Saturday, 21 November 2015

21st November 2015

Weather: NNW force 5/6

The high winds of the previous couple of days had eased slightly but it was still blowing force 5-6 NNW so a seawatch was in order. Virtually the first bird seen was a single Leach’s Petrel coming in from the west although distant. This was the only one seen during the three hour vigil!

The Great Northern Diver was seen on the sea again and a single Red-throated Diver flew west. A female Eider was fairly close in and spent most of the time with her head tucked under her wing.

The weather was much colder than it had been recently and evidence of cold weather movement was provided with the record of 6 Lapwings flying west towards the Point of Ayr. Two Wigeon were also seen flying west low over the sea and a party of 15 Pink-footed Geese flew over the island early afternoon. Two Meadow Pipits were also see flying low over the sea.

As the tide receded thousands of gulls gathered and fed on a huge wreck of starfish and razor clams washed up on the West Hoyle bank.

On land two un-ringed Blackbirds were at the south end and a single Goldfinch landed briefly in the Obs garden.


Friday, 20 November 2015

20th November 2015

record shot of Leach's Petrel (AEH)
Weather: WNW force 6

The slight northerly element in the wind made for a good lunchtime sea watch (1115-1245hrs), the bird of the day was a Grey Phalarope that flew east close inshore (the first record since 2012). A single Leach's Petrel (see iPhone scoped slow motion video here lingered for a while although no others were seen by 1pm when Obs members had to leave but 3 Bonxies were still in the area. 600 Common Scoter, 6 Kittiwakes, a Red-throated Diver, a Guillemot and 7 Great Crested Grebes completed the typical sea birds.

(Last November Grey Phalarope was this one in 2010
Less expected but very welcome were 2 female/immature Eider, a drake Goodsander and a pair of Gadwall which are rare at Hilbre; only the thirteenth record for the Obs since 1957 (see below). A Common Snipe and a flock of 300 Starlings were the best of the rest today.

Gadwall (SRW)

(AEH, CS et al)

Thursday, 19 November 2015

19th November 2015

Weather: W force 3/4
A Great Northern Diver was off the north end, presumably the same as the bird that was seen on Monday. A Merlin posed on the rocks for the camera, while on the sea were 300 Common Scoter, 6 Gannets, 12 Great Crested Grebe and 5 Kittiwakes. A single Goldfinch was the only land bird of note.
Merlin (AEH)
Meanwhile the recent gales produced two Great Crested Grebes on West Kirby Marine Lake (WKML) today.

(AEH et al)

Wednesday, 18 November 2015

18th November 2015

Weather: WSW 5-6

Another blustery day and a late afternoon tide and visit produced another good seawatch.  With the wind increasing all afternoon the North End was almost cut off by wave spray after high tide but the overcast conditions cleared to reveal a bright moonlight sky.

At least nine Great Skuas (Bonxies) were noted with 4 or 5 birds lingering in the bay and several more powering west.

Presumably the Great Northern Diver that flew close inshore yesterday was found in heavy seas off the North End and proved somewhat more difficult to photograph as it dived for long periods and continually disappeared behind the large waves.

The female/immature Eider remained also in the tide off the North End but numbers of other species were lower than on Monday with Kittiwakes (36), Gannet (22) and Red-throated Diver (4) counted.

139 pale-bellied Brent Geese and 3 dark-bellied were recorded between the islands and 600 Sanderling moved from the East Hoyle passing the North End as the tide flooded.


Tuesday, 17 November 2015

17th November 2015

Weather: SW force 2
Eleven hundred and eighty two Cormorants were counted exiting the estuary in the morning, and 4 Shags were around the islands. The female or immature Eider was seen again today, and a Woodpigeon visited the island. A single Goldcrest was present and 14 Greenfinches passed through, and the local Linnet flock numbered 70. Three Little Egrets and 5 Bar-tailed Godwits were on the shore. Later on the east Hoyle bank 110 Golden Plover flew north towards Formby, a good record for Hilbre, and 60 Sanderling and 20 Ringed Plover were near the tide.

Monday, 16 November 2015

16th November 2015

Weather: WSW force 4/6

The wind continues to blow and today brought in the first Leach's Petrel of the year for the islands flying west at 3.30pm, also a close fly by of a Great Northern Diver earlier at High Tide.

The 5 Bonxies seen could have included at least three birds 'hanging around' from Saturday, but a couple powered through and another distant unidentified skua species was certainly a new bird as were the remarkable 360+ Kittiwakes logged after none at the weekend.

Other sea birds today included 6 Red-throated Divers,40 Great Crested Grebes, 30 Guillemots, 2 Razorbills, 1 Red-breasted Merganser and 8 Gannets. 

A female or immature Eider was another highlight of the day.

(MGT and SRW)

Saturday, 14 November 2015

14th November 2015

Weather: WSW force 4

Recent gales brought sea watching into focus and the highlight today were 5 Bonxies, one of which was seen to catch and drown a juvenile Herring Gull.

Other sea-birds on the list were 16 Red-throated Divers, 120 Great Crested Grebes, 1,200 Common Scoters, 12 Guillemots, 12 Gannets and 2 Razorbills. 

A single Little Egret hunkered down behind seaweed covered rocks out of the wind as observers left the island.

The only significant passerines were 2 Chaffinches, 2 Song Thrushes and 2 Rock Pipits, one of which was photographed so well it could be seen to be the one of the breeding pair that was ringed in April 2015, occasionally the Rock Pipit was also joined by a Pied Wagtail.

It was great to see the Purple Sandpipers increasing to 16 (a good number for mid November in recent years but sadly well below historical figures of this declining species at Hilbre) and over 2,500 Knot were noted.

(PSW and SRW)