Friday, 24 April 2015

24th April 2015

Weather: SE, light air, mist around the coasts

What could to be the last of the warm southerly days for the time being promised much, and delivered in part but without any great numbers of migrants. It was obvious immediately that there would be no large fall of warblers in the paddocks although encouragement came from overhead Yellow Wagtail and Tree Pipit, a few Redpolls calling and a flock of 4 Collared Doves. Wheatears were on the ground right from the onset but only the odd Willow Warbler. A Sedge Warbler, the first this year, was found in the main pond which later arrived in the garden mist net and amazingly was discovered to be sporting a ring from San Sebastian in Spain, details are eagerly awaited.

A stunning male Whinchat stayed around the island all morning, which was also a first of the year, as usual obliging the photographers by perching in prominent places, but frustrating the ringers by the same habits. A male Blackcap appeared in the obs garden and was ringed, one of several so far this spring. Other migrants included 10 Goldfinches, 2 Siskins, 25 Swallows, 12 House Martins and 7 Sand Martins, (many of the hirundines moving before a front arriving from the south west). A Skylark was singing over the island several times, it is probably too much to hope it may stay to breed. Waders today included 120 Dunlin, 40 Ringed Plover, and 4 Whimbrel.

Late afternoon the first Whitethroat of the year flew past observers into the SK heligoland trap and was caught and ringed rounding off another great day on the island.

Ringed: 6 Willow Warblers, 1 Whitethroat, 1 Blackcap, 1 Greenland Wheatear, 1 Redpoll, 1 Goldfinch, 1 Linnet. [ 267-31 ]

(CJ, SRW, later DCT, PT, NDW) photos  CJ and SRW

Thursday, 23 April 2015

23rd April 2015

Weather:  SSE 0-1, 0/8 cloud, slight mist

A promising looking morning weather-wise did not really produce the grounded migrants hoped for but vis-mig started well with a couple of Flava Wagtails heard passing over, a few hirundines passing through, Whimbrels could be heard calling and a Collared Dove flew south.

An unusual wader call was heard and identified as a Little Ringed Plover, a scarce but increasing species at Hilbre.  The 'LRP' was then spotted as it flew up the East Side and around the island and then circled observers before being joined by a second bird and both LRPs flew off south-west calling as they went.  A lovely start to the day.

Three Canada Geese flew over the South End and several Greenland Wheatears appeared along the West Side but apart from a single Willow Warbler very little else was noted until another Grasshopper Warbler appeared in the bottom shelf of the Old Obs mist net.

Ringed Plovers and Dunlin increased over the tide as Oystercatcher and Turnstone numbers have tailed off.

Ringing:  2 Linnets, Willow Warbler, Grasshopper Warbler, 2 Wren

(AEH, CJ and SRW) [255-29]

Wednesday, 22 April 2015

22nd April 2015

Weather: SE force 1/2, later ESE 2

The morning started with a small fall of Willow Warblers (including a pale grey looking bird - see below) but surprisingly little else, no visible migration and no other species grounded, but over the next few hours it became apparent that birds were arriving unseen.

A male Blackcap was ringed and another seen at the south end where it had just arrived on the sandstone on the South West corner of the island.

A Grasshopper Warbler was glimpsed in the tea bush by the Old Obs and was later also caught in the Heli before it became clear that another was also present.

The most unusual sighting of the day was of 3 Magpies flying together south over the island, one is a scarce bird here but 3 together is rare indeed. A Sparrowhawk was mobbed by Crows over the east hoyle sands and resorted to circling to try and avoid attention.

The first Common Sandpiper of the year was at the north end in the early afternoon firstly on the slipway before moving to the Whaleback; typical habitat and timing for this Spring migrant at Hilbre.

A few Goldfinches and a Chaffinch were logged and several White Wagtails and a Grey passed through and hirundines continued to arrive in this fine weather; 50 Swallows, 12 Sand Martins and 9 House Martins. On the sea were 15 Sandwich Terns and 25 Common Terns which are now building up in numbers for the summer, and 3 Whimbrel again today on the shore, also 32 Ringed Plover.

On the butterfly front the sunshine brought out 8 Peacocks, 1 Green-veined White and 2 Small Tortoiseshells.

Ringed: 20 Willow Warblers, 4 Linnets, 2 Robins, 1 Meadow Pipit, 1 Wren, 1 Goldfinch, 1 Blackcap, 1 Grasshopper Warbler,       [ 249-29 ]

(AEH,CJ,NDW et al)

Tuesday, 21 April 2015

21st April 2015

Weather: NW force 3, haze
With the breeze being from a northerly direction overnight, little in the way of migrants was expected, and a short visit in the morning proved the case. Most surprising was a Common Snipe at the south end of the island, very unusual at this time of year. A small amount of Swallows went through, also a single Greenland Wheatear. Later in the afternoon a female Blackcap was found. The best of the other records today was a male Red-breasted Merganser and 3 Whimbrel. Six Peacock butterflies were on the wing, and a Map spider was found.
(AEH,CJW, later DB)

Monday, 20 April 2015

20th April 2015

Weather; SE force 2
Several Wheatears were noted passing down through the island ridge just after dawn but none were on the main island till some time later when 2 appeared on 'Wheatear hill'. Willow Warblers were just a trickle and finished early in the morning. Overhead a few White Wagtails called as did a single Redpoll and Yellow Wagtail, and that was about it for small migrants apart from about  8 Goldfinches flitting about. Hirundines comprised 25 Swallows, 5 House Martins and 4 Sand Martins (the first Swift cannot be very far away now). There are up to 4 Whimbrel now on the shore, and other odd visitors today included 3 Starlings that flew in low over the island, a Woodpigeon on Middle and a Rook that flew east. The pair of Rock Pipits are still present on the west side, and indeed singing. Small Tortoiseshell and Peacock butterflies showed in the sunshine.

Ringed: 5 Willow Warblers, 1 Robin, 1 Linnet, 1 Goldfinch                  [ 218-29 ]
 (ME,CJ, et al ) +
Tim Kinch                            photos  TimKinch

Sunday, 19 April 2015

19th April 2015

An early morning visit before the tide was rewarded with a few new birds despite the wind being from the south with no east in it. Two Greenland Wheatears, two Willow Warblers & a female Blackcap were new in and duly caught & ringed. A Whimbrel was seen and heard along the west side and two Jackdaws & a Collared Dove flew over. 4 Goldfinches made a brief appearance in the Obs garden before heading off to the mainland. The rabbit made an appearance & 76 Grey Seals were hauled out in the West Hoyle bank.
Ringed: 2 Greenland Wheatear, 2 Willow Warblers & a Blackcap.        [ 210-29 ]

Saturday, 18 April 2015

18th April 2015

Weather: E force 1, slight frost overnight, beautiful sunny day

The first few hours of the morning brought in less warblers than yesterday, just half a dozen Willow Warblers a Blackcap and of the course the compulsory Redstart; today's bird however was a full adult male with jet black throat, white forehead and blue-grey greater coverts (below).
 Later in the morning 3 Wheatears arrived, one of which became the first Greenland race ringed so far this year, likewise a few White Wagtails with a single also becoming the first of its race in the potter traps this year. An even greater prize of a Yellow Wagtail narrowly eluded us, but it stayed around the west side for some time giving hope, while a Grey Wagtail completed the trio of wagtails present.

Greenland Wheatear

White Wagtail
A Collared Dove stayed from early (at one time with a Woodpigeon), and was the first of this species to be caught and ringed this year when it was found in the Heli in the afternoon.  Apart from the Linnets, 6 Goldfinches were the only finches found and also passing through were at least 6 Swallows and 2 House Martins, 1 or 2 of the Swallows gave the impression they may be locals arriving back early to breed.

Shore and sea did not produce big numbers (apart from the distant 4,000 or so Scoters off Hoylake with 3 Velvets seen from the island) but varied species included 4 Red-throated Divers, 18 Sandwich Terns, 1 Guillemot, 1 Whimbrel, 1 Little Egret, 50 Dunlin, a Knot, and 40 Canada Geese seen flying up the West Kirby/Red Rocks shore and 2 on the sea off the island.

Two Rock Pipits are giving hope they may stay the summer, and a Skylark sang over the south end, a rare occurrence in the last few years.

Collared Dove

Meanwhile Hoylake RNLI Lifeboat was called out to rescue a Yacht that had broken down south of the island and west of Middle and was watched from the Obs.

Ringed: 4 Willow Warblers, 3 Linnets, 2 Wrens, 1 Blackcap, 1 Redstart, 1 Greenland Wheatear, 1 White Wagtail, 1 Collared Dove.   [ 205-29 ]

(JE, CJ+VB, PSW+5, NDW, SRW, TGW), + Tim Kinch, & Hugh
Photos: Skylark, Yellow Wagtail, Swallow & Dunlin by Tim Kinch, Rescue by PSW, others by CJ & SRW