Sunday 31 December 2023

31st December 2023

 Weather:  SSE force 3/4. Rain showers


The female Kestrel continues to hunt for Short-tailed Field Voles but didn’t appear to have any success today.


 Numerous signs of a Fox suggested the vole population may be getting reduced. Good numbered of waders roosted around the island over high tide with a total of 15 Purple Sandpipers split between three roost sites.


   At least 180 Turnstones were also present along with 32 Knot and 30 Redshank.

Very few passerines were around today with a single darvic ringed Rock Pipit (CAC) being seen at the north end where it usually hangs out. A male Blackbird frequented the SK paddock and three Wrens were logged along with a single Robin and Dunnock. The sea was very quiet with only the 5 regular Eider being logged along with a single Great Crested Grebe, 5 Common Scoter and as normal many gulls


 Photos PSW

Friday 29 December 2023

29th December 2023

 Weather: WSW force 6

 A strong wind from the south west brought a few good records from a sea watch. There was a Red-throated Diver, 156 Common Scoter, 6 Great Crested Grebes, 3 Kittiwakes, a Red-breasted Merganser, 3 Razorbills and a Guillemot. Of these the 3 Kittiwakes were the least expected. Eight Pintail was the sole record of other duck seen apart from the 5 semi-resident Eiders. It was quite a high tide today and a couple of thousand Knot tried to roost on the west side with the waves disturbing them.

Some of the other waders today were 2,000 Dunlin, 19 Ringed Plover, 9 Sanderling, 2 Bar-tailed Godwit and 4 Purple Sandpipers. Both Peregrine and Kestrel were here and a Raven present in addition to the 2 regular Carrion Crows. A Thornback Ray (raja clavata} was a surprise find on grass near the north end.

 Photo  GB

Tuesday 26 December 2023

26th December 2023

 Weather: NNW force 3/4, WSW 3 in the afternoon

  Unusually the 5 Eider were together today, the adult male tends to stay separate.

Eight of the 130 Common Scoter noted stayed close around the island, the rest being off the East Hoyle.

 Roosting the high tide on the island were Dunlin, Turnstone etc.


 also 44 Ringed Plover

and 15 Purple Sandpiper.

A single Goldfinch was the sole 'migrant' when it was found in the old obs garden.

Photos AS

Monday 25 December 2023

25th December 2023

 Weather: W force 6  decreasing 5 late afternoon, mild for Christmas time !

The usual mix of waders were roosting around the islands on the early morning Christmas tide.


Most of the 300 Curlew noted were counted towards the marsh on the ebb but a few remained feeding around the island.

Some of the waders counted were 2,500 Dunlin, 1,400 Knot, 165 Grey Plover and 16 Purple Sandpipers. A young Dark-bellied Brent was amongst the 340 Brent feeding after the tide.

 A female Goosander arrived off the North End in the afternoon, feeding with 3 of the Eider.

 A few of the resident species seen today were 8 Wrens, 2 Robins, a Song Thrush, a Rock Pipit and 3 Blackbirds.


Photos AS

Sunday 17 December 2023

17th December 2023

 Weather: SW force 6/7

 A brief early morning visit found the island quiet as expected and although it was mild the strong wind made checking the island uncomfortable. As usual several hundred Cormorants flew out the estuary at dawn. About 190 Brent were scattered about the islands and the small number of waders visible at low tide included 3 Purple Sandpipers, 40 Grey Plover, 2 Ringed Plover, 200 Knot and a Bar-tailed Godwit. There were no Little Egrets in view this morning and just one Grey Heron.

Among the small passerines the only one that was not a resident was a Pied Wagtail. A Peregrine was seen to the east of Middle but the Kestrel was not seen. Following 11 Short-tailed Voles seen yesterday there were 3 this morning, one giving a close up shot complete with ticks.

The number of voles here at the moment explains the almost constant presence of the Kestrel and a few recent visits from Short-eared Owls (and possibly a Barn Owl, if we count evidence from a pellet).

Photos AEH

Saturday 16 December 2023

16th December 2023

Weather: SW force 6/7

It was a tiring day to be on the islands with the wind force 6 gusting 7.

A Kittiwake and single Shelduck flew west passed the north end and a Great Crested Grebe sat on the sea but no Red-throated Divers today, however on the ebb a Great Northern Diver was spotted off of the north east corner of the island.

 Around the islands were 180 Knot and 3,500 Dunlin.


Two separate Purple Sandpiper roosts contained a total of 20 birds.

 A Sanderling roosted with 130 Turnstone in Niffy Bay and Redshank were counted at 65.

At dusk 3 Grey Heron were roosting on Middle Eye and a Short-eared Owl was put up from the side of the main path, a lovely finish to another good day on the islands.


 Photos AS

Friday 15 December 2023

15th December 2023

Weather: WSW force 5

Sixteen Red-throated Diver were noted today, a few on the sea but most flew west, 4 Great Crested Grebe and 2 Guillemot were also recorded along with the 5 Eider plus 2 Goosander just off the North End.


Before dawn a solitary Pink-footed Goose flew west over Middle Eye, the Brent Goose count was down to just 270 around the islands.

 Curlew on the East Hoyle after tide numbered 236, 140 Sanderling flew west passed the north end and Purple Sandpiper numbered 15.

The Kestrel was again present and a Peregrine disturbed the high tide roost on Middle, eventually flying off towards Point of Ayr.

  Photos AS

Thursday 14 December 2023

14th December 2023

Weather:  rain showers early, dry later, mild

A visit across for the tide found 400 Cormorants flying out of the estuary just after first light. Five Eider and 3 Goosander were logged and 12 Purple Sandpipers roosted at the north end, while 3,800 oystercatchers roosted on Middle eye and 3,600 Knot turned up between Middle and Little Eye after the tide. Short-tailed field voles seem numerous at the moment, indeed 11 were seen today, also an owl pellet which contained 2 vole skulls was beneath a post in the obs garden. An examination suggested it could be that of a Barn Owl, a very rare bird at Hilbre. Two Ravens showed today as well as the Kestrel.

Wednesday 13 December 2023

13th December 2023

 Weather: N force 4/5

 A mostly sunny but windy day, and the highlight came when a member leaving the island after the tide flushed a Short-eared owl at the south end of Middle island. Earlier the wind had been strong enough to discourage passerines from showing but the waders and wildfowl were about. The sea around the island was quite rough but the Eiders and Common Scoters at the north end spent most of the time bobbing up and down with the waves.


The male eider did a similar thing, accompanied by about 50 of the 400 Brent Geese, it rode the waves east of the obs.

Although a dozen Scoter were around the North End, one member on a boat out towards the windfarm estimated there were 2,500 located towards that area, also 2 Red-throated Divers. Only 2 Purple Sandpipers could be found roosting at high tide but on the ebb there were 16 on the east side of the gutter. Three hundred Dunlin, 14 Knot and 8 Sanderling were noted. Over 200 Curlew were south of Little Eye after the tide. A Peregrine spent a short time roosting on the west cliff, while the Kestrel was also present.

 A couple of Rock Pipts showed whilst feeding on top of the island

 Photos JE, AS