Sunday 31 October 2021

31st October 2021

 Weather: ESE force 6 with rain, SW 6 later in the day

Two Song Thrushes arrived here yesterday and today 7 were present with 4 Blackbirds, most probably as a result of rain starting in the night, and its expected most of the Song Thrushes will move onward, for example to Ireland. There was little movement during the day, just 6 Skylarks, a Siskin and a Chaffinch which was calling in the obs garden.

 Purple Sandpipers had increased to 6 this morning.

There were also 6 Bar-tailed Godwits, 50 Turnstone, 86 Redshank, 120 Dunlin, 25 Knot and 30 Grey Plover. An accurate count of Brent was not possible but there were at least 200, and 368 Shelduck and 2 Common Scoter. 

Photos AS

Saturday 30 October 2021

30th October 2021

 Weather: SW force 3/4 heavy rain at first then showers, later WSW 4 in the afternoon.

The main event of the day was the arrival of the first wintering Purple Sandpipers, 4 were here this morning.

Other waders included 22 Ringed Plover, 82 Turnstone, 130 Curlew and 5 Bar-tailed Godwit.

There was a large count of 153 Redshank which were mostly feeding in the east gutter.

The Brent featured prominently, 236 birds included 2 dark-bellied individuals. There were 52 Shelduck.

Single Common Scoter and Wigeon were the only other duck species.

Typical late autumn birds in the form of 2 Goldfinch, 2 Siskin, 6 Skylarks over and 60 Starlings flying east were the passage birds through today. Some of the 10 Wrens may also be visitors but the 2 Song Thrushes could possibly stay the winter. A Raven made an appearance and there were 5 Little Egrets.

Three Rock Pipits were seen.

Photos AS

Wednesday 27 October 2021

27th October 2021

 Weather: SW force 5 increasing 7    mild

Arrivals before dawn have become more regular since the Barn Owl has been on the island, sometimes however it still does not show, as was the case this morning. It was all told a disappointing day with little or no migration, just a few Meadow Pipits passing through to brighten the mood. The odd Curlew and Turnstone were seen and Redshank and Oystercatchers were of course on view.

Two Common Scoter showed on the sea, while the shallow tides just now meant the Grey Seals id not haul out in any numbers.

The Brents that flew in made a total of 88, 3 Little Egrets fed while about 200 Cormorants were around the islands.

Photos JE

Sunday 24 October 2021

24th October 2021

Weather:  SE force 4

The Barn Owl was out hunting before dawn again this morning, but it turned out to be not the only owl on view today. A Short-eared Owl was later seen being mobbed by Oystercatchers and apparently flying towards Hoylake but turned towards the east side of the island, and after landing briefly near the Newton trap it flew north due to being moved on by some Crows, and may have landed again towards the north end of the island.The lucky observer is possibly the first person to see two owl species here in one day, (unless anyone knows to the contrary) as any owl is scarce at Hilbre.

The problem over the last few days has been the excellent visibility which keeps the birds moving over the island rather than dropping down ( below Great Orme visible ).

A group of 14 and then a further 17 Siskin went west over the island but later 14 went south, also going south was a flock of 16 Goldfinch. Two Reed Buntings, a Skylark and a Chaffinch were also noted. A male Blackcap was found skulking in the obs garden. Over the tide waders present were 48 Redshank, 33 Turnstone, 140 Grey Plover, and 7 Bar-tailed Godwit were on the shore as the tide made.

Ten Little Egrets were on the shore with 243 Brent today, and amongst them was ringed bird 74 NW which was ringed in Ireland 26th September 2019 and turned up on Hilbre for the first time on 31st October that year.

 Photos AS

Saturday 23 October 2021

23rd October 2021

 Weather: S force 3, later 4

The Barn Owl showed itself after not being seen for a few days, it is good to know it is still about. The change of wind direction caused more bird arrivals, a big improvement on yesterday. Fourteen Redwing called early overhead, while 5 Skylarks, 2 Chaffinch, a Siskin and 2 Reed Buntings likewise did not stay, but about a dozen Meadow Pipits and 6 Goldfinch hung about the island. 

 A male and female Eider were off the west side briefly before departing towards Hoylake. 


High tide produced 7,000 Oystercatchers roosting on Middle, 80 Dunlin, 184 Curlew, 35 Turnstone, 33 Ringed Plover, and a Bar-tailed Godwit. Four Grey Plover were flying west past the island plus another 53 on the shore, while 55 Redshank were in the roost at Niffy Bay.

The southerly wind did not favour sea bird sightings, an exception being a Common Scoter which came close to the island.

There were just 3 Little Egrets and 2 Grey Herons, and a hunting Kestrel. The pale-bellied Brent reached a high number of 248 today.

Photos AS

Friday 22 October 2021

22nd October 2021

 Weather: WNW force 5/6  rain showers all day, decreasing force 4 in the afternoon.

Weather conditions seemed ideal for a late autumn sea watch, with an impressive swell on the water. The reality however was disappointing, the only records were 1 Red-throated Diver, 3 Great Crested Grebes and 51 Common Scoter.

Seen around the islands were 176 Brent, 10 Shelduck, 3 Little Egrets and 2 Grey Herons. A Bar-tailed Godwit was among the small number of waders found, also a solitary Ringed Plover on the north end.

 Two Redwings called as they came over the island in the late afternoon, but no other migrants made the bird list. With little else to report today we will itemise the gulls seen; there were 650 Herring, 50 Common, 20 Black-headed, 12 Lesser and 7 Greater Black-backs.

 Photos AS

Thursday 21 October 2021

21st October 2021

 Weather:  N force 4/5, NW 5/6 in the afternoon

One observer on a quiet sea watch today persevered when others had given up hope and was rewarded with a Little Auk flying in from the north, landing on the sea before taking off again. Little Auk is still a rare bird at Hilbre, sometimes a few years pass between records. No Gannets or Divers were recorded, just 4 Great Crested Grebes, 2 Guillemots and 87 Common Scoter. Prior to this a Whooper Swan flew east from Wales, showing from the north end out towards the windfarms. 


This morning a small number of bird visitors were sighted in response to the northerly wind, in the form of 9 Skylarks, 4 Siskins and 3 Starlings. There are no wintering Purple Sandpipers yet, although cannot be long appearing now, but other waders included 180 Dunlin, 105 Curlew, 37 Ringed Plover, 37 Turnstone, a single Bar-tailed Godwit and 52 Redshank, mostly in Niffy Bay.

 There were 13 Little Egrets (no longer a surprise), a Grey Heron and a male Kestrel.

Photos AS

Monday 18 October 2021

18th October 2021

Weather: SE force 4,  heavy  rain late morning.

Arrival before dawn gave the opportunity to watch for the Barn Owl hunting, but despite half an hour in the dark members were disappointed that it did not appear. It was not seen yesterday either, so it could have finally departed the island, time will tell. 

In the last few days we have complained how scarce finches have been this autumn, well this morning it all changed and finches were the dominant feature of the visit. Several flocks of Chaffinches came through south against the strong wind, and although they did not tarry they were flying low over the island. There were over 70 Chaffinches in total and then two flocks of 5 and then 4 Siskins. Three Redwings had gone through soon after dawn and parties of 2, 8 and 7 Starlings moved south later. Two Skylarks calling were fewer than of late. A dedicated sea watch produced some good records, there were 80 Common Scoter, 4 Red-throated Divers, 3 Gannets, 10 Great Crested Grebes, 13 Guillemots and 10 Razorbills. A by-product of the sea watch were 2 Wigeon and the sighting of 3 Harbour Porpoise. During the high tide 70 Redshank and 45 Turnstone were roosting in Niffy Bay. At the same time while some were watching the sea, others at the obs were treated to a lengthy display by 3 Ravens over the south end and on Middle. The rain relented by noon but a trip around the paddocks confirmed that the movements earlier had ceased and no birds were grounded.

On departing the island it was obvious that a fishing trip had come to an abrupt halt on the reef. RNLI had attended.

Photos CJ,SRW & Rob Bithell.

Sunday 17 October 2021

17th October 2021

 Weather: SE force 3   drizzle at first

A grey start to the day with drizzle kept the Barn Owl from its normal routine.

Five Redwings dropped in early on however, and 4 Skylarks passed through during the day. As mentioned previously finches have been scarce this autumn, 26 island Linnets were joined today by a Siskin that passed through low down going south and a confiding Chaffinch on the ground.

 Four male Blackbirds were present.

and at least 4 Rock Pipits.

Early afternoon a Goldcrest was found feeding in Telegraph House east garden.

There were 7 Little Egrets and 4 Grey Herons, some of the herons scoured the island for voles as they have been doing during this period of plenty.

A Raven patrolled the west side of the island. Brent were estimated at 210, Shelduck counted at 325 and Curlew were also impressive at 530.

Photos SRW

Saturday 16 October 2021

16th October 2021

 Weather: SE force 3, later NNE 0/1 and SW 1

Before dawn the Barn Owl was hunting and 27 Redwings were calling as they flew over the island. Skylarks passed over again, a couple of dozen or so, and soon 5 Starlings travelled through on their way south.

Three Reed Buntings added to the mix, as did 2 Common Snipe which have not featured in the last week or so, and extra Meadow Pipits passing through, also at least 1 new Blackbird and a Goldcrest on the ground. Scarce lately have been finches (excluding Linnets) but a single Chaffinch was here today. A much anticipated Snow Bunting arrived by the light, moved to the rocks near the north end and posed for a few pictures before departing off towards the Point of Ayr.

 Brent numbered 169 on view, Shelduck 288, Little Egrets 11, and Grey Heron 3, while 6 Wigeon were also on the list. Sea watching produced 2 Red-throated Divers, 12 Great Crested Grebes, and 45 Common Scoter. There are over 300 Curlew here now, over 50 Turnstone, 42 Redshank and 2 Bar-tailed Godwits.

 Two Kestrels were on the island again and a Raven kept up the recent run of appearances.

Photos SRW