Saturday 28 November 2020

28th November 2020

Weather:  ESE force 2/3   slight mist

A cold but productive day with good numbers of Waders around as the early tide flooded, along with the Brent geese 15,000 Oystercatchers built up a roost as over 8000 Knot searched the tide edge along the shoreline and Grey Plover, Bar-tailed Godwit, Dunlin, Ringed Plover, Curlew and Redshank also joined them. Common Scoter (350) were counted at sea as 4 Wigeon and a couple of Mallard moved across the estuary, 4 Red-throated Divers a few Guillemot and Great Crested Grebes fished the high tide and a good count of 15 Purple Sandpiper roosted at the North end.


 A few Blackbirds and Song thrushes were present and Wrens appeared to be wintering in reasonable numbers on the main island, a couple of Rock pipits continued to search out food amongst the rocks together with a Pied Wagtail.

photos CJW

Monday 16 November 2020

16th November 2020

Weather: W force 7/8

Despite the westerly gale it was a disappointing sea watch, the best were 200 Common Scoter, 16 Great Crested Grebes, 3 Red-throated Divers, 3 Guillemot and a Gannet, although 5 Pintail flew west passed north end. 

The very high tide meant the Purple Sandpipers were unable to rest on the west side as the waves were breaking over the rocks at the north end, forcing them to shelter by Emmet rock east of the life boat slip.

 Eleven Bar-tailed Godwits were among the waders today, with 90 Turnstone and 29 Ringed Plovers. The Kestrel is still about, also a single Rock Pipit.

  photos AS

Sunday 15 November 2020

15th November 2020

Weather: SE force 4/5, later W force 6   showers then rain

Another very good sea watch, this time with favourable winds in the afternoon. No less than 36 Red-throated Divers, 12 Great Crested Grebes, 39 Razorbills, 17 Guillemots, 49 other auks were logged with 14 late Gannets.

Two hundred and eighty Common Scoter were also on the sea.

The high tide roost on Middle was disturbed (as often happens) by windsurfers etc. however a small number stayed at the north end of the main island, comprising 28 Ringed Plovers, 60 Dunlin, a Grey Plover and a Sanderling.

All told there were 117 Sanderling, 5,000 Knot, 860 Dunlin, and 13 Purple Sandpipers. The Brent did not turn up again until the late evening tide. A Chaffinch was the only visitor today.

photos AS

Saturday 14 November 2020

14th November 2020

 Weather:  SE force 4

A very sucessful sea watch considering the wind direction with 11 Red-throated Divers, 600 Common Scoter, 2 Gannets and over 50 auks, at least 28 of which were definitely Razorbills. The Brent were absent most of the day, then 155 turned up at the evening high tide with 2 Wigeon also in the swash. A Chaffinch called from Middle and was the only small migrant although a Redwing was heard over in the late evening. Thirteen Purple Sandpipers were counted, the most this season so far. 

 An unusual sight was one of the 3 Grey Herons  standing near the lookout.

 Seven Wrens were about and a Rock Pipit at the north end, plus the regular 1 or 2 Blackbirds and Song Thrushes.

photos AS


Friday 13 November 2020

13th November 2020

 Weather:  SW force 4

A visit after the tide recorded a Raven, 

while single birds of Robin, Blackbird and Song Thrush were here, together with 6 Wrens,

 but the only 'migrants' were 2 Skylarks and a Chaffinch. Regular waders present were 800 Dunlin, 1,200 Knot, 7 Grey Plover, 3 Bar-tailed Godwit, 90 Turnstones, and 7 Purple Sandpipers,

 Other good records were 220 Common Scoter and a Red-throated Diver.

photos AS


Wednesday 11 November 2020

11th November 2020

Weather: SE   breezy 

Today was WeBs low tide count day so a concerted effort was made to count all the birds using the rocky shore, intertidal areas and sandbanks off Little Eye, Middle Eye and Hilbre. Luckily the weather was kind to us with no rain but a stiffening breeze. 382 Pale-bellied Brent Geese and 1 Dark-bellied Brent Goose were logged including the two regular colour ringed birds. 

A good early count of 10 Purple Sandpipers was made before the low tide count but we could only find 6 during the count! 

Most of the regular waders were present in good numbers and 4 Grey Herons were hunting in  rock pools along the west side. Of interest a semi leucistic Oystercatcher was seen which might have been the same bird as recorded in previous years.

Two Wigeon were seen in the east side gutter as observers drove onto the island earlier in the morning and these relocated to the north end to be included in the count.

 Several Red-throated Divers were seen on the sea along with a single Guillemot and a 23 Razorbills. 


There wasn’t much in the way of passerines seen today but there were several Robins and Blackbirds around the island although none were caught. A Rock Pipit was seen at the north end of Hilbre and another on Middle Eye.

photos AS, PSW

Tuesday 10 November 2020

Obituary - Clive Totty


I first met Clive on West Kirby shore in 1958. He was with Pete Williams. They worked together on various construction jobs and when Pete discovered Clive`s interest in birds he invited Clive to join us on a trip to Hilbre.I lived in Wallasey and Clive in Leasowe, and on our many trips to the island I would follow Clive on his BSA Bantum motorbike, me in my mini-van. The three of us were invited to become members of Hilbre Bird Observatory in 1959. 
Apart from their birdwatching skills, Pete and Clive were a great team along with friend Pete Raftery on maintenance work, first in the Wendy Hut and later when we moved to the New (Old) Bird Observatory, building fences, shelving, cupboards and bunks etc.

I will always remember Pete and Geoff Pass chatting to Clive in the early1960s, asking Clive how he was getting on in his new job at the Anglican Cathedral working as a carpenter, Clive responded in his usual quiet manner that things went quite well.  On seeing Clive’s long hair when he arrived his new work mates exclaimed “Jesus Christ”!  ‘No Clive Totty’ was his response.

Later when we moved to the New Obs., Clive’s carpentry skills are to be seen throughout  . . . more bunks, storage lockers and balcony. Not just the furnishings but Clive’s artistic work can be seen in the many marquetry pieces on the walls of the sitting room.

Clive never became a ringer but was a hugely enthusiastic helper, building Heligoland traps and helping with their essential maintenance.

Pat (his wife) and Clive moved to Amlwch on Anglesey to take up a new job at Wylfa Power Station. In his new garden he developed a superb Alpine plant slope and recorded many interesting moths for the island. His moth trapping on Hilbre inspired Gavin Broad and myself and in later years Lottie Williams. We always enjoyed his spring visits catching Netted Pugs and Marbled Coronets. His records being important to our knowledge.

Pat, Clive with Pete and Doreen made many long stays together on Hilbre and also exciting trips to South Africa and the Caribbean. Clive was in our group to Fair Isle Bird Observatory in 1972 were Clive helped mist net a male first winter Yellow breasted Bunting. Clive was ahead of the Prof and I and he was climbing over a barbed wire fence, Prof exclaimed “Clive has either ripped his Cacks (trousers) or there’s a Large White Butterfly on his arse” I had taken a bottle of Smiths Glenlivet malt whiskey for a celebration and after taking a large dram Clive had to retire early and was late for breakfast!!

One of the many delights of the Totties' spring and autumn visits was joining them for substantial dinners, a modest amount of wine and always finished with Clive`s beloved Stilton.

The passing of Clive in hospital on 4th November was met with great sadness.

His spring and autumn visits to Hilbre are legendary. 

The epitome of a “lovely man” he will be sorely missed.  Our condolences to Pat, their daughters Nina and Heather, their grandchildren and great grandchildren.

 RIP Clive.

 Barry Barnacal (November 2020)

10th November 2020

 Weather: ESE force 1     some mist around coasts

The Short-eared Owl was found again this morning around the north end and then the top of the island, it stayed for an hour or so. Migration was sparse with a number of Starlings and a few Skylarks passing over, also 4 Pied Wagtails and a Chaffinch and Goldfinch appearing briefly. Four Blackbirds arrived overnight with 2 Song Thrushes but few stayed about. Two Common Snipe flew passed the obs to the west. Meadow Pipits were more numerous than of late with about 30 birds roaming in small groups about the island. Purple Sandpipers still number 3 birds, I wonder how many more we can get this winter, it's certainly not like the old days. In the afternoon a good number of Bar-tailed Godwits flew over the island, there had been only 2 or 3 lately.


 A sea watch yielded 7 Red-throated Divers and 5 Guillemots.

photos AS