Saturday 26 February 2022

26th February 2022

 Weather: ESE force 5

Observers were met with a cold easterly wind as the sun rose and the tide ebbed, some beautiful flocks of Grey Plover fed amongst the freshly uncovered sand as well as some Dunlin and Ringed Plover. The Brent Geese (340 noted with 2 colour ringed) were harassed by 3 Ravens as a flock of Carrion Crows watched from Middle Eye.

Pairs of Rock Pipits chased each other about the rocks and Meadow Pipits displayed on the main island. Skylarks (3), Greenfinches, Siskin, Jackdaw and Reed Bunting passed over giving a welcome spring like feel despite the chilling breeze. Four Common scoter searched the gutter to the east, 49 Curlew fed along the edge, and 3 stunning male Goosander flew south down the west side, while the female Eider was present at the North end.

 Five Purple Sands remained in the shelter at their usual roost, even as the tide dropped. 


A cracking Stonechat appeared towards the north but disappeared only to be found in the Heli trap a little later. Stonechat is often regarded by Hilbre regulars as the harbinger of spring as they often appear here in February.



Dunnock, Robins, 4 Song Thrushes and 6 Blackbirds including a singing male were all active around the island.

Ringing: Stonechat 1, Song Thrush 1 (+ a retrap ringed on 16th November 2021) and 1 Blackbird.

Photos AEH, CJW

Sunday 20 February 2022

20th February 2022

Weather:  SW force 8  showers

With a full gale blowing first thing this morning the female Eider that has been here for some time was riding it out on the sea.

Meanwhile the Kestrel, another frequent visitor, decided on a different strategy and was sheltering behind the lookout.


Song Thrush, Blackbird and Robin were all singing in the paddocks and a pair of Rock Pipits were displaying on Middle.

  Photos AEH

Saturday 19 February 2022

19th February 2022

 Weather: SW force 3, rain

Twenty six Grey Plover were at the south end of the reef before dawn and 2 of the 5 island Rock Pipits were displaying on Middle Eye. Two Ravens made an early tour of the island pursued by the 2 local Crows, and despite the rain a Song Thrush sang all morning in the old obs garden. At high tide 80 Curlew, 80 Dunlin, 51 Ringed Plover and 12 Purple Sandpipers were counted.

There was very little to be seen on the sea before high tide but afterwards there were 4 Red-throated Divers, 16 Great Crested Grebes, a Guillemot and 380 Common Scoter off the north end plus the Eider off the east side. Snowdrops are now in flower on the island.

Upon leaving the island 15 Canada Geese were noticed off the west side and the Brent Geese had increased from an earlier low count to Circa 400 including 1 dark bellied.

 Photos AS

Tuesday 15 February 2022

15th February 2022

 Weather: WSW force 4

A post tide visit saw lots of gulls in the west hoyle/salisbury bank area. There were 6,000 Herring Gulls, 450 Black-headed Gulls and 61 Great Black Backed Gulls, and with them 3,500 Oystercatchers. The Brent were estimated at 390 and there were 42 Shelduck and 11 Common Scoter seen, also a Great Crested Grebe, 3 Red-breasted Mergansers and 2 Grey Herons. Waders had dispersed after the tide but still in view were 194 Curlew, 68 Redshank, 124 Turnstone, 35 Sanderling, 5 Purple Sandpiper, 2 Grey Plover and a Bar-tailed Godwit. The Kestrel, a single Little Egret and 8 Carrion Crows were about the island.

Sunday 13 February 2022

13th February 2022

Weather:  SE force 5, drizzle

An early start in the dark to catch the early tide. Fourteen Purple Sandpipers were roosting at the north end in the strong south east wind.

The first Mallards of the spring (3) were loafing on the main island pond and a Song Thrush was singing in the paddocks, while another more predicable sign of the coming season was the blooming of daffodills around the island.

Four Blackbirds were seen, also 4 Rock Pipits and a Peregrine. A Fox again showed its presence by signs that at some stage it has been making itself at home.

Photos AEH

Saturday 12 February 2022

12th February 2022

 Weather:  SSE force 4/5

A brief post tide mid-morning visit found 14 Purple Sandpipers at the north end, with 13 together in the roost. Other waders counted were 89 Turnstone, 45 Redshank, 285 Curlew, while the Brent were estimated at 480 birds. Two Linnets were on the island today in addition to 5 Rock and 2 Meadow Pipits, 2 Song Thrushes and a Blackbird. A quick look at the sea yielded 120 Common Scoter and a Red-throated Diver.



Friday 11 February 2022

11th February 2022

 Weather: SE force 2

The morning was calm and bright for a change but as expected was still quiet for birds. The majority of the Brent (c.400) were together at the north end for a time, and apart from the Eider and 13 Shelduck they were the only wildfowl on show. The female Eider that seems to have settled here for several weeks now was today on a boulder during the ebbing tide off Niffy bay.

Another long stayer in the form of the Kestrel hunted the island again.

Wader counts were naturally sparse at the present low tide; only 4 Purple Sandpipers were seen, but there were 110 Turnstone, 36 Redshank and 5 Grey Plover.

Among the wintering passerines, 2 male Blackbirds and a Song Thrush were seen, also 3 Rock Pipits and 4 Meadow Pipits.

Photos CJ

Wednesday 9 February 2022

9th February 2022

 Weather: NW force 3

A brief visit to the island to show a member of the SCAN ringing (with whom Hilbre Obs members have helped with wader ringing projects in recent years) the obs and island for the first time. As expected this time of year it was quite quiet. Two Rock Pipits were seen along with the long staying Song Thrush, Robin and Blackbird. A male Kestrel showed really well as it dived onto the ground in front of observers and proceeded to catch and eat a large earthworm! A low flying plane disturbed all the Brents from the north end and the flock splintered so an accurate count wasn’t possible but an estimate of at least 300 was made. As it was low tide the waders were dispersed and busy feeding but three Purple Sandpipers were recorded and a good number of Turnstones. The sea was remarkably quiet with only the long staying female Eider being seen.

Thursday 3 February 2022

3rd February 2022

 Weather: WSW force 3   SW 5 in the afternoon   comparitively warm

There was a very spring like feel to the morning with a warm light wind and 4 (of 5 recorded) Rock Pipits displaying on Middle Eye, 

whilst watching them a obs member heard a splash and turned to see 5 Goosander had landed in the lagoon, they were only there briefly then flew west.

The sun came up and the day became very warm, encouraging a Song Thrush and a couple of Wrens to sing, celandines to open and a queen Buff-tailed Bumblebee to appear, a species most often liable to appear in winter as the colonies are still active.

A dozen Meadow Pipits returned to the island and were busy checking their old territories. Because of the high tide the flock of Brents sat out on the sea to the east of the islands, waiting for the rocks to uncover so that they could feed again (458 were counted today).

The female Eider was still here and good numbers of waders were around at high tide including 78 Ringed Plover, 161 Turnstone, 48 Redshank, 15 Purple Sandpipers and 3 Grey Plover.

 Photos AS

Wednesday 2 February 2022

2nd February 2022

 Weather: W force 5/6 later WSW 5

 A good count of 486 Brents was made today, while they were all to the west of Middle, then during the incoming tide both the Eider and 3 of the 22 recorded Common Scoter drifted up the east side.

A Raven was briefly on the west side of Hilbre, the 2 local Crows seem to have given up on trying to drive it away. A single Grey Plover roosted at the north end with the Dunlin (180 logged today) and Ringed Plover (73). 

 The Middle island tide roost included 7,500 Oystercatchers.

 and 18 Purple Sandpipers were recorded.

 photos AS

Tuesday 1 February 2022

1st February 2022

 Weather: W force 5/6

On a short afternoon visit our observer noticed there were many gulls (4 thousand Herring and 80+ Greater Black Backs) feeding on a razor clam shell wreck on the east hoyle bank. Some wader counts were 86 Redshank, 73 Ringed Plover, 120 Sanderling and 6 Purple Sandpipers. A male Common Scoter was about the islands. The female Eider was still present.