Thursday 31 August 2023

31st August 2023

 Weather:  ESE force 3   light rain showers

A small scattering of migrants turned up today including several Pied/White Wagtails, a Grey Wagtail and a couple of Wheatears.

A few Swallows passed through and extra Meadow Pipits seemed to be about and an unidentified Phylloscopus warbler was also  present. The lighter winds meant far fewer sea birds were evident and the terns seem to have reduced in numbers, there were 125 Sandwich and just 3 Common. Waders on the tide included 152 Knot, 1,200 Dunlin, 140 Curlew, 3 Whimbrel, 20 Sanderling, 12 Bar-tailed Godwits and 325 Ringed Plover


 'CAC' was pictured, a Rock Pipit from our ringing scheme.

Only 4 Little Egrets were logged, the male Eider was not seen but the 2 female types were. A Peregrine appeared while non-bird sightings today were a Harbour Porpoise and 4 Red Admirals. 

Photos SRW

Wednesday 30 August 2023

30th August 2023

Weather: NW force 5

The stronger north west winds brought hopes of a good sea-watch and this proved to be the case. Upon arrival, three Arctic Skuas flew west fairly close in and were followed immediately by an even closer Fulmar, now a very scarce bird anywhere off the Wirral coast. Three further more distant Arctic Skuas harassed the terns and one Manx Shearwater was noted. Gannet and Common Scoter numbers were much reduced compared to recent days with just five and eight respectively. Hundreds of Sandwich Terns still fished offshore but only one Common Tern was amongst them. The three Eiders were still present with one Great Crested Grebe. Bird of the day was an unexpected Leach's Petrel which flew west, close off the north end, exactly on high tide. (library photo)

 Notable passerines were two Wheatears and several of our colour-ringed Rock Pipits were seen.

Tuesday 29 August 2023

29th August 2023

 Weather: SW force 3/4, W 3 by noon

The sightings of Arctic Skuas continue, there were 6 today which is good news the frequent reports from the last few years of their poor breeding success.

Again Gannets did not let us down, 45 were feeding out in Liverpool Bay with 15 Guillemots, 70 Common Scoter and a Great Crested Grebe adding to the variety. Wader highlights were 35 Ringed Plover, 32 Bar-tailed Godwit, 350 Curlew and 2 Whimbrel. Gulls deserve a mention for a change, counted were 800 Herring, 220 Black-headed, 44 Great Black-backs, 36 Lesser Black-backs, 56 Common and a Mediterranean Gull seen distantly on the east hoyle mid-afternoon.


 An amazing 21 Little Egrets were feeding around the islands, also 3 Grey Herons. The male Eider was joined by 2 female types and there was also an unexpected 2 Pintail flying west. Best of the small birds were 2 passage Chiffchaffs (including a very yellow bird) and 3 Wheatears which were juveniles. The Wheatears are often wary of accepting the mealworms, but on this occasion they eventually succumbed. 

There were 3 Robins today, juveniles and probably from the mainland.

The young Blackbird that was ringed however may have been from a 3rd brood on the island.

Photos JE, SRW

Monday 28 August 2023

28th August 2023

 Weather:  NNW force 3,  WNW 3 by evening

Although the wind was not at all strong sea watching remained productive. There were none of the rarer skuas today but Arctic Skuas showed fairly closely to the island with a total of 9 present.


Gannets were also still featuring (35 present) and 25 Common Scoter seen. A gathering of 550 Sandwich Terns were counted between Little Eye and West Kirby marine lake, and at the same time 120 were out at sea off Hilbre, part of the flock is seen here leaving Tanskies after the tide.

The Eider and 4 Grey Herons were present and lots of Little Egrets, 14 today.


A Common Snadpiper was the star wader seen, but there were some big numbers of other waders counted today including 670 Curlew, 18 Whimbrel, 78 Bar-tailed Godwits (many more than of late), 1,500 Dunlin, 120 Sanderling and 42 Turnstone.

No small grounded migrants arrived, but maybe a few extra Swallows were passing through.

 Photos SRW

Sunday 27 August 2023

27th August 2023

 Weather:  NW force 5   early drizzle

Overnight wind and early morning squalls meant sea-watching was the order of the morning. The decision was soon rewarded when an intermediate plumaged juvenile Long-tailed Skua flew passed the north end heading west. This more rare of the skuas to visit Hilbre is typically seen only in strong winds in autumn, mainly September.

 It turned pout to be a good sea watch altogether with sightings of 6 Arctic Skuas, 65 Gannets, 8 Kittiwakes, 35 Common Scoter, 339 Sandwich (but only about 3 Common) Terns.

 The 3 main small wading species recently are Ringed Plover, Sanderling and Dunlin.

With totals this morning of  35 Ringed Plover, over 50 Dunlin and 70 Sanderling.

 There were 60 Curlew and just 2 Whimbrel in the gutter.

 The male Eider still floats around the island and there were 10 Little Egrets today. A Blackbird was caught and ringed.

Photos SRW

Colour ringing update


Following on from our  blog post about young Rock Pipit CAF that was photographed at Hoylake Lifeboat station on 13.08.23  (representing the first colour ringed sighting away from Hilbre since our project began in early August), we thought this movement was a typical post juvenile dispersal. Amazingly it was recaptured again on Hilbre the next day! This meant it had made a return trip of 2.4 miles in two days. However, Les Hall photographed CAF near Dove Point in Meols on 26.08.23. This represents a movement of around 3 miles from its ringing site on Hilbre. It’ll be interesting to see if CAF returns to Hilbre. Not only does this represent the first movement of a colour ringed bird away from Hilbre it also represents the first confirmed movement away from Hilbre of a Rock Pipit. Birds have been seen with a BTO metal ring on the left leg on the mainland but as the ring number couldn’t be read in the field we can’t confirm any details.

We’ve now colour ringed 8 birds and of these 3 have been photographed by non - Obs members highlighting the effectiveness of colour ringing in providing data.

 Photo by Les Hall

Saturday 26 August 2023

26th August 2023

 Weather: NW force 2, showers

 An interesting morning on the island featuring a Marsh Harrier by Little Eye which disturbed the birds, at one time dive bombing a Cormorant (very distant shots through a telescope). 


About 10 Black-tailed Godwits had been seen and another 400 or so were disturbed from the shore south of Little Eye by the harrier, as were 2,000 Black-headed Gulls. At Hilbre as elsewhere Common Gulls are often overlooked, but are well worth studying..

 After a message was received that about 40 grey geese flew off Seaforth in Hilbre direction, 38 Barnacle Geese duly arrived over the sea towards Hilbre.

The Barnacles are of course of uncertain origin and are likely to be feral birds from a known site, nevertheless an ususual sighting at Hilbre. Three Wheatears were on the ground but a single Chiffchaff was the only the paddocks.

Sixty or so hirundines fed as they came through the island, there were about 50 Swallows (some resting on one of the traps), 18 House Martins and a Sand Martin.

In addition to the Marsh Harrier, a Kestrel and 2 Peregrine were here today, also 7 Little Egrets and 5 Grey Herons. Waders included 12 Bar-tailed Godwits, 4,000 Knot, 350 Dunlin, 3 Whimbrel, 35 Ringed Plover, 9 Grey Plover, 55 Redshank and a massive 7,000 Oystercatchers. Four Wigeon seemed like a portend of winter, while the eclipse Eider has been here all summer.

A Shag has also become a regular this last week or so.

 In many areas of the island it is now a 'season of  mists and mellow fruitfulness' (John Keats)


Photos CJW, SRW

Friday 25 August 2023

25th August 2023

Weather: WNW force 4   thunder and lightning later

 A late evening visit for the  waders and terns roost south of Middle. There were 120 Sandwich and 8 Common Terns.

 A single Common Tern (right side) among the Sandwich.

Four Whimbrel are still here, also logged were 115 Ringed Plover, 1 Grey Plover, 40 Sanderling, 34 Redshank, 4 Bar-tailed Godwit and 800 Dunlin.

Photos SRW

Wednesday 23 August 2023

23rd August 2023

 Weather: SW force 3, intermittent rain early

 A quiet day with the only obvious migrant being a Wheatear which may be the one from yesterday.


There were 4000 oystercatchers roosting on the beach between the golf course and Hilbre, which was a spectacular sight even in the semi-dark. There was a large flock of Linnets this morning, making about 40 in total, also quite a few Meadow Pipits and Rock Pipits, 2 of the Rock Pipits had rings from our colour ringing scheme. Only 2 birds ringed today, a Meadow Pipit showing its long hind claw distinguishing it from a Tree Pipit  ...

 and the other was a Wren, showing the yellow gape of a juvenile.

 Twenty Swallows were feeding over the island, some will have been passing visitors.
Little Egret and Grey Heron are both now seen regularly and when they are together the size difference is obvious.

The Shag has been about for some time in addition to the usual Cormorants.

Photos JE