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

Wednesday 17 November 2021

17th November 2021

 Weather: W force 4/5

With the wind freshening and turning west, little migration was evident today, and the best that could be hoped for was a good sea bird blown into view, and that is indeed what happened. A Great Northern Diver flew west over the north end.

Another observer was also able to capture the moment as it turned to fly south westerly down the estuary.

Two Ravens were between the islands, continuing the recent run of records here recently. Four Blackbirds and 3 Song Thrushes were in the gardens etc.while among the waders 12 Purple Sandpipers showed. There were 6 Little Egrets and 4 Grey Herons noted and 2 dark-bellies with the 340 other Brent.

There were 11 Goosanders on the WK marine lake this morning.

Photos AMC, SRW

Tuesday 16 November 2021

16th November 2021

 Weather: SE force 1/2, later S 1/2 cloudy, pleasantly warm

 A dark trip across for some to beat the early tide. Just 6 Redwing heard over this morning but there were 7 Blackbirds and 5 Song Thrushes on the ground, but only one of each was caught for ringing.

A good record this morning was of a Snow Bunting flying overhead to the south, although perhaps less exciting were 3 Skylarks doing the same journey. Several Meadow Pipits, a Siskin and a Starling also came through. Most interesting among the waders was the increase of Purple Sandpipers to 15, let us hope this bodes well for numbers this winter as they have been a disappointment over the last few years.

A Raven flew over high to the east and then appeared down the east side, and later 2 Ravens were seen doing acrobatics on thermals over Middle Eye.

Large flocks of waders, Knot in particular, were flying about the estuary and roosting on West Kirby beach. The Brent reached a new high of 393 birds in cluding 2 dark-bellied birds. There were 8 Little Egrets and 6 Grey Herons. Shelduck numbered 375 and Curlew 396 around the islands area and 82 Common Scoter were on the sea, also a Great Crested Grebe, while a close Red-throated Diver at the north end (probably the same bird as yesterday) was even nearer today.

Several birds were retrapped today, most were recent arrivals, Blackbirds, Song Thrushes etc. also a Rock Pipit which seems to take a liking to the mealworms in the potter traps.  

Photos JE, AS, SRW

Monday 15 November 2021

15th November 2021

 Weather: SE force 1/2  mostly cloudy

Further passage of thrushes this morning around or before dawn included 3 Brambling with the 61 Redwing and 3 Fieldfares logged. Other winter movements over the island were both Woodpigeon and Stock Dove and a group of 9 Lapwings that were seen to lift off from the ridge south of Middle and move off to the south west. A Black-tailed Godwit landed on the east side between the islands, a species seldom seen here singly, while a flock of 20 Bar-tailed Godwit in flight did not surprise. Seven Starlings in total passed through, There were 6 Blackbirds on the island (1 was ringed), several Meadow Pipits and a Siskin were other visitors, while 2 Goldcrests called from gardens first thing, one of which was caught and ringed.

Only 2 of the Purple Sandpipers showed this morning. Large counts were made of 452 Curlew and 232 Shelduck, mostly between Little Eye and the Tanskies and a comprehensive survey of the Brent reached a really large number of 387 pale and 1 dark-bellied bird. Three Wigeon were here, also 4 Common Scoter, a Guillemot and a Red-throated Diver diving near the north end.

In the late afternoon a Short-eared owl was seen being harassed by Crows over the wardens garden but appeared to have gone off the island until a commotion by Blackbirds and Wrens drew attention to the SK trap area and the owl flew up from in front of the trap  to surprise our observer. It was not seen again.

The fungus mucilago crustacea was found on the island, it is sometimes known as 'dog sick fungus' for obvious reasons.

photos CJ, AS

Sunday 14 November 2021

14th November 2021

Weather: SE force 1

Two Goosanders were on the West Kirby marine lake this morning, this species has recently become regular visitors here in the winter. 

Meanwhile on the islands the capture for ringing of a female Sparrowhawk this morning is always a highlight for the ringers.

Less sucessful however was the ringing of thrushes that arrived early, particularly the several Blackbirds and Song Thrushes that were moving around the island on members arriving just after the early tide, only 2 Blackbirds were trapped.

Five Skylarks were recorded and a couple of dozen or so Meadow Pipits came through and a Grey Wagtail showed well on the rocks.

A Woodcock was disturbed from near the east slipway, but was not relocated afterwards. A small group of 8 Pink-footed Geese flew over and duck were well represented by sightings of 3 Wigeon and 12 Pintail. Purple Sandpipers did not show this morning but numbers of Redshank were good, 230 today, also 100 Sanderling. A Peregrine was the sole raptor recorded.

About 320 Brent Geese were present and included a single dark-bellied bird.

Rock Pipits numbered 11, which is a large count, most of them will be migrants that we tend to host at this time of year. Little Egrets also impressed with 8 birds, more than have been here over the last month or so.

 Photos AEH, SRW

Thursday 11 November 2021

11th November 2021

 Weather: SE force 1/2,, later S 2/3

More thrushes arriving over the islands this morning with 3 Redwings seen and 5 Fieldfares flying over towards the West Kirby shore. After dark in the evening many more Redwings were heard calling. There were a number of Song Thrushes on the island today, only 1 was ringed, and 2 others were flushed from the bracken on Middle and flew off high to the south east. Migrants included a group of 5 Starlings and 2 other singles, also a total of 8 Skylarks, while finches featured with single Chaffinch, Siskin and a group of 3 Goldfinches dropping in briefly to the obs garden, Seven Purple Sandpipers were at the north end and 6,400 Oystercatchers roosted the tide on Middle.While monitoring the wader roost, our observer saw the Kestrel swoop and take a vole from the bracken at the south end, all this within 5 yards of him. A Red-throated Diver also gave a good show of diving close in to the north end. There were 3 each of Little Egret and Grey Heron today.

Wednesday 10 November 2021

10th November 2021

The Snow Bunting is still present this morning and at least 6 Purple Sandpipers were seen scattered about the north end. It felt like a proper winters day, especially with over 300 pale-bellied Brent and these 2 dark-bellied birds amongst them.

 Thanks to Matt Thomas for details and Photos.

Tuesday 9 November 2021

9th November 2021

 Weather:  SW force 4, mild

 It was a little breezy but mild this morning and visibility was so good that the Great Orme was clearly seen, it was obviously also clearly seen by any birds looking for landfall in the Hilbre area as there were no arrivals overnight. The Snow Bunting was still there at first light, exactly where it was expected it would be. It was seen initially by the lookout and then in the general area around there, it appeared to be feeding by the gate to the Heli paddock, but was not seen again, although it was reported as present later in the day. Few waders could be found on the short before tide visit. Both the Kestrel and a Little Egret were here. A Wren was ringed and a Robin retrapped.

The hauled out Grey Seals were counted at 117.

Photos JE

Monday 8 November 2021

8th November 2021

 Weather: SSW force 2 at dawn, then SE 3 later

Winter thrushes were passing over before dawn, (138 Redwing, 6 Fieldfare) and were followed later by a single brambling, a few Siskin (one of which called briefly from the obs garden) and a small number of skylark. There seem to be a lot of Wrens around just now, 13 were seen today. A few more Meadow Pipits were present on both of the the larger islands and Rock Pipits were also active on each of the islands.

 Bird of the day was our second male Snow Bunting of the season which was first put up by Wheatear wall in the afternoon and then moved to feed around the light, it was still around in the early evening when it was found at the top of the roadway at the south end.

A Raven was heard cronking and at first couldn't be seen, but it was high over the east shore heading north. The kestrel still visits the island, although not as frequently.

 Only a single Little Egret logged today but there were 2 Grey Herons.

 A high count of 318 Brent was made today plus a single dark-bellied bird. Counts among the waders included 160 Turnstone, 6 Purple Sandpipers, 64 Sanderling and 7 Bar-tailed Godwits.

 Photos AS