganser, and 2 Gannets. A single Skylark was noted and a Blackbird was about the island. A Peregrine and the Kestrel added interest to the day.

 There was fresh evidence of the Red Fox on the island.

photos AS

Saturday 24 October 2020

24th October 2020

 Weather:   S veering SW    rain heavy at times

With rain and low cloud there wasn’t much hope of catching any migrant passerines (although a single Redwing was seen in the SK paddock and later seen flying south off the island during a brief respite in the weather) today so attention turned to sifting through the increased number of Brent Geese and waders. Grey Plovers were feeding along the edge of the gutter along with Turnstone, Curlew, Redshank and a single Bar-tailed Godwit. One of the Grey Plover was colour flagged LA and is a bird ringed by the SCAN ringing group in March 2019 at Altcar. Both the secretary and chairman of Hilbre Birds Obs were present that day!
The colour ringed Brent goose, Red X Blue T, was feeding on the Whaleback with a large flock of over 180 Brents.

Total numbers around the island today were well over 250 but as they were all spread  out along the reef counting was difficult. This colour ringed Brent was first seen on  4th December 2019 at Hilbre and is known to have been ringed on the breeding grounds in Canada. Dark-bellied Brent Geese were also present and it was noted that one of them has a metal ring on one leg. It would be interesting to try and get better photos over the winter to try and decipher the ring number to see where this bird has originated from.

The only other birds of note today were two Grey Herons, that appeared to be roosting in the bracken on the east side to the south of the Observatory, and at least 120 Shelduck.

 photos PSW

Friday 23 October 2020

23rd October 2020

 Weather:  S force 2, rain

A Short-eared Owl flew about Middle Eye in the early morning light, it may have been roosting on that island overnight. There was very little else to report in the poor weather, a good count of 284 Brent, a Peregrine, a Kestrel, 76 Redshank and 7 Bar-tailed Godwits. two Rock pipits are still about.

Thursday 22 October 2020

22nd October 2020

 Weather:   W force 4/5    drizzle

In the early morning light a Short-eared Owl flew about Middle, this follows a number of such sightings in the last few days. Three Song thrushes and 35 Linnets were on the island, the best of the waders were 4 Bar-tailed Godwit and 12 Sanderling, and also present were 2 Little Egrets and the now regular Kestrel.

Wednesday 21 October 2020

21st October 2020

Weather:  SE force 1/2   some drizzle early

Four Redwings called overhead this morning and 2 Blackbirds and 4 Song Thrushes were on the ground, while during the morning there was plenty else to interest observers, including a Short-eared Owl hunting at the north end.

 A couple of House Sparrows dropped in briefly in the 'heli' paddock, and a Great Spotted Woodpecker (very scarce at Hilbre) landed on 'Wheatear wall'. Other movement through was light but evident including 2 Skylarks, 7 Starlings, a Reed Bunting, a Grey Wagtail, a Chaffinch, 4 Goldfinches and 2 Redpolls. Two dark-bellied birds were with the 148 pale-bellied Brents. Over 700 Common Scoter were on the sea, also a Red-breasted Merganser, while 4 Bar-tailed Godwits and 6 Grey Plovers were among the waders, and larger gatherings included and 240 Curlew and 7,000 Oystercatchers.

 For a change Grey herons outnumbered Little Egrets 3 to 2.

Two Peregrines were here, also the now regular Kestrel hunting the many voles, as no doubt did the Fox (there were fresh signs of its presence), later on, a Raven flew from the Little Eye direction towards Red Rocks. It was another day of many Wrens about, 12 were counted with 8 Robins, and 3 of the Wrens were ringed today, as was a Song Thrush.

An unexplained find was a Pollock on the slipway at the north end !

Ringed: 1 Song Thrush, 3 Wrens.

photos SRW & AS

Tuesday 20 October 2020

20th October 2020

 Weather:SE force 3/4

There were 4 Redwings over again early morning, but this time one came down and was trapped for ringing, always an impressive sight in the hand.

The remainder of the records were also mainly of typical late autumn species. A male Teal was a welcome addition to the normal duck sightings of Common Scoters (120) and Shelduck (18), while Geese were just the Brent with 3 dark-bellied birds with 218 pale-bellies. Fourteen Chaffinches and a Goldfinch came through, also both a Grey and a White Wagtail, a Blackbird and 2 Starlings. Three Red-throated Divers were noted and waders included 140 Knot, 32 Ringed Plover, a Bar-tailed Godwit, 46 Sanderling, 320 Dunlin, and 6 Grey Plover.

Others about were 5 Little Egrets, 4 Grey Herons and a Kestrel.

Ringed: 1 Redwing.

photo SRW & AS

Monday 19 October 2020

19th October 2020

 Weather: SE force 2/3 

A Peregrine was flushed at dawn from the south end near the obs, but after that excitement things were very quiet with no overhead migrant action. A couple of Blackbirds were about and 2 Grey Wagtails appeared later. Despite the large movements of Chaffinches etc. down the Wirral coast, Hilbre was deprived of this spectacle, although the odd Chaffinch (actually 6) did appear here as stragglers along with a Goldfinch. Regulars on the island were 2 Rock Pipits and 7 Wrens.


Two hundred and sixty Common Scoter and 8 Little Egrets were noted, while wader counts included 7,000 Oystercatchers, 44 Grey Plover, 800 Dunlin, 80 Knot, 16 Ringed Plover and 105 Turnstone. Only 110 Brent were in position to be counted today. The Kestrel showed well again.

The best of the day was saved until the last when the observer put up a Short-eared owl from Middle Eye on the way off the island. It flew north and seemed to land at the north end of the main island. It could possibly be the same bird that was here 3 days ago.

photos AS

Sunday 18 October 2020

18th October 2020

Weather: S 0/1

Redwings were again heard in the dark and a freshly predated one was found west of the obs. There were several Blackbirds around during the day, also 3 Song Thrushes and a Reed Bunting briefly calling, otherwise it was quieter than expected. A group of 85 Pink-footed Geese flew west over the Little Eye area and later a skein of 126 flew in from the north west and over to the south east.

A flock of 30 Wigeon passed the north end and 180 Common Scoter were the only other ducks sighted today, after midday a few Goldfinches appeared.

 Seven Redpolls joined them to fly around the island, and one, a smart male was ringed. 

Fouteen Skylarks passed over today, but apart from them and a couple of Pied Wagtails visible migration was at a definite premium. A pair of Peregrines were about and the Kestrel prospered, catching at least 3 voles. The very high tide unfortunately resulted in massive disturbance to the wader roost by leisure users of every description, things do not seem to get any better. Nine Little Egrets were in the roost before disruption, together with about 5,500 Oystercatchers.

 Ringed: 3 Goldcrests, 1 Blackbird (above), 1 Redpoll.

photos AEH, CJ

Saturday 17 October 2020

17th October 2020

Weather: NNE force 1/2

A nice migration day right from the start with 27 Redwings heard moving just before dawn and a Fieldfare on the island. Three Song Thrushes were down and 9 Wrens and 6 Robins were present, most probably also migrants.Passing over were 5 Starlings, 2 Skylarks, a Grey Wagtail and a Siskin (over Middle). Wildfowl had high counts of 250 Brent, 330 Shelduck, 350 Common Scoter, 5 Wigeon viewed from the north end, also an immature Goosander flying east at the same spot. Two Rock Pipits were on the main island, and in addition 6 were together at the south end of Middle. Two Peregrines joined the regular Kestrel around the islands, the Kestrel was seen to take voles (which are numerous just now) in the obs garden. Waders seen today included 88 Sanderling, 34 Grey Plover, 115 Turnstone and 32 Ringed Plover. An exceptional number of 15 Little Egrets roosted the tide on Middle Eye. The calm sea made seeing a Porpoise in the swash an easy task.

Friday 16 October 2020

16th October 2020

Weather: NE force 1

Observers were lucky enough to see a herd of 16 Whooper Swans flying low between Hilbre & Middle Eye early morning. A Raven was noted again early on, and as has been the norm recently a large flock of 60+ Linnets were moving between Hilbre & Middle Eye before splitting into smaller groups after the tide. A Reed Bunting and a couple of Song Thrushes were on the Island and one was caught and ringed later in the afternoon.

The ringed female Kestrel continued to show well as she hunted for voles over the island.

Later in the afternoon a Short-eared Owl was seen flying in off the sea from the Welsh side of the estuary before pitching down briefly in one of the paddocks and then continuing north where it appeared to land in the bracken.

Ringed: 1 Song Thrush. 

photos PSW

Thursday 15 October 2020

15th October 2020

 Weather: NE, force 3/4

 Typical late autumn birds were in evidence today. Representing the ducks were groups of 4 and 9 Wigeon, 4 Pintail and a Teal, while good counts of 252 Brent and 350 Shelduck were made. Passage today included a few dozen Meadow Pipits, 2 Skylarks, 3 Starlings, a Grey and Pied Wagtail, while 3 Song Thrushes and a Redwing were in the paddocks. wader highlights included 220 Curlew, 40 Redshank,38 Turnstone and 18 Grey Plover. Others present were both Peregrine and Kestrel and 4 Little Egrets.

 Ringed: 1 Goldcrest

Wednesday 14 October 2020

14th October 2020

 Weather: NE 2/3, cloudy with sunny intervals.

Obs members arriving in the dark to stay the morning tide heard good numbers of Redwings and Blackbirds flying over. As the dawn broke, there were a few of both species on the island, as well as several Starlings, but most quickly moved on, although others arrived, along with a Song Thrush, during the morning. 21 Skylarks also moved through. Groups of finches dropped in or flew over during the morning including 5 Greenfinch, 7 Goldfinch and a Siskin, as well as 6 House Sparrows. 

The Linnet flock numbered 40+ but there was no sign of the recent Twites. Brent Geese were widely scattered and the count of 180 was probably less than the total present. On the sea, 6 Red-throated Diver, 22 Great Crested Grebe, 250 Common Scoter and 3 Red-breasted Mergansers were noted. The Kestrel was present for the duration, providing excellent photo opportunities and was seen to catch a Short-tailed Field Vole, one of several seen.

A large frog managed to evade the Kestrel’s clutches.

  A Harbour Porpoise swam past the North end. The sun brought out a few insects including a Migrant Hawker dragonfly, a Peacock butterfly and a Devil’s Coach-horse.

One each of Robin & Wren were caught & ringed along with 2 re-trapped Robins and a Wren, the latter weighing in at an incredible 17.2 grammes!

photos CS,PSW

Sunday 11 October 2020

11th October 2020

 Fine and warm

 A quick walk across today found the following: counted were 130 pale-bellied Brents, 2000 Oystercatchers, 2 Curlew and 1 Turnstone. There were a couple of Skylarks, 4 Rock pipits (1 at the north end and 3 round the middle island), a Wren and 2 Little Egrets.

Wednesday 7 October 2020

7th October 2020

 Weather: NW force 5/6 then W 3/4

Two Ravens were seen this morning, continuing the recent run of these large corvids. Four Goldcrests and a Goldfinch were the only small migrants noted, among the regulars of Robins, Wrens (7+), Meadow Pipits, Rock Pipits (3) and a Dunnock. Unusual was the sight of a juvenile Gannet flying low over the sand between the islands, while other sea birds were a Guillemot and 2 Great Crested Grebes. Noted on the shore were 136 Shelduck, 68 of the Brent and 3 Little Egrets. Both Peregrine and Kestrel were present today.

Sunday 4 October 2020

4th October 2020

 Weather: E force 3

A Chiffchaff shared the paddocks with 5 Robins and 6 Wrens, while 5 Rock Pipits and 55 Linnets are still here. Brents were counted at 122, and best on the sea were 2 Red-breasted Mergansers and 450 Scoter.

Saturday 3 October 2020

3rd October 2020

 Weather: N force 3    rain and drizzle

Wildfowl was to the fore today with 7 Wigeon and 3 Teal present apart from the resident Brent Geese. A Song Thrush was on the island and a Skylark passed over. A sea watch found 1 Red-Throated Diver, 2 Guillemots, 3 Great Crested Grebes and 400 Common Scoter. Five little Egrets shared the shore with 50 Turnstones and 360 Knot. Land birds included 6 Robins and 3 Rock Pipits and the Kestrel.

Friday 2 October 2020

2nd October 2020

 Weather: NE force 4

A brief morning visit found a flock of 50 Linnets by Little Eye, 5 Rock Pipits around about, 4 Little Egrets, a Grey Heron and the Kestrel still hunting. A good count of 285 Shelduck was made to the south east of the islands.