Friday, 22 May 2015

22nd May 2015

Weather: W 3, 8/8 cloud then clearing during middle of day before clouding over again.

A single Greenland Wheatear graced the island and spent some time bathing on the wildlife pond.

Apart from that migrants were very thin on the ground but three House Martins passed over (two over the North End and one over the Obs).

The flock of Eiders were still present off the North End with seven birds remaining including six drakes in various stages of maturity.

Waders however were still much in evidence with a build of Dunlin again up to high tide with an estimated 2,500 counted along with 45 Sanderling, 85 Ringed Plover and 3 Turnstone as well as four Bar-tailed Godwit (including one in fine summer plumage) and 75 Grey Plover including a flock of 50 also in fine nick resplendent with their black bellies and silver spangled upperparts. 

6 Little Egrets graced the gutter as the tide ebbed and the resident breeding birds took advantage of the slight increase in temperature as it almost felt like May for a while.

The first Common Blue butterfly of the year was noted in the Obs garden today.


Thursday, 21 May 2015

21st May 2015

Weather: WNW force 4/5
A visit to the north end first thing found a Razorbill on the rocks near the entrance to the old lifeboat slipway. It is such an unusual event that it was thought initially that the bird must be sick, but a slow approach proved otherwise as it took off strongly over the west side.
Razorbill (CJ)

Within seconds the visit became a purple patch when 2 male and a female Eider were seen swimming off the whaleback and then another 5 drakes were noticed standing out on the rocks off the slipway.

Eiders, (CJ)

Land birds were very much at a premium as expected in the westerly with no warblers and just a single Wheatear which landed briefly on the obs lawn, and the now seemingly resident Skylark which still moves about the island. The odd Swallow went through and later in the morning 5 House Martins. A brief sea watch in the morning failed to even find any Gannets or terns, but a flock of 9 first summer Kittiwakes flew east passed the north end.
Things improved over the tide with a single Bonxie seen.
Brimstone moth in the obs garden (CJ)

Garden Tiger caterpillar (Nett Furley)   

Ringed Plover (Nett Furley)
Dunlin and Ringed Plover (Nett Furley)
              (CJ, later MGT+1)

Tuesday, 19 May 2015

19th May 2015

Weather: WNW 6-7, light rain

Five Bonxies passed through over the tide and was an excellent count for spring at Hilbre and the seawatch also produced 250 Gannets, 30 Kittiwakes and 2 Fulmars.

Later a single Greenland Wheatear and a Grasshopper Warbler were seen on Middle as observers left the island the latter is a late record for the islands.


Sunday, 17 May 2015

17th May 2015

Weather: WSW 5-6, 7/8 cloud, moderate vis

Up to 1,800 Dunlin mainly in summer plumage roosted at the North End over the tide with five Sanderling and forty Ringed Plover the highlights of the high tide WeBS count day.

A single Peregrine was seen as observers left the island - one of the birds that have been hunting the Dunlin over the last week or two no doubt.

A single Greenland Wheatear was the only passerine migrant seen today.

(RAE & family (from over))

Saturday, 16 May 2015

16th May 2015

Weather: WNW 5-6, 8/8 cloud, moderate vis

A blustery and threatening pre-tide visit produced little in the way of migrants although a Greenland Wheatear was sheltering on the South End slipway.

Similarly a Little Egret did its best to feed in the gutter as the tide flooded.  A few small flocks of Dunlin bustled there way north and Ringed Plovers were below the Obs on the mud.

The sea was slate grey and definitely has potential for producing something over the tide with over 100 Common, 35 Sandwich, 15 Arctic and 11 Little Terns noted in a brief seawatch along with 40 Gannets.

As the sole observer retreated before the tide a line of people in wet suits and floats could be seen marching out to Middle Eye in a scene reminiscent of one from 'Mama Mia' but without flippers and snorkels.

These brave individuals are taking on an extreme swim in aid of several charities including Stick 'N' Step (a respite and conductive education centre for children with cerebral palsy on Merseyside) - we wished them good luck! For more details on this and how to donate please see

No doubt the Grey Seals will keep an eye on them!

As the tide ebbed observers arriving for the 'afternoon shift' enjoyed the build up of Dunlin and found (or re-found) a Curlew Sandpiper (back of camera shot below).

(SRW am, PSW+MP later)

Friday, 15 May 2015

15th May 2015

Weather: SE force 1, cool early, warm by noon
House Sparrow (AEH)

Another early start for observers before the tide discovered no immediate arrival of migrants apart from a flava Wagtail calling overhead, and the retrapping of yesterdays Whitethroat confirmed that it could be hard work today. Things improved slowly in the next few hours with some Greenland Wheatears and a Willow Warbler landing and a pair of House Sparrows calling around the island for some of the morning, also a passing Tree Pipit. A couple of Skylarks were singing over the island but moved off to the mainland and in addition to the local Swallows about 100 went through with about 30 Sand Martins, 10 House Martins and 3 Swifts. Four species of tern featured today including 20 Little Terns and 2 Arctic Terns, also close in to the west side was a 1st summer Kittiwake, while the 50 or Gannets logged were mostly more distant. Waders again became a subject of study and a Curlew Sandpiper was found amongst the 6,000 Dunlin, a different bird from the other two seen recently which were in complete summer plumage. Fifteen Whimbrel were on the shore, also 6 Turnstones in their spectacular summer plumage mixed with the Dunlin, about 50 Sanderling, 200 Ringed Plover, a Knot and a Grey Plover. A Peregrine hunted the waders assiduously and was seen to make a kill, while both sexes of Kestrel were present. The male of the pair of Rock Pipits was retrapped briefly in the potters put out for the Wheatears; to see Rock Pipits on Hilbre in May is a new experience for most observers.

Skylark - this male has been around the islands for a couple of weeks now (SRW)
Not a great day for butterflies but noted today were Silver Y and Cinnebar moths and of course the massive numbers of Garden Tiger caterpillars that are everywhere under foot, resulting in care being necessary whilst walking the paths. Meanwhile the first Four-Spotted Chaser Dragonfly was found not far from the pond.

One of the breeding Swallows (AEH)

Rock Pipit (JE)
Whimbrel (AEH)
Turnstone (AEH)

Ringed Plover (AEH)
Ringed : 2 Greenland Wheatears, 1 Linnet, 1 Meadow Pipit, 1 Robin, 1 Willow Warbler  [ 327-33 ]
(JE+JP,AEH,CJ,KMc, SRW et al)

Thursday, 14 May 2015

14th May 2015

Weather: ESE 3-4, 5/8 cloud and good visibility

A blustery south easterly produced a small number of migrants this morning including a Whitethroat and a Spotted Flycatcher.

As often heralds the start of the end of Spring along with Spotted Flycatcher a couple of late Chiffchaffs were also caught along with a couple of Willow Warblers.
Several Linnets were caught including this smart male; a returning bird.