Friday, 27 March 2015

27th March 2015

Weather: WNW force 2/3
male Linnet
The long awaited first Sand Martin of the spring flew through Hilbre today, on about an average date although in some years they can appear slightly earlier. A late Snow Bunting flew over the south end but unfortunately did not stop to feed, the only small migrants noted were 5 Pied Wagtails, a Goldfinch and a Goldcrest that was ringed. Twenty one Carrion Crows gathered on the north shore, an unusally large party. There seem to be still at least 142 Brent Geese, most are expected to depart within the next 2 weeks. Observations made from the east hoyle bank managed to locate the Surf Scoter, also Velvet Scoter and Long-tailed Duck, (see blog for 25th). Four Red-breasted Mergansers were out by the west hoyle bank.

dark line of 1,000's of Common Scoter very distantly off the east hoyle
flowering Lesser Celandine

distant Mergansers on the west hoyle

 Dutch scurvy Grass

Ringed: 1 Goldcrest,       [41-13 ]
(DB,AEH)    all photos  AEH

Wednesday, 25 March 2015

25th March 2015

Weather: light breeze, variable direction, frost early before sun.
With no discernible wind direction, this morning was entirely unpredictable, but in the event there was no passage of Meadow Pipits,Wheatears, Chiffchaffs or Goldcrests (except for one mid-morning) and we had to be content with the odd visitor from the mainland.
 A Reed Bunting (right)) appeared in the obs garden early on, and later a female House Sparrow (below) landed briefly in the heli garden.

A Magpie was on the island very early and another came in to stay longer about 09.00, and was eventually caught for ringing by some judicious baiting of the heligoland traps. Surprisingly this became only the 3rd Magpie ringed at Hilbre in all those years, the other 2 were in 2000 and 2006.
Also noted (passing over the islands) were 3 Goldfinches, 2 Chaffinches and 2 Pied Wagtails, while a roaming flock of 24 Linnets may have contained some of the local breeding birds.  Two un-ringed Rock Pipits (below right) were at the north end at the same time. A Merlin sat for a while on the rocks to the west of Middle Eye.
A Goldeneye flew south down the west side early in the day and 9 Red-breasted Mergansers were out by the west hoyle, but the chief event on the sea was the sighting (obs member AMC+KD) from the east hoyle tide edge of a Surf Scoter amongst the 10,000 or so Common Scoters out towards the wind farms. The bird was too distant to be seen from the island but was probably just outside the Hilbre recording area and will no doubt become the first to be 'accepted' for Cheshire and Wirral following a drake seen flying west close inshore off the North End of Hilbre on 23rd November 1969 was not submitted to BBRC - JCG et al.
 Two Mallards rested on the main pond and a Small Tortoiseshell butterfly was the first this year on the island.
Ringed: 1 Magpie, 1 Robin      [ 40-13 ]
(DB,AEH,CJ,KMc+SD)         Photos AEH (magpie in hand),CJ (others)

Tuesday, 24 March 2015

24th March 2015

Weather: NNE force 3/4 rain and sleet showers
A very brief visit in bad weather conditions produced little, although 4 Purple Sandpipers and a Little Egret were present and 2 Rock Pipits at the south end appeared to be displaying.

Monday, 23 March 2015

23rd March 2015

Weather: WSW force 2/3, later NW 4, some rain
A short visit logged a Merlin and a Sparrowhawk flying from Red Rocks to Hilbre. The only other bird that could possibly be said to be a passage migrant was a female Blackbird on Middle Eye. The rabbit again showed it is surviving well.

Saturday, 21 March 2015

21st March 2015

Weather: N force2/3
A beautiful morning but little sign of too many migrants, nevertheless another first sighting for the year with 15 Little Gulls flying off the north end, and indeed sea watching probably had the edge today with records of 15 Red-throated Divers, 8,000 distant Scoter off north Wirral, and 2 Drake Eiders. Two dark-bellied Brent were amongst the flock of over 100 birds this morning.

Still present (probably the same as yesterday) were Stonechat, a single Merlin which showed well on Wheatear Hill (see above and video at, Peregrine and 2 Rock Pipits. Just about the highest tide of spring saw the waves lapping well up onto the rocks and slipways about the islands.

(PSW & SRW) Photos SRW 

Friday, 20 March 2015

20th March 2015

Weather: NW force 1/2 then W 4 with mist
The lining up of the earth, moon and sun resulted in one of the highest tides of the spring on the island. Like most people on Wirral observers were treated to a partial eclipse made easily visible by the high cloud arriving just at the crucial moment.

Merlin seeing out the eclipse on Middle
Birds were still moving in a westerly airstream with arrivals of 2 Chiffchaffs, 5 Goldcrests, 14 Goldfinches, 4 Greenfinches , 3 Chaffinches, 20 + Meadow Pipits, a Redwing, 3 Grey and 8 Pied Wagtails, and the first White Wagtail of the year. Jackdaws continue to fly over in small parties and predators were varied with Kestrel, Peregrine and 2 Merlins (above) about the islands, also 2 Sparrowhawks over the Red Rocks area.

 One of the Merlins amused itself by chasingsome of the small migrants about for a time. The best find today was a Woodcock that was flushed from behind the bramble in the old obs garden and then flew about the south end until it disappeared (above). In the afternoon a Stonechat appeared and also took a liking to the south end of the island. It was quiet on the sea but 6 Great Crested Grebes and 200 Common Scoter were logged.

Ringed: 1 Dunnock, 1 Goldcrest      [ 38-12 ]

(DB,CS, SRW) Photos SRW

Thursday, 19 March 2015

19th March 2015

 Weather: WNW force 2, misty around the coast.
Fieldfare enjoying a mealworm
 Another good day for birds, even though there were not as many of them, but a varied species list kept interest alive. Probably the best bird of the day was a Fieldfare that spent most of the morning around the island, even landing on the grassy path  beyond the lookout and stealing  the mealworms that had escaped from the potter trap intended for the 2 Wheatears that were on this morning. The other star bird was a Great Tit in the paddocks which was later ringed. Others on the ground today included 2 Chaffinches, 3 Goldcrests, a Chiffchaff, a new Blackbird, a Wood Pigeon that landed briefly and a Reed Bunting at midday. Flying through but not stopping today were 6 Pied Wagtails, 2 Lesser Redpolls, about a dozen Meadow Pipits, 27 Jackdaws (which included a party of 24), and a Rook (scarce at Hilbre). A Sparrowhawk flew down the west side in the morning and later shot over the obs garden fence and did a circuit of the lawn no more than a metre above the grass. Five Common Scoter staying close in to the east side and a flock of a dozen or so dropped in off the east side and gathered together into a tight group splashing the water vigorously and calling loudly together, maybe spring is in the air for them.

Common Scoters having a party

Great Tit

Purple Sandpiper
Ringed: 2 Chaffinches, 1 Blackbird, 1 Great Tit, 1 Goldcrest.     [ 36-11 ]
(CJ)       photos  CJ