Tuesday, 15 April 2014

15th April 2014

Weather :- SE 3/4 slight mist
Redpoll showing some features of Common Redpoll
male Lesser Redpoll
Spring sprung into top gear this morning with 56 bird species recorded and 36 birds ringed by the end of the day. The first small fall of Willow Warblers (12), and Chiffchaffs (5), were backed up by good finch numbers (22 Lesser Redpolls, 21 Goldfinches, 2 Siskins and one each of Greenfinch and Chaffinch) a House Sparrow. Other small bird entries on the log were 5  alba wagtails and a single Goldcrest.and a wide variety of other goodies including no less than 5 firsts for the year:- 1 Arctic Tern, 3 Whimbrel, 2 female and 2 male Blackcaps, 2 Tree Pipits and a Yellow Wagtail passing. One of the Redpolls appeared to be a Common Redpoll type (long winged, big billed, pale undertail coverts but otherwise like lesser, however biometrics could not decide the issue). The hirundine total reached 8 Swallows, 3 Sand Martins and 2 House Martins, and while 12 Wheatears were counted it didn't seem so to observers as none stayed long enough to be much noticed (or ringed).
House Sparrow

Unexpected records today included 5 Canada and 2 Greylag geese, a Raven, a Jackdaw, 2 Woodpigeons, and 2 Buzzards over Hoylake. On the sea were 1 Red-throated Diver, 2 Great Crested Grebes, 4 Guillemots, 2 Razorbills, and 19 Sandwich Terns in addition to the Arctic. Five thousand Common Scoters lifted off from the north west sea for no perceptible reason. Wader numbers are naturally down from the winter with 1,100 Oystercatchers, 18 Ringed Plovers,12 Sanderling, 10 Turnstone and 45 Curlew logged.

Ringed :- 10 Willow Warblers, 5 Chiffchaffs,1 Goldcrest, 1 Wren, 2 Blackcaps, 3 Goldfinches, 8 Lesser Redpolls, 5 Linnets, 1 Meadow Pipit.        [ 194-22 ]
(DB,MSC +2,CJW et al )

Saturday, 12 April 2014

12th April 2014

Marsh Harrier over the obs (as seen from Red Rocks) (JET)
Weather: WSW force 2, increasing 5 by noon
Marsh Harrier (SRW)
A phone call at 06.45hrs from a member at Red Rocks (JET) alerted an observer on the island to a Marsh Harrier crossing over high from east to west. Others on other parts of the islands were then further notified enabling all to see this first of the year. Such is the value of co-ordinated migration watching! The harrier flew steadily off towards Wales untroubled by the attentions of a couple of Shelducks that objected to the intrusion on their island.

Redstart (CJ)

beautiful male Redstart appeared in the Newton trap about 08.00hrs and as the first of the spring would normally be bird of the day and indeed some thought it was, despite the harrier. Three single Chiffchaffs were caught at intervals, and became the first warblers on the island for 3 days, and while 2 Wheatears were seen, none were ringed today. Very few other migrants, just a flock of 4 Goldfinches a White and 2 Pied wagtails and a single Swallow. Counts on the flood tide included 494 Curlew, 950 Oystercatchers, 34 Shelducks, 6 Bar-tailed Godwits, 8 Ringed Plovers, a Grey Plover and just 3 Brent (all that remain?). On the sea were 2 Gannets, several Sandwich terns (left, CJ) (2 went between the islands at the ebb), 4 Red-breasted Mergansers and on the shore were 3 Little Egrets, increasing to 5 after the tide.
Grey Plover (SRW)
Ringed:- 3 Chiffchaffs, 1 Redstart, 1 Linnet.                [ 158-20 ]
(JE,CJ,JET(on mainland), SRW)

Friday, 11 April 2014

11th April 2014

Weather:- NNW force 1/2
No warblers again but 4 male Wheatears was some compensation for the observers, also a Merlin, 3 Sand Martins and 8 Swallows passing through made it not a bad day. The best sighting was of an immature male Eider that passed between the islands and headed east. A Woodpigeon flew south and 10 Goldfinches were noted today. Eighty five Gannets, 3 Red-throated Divers and a pair of red-breasted Mergansers were the highlight of sea watching. Two Little Egrets were recorded today, and 38 Brent still remain.
Ringed :- 2 Wheatears                         [ 153-19 ]
(AAB,DB,CJW, et al)

Thursday, 10 April 2014

10th April 2014

Weather:- SW force 2
No phylloscopus warblers or Wheatears today, and just a single Goldcrest but plenty others birds of interest including 2 Grey, 2 Pied and 7 White Wagtails, 7 Swallows, 10 Goldfinch, a Redpoll and a House Sparrow. At 09.15 hrs a Lapland Bunting flew up from the Little Eye area and headed north towards the other islands but unfortunately it could not be re-found despite an extensive search. A female Sparrowhawk was seen to fly west from the island towards Wales (right) and later 2 Buzzards were also seen, this time at long distance from the island, over Hoylake in fact !
Turnstones (AEH)
Small Tortoiseshell (AEH)
Quite a lot recorded on the sea today, not just the massive flock of 12,000 Common Scoter lifting off towards the wind farm when disturbed, but newly arrived 85 Gannets and 137 Sandwich Terns (a high count for early April). More Bar-tailed Godwits present today with 9 being logged. Four Little Egrets were at Tanskey rocks and a fifth arrived from along the North Wirral coast.
Carrion Crow (AEH)
 (AEH,DB, et al )                        Ringed: 1 Goldcrest & 1 Meadow Pipit        [ 151-19 ]

Wednesday, 9 April 2014

9th April 2014

Weather:- WSW force 2, later WNW force 3/4
With the westerly element to the breeze now there was no great surprise that warblers were entirely missing from the roll call this morning. Wheatears are not quite so particular about Hilbre's meteorological conditions and 2 made it to the island, although none were ringed.
 The big highlight of the morning was a Sparrowhawk found in the SK trap first thing which then became the second of its kind to be ringed this spring, it was recorded as an immature male (right). Two ringed in a year is unusual for the island. Migration was at a minimum but 2 Swallows went through as did a single Goldfinch, whilst amongst the waders 100 Knot flew off high to the north and a group of 5 Bar-tailed Godwits also seemed intent on moving off. It was very quiet on the sea with not a single Great-crested Grebe to be seen although freshly new in from further south were a Gannet sitting on the sea and 7 Sandwich Terns. On the tide edge were 36 Brent, which may be all that remains of the flock, also 3 Little Egrets were to the east of the islands.
Ringed :- 1 Sparrowhawk, 2 Linnets.    [ 149-19 ]
(CJ,KMc +SD)                    photo KMc

Tuesday, 8 April 2014

8th April 2014

Weather: WNW 6-7, 5/8 cloud, good vis but hazey

A brief visit produced the highest count of Gannets of the year so far with 68 counted along with 15 Red-throated Divers.  There was a notable arrival and passage of Common Gulls with 350 estimated and the 39 Pale-bellied Brent Geese were still present.

A single Golden Plover passed over despite the blustery wind.

However, bird of the day was a monster of a first summer Glaucous Gull spotted naked eye (it was that obvious!) amongst the Herring Gulls off the North End slipway. It then hung in the air over the island with other gulls before drifting off East where it landed on the East Hoyle bank and could be seen, albeit very distantly from the Obs balcony (see a brief video here http://youtu.be/es4sEwPwFNU).

Unfortunately, it was sat low near the tide edge and could not be seen from the mainland. It was presumably the same bird that later turned up at Seaforth NR this afternoon.

April is an excellent time for white-wingers at Hilbre and the North Wirral coast so it is difficult to say whether this is the same bird as seen off Meols on Friday (see www.lighthousebirding.blogspot.co.uk) or another making its way back North.  It was a similarly monsterous bird in similar plumage but then Glaucous Gulls are!

(SRW briefly)

Monday, 7 April 2014

7th April 2014

Weather: SE 2, overcast 8/8, drizzle

39 Pale-bellied Brents remained around the island but the two Dark-bellied Brent Geese from the weekend had disappeared.

Between bouts of drizzle 3 Swallows appeared and mid morning produced an increase in Meadow Pipits with one flock of 65 birds arriving and at least 235 were counted during the morning as well as an alba Wagtail over.

Single Goldcrest and Wren were caught and ringed but there were few signs of any other grounded migrants.

A single Little Egret fished the receding east side gutter. The first bluebells and blackthorn were in flower showing spring was advancing even if the birding didn't match the flora.

(DB et al) [146-19]