Saturday 30 April 2022

30th April 2022

 Weather: SE force 3    misty

Another day of Willow Warbler drift, 20 arriving this morning and the first Whinchat to be ringed this year was caught in the SK trap. 


Six Wheatears were around the island today, and another Blackcap and Whitethroat (1 of 2 present) were ringed. Overhead passage included a Tree Pipit, 4 flava (Yellow) Wagtails, and a Siskin while the 6 Goldfinches as usual were more visible. There were 1,500 Dunlin flying about at high tide and amongst them a Curlew Sandpiper was identified, the first seen here this year and a reward for the diligent examination of the flocks. A singing Skylark was an unexpected visitor and 30 Swallows and 5 Sand Martins were noted. Among the Shorebirds there were at least 6 Shelduck,

and the now regular 3 Eiders, the male Scoter, 2 Little Egrets, no less than 30 Whimbrel, 20 Ringed Plover and 18 Turnstone.

Thirty Sandwich Terns and 2 Gannets were the best of the sea birds.

Ringed: 14 Willow Warblers, 1 Whinchat, 1 Whitethroat, 1 Blackcap.

Photos BT, SRW

Friday 29 April 2022

29th April 2022

 Weather: SE force 1, N3 by midday

A Whinchat was on Middle Eye first thing, however it became elusive even though it transferred to the main island and was still here in the afternoon. Spot the Whinchat !

 Nine more Greenland Wheatears arrived today, and one fed from the potter trap and was ringed.

Willow Warblers again did not let us down, 12 in the paddocks this morning, and 4 White Wagtails were down on the rocks.

A Tree Pipit called overhead and a male Blackcap was found in the old obs, and there were 12 Goldfinch and a Siskin today, while the hirundines were moving in force this morning, about 80 Swallows, some of which look as though they are Hilbre breeding birds arriving, and 14 House Martins with a single Sand Martin were many more than recently. Whimbrel are now calling all round the island, there were 21 today,

Dunlin flocks at the high tide proved larger than expected with 2,000 birds wheeling about when disturbed. Three Grey Plover, 40 Ringed Plover, 3 Purple Sandpiper were logged,

  also this single Sanderling.

The breeding season is now in full swing, with Blackbirds feeding, 3 fledgling Song Thrushes running about,

  and of course the Linnets are very vocal.

The 3 Eiders are still hanging about and there were 65 Sandwich Terns on show with 12 Common Terns and a single Gannet off the west side, while the male Scoter still resides at the north west end of the island.

Calm overnight meant it was suitable for the moth trap to be deployed: in order from the top below are Dark-Sword-grass, Marbled Coronet and Hebrew Character.


 Ringed: 9 Willow Warblers, 2 Meadow Pipits, 1 Greenland Wheatear, 1 Blackcap.

Photos CJ, BT, CJW, PSW, SRW

Thursday 28 April 2022

28th April 2022

 Weather: SE force 1, N 2 in the afternoon.

There were 15 Willow Warblers today, the steady trickle through continues, and on that subject mention has to be made of the Willow Warbler controlled here on the 21st (see blog for that date). Information has now been received from the BTO that it was ringed at Portland Bird Observatory, on the south coast near Weymouth, only 1 day before arriving at Hilbre, a total of 323 km in just over a day (probably overnight) ! Not bad for a small warbler that weighed in at just 8grams. In fact it had actually added a tenth of a gram since ringed.

The odd Woodpigeon has been passing Hilbre during the migration period and the ringing event of today was a Woodpigeon receiving a ring of a much larger size than the warblers. Handling Woodpigeons is often a 2 handed process for the ringers.

A Blackcap was found, also 3 Whitethroats were around this morning in the west side of the SK paddock area, one was indeed singing.

 No migrant finches showing today and only 3 Swallows, but there were 4 Wheatears and 3 White Wagtails which were on the slipway at the north end.

A Greylag Goose flew north low over the sea, where 43 Sandwich Terns were feeding, and 12 Whimbrel, 3 Sanderling and a Purple Sandpiper were noted. Dunlin numbered 450  around the island.


  A beautiful evening promised much for tomorrow.

Ringed; 10 Willow Warblers, 1 Woodpigeon and 1 Whitethroat.

Photos SRW

Wednesday 27 April 2022

27th April 2022

 Weather:  E force 2, N 1 by afternoon   slight mist

Not the spectacular day like yesterday, but a good flow of migrants to please everyone. Willow Warblers were obviously in smaller numbers but nevertheless 15 were ringed this morning, also a Greenland Wheatear, one of 6 of the species here today. This bird was carrying lots of fat for the onward journey as she has travelled to Hilbre from sub Saharan West Africa, quite a journey already but her next step could be to Iceland on her way to Greenland or Canada, so that explains why she needs so much fuel. 

 Also ringed was a Chiffchaff, a Whitethroat.....

 ............and another Grasshopper Warbler

Pick of the other small passerines about the island were a female Blackcap and this Whinchat.

Aerial visitors included 18 Swallows, 2 Sand Martins, a Skylark, and a Tree Pipit. Three Goldfinches were noted. There were quite a few species of interest around the shore featuring 6 Little Egrets, 5 Goosanders, 3 Eider (2 drakes), 3 passing Greylags and this Common Sandpiper on the rocks, north east side of the island.

Three male Blackbirds seem to be attempting to breed this year, one on Middle and two on the main island.

At least 16 Turnstone and one Purple Sandpiper is still with us but the most prominent waders at the moment are the Whimbrel, 20 counted today.

 Ringed: 15 Willow Warblers, 1 Chiffchaff, 1 Whitethroat, 1 Grasshopper Warbler, 1 Greenland Wheatear, 4 Linnets

Photos JE, SRW, special thanks to Matt Thomas.

Tuesday 26 April 2022

26th April 2022

 Weather: E force 1/2, ESE 2 in the afternoon, some mist around the coast.

It is not often that a fall of about 150 Willow Warblers was not the headline event of the day, that was still to come. The first round of the traps soon after dawn yielded about 14 of the delicate warblers for ringing and the subsequent visits did not see any slackening in the numbers of birds arriving. The ringers were obviously very busy and had not had time to survey the island for other species. Not long before 10.00hrs whilst approaching the Newton trap on yet another round, a larger species caught immediate attention as it flew towards the catching box. It was obviously not a warbler as it appeared more the size of a small thrush with white outer tail feathers. Excitement escalated as it was realised that it was a large species of pipit. 

The round was completed and the warblers ringed before processing the pipit and with the help of the literature eliminated all large pipits other than Richard's Pipit.   

Richard's Pipit is a rare but regular vagrant from Siberia in Britain, usually in autumn and is the first to be seen at Hilbre in spring and obviously the first to be ringed here, as this is an uncommon event even on a national basis where an average of less than one per year are ringed. The pipit stayed about the west side of the island for a while after release but was very mobile and refused to pose for photos in the field. It was not seen after midday.

As the pace of migrants arriving slowed several larger species (than Willow Warbler) appeared that were new for the island this year, starting with Whinchat that was glimpsed briefly first thing but made itself scarce until later in the morning.

Also a first, a male Whitethroat was also ringed,

 While another first was an early Sedge Warbler that was in the paddocks before being ringed,

A Grasshopper Warbler was also caught and ringed, however it was not the first this year as one was heard singing near ‘Gropper ridge’ when the Ring Ouzel was here two weeks ago.

No less than 3 Blackcaps were ringed during the day, the last seemingly dropping in during the afternoon.

Three Yellow Wagtails called whilst passing and 8 Wheatears would normally get a lot of attention but today they went almost unnoticed.

Likewise a slow passage of 25 Swallows and 8 House Martins and 8 Goldfinches became incidental to the main show today. Other sightings today included 11 Whimbrel on the shoreline with 14 Shelduck, 12 Little Egrets and 32 Sandwich Terns calling around the island. So ended such a magical day that we all hope for in spring and which keeps us all going the rest of the year. 

Ringed: 65 Willow Warbler, 3 Blackcaps, Whitethroat, Grasshopper Warbler, Sedge Warbler, 4 Linnets, a Robin and of course a RICHARD'S PIPIT!

Photos CJ, SRW

Monday 25 April 2022

25th April 2022

 Weather: ENE force 1   later E  2/3    slight mist

 Another Common Sandpiper was soon detected around the island rocks again. A Tree Pipit called overhead but other migrants passing over were very scarce. A male Blackcap was down on the island were 5 Wheatears and a single Goldfinch, although only 3 Willow Warblers made it to the island today. There was however a small passage of  16 Swallows and a House Martin. The sea was worth watching, there were 8 Gannets, 18 Common Scoter, an immature Shag and 48 Sandwich Terns. 

 A wandering Snipe flew south over Middle Eye. There are still good numbers of Dunlin around the around the isand at high tide, over 400 today and a total of  28 Ringed Plover,

 ....... 5 Sanderling, 3 Grey Plover and 23 Whimbrel. 

 On the shore today were 10 Shelduck and 4 Little Egrets.

 A total of at least 5 Rock Pipits are still around Hilbre.

 A regular moth at Hilbre is the spectacular Angle Shades.


 Ringed: 1 Willow Warbler, 1 Blackcap, 1 Blackbird

Photos BT, SRW