Saturday 30 September 2023

30th September 2023

  Weather: SE force 2/3,  heavy rain in the afternoon.

An early start on a day which expected a very big tide around noon. Three Spoonbills were seen flying south down the west side of the island not very long after dawn. Spoonbill is still a very scarce bird at Hilbre despite the recent increase in the southern areas of the Dee estuary and this is thought to be the 7th record for the islands (record shot in poor light).


General migration was good in the morning before the heavy rain arrived around noon. A few Meadow Pipits were passing through and there were several Goldcrests and a single Chiffchaff calling in the gardens, and an unexpected surprise was a Willow Warbler retrapped as none had been ringed for over a week now.

 Two Skylarks arrived together and flew about the island.

Two Pied and a Grey Wagtail flew over and a Reed Bunting called as it came to ground.

 Three Wheatears were found today.




Two Ravens paid a visit, possibly the same as have been here often recently.

A Magpie arrived and sat on top of the lookout and then the 'heli' trap, not a rare bird but Hilbre sometimes only gets about 3 or 4 records a year.

Rock Pipits present included ones that are ringed in our colour ringing scheme and ones that are not.

 The very large tide today meant waders had few options on where to roost and counts included 8,000 Oystercatchers, 250 Grey Plover, 122 Curlew, 20 Redshank, 50 Ringed Plover, 45 Turnstone, 1,500 Knot and 3,000 Dunlin, some of which roosted at the north end.


The persistent afternoon rain made a high tide sea watch from the hide a sensible option, and the choice was a good one with records of 18 Gannets, 11 Red-throated Divers, 53 Guillemots, 40 Common Scoter, 4 Great Crested Grebes, a single Arctic Skua and 5 Sandwich and 6 Common Terns. Two Eiders were off the north end early but turned out to be immature males rather than the 2 females that have been about. 

The adult male then Eider appeared on the west side just as the tide was cutting through and later on the 2 females joined the 2 immature males at the north end. An unexpected find was this huge Convolvulus Hawkmoth found in the S K paddock.


Convolvulus Hawkmoth is among the very largest of british moths, often with a wingspan of over 4 inches so members were astonished to see this one resting on the wood inside the box of the SK trap. It is extremely scarce in this part of the country as most are the offspring of insects that have flown north from Africa and arrived on the south and east coast. On the way off the island an adult winter Mediterranean Gull sat on the shore towards the marine lake.


In the same place after the tide no less than 41 Little Egrets were counted in our recording area, an extremely large gathering.

Photos AEH, AS

Thursday 28 September 2023

28th September 2023

 Weather:  SW force 4, backing S 4 by noon.

Three Swallows flew south early morning, two each of Goldcrest, Chiffchaff and Wheatear were on the ground with 6 Rock Pipits about the islands but only 3 Meadow Pipit were recorded.

A good light enabled a count of 123 Shelduck between Little Eye and the shore along with 250 Curlew , then as the tide rose 105 Brent Geese were washed off of the reef towards the Eye. A Redhead Goosander was noted east of Middle and the 2 female type Eider fed in the lagoon area. Two Shag were recorded, one east of Hilbre and the other to the west.


A Red-throated Diver flew west, 140 Scoter and 30 Gannet were out towards the wind farm and  a single Great-creasted Grebe was off the North End.

 Small wader counts were 1,500 Dunlin, 800 Knot, 250 Curlew, 45 Ringed Plover. Five Bar-tailed Godwits were noted while in Niffy bay a Whimbrel roosted with 40 Redshank and 60 Turnstone.

 There are plenty of Blackberries and Rose Hips ready and waiting for the winter thrushes.

 Photos AS

Wednesday 27 September 2023

27th September 2023

 Weather: SE force 4, SE 5/6 by midday with some rain

The Brent are now building up in numbers nicely with 103 counted around the island today. Other wildfowl were 150 Shelduck and the 2 female Eiders.

The sea was quite active with 55 Gannets feeding, 60 Common Scoter, 2 Guillemots, a couple of Sandwich Terns and a Great Crested Grebe. A late Whimbrel was present in addition to 85 Curlew, 1,000 Dunlin, 50 Ringed Plover and 45 Turnstone. Small migrants arrived on the south easterly wind featuring 5 Goldcrests, and 4 Chiffchaffs on the ground, a few Meadow Pipits moving through and both Grey and Pied Wagtails noted with couple of passing Skylarks.

Wheatears have been about on most days over the last few weeks, and today was no exception with as many as 10 on the island which is a good number this late in the autumn.

Some of the breeding birds are still here eg. 8 Rock Pipits, 6 Blackbirds, 3 Robins and 6 Wrens.


Photos CJW, SRW

Tuesday 26 September 2023

26th September 2023

 Weather: ESE force 4, SW 6 by late afternoon

Three Chiffchaffs were in the gardens this morning, one showed particularly well to our camera wielding  members.

A Wheatear seen early on  was recognised as a different individual from the 2 photographed later.

Four Goldcrest were also on the ground and a Skylark visited the north end. Late in the afternoon a surprise male Blackcap dropped in to the obs garden just as members were leaving. Thirty Pink-footed Geese flew into the estuary on the ebb tide and a redhead Goosander was found before 5 Pintail were seen in flight moving south west.

 A few sea birds were in view today including 12 Gannets, 60 Common Scoter, a Guillemot and 3 Great Crested Grebes, one in summer plumage.

For a change Peregrines outnumbered Kestrels (2 to 1) and 2 Ravens also visited the islands.

Plovers were in good numbers with 300 Ringed Plover and 120 Grey Plover also 5 Bar-tailed Godwits. Still on the shore are 18 Little Egrets,  Brent Geese are at 60 individuals now while Shelduck numbered 192. The 2 female Eiders continue their stay with the male.

 Photos AS, SRW

Monday 25 September 2023

25th September 2023

 Weather: SSW force 4, SW 5 by noon

Quiet again today, the highlight for observers being close views of 3 Mediterranean Gulls between the West Kirby marine lake and Little Eye.


There were 2 adults and a second winter bird resting on the shore

 Two Chiffchaffs and a Goldcrest were present, also 2 Wheatears.


 No Swallows showed up today but a House Martin sped through the air low overhead.


 A dozen Meadow Pipits and 9 Rock Pipits were about, while 4 Pied Wagtails flew south. Sixteen Bar--tailed Godwits fed, also 87 Redshank and 95 Ringed Plover.


Wildfowl featured 158 Shelduck, the 3 regular Eiders and 62 Brent.

The sole 'sea bird' was  a Great Crested Grebe. Four Grey Herons were present and Little Egrets are still in high numbers, there were 18 today.

The Kestrel did not fail us today and was here in due course. A count of approximately 800 Black-headed Gulls on the shore made the finding the Mediterranean Gulls all the more impressive. Other gulls included 120 Common, 40 Lesser Black-backs and 18 Greater Black-backs.

Photos AEH, SRW