Sunday, 30 August 2009

30th August 2009

The green flag awarded to Hilbre now proudly flies above the top paddock, telling us what we already knew, that Hilbre is an unspoilt gem in the local area.
The winds have eased this morning but still no migration and only a single Wheatear (below) and 4 Swallows to show for a tour of the likely places.

Wading birds however have not deserted us with Dunlin, Ringed Plover and Sanderling (left) feeding on the east hoyle. Larger shore birds included 2,000 Oystercatchers, 41 Redshank, 3 Bar-tailed Godwit and a Whimbrel.

Peregrine and Kestrel (right) both showed today, but the only good seabird was on the obs flag.
Butterflies noted were Small White, Peacock, Painted Lady, Red Admiral and Speckled Wood.
No birds ringed today.

(CJ,CDT,PT,NDW,+VT, +6) photos CJ

Saturday, 29 August 2009

29th August 2009

Gale force westerlies yesterday and strong winds again today did not produce lots of exciting seabirds, just many Gulls and Terns, apart from a Leach's Petrel that was well seen by two visiting birders.

Land birds also made themselves scarce, with only 2 young Meadow Pipits that were still growing primaries ringed this morning (right).

Short-tailed field voles (left) were not so affected by the conditions; they seem to have had a better breeding season than last year and are often seen scurrying through the thick grass in front of visitors feet.

(JE,NDW,DCT,PT, +1) [489] photos JE

Thursday, 27 August 2009

27th August 2009

Four Wheatears (left) were on the main island today, but they all managed to avoid the potter traps and a single Willow Warbler (right) was seen feeding in the alders in the 'heli' garden. Thirty Swallows and 7 House Martins went through during the morning, but one had to look to the shore for any further interest although only 12 Sandwich Terns could be found before the tide. Waders seen at low tide included 700 Dunlin, 65 Ringed Plovers, 3 Whimbrel and 3 Bar-tailed Godwits. A Peregrine sat on the sand east of the island and a Kestrel rested near the west side path (below).
No great numbers of butterflies although the species list was quite long and featured such items as Common Blue (below), Small Copper, Grayling, Wall Brown, Red Admiral, Painted Lady, Speckled Wood, also the more widespread Small White and Green-veined White.

No birds ringed today.
(DB,JE,CJ,AW+5, & later NDW,DCT,PT +1) photos CJ

Wednesday, 26 August 2009

26th August 2009

Twenty Six Pintail were an unexpected sighting at this time of year, they flew up the east side and away off to the north!

Tuesday, 25 August 2009

25th August 2009

Two razorbills were noted on the sea, also both pale and dark phase Arctic Skuas.

Saturday, 22 August 2009

22nd August 2009

Manx Shearwaters and Gannets were still showing today with 400 and 70 respectively still feeding in the area, also 200 Sandwich Tern and 50 Common Terns although Little Terns were not seen this morning. Two Willow Warblers were on the island and later a single Whitethroat (right) arrived in the trapping area.

A Wall Brown butterfly (left) was discovered sunning itself, a good find as it is a very scarce insect at Hilbre and declining nationally.
Some puzzlement at high tide when the police helicopter buzzed the island at 100 feet (above right), if there were any villains then they wouldn't be going anywhere !
Ringed :- 5 Meadow Pipits, 2 Willow Warblers, 1 Whitethroat, 1 Wren.
(JE,NDW,PSW,SRW +CD) [487] photos JE

Thursday, 20 August 2009

20th August 2009

A Green Sandpiper was seen between Middle and Little Eye.

19th August 2009

Although the wind was still in the south east, cloud all night prevented any movement and there was just a single Willow Warbler and single Wheatear to be seen this morning although 82 Swallows went through during the day.
This lack of activity meant that attention could be given to the sea over the high tide. Almost immediately large numbers of seabirds could be seen in a feeding frenzy about half a mile out towards the original wind farm. The majority were Manx Shearwaters that were circling the area as they joined the throng from both directions, others moved off and attached themselves with another group further north. After watching the spectacle for some time estimates were made of 700 + shearwaters (below) and 100+ Gannets, and a few terns (apologies for poor images [click to enlarge] but they were a long way out!). A single Arctic Skua was seen early on but it was surprising others were not attracted to the group, in fact the only other sea-birds noted were the regular terns and single Guillemot and Great Crested Grebe.
A Cormorant saw the tide out on the Turnstones west cliff roosting ledge (below) and just 1 Whimbrel could be found around the rocks.

The butterflies responded to the sunshine and Painted Lady, Speckled Wood, Grayling, Small Copper and Common Blue all made a showing along with Migrant Hawker and Common Darter (above).
Ringed :- 2 Meadow Pipits
(DB,CJ,KMc) [478] photos CJ

Tuesday, 18 August 2009

18th August 2009

The immature female Sparrowhawk that has been seen intermittently over the last few days crashed into the mist net in the obs garden at about 08.00hrs but escaped before it could be reached by the running members. It was however not to be 'the one that got away' as 20 minutes later it flew into the SK heligoland and was duly trapped and ringed. It was received with great satisfaction as it was the first raptor to be ringed for some time.

There was a scatter of Willow Warblers (below, left and right) noted early but they did not stay long, although another pulse arrived at about 11.00hrs. An estimate of 25 altogether would probably be conservative and although there were no larger warblers the first 3 Goldcrests of the autumn arrived and one or two were still calling at noon. Five Wheatears were on the main island and like the Willow Warblers they did not stay long on the island to feed. The 4 Swallows that passed through were 4 more than yesterday.
A Snipe was flushed from the east gutter first thing this morning, and the Little Egret seen flying in the same area was the first for some weeks despite August being a good month for this species on Hilbre.
Two distant Arctic Skuas were seen on the sea with 5 Gannets.

Butterflies included 3 Painted Ladies, a Speckled Wood and a Common Blue, also a Ruby Tiger moth (right) was noted in the paddock.
All in all a good day, it is surprising what a touch of east in the wind will do !
Ringed :- 14 Willow Warblers, 1 Sparrowhawk
(DB,CJ) [476] photos CJ

Monday, 17 August 2009

17th August 2009

Two Greenshanks were seen early in the morning and then again at 13.00hrs. August is as good a time as any to see this scarce wading bird at Hilbre, indeed August and September are also prime months for rare waders if they occur. Other waders today were 600 Ringed Plovers (an excellent count), 1,000 Dunlin, 40 Turnstones, and 5 Whimbrel.
The Turnstone pictured right was probably ringed at Hilbre more than 8 years ago as the metal rings are now applied above the tarsus on this species.

The westerly blow saw an impressive 150 Manx Shearwaters and 50 Gannets past plus the usual terns feeding around the bay.

At high tide a Grey Seal hauled out by the east gutter and only seemed to return to the water when others encouraged it. Seals do not normally haul out in the immediate environment of the islands but only on the west hoyle bank, and any that do so are suspected of being not well.

No Wheatears today, and 2 Willow Warblers were the only non-resident land-birds.
Ringed : - 1 Meadow Pipit, 1 Wren (right)
(DB,JE,PR) [461] photos JE

Saturday, 15 August 2009

15th August 2009

A windy morning saw 5 Grey Herons on the ridge south of middle (left) and there were good numbers of waders about but terns seemed to be down in numbers. Sandwich Terns normally decrease as August progresses, and Common Terns become more numerous, but this year Common Terns are very scarce possibly due to the breeding failure at Shotton.

The adult Willow Warbler (right) that was in main moult and was ringed on 11th July was trapped again and now its wing moult is complete although some body feathers are still growing. It is pleasing to have such accurate details of a warbler over a protracted period at Hilbre. There were 2 Wheatears today and at least some of the Pied Wagtail brood seem to be still happy to stay a while longer (above).
Ringed :- 1 Meadow Pipit, 1 Linnet
(JE) [459] photos JE

Friday, 14 August 2009

14th August 2009

A visit today by a party of civic dignitaries from Wirral, Cheshire, Merseyside and Lancashire included many Mayors and Mayoresses (complete with their drivers) who chose the island this year for their annual outing. They called at the observatory for a short lecture by the secretary on the work of the obs and a photocall together with some members and other island volunteers. We were able to show them an african bound Willow Warbler in the hand (below) which was much appreciated by the visitors and which surely made a lasting impression.

Bird-wise it was very much the same as yesterday without any Wheatears, with at least one Willow Warbler (above), a Whitethroat, Whimbrels calling, and a brief view of possibly the same Sparrowhawk. Small Common Frogs were hopping through the grass, one becoming very friendly.

Ringed :- 1 Meadow Pipit, 1 Willow Warbler

(CJ,NDW,SRW,+CJW & TGW) [457] photos CJ (click to enlarge)

Thursday, 13 August 2009

13th August 2009

No warblers first thing this morning, we are still waiting for the easterlies that may bring something special in the way of migrants. A female Sparrowhawk flew over the south end and along the west cliff but seemed not to stay very long, however it was still probably bird of the day.
Later in the morning a Willow Warbler appeared in the mist net to at least give some cheer to the members present on a relatively uneventful day. Wheatears managed to total at 4 after a slow start and Swallows at 10 during the morning, but little else except for the presumably home bred Pied Wagtails. Others from the log were 5 Grey herons, 4 Whimbrel, and 2 Bar-tailed Godwits.
A Common Blue and several Small Coppers were in the new garden, the Small Copper now being much more numerous than in the past when it was averaging about 1 record a year at Hilbre.
Ringed :- 1 Willow Warbler, 1 Meadow Pipit.
(DB,CJ,KMc) [455] Sorry, no photos today - must try harder !

Wednesday, 12 August 2009

12th August 2009

Still fairly quiet in the westerly airstream, but a very welcome Garden Warbler made it to the island this morning (right), and later a single Willow Warbler. The 4 Wheatears in total included the one on middle (below).

A nice build up of the terns resting on the east hoyle comprised 500 sandwich, 150 Common and 70 Little, and small wader numbers are also increasing.

(DB,JE) [453] photos JE

Sunday, 9 August 2009

9th August 2009

A Whitethroat and 10 Willow Warblers were on today but unfortunately no ringers ! An excellent sighting was of 16 Black-tailed Godwits in flight from the north end and over the obs building.

Saturday, 8 August 2009

8th August 2009

A juvenile White throat was seen today and there were good records of 2 Snipe and a single adult Black Tern, both species being of irregular occurrence at Hilbre.

Friday, 7 August 2009

7th August 2009

Not as many Willow Warblers today, probably less than half the number of the last 2 days, but two that were retrapped were extremely interesting as they were the only adults caught this autumn and were still in main moult. One was ringed as long ago as 11th July and the other on 25th July. They have now nearly completed replacing their primaries for the migration but the remaining growing feathers are clearly visible with the sheaf on the closed wing (right). To get two adults staying for so long at Hilbre is quite an unusual occurrence.
A Yellow Wagtail was heard passing overhead, a bird that is more often noted in spring than autumn. Two Sedge Warblers gave very brief views, but were certainly not interested in wearing a ring and the only Wheatear was a female or immature on Middle.

Little Terns are now a splendid spectacle, hovering and diving in the gutter on the east side that advances and retreats with the tide (right).

Some Small Coppers again today, a scarce Hilbre record of Comma yesterday, and Red Admirals (right) have made an appearance after none on Wednesday amongst many other species.

Ringed :- 2 Willow Warblers
(DB,CJ,PSW) [452] photos CJ

Wednesday, 5 August 2009

5th August 2009

Twenty Willow Warblers (left) were on the island this morning, and the 11 that were ringed exceeded the total for the whole of last autumns disastrous warbler passage. Two Sedge Warblers (below) were the first this autumn and were not so obliging and contented themselves with feeding between the heligoland traps. A female or immature Reed Bunting was also present for a short while and was very early for a bird of the autumn passage.

Twenty seven Swallows flew west across the main island during the morning and 3 Wheatears (below left) arrived, 2 of which were on middle and included one juvenile.

The usual Sandwich Tern roost also attracted 28 Common Terns, and at last Little Terns seem to have left Gronant and 8 were to be seen feeding to the east and north of Hilbre (right).

Most of the Whimbrel seem to have moved through as only one was heard today.
A visiting birder during a sea-watch saw two pods of 6 and 8 Dolphins, also 30 Gannets, a very distant Arctic Skua (they have been particularly scarce this early autumn), and a brief sighting of the Common Sandpiper flashing past the north end.

Lots of Small White butterflies with some Gatekeepers, Small Tortoiseshells and 7 Painted Ladies, 2 Small Coppers (above), a Grayling (below), and a Migrant Hawker dragonfly (right).

11 Willow Warblers
1 Linnet
(CJ) [450] photos CJ

Monday, 3 August 2009

3rd August 2009

New in today was a Whitethroat and a Willow Warbler, otherwise very similar to Friday, the Common Sandpiper (right) was still present and another or the same juvenile Wheatear fed at the same part of the island. Four Swallows went through - there were no Hirundines at all on Friday !
Six Gannets were on the sea but with very little else of interest offshore apart from the Sandwich Tern roost on the east hoyle.
Turnstones numbered at least 70, most still being in adult summer plumage and some bearing rings from previous visits to Hilbre (below).

Ringed today :-
1 Meadow Pipits
1 Willow Warbler
1 Robin
(JE) [438] photos JE