Sunday 31 March 2024

31st March 2024

 Weather: ESE force 2/3

A stunning start to the morning when a Hen Harrier flew down the west side of the island over the pond, startling the Mallard who reacted by flying up to mob the bird which flew off west towards Wales.

The previous record of Hen Harrier was in October last year but before that we have to go back to 2016 for another. The first Willow Warbler of the year arrived and was ringed this morning.


 It was also a good day for Chiffchaffs, 20 moved about the island bushes and 9 were ringed.

Five Goldcrests were present, some of them on Middle and 6 White Wagtails gave a good show when a few dropped in together on the west side cliff.



 Finches were scarce, just 2 Chaffinch and 2 Goldfinches.

A male Wheatear sat on the 'air raid shelter' and was only one seen today.

A Reed bunting flew over calling. About 80 Pinkfooted Geese flew north out of the Dee, 13 and then 7 other Canada Geese were flying around the estuary, 4 Jackdaws called overhead and 2 Magpies arrived, one staying for a while. 


While we are in the crow family we should mention that in recent weeks we have had double figures in crows, although today just 6 were seen.

  Small numbers of Black-headed Gulls flew west passed the north end.

 Two Shelduck stayed off the east side most of the time.

Just as members were bemoaning the lack of hirundines over the last few days 3 Sand Martins flew rapidly south. The sea was calm and a single Guillemot floated off the island. The daffodils are still making a splash of colour on the island.

Ringed: 9 Chiffchaffs, 1 Willow Warbler, 1 Goldcrest, 1 Blackbird.

Photos: AEH, CJW

Saturday 30 March 2024

30th March 2024

 Weather: ESE force 3

The day started with a trio of Pinkfeet Geese flying over the obs garden, they usually move in larger numbers than this. 

  Four Goldcrests were in the paddocks,

  and Chiffchaffs continue to arrive, another half dozen today.


There were not too many Meadow Pipit passing, but 9 White Wagtails and 2 Grey Wagtails flew in and finches seen were 8 Goldfinchs and 4 Siskins. Two Skylarks and a single Reed Bunting called as they passed over. Three male Wheatears were found at the north end but they did not stay long enough to be ringed.


A bit of a surprise came in the form of a Woodpigeon which flew into one of the traps, there have been many records this last week or so but only infrequently do we get to ring them. Two others later flew high over the island.

A Collared Dove landed on the island, the first we have seen this year. It sat atop the telegraph station for a short while before disappearing.


Two single Jackdaws called as they passed over at great height and a Magpie made a similarly brief overhead visit.

Six Mallard were around the pond area on occasions, Common Scoter numbered 70, some near to the island. Four Red-throated Divers were seen, also 3 Great Crested Grebes and 4 Guillemots. Eighteen Red-breasted Mergansers were swimming out towards the west hoyle bank, in the same area 16 Little Gulls hung about as the tide flooded. The 4 Eiders did not appear until after the tide as often happens. About 4,000 knot were estimated, some roosting on the east side of the island and one individual sported a colour flag and rings dating from October last year in the Liverpool bay area.

 As ever keep your eyes open for any colour marked waders including Hilbre Turnstones which have a blue ring on their right tibia and white flag with alpha numeric on their left. The rest of the waders were here of course, including 250 Sanderling, 450 Dunlin and  30 Bar-tailed Godwits. Three Little Egrets and a Grey Heron were noted.

A Peacock butterfly was out in the sunshine today.

Spring is in the air for the flowers also,

and the Linnets know it.

  A long day but a good one.

Ringed: 4 Chiffchaffs, 2 Goldcrests, 2 Robins, 1 Meadow Pipit,  1 Rock Pipit, 1 Woodpigeon, 1 Wren, 1 Turnstone.

  Photos AEH, CJW, SRW 

Friday 29 March 2024

29th March 2024

 Weather:  ESE  force 3/4, veering  SSW 3/4 by afternoon with rain showers

Forty five Pink-footed Geese flew north at dawn, we expect this to be a feature over the next few weeks as they have been ever since they wintered on the Dee. Three other 'grey' geese seen were Greylags, while Eiders numbered 6 including 4 males.


Brent Geese are still here (250 estimated), they will be preparing to leave in the next 2 weeks. Of more local origin are the 3 Mallard on the pond, 2 male and a female.

The Chiffchaffs keep coming in small numbers with a couple of Goldcrests, but more White Wagtails than the last few days, 14 arrived today.


Meadow Pipits continue to filter through as they always do in March, about 80 were estimated. For a change a couple of Grey Wagtails came to the island and finches moving through were 7 Goldfinch, 4 Siskins and a Chaffinch. Again a single male Wheatear represented the species. 

Highlight of the day was the first record of Sandwich Tern this year, we will soon start getting used to the familiar call though the spring, summer and autumn period. An adult Gannet was seen, also 12 Little Gulls, 23 Red-breasted Mergansers, 120 Scoter, 5 Great Crested Grebes and 2 Guillemots. Amongst  the waders there were 300 Sanderling, also 120 Turnstone, 


11 Purple Sandpipers and a Bar-tailed Godwit.

 At least 5 Blackbirds are here.

Other potential breeders present today included 10 Wrens, 8 Rock Pipits, 3 Robins and 2 Pied Wagtails.  The numbers of Linnets ready to breed are building up, 18 seen today.

Another Harbour Porpoise was swimming off the west hoyle, while further out as many as 3,000 Herring Gulls were on the shore there.

Ringed: 3 Chiffchaffs, 1 Robin, 1 Meadow Pipit, 1 Goldcrest

Photos AEH, thanks also to Ollie Bradley-Baker for 3 of these

Thursday 28 March 2024

28th March 2024

 Weather: SSW force 5/6   rain early

Overnight rain had fallen as snow on the welsh mountains but the sun soon came out at Hilbre.  

 There were quite a few species passing through this morning, for instance this male Wheatear showing well for the members.


  also a small movement of Meadow Pipits, although not as many as recent days.

also 3 Chiffchaffs, 6 White Wagtails, 4 Goldfinches and 6 Skylarks. A few of the larger visitors were 2 Canada Geese and 2 Woodpigeons. A single Snipe was an irregular visitor to the islands while more usual waders inlcuded 1,000 Knot, 350 Dunlin, 30 Sanderling, 120 Turnstone and 6 Purple Sandpipers. Floating on the sea were 20 Common Scoter, a Great Crested Grebe and 3 Guillemot. A Porpoise swam in a north westerly direction.

 Photos CJW