Friday 31 December 2021

31st December 2021

 Weather: SW force 7, decreasing 5/6   very mild for December

On the last day of the year an early start was made in the dark to catch the tide and a Fox was seen at Little Eye making its way from the islands back to the shore.

 As is often the case in winter the Purple Sandpipers are a highlight  and today there were a good total of 20 birds around the pool at the north end of the island.


A Peregrine hunted about Little and Middle Eye and also put up the waders at the east side of the main island on the ebb tide. A Shag was off the west side and then sat out on the whaleback,

earlier 650 of its close relatives the Cormorants flew out in the morning. Only 208 Brent could be counted and waders were generally in small numbers although 3,000 each of Oystercatcher and Knot were logged.

Photos AEH, AS

Wednesday 29 December 2021

29th December 2021

 Weather:  SW force 6, increasing WSW 7

A visit from mid-morning found it quiet as expected, 181 Brent were counted, a Red-breasted Merganser and a Common Scoter were there and waders included 30 Curlew, 40 Redshank, 25 Dunlin. and a Bar-tailed Godwit. The regular wintering species noted were Robin, Wren, Rock Pipit, Song Thrush, Blackbird, while the highlight of the visit were 2 Ravens. Wood mice now seem to be residents on the island recently and a specimen was found today.


Friday 24 December 2021

24th December 2021

 Weather:  ESE force 3

 A stunning light  for Christmas Eve morning that began with 120 Pinkfooted Geese in flight. A single dark-bellied Brent was with the 325 pale-bellied birds recorded.  

A pair of Goosander flew between Little and Middle on the incoming tide, 38 Shelduck and 65 Common Scoter were also noted. The regular wintering passerines showed no increase and included 4 Rock Pipits seen today. Good counts of waders on the tide included 10,000 Knot, 3,000 Dunlin, 3,800 Oystercatchers, 222 Grey Plover, 192 Curlew, 75 Redshank, 33 Sanderling, 56 Turnstone, 6 Bar-tailed Godwits and 13 Purple Sandpipers.

The Kestrel was present and a Peregrine flew west, 4 Great Crested Grebes were here but no Little Egrets and only a single Grey Heron.

 Photos AS 

Monday 20 December 2021

20th December 2021

 Weather: E force 2, ESE 3 at noon

A fox was noticed on the east shore before dawn, signs of a fox on the island are frequent but sightings are quite rare. Another movement before dawn was the routine spectacle of Cormorants exiting the estuary in numbers, 320 were on the list today.

In contrast 40 Pink-feet flew in the up-river direction. Wildfowl dominated the morning with 186 Shelduck, 15 Common Scoter, a single female Mallard, 6 Wigeon (2 male) which were on the water west of Middle, and 353 bellied and 2 dark-bellied Brent. 

A Red-throated Diver, 2 Great Crested Grebes and a Shag were also sea sightings. A Raven flew west between the islands. The usual waders were present including sightings of Knot (4,800), Dunlin (820), Grey PLover (85), Redshank (46), Ringed Plover (12), Turnstone (90), and 14 Purple Sandpiper. Only 2 Little Egrets today, but 3 Grey Herons and a Kestrel were here. Land birds only seemed to be the winter regulars and 3 Rock Pipits.

A Grey seal on the whaleback (the rocks at the north west corner of the island) seemed to be an old and possibly sick individual (most will normally not settle on the island). As the tide flooded it was joined by others of its kind, as has been noted previously  in similar circumstances).

Photos AS 

Friday 17 December 2021

17th December 2021

 Weather: E force 2/3   cloudy then sunny intervals and mild

 A total of 14 Redwings were heard passing over before dawn, but the only other 'migrants' were 4 Starlings flying south over the island after midday. A drake Eider floated west passed the island but unfortunately continued on it's way to towards Wales.

 Other wildfowl today included 4 Wigeon that flew passed the island,

also 246 Common Scoter, 283 Shelduck and of course the Brent, 345 today including 3 dark-bellied birds.

 and 28 Pink-footed Geese flew south down the west side. Counts at high tide featured 5 Grey Plover, 66 Redshank, 186 Curlew, 80 Dunlin, 181 Turnstone and 18 Purple Sandpiper, the latter giving encouragement after the poor numbers of the last few winters.

A Red-throated Diver and a Shag were on the sea, there were 6 Grey Herons but only a single Little Egret. A very worn Peacock butterfly was a surprise find in the Newton trap.

Photos CJ, AS

Sunday 12 December 2021

12th December 2021

 Weather: ESE force 1   fog at first

A foggy morning saw a Marsh Harrier head south west down the Dee at about 9.30 am. Records of Marsh Harrier at Hilbre are more usual at times of passage, but with increasing numbers wintering off the southern end of Wirral, further records are expected in the future. Another bird to recently expand it's winter range in this area is the Pink-footed Goose, twenty four flew passed the island today. An Icelandic colour ringed Brent was among the 288 Brent (plus 1 dark-bellied bird) recorded today around the island. It was ringed in May 2015.

A male Goosander was seen, possibly one of the group that now frequent the marine lake at this time of year. Cormorants numbered 690 leaving the estuary at dawn and a Shag swan about the island today. No less than 5 Song Thrushes were in the gardens etc, also 2 Blackbirds, up to 12 Meadow and 5 Rock Pipits.

Photos AEH

Saturday 11 December 2021

11th December 2021

 Weather: ESE force 3

A brief visit in the morning recorded small birds resident this winter included 6 Rock Pipits, 3 Blackbirds, 2 Song Thrushes, 3 Robins, 4 Meadow Pipits , at least 3 Wrens were present and a Dunnock caught and ringed. Some of the waders showing were 45 Curlew, 105 Redshank,115 Turnstone and 5 Purple Sandpipers.

Thursday 9 December 2021

9th December 2021

 Weather: W force 5, decreasing 3 later.

 The wind was near gale force at dawn but soon moderated making the day feel more pleasent as the sun came up.

 A Raven was seen early. The Brent were elusive before the tide, however 190 turned up at the main island for the tide, but 300 or so flew south of Middle, some of which would be the same birds. The Kestrel was on the island, disturbing the waders in the absence of a Peregrine or Merlin.

Rock Pipits were on each of the 3 islands, 4 in total. At high tide the Oystercatchers numbered 4,100 on Middle and the south end of the main island, while 8 purple Sandpipers sat at the north end. Four Blackbirds were seen, while the ringing effort managed to mark a new Robin and Song Thrush and a Wren that was ringed earlier this year.

 A pellet from a Barn Owl was discovered near the heli trap, it contained vole remains. Small scale damage was noticed to some of the fences and buildings recently caused by the gales. There were only about 20 seals at low tide but that was to be expected as they will be away visiting breeding grounds with beaches that are not completely covered by the tide.

Photos JE

Wednesday 8 December 2021

8th December 2021

 Weather: W force 8/9

 A gale force winds day with rain, the sort of conditions a couple of months ago would have made goos sea watching, but today just a single Red-throated Diver was logged. Brent included 3 dark-bellied birds among the 331 logged, there were 220 Cormorants seen and a single Shag off the north end. Waders were as follows: 6,000 Oystercatchers, 16 Grey Plover, 38 Ringed Plover, 85 Curlew, 153 Turnstone, 18 Sanderling, 120 Dunlin, 49 Redshank and 5 Purple Sandpipers.

 Photos SRW

Tuesday 7 December 2021

7th December 2021

 Weather: SE force 6/7  intermittent drizzle and rain showers

 A short visit enabled a few wader counts. There were 92 Turnstone, 2 Purple Sandpipers, 280 Curlew, 28 Sanderling and 2 Ringed Plover. Around the island were 2 each of Rock Pipit, Song Thrush, Robin and a Blackbird. The pictures from the island sum up a miserable looking day.

There were 18 Goosanders on the marine lake this morning.

Photos SRW

Friday 3 December 2021

3rd December 2021

 Weather:  NW force 3/4   WSW 4 in the afternoon

A quiet day with little time spent birding. A Peregrine disturbed the wader roost on Middle at high tide, the Kestrel was also present. 

Among the other waders were 16 Purple Sandpipers, over 200 Turnstone, 6,000 Oystercatchers and 12 Ringed Plover.

A shag came from east, landed briefly at the north end then flew off north.

There were 414 Shelduck which were all feeding on the ebb, strung out along the sand in front of West Kirby shore marsh, 3 Scoter were noted also a Great Crested Grebe. 

 Photos AS

Thursday 2 December 2021

2nd December 2021

 Weather: N force 3

An adult winter Mediterranean Gull was found among the gulls on the east hoyle, the gulls were attracted to feed on the wreck of starfish and razor shells that were scattered across the beach. Herring gulls were logged today at 4,500 and there were a few hundred of other species. Best of the waders included 180 Sanderling, 85 Turnstone, 32 Grey Plover, 25 Ringed Plover and 4 Purple Sandpipers. Shelduck are still at high numbers, 224 today, while the Brent had 2 dark-bellied birds with 410 pale. The only true sea birds were 125 Common Scoter.

Monday 29 November 2021

29th November 2021

Weather:  SE force 3

Members were treated to the spectacle of an adult Peregrine repeatedly stooping down to the rocks below the obs and carrying away a wader whilst being chased by the local Crows.

 A less frequent visitor to the islands, a Short-eared owl flew up the gutter on the flood tide and was later seen flying off the south end.

Earlier a single Whooper swan had flown north between Hilbre and Red Rocks. Three Dark-bellied birds were anong the 411 Brent today, also 4 of the colour ringed birds.

Shelduck were around the islands on the morning ebb, 148 were counted.

Thirty six Grey Plover were in the Little area, other waders today included 56 Sanderling, 14 Ringed Plover, 6 Purple Sandpiper and 55 Turnstone (possibly 54 after the Peregrine had made it's visit !). Four Scoter were on the sea with 22 Great Crested Grebe (one was on the Marine lake this morning with 16 Goosander). Four Rock Pipits are still here, maybe for the winter, together with 7 Wrens, 3 Robins, 2 Blackbirds and 2 Song Thrushes.

 Photos AS, Colin Davies (see www.birdingsthelens,blogspot.con)

Thursday 25 November 2021

25th November 2021

 Weather:   N.  cold in the wind, warm in the sunshine

Many Cormorants are counted exiting the estuary after dawn at this time of year, but today for a change our observer counted 808 arriving in several waves of 100 or so back from the sea and travelling upstream past the island to their roost further down the Dee. Some of the 320 Brent around continued to feed over high water as the height of the tides are now dropping. The Kestrel was present all day and 4 field voles were seen, also a dead Wood mouse. It was naturally quite on the small bird front.


Wednesday 24 November 2021

24th November 2021

 Weather: W force 4

Very little migration again with the west wind but a Redwing was captured for ringing in the paddocks.

 The island's wintering birds were active, the small number of Blackbirds, Robins and Song Thrushes were on show whilst feeding, one of the Song Thrushes was retrapped. The Brent were scattered around the island and therefore difficult to count as they also change between areas very often, but the count of 260 this morning in the immediate vicinity was thought to be accurate.

Only 3 Purple Sandpipers were logged, although the short low tide visit is not ideal to find the true total, and other wader numbers were also scarce for the same reason. The Kestrel was here again.

Photos JE


Monday 22 November 2021

22nd November 2021

 Weather: NE force 2, WNW 1/2 in the afternoon

Three Swans flew east between Little Eye and Middle at first light but it was too dark to identify the species. The light north easterly brought 3 Starlings and 2 Skylarks to the island and possibly a few of the 10 Wrens and 7 Robins were also new. The large count of 342 Brent included a dark-bellied bird. Also seen in large numbers were 858 Cormorants mostly flying out to sea in the early morning, and a total of 83 Shelduck, while the calm sea enabled 42 Great Crested Grebes to be seen mainly off to the west of the island. Three Red-throated Divers and 27 Common Scoter were also sea sightings. Fourteen Purple Sandpipers roosted the tide in 3 different places around the island.

 Other waders included 48 Ringed Plover on the reef south of Middle, 6,500 Knot, 600 Dunlin, 177 Curlew, 20 Grey Plover, 148 Turnstone, 105 Redshank and a Bar-tailed Godwit.


 The Kestrel was keeping an eye on the proceedings.

 Photos AS