Saturday, 30 April 2011

30th April 2011

Eight Willow Warblers and a Chiffchaff were ringed this morning during a fresh easterly wind which later strenghened and killed any migration. The sea was good considering the wind direction with an Arctic Skua the highlight but also featuring 77 Sandwich Terns, 21 Common Terns, 2 Gannets, a Red-throated Diver and 3 Common Scoter. Six Swallows and 2 Wheatears were noted, then in the afternoon right on cue the first 2 Swifts of the year were over the island.

The moth trap revealed a Netted Pug (right), another scarce species for the island which was 'twitched' from the mainland by a member interested in photographing the moths ! Also obtained was a superb photograph of one of the Whimbrels around the rocks (above). Ringed :- 8 Willow Warblers, 1 Chiffchaff.(BSB,JE,PGR,CDT,PT,NDW,SRW) [358-35] photos BSB

Friday, 29 April 2011

29th April 2011

Quiet again today, cold at first and a good breeze from the north east, but later the wind dropped light, the direction swung right around the compass to end up from the north west, the sun came out and the day became warm. Not much to show for all the mornings effort, just a single Wheatear and a single Willow Warbler plus a few Goldfinches to be found. Swallows continue to pass in small numbers although House Martins have been very scarce so far this spring and we still await the first Swift of the year. Five Gannets sat on the sea and 35 Sandwich Terns dived for food, with no other significant sea birds noted. Our old friends the 2 Greylags flew back and forth across the shore to the west of the islands, there are still a few hundred Dunlin flocking on the shore and 5 Little Egrets were noted on the ebb tide. After the 22 Whimbrel some days ago, surprisingly we now seem to be have only on about 5 birds at the moment.
With more time on our hands than usual the overnight moth trap became one of the days highlights, and when examined it produced amongst others the fairly common Angle Shades (above right) and a Pale Pinion (above left), a moth that is rare at Hilbre and indeed has not been recorded here since 1970.
The conservation area next to the obs was a splendid splash of colour today with Bluebells benefiting from the clearance of bracken this last few years (right).
Ringed :- 1 Willow Warbler, 1 Wren.
(CJ,CDT,PT,NDW,CJW,SRW,TGW) [349-35] photos SRW

Thursday, 28 April 2011

28th April 2011

A very similar morning to yesterday with the addition of at least 5 Willow Warblers in the paddocks at dawn. Still no Wheatears and only a few Goldfinches, a single White Wagtail and passing Swallows that could be classed as migrants. Many Dunlin were flocking as the tide flooded, competing for resting places with 5 Whimbrel on the whaleback and other exposed rocks (above).A sea watch produced 3 Gannets, 32 Sandwich Terns, 400 + Common Scoter out by the wind farm and the male again close to the island. Ringed:- 5 Willow Warblers. (BSB,DB,JE,CJ,CDT,PT,NDW,SRW) [347-35] photo CJ

Wednesday, 27 April 2011

27th April 2011

A very quiet morning on the island with no warblers, no Wheatears and no finches apart from the breeding linnets and 2 visiting Greenfinches and a single Goldfinch up to 10:00hrs. A White Wagtail (left) came down on the rocks at the north end and a few Swallows starting passing in better numbers than recently and more are expected as the day warms up. An unusual number of Dunlin for this time of year gathered in wheeling flocks west of middle as the tide flooded, and estimated 3,000 all told, while 6 Whimbrel (right) were also about the islands. Another species in large flocks were about 1,000 Common Scoter seen distantly out by the north Hoyle wind farm, closer in was the single male Scoter (left) that has been hanging around for a week or so; the only other notable birds on the sea were 14 Sandwich Terns. Three Peregrines were logged, 2 of which seemed to be associating together in the air. Seven Little Egrets fed on the tide edge, more than has been present this year, and 4 Canada Geese were also on the shore early in the day. Ringed:- 1 Linnet
(DB,CJ,CDT,PT,NDW,SRW,TGW) [342-35] photos CJ

Tuesday, 26 April 2011

26th April 2011

The wind dropped overnight then picked up from just north of east, not ideal and so it proved. The only migrants on the island during the early morning stint were a single Wheatear and a few Swallows over. The two Little Egrets pranced about in tidal pools by Middle Eye and there were a few Whimbrel scattered amongst the rocks around the islands. Slight drizzle mid morning raised hopes but observers were still mildly surprised to find a Gropper in the SK trap at 11.15hrs; one of the 'yellow morph' variety (see left and right above).

Other natural history news - the Rabbit was seen again on Easter Sunday (no it's not a wind up about the Easter Bunny!) and a dead Pipistrelle Bat was found today (see right).

Ringed: Linnet and Gropper

[CLW, SRW (plus CJW (f), GIW,TGW )] [341-35]

Monday, 25 April 2011

25th April 2011

The North Westerly airflow continued overnight and first thing this morning, but observers staying on the island were not to be put off and the arrival and capture of single Chiffchaff and Willow Warbler (see left respectively), the former singing, lifted the spirits.

However, things were fairly quiet again until midday when an Osprey (above right) was spotted from the Obs garden flying east over the island and off towards Red Rocks. It then circled inland before drifting south over the Wirral.

Passage waders continued to appear around the islands with 3 Whimbrel (see above left), 500 Dunlin and 25 Ringed Plover noted. The two Little Egrets were again dancing in the gutter following the tide out this morning and then following the tide back in this afternoon. The summer resident Shelduck were in good voice this morning and as usual displayed from various prominent points on the island (see right).

Ringed: Chiffchaff, Willow Warbler and Linnet

[JE, CLW, SRW (CJW (f), GIW, TGW)] [339-35] Photos JE (Shelduck and phylloscs) & SRW (Osprey and Whimbrel)

Sunday, 24 April 2011

24th April 2011

A beautiful sunny day but no phylloscopus warblers arrived in the north westerly airflow although there were a few Wheatears still moving. The only large warblers were a couple of Sedge Warblers, one or both of which could have been the birds present from yesterday and a Whitethroat which avoided capture.

Two Canada Geese (below) and a Greylag (left) were seen again and this time alighted just below the Obs by the gutter.

Two Little Egrets were feeding in the gutter after the late afternoon tide (above left).

Ringed: 2 Wheatears and 1 Linnet.

[DB, ESCA, CLW,TGW,CJW(f),GIW,SRW] [336-35] Photos SRW

Saturday, 23 April 2011

23rd April 2011

The wind swung to the north west in the night with some rain showers, and as could have been predicted migration was much reduced this morning. The Willow Warbler count was just 4 with a single Chiffchaff but nevertheless there were a few quality birds to be found, namely 2 Sedge Warblers and a Whitethroat. Tree Pipits continue to impress (10 seen or heard) and the 3rd ringed this year (right) reflects the relative abundance of their passage this spring, while only 1 Yellow Wagtail was logged today. The only Wheatear found this morning was sitting contentedly on a log in the wildlife garden, but Swallows continued to come through in small numbers.

If the warblers declined in numbers due to the new wind direction then the big winner was undoubtably Whimbrel with no less than 22 around the islands (left). The wandering pair of Greylags and a Canada Goose appeared in various parts of the island chain early in the day.

Ringed:- 2 Sedge Warblers (below), 2 Willow Warblers, 1 Chiffchaff, 1 Whitethroat (right), 1 Tree Pipit.

(JE,CJ,KM+1,CLW,TGW,CJW,GIW,CJW,SRW) [333-35] photos CJ

Friday, 22 April 2011

22nd April 2011

Just when the members thought a very satisfying morning was over, and as they were leaving the island a Ring Ouzel flew in from Middle up the west side. This was the cue for a quick about turn to search the island.The bird was then seen briefly along the west side before being found in the SK trap (left). This is the second Ring Ouzel to be ringed this spring, an event not repeated very often. The morning began with a great variety of species in the paddocks including 3 Sedge Warblers, and single Blackcap, Grasshopper Warbler and Whitethroat (below). The Whitethroat is the first this year and has been expected for the last few days. Willow Warblers were not in large numbers today but a few more arrived mid-morning to give a total of about 15, with a Chiffchaff for good measure. Only 3 Wheatears graced the west side, but another new species for the year arrived in the form of a beautiful male Whinchat (left) that was very mobile. There were up to 100 Swallows, 2 House Martins and a Sand Martin to be seen, and the Meadow Pipits went through in some numbers today with 9 Tree Pipits being heard by midday. Yellow Wagtails also did not disappoint with at least half a dozen in the morning, with 2 Grey and several alba adding to the wagtail count. Goldfinches as usual were present in many dozens, Redpolls were slightly less numerous, a male House Sparrow visited (right) and a single Reed Bunting flew through. Three Whimbrel are around the shore.
Ringed :- 11 Willow Warblers, 2 Greenland Wheatears, 1 Ring Ouzel, 1 Grasshopper Warbler, 1 Blackcap, 1 Sedge Warbler, 1 Whitethroat, 1 Linnet, 1 Redpoll, 1 Goldfinch, 1 Meadow Pipit.
(FD,CJ,KMc,CLW,CJW,GIW,TGW,CJW,DEW,SRW) [326-35] photos CJ

Thursday, 21 April 2011

21st April 2011

The southerlies and the morning mist combine again to bring new arrivals to the islands. Bird of the day was the earliest ever Hilbre Garden Warbler (above), the previous record holder was seen on 26th April 1993. Garden Warblers are an occasional spring and autumn migrant in very small numbers, and are always a welcome visitor, even sight records but especially birds ringed often make a birding day. Another first for the year was more expected at this time, 2 Sedge Warblers (below left) also newly arrived from Africa. A good passage of 25 Willow Warblers today (and 1 Chiffchaff) and a Grasshopper Warbler arriving at its peak passage time (below right).

Tree Pipits also went through in good numbers (15), at least 2 of which alighted for a short while (right), likewise some of the a small movement (100) of Meadow Pipits but none of the 5 Yellow Wagtails made it to the ground to be photographed. Wheatears did not follow the warblers example with only 2 birds seen. Goldfinches and Redpolls continued their recent upsurge of numbers passing through the islands. Swallows flowed through mostly in singles also a House Martin added variety. An excellent migration day such as we look forward to all winter.
Larger bird sightings included 4 Collared Doves, 1 Wood Pigeon, 5 Whimbrel, a single Bar-tailed Godwit in summer plumage 2 Little Egrets and a Fulmar prospecting the island as often happens in spring but always without a result.
Ringed:- 17 Willow Warblers, 1 Chiffchaff, 2 Sedge Warblers, 1 Garden Warbler, 1 Grasshopper Warbler, 3 Redpolls.
(DB,JE,CJ,KMc,MGT+2,CJW, et al) [304-34] photos CJ

Wednesday, 20 April 2011

20th April 2011

Another stunning dawn but today no overnight fall of warblers, although 3 Willow Warblers were caught together in the 'newton' trap. There was no visible migration except for a single Tree Pipit and the usual Goldfinches, even the Redpolls didn't show until one was found later in a mist net.

A pair of Peregrines gave a good display of communal hunting when they stooped unsuccessfully in turn on a Collared Dove over the centre of the island (above). Five Collared Dove were present today, and 3 of them stood on the obs water tank for a while.

A female Redstart was found in the 'heli' trap and later a male was also trapped (above).Swallows were again in small numbers with 5 Sand Martins being logged and 8 Greenland Wheatears were seen during the morning.There are not many waders still about apart from 200+ Dunlin, although the Purple Sandpiper (presumably the same as a few days ago) is still to be found at the north end at high tide.A Whimbrel was finally (poorly) photographed (right).

Ringed:- 4 Willow Warblers, 4 Linnets, 3 Goldfinches, 1 Lesser Redpoll, 2 Common Redstarts, 2 Greenland Wheatears, 1 Collared Dove, 1 Chiffchaff.

(DB,CJ,KMc,CJW) [279-32] photos CJ

Tuesday, 19 April 2011

19th April 2011

A short visit before the tide and another small fall of Willow Warblers after dawn. With 26 on the island and 15 ringed, Willow Warblers were the only warbler species to be found, surely some of the larger species will follow before long if the south easterlies continue. A Short-eared owl was seen to leave the Hoylake shore travelling west, and 6 Jackdaws flew in from the north west but carried on towards West Kirby, also 2 Collared Doves decided not to stay. A single Tree Pipit was heard overhead and Redpolls continued to call and some dozen or so investigated the island. Goldfinches were not anywhere near as numerous as yesterday, nevertheless a trio were caught together in the 'newton' trap.
Nine Wheatears were noted, of which 2 were on Middle and Swallow passage was slow with only 8 seen by 09:30hrs.
Three Whimbrel flew in from the north shore direction and were this time seen but a camera was not to hand to record the event.
Ringed:- 15 Willow Warblers, 3 Goldfinches, 1 Redpoll, 1 Linnet.
(DB,CJ,CJW) [261-32] photo CJ

Monday, 18 April 2011

18th April 2011

A south easterly with mist but not quite the day that was hoped for, even the promised sunshine didn't appear until late in the morning and it feet cool walking around the island. The outstanding feature today was the number of Goldfinches passing through, with 200 birds counted, also 25 Redpolls but only 2 Greenfinches and a single Chaffinch. There was no sudden fall of warblers just the odd Willow Warbler and Chiffchaff appeared at random during the morning. A Collared Dove (left) was ringed with 3 others being seen earlier, and a beautiful Grey Wagtail was down for a time on the rocks at the north end (above left). Another surprise at the north end was a Purple Sandpiper on the tide edge (above) as all the wintering birds have left, this was probably travelling from further south on its way to breed in northern parts. Incidentally the remaining 3 Brent Geese were seen to fly off high last Monday, we forgot to mention it. Four Yellow Wagtails and 4 Tree Pipits were over early but only 8 Swallows and 3 Sand Martins were seen despite the apparently ideal weather for their movements, likewise only 5 Wheatears in the late morning sunshine. The sea was quiet, a flock of 20 Gannets flew east close passed the north end and a single Common tern joined the Sandwich Terns feeding. Ringed:- 3 Willow Warblers, 2 Redpolls, 2 Goldfinches,1 Chiffchaff, 1 Linnet, 1 Meadow Pipit 1 Collared Dove (right), 1 Greenland Wheatear. (DB,CJ,BT,CJW,SRW) [ 241-32] photos CJ

Sunday, 17 April 2011

17th April 2011

No new phylloscopus warblers in today, although some things were moving as another Tree Pipit was ringed (right) ( you wait ages for one and then another turns up within 2 days). There were 8 Greenland Wheatears on the island and a Yellow Wagtail called overhead, normally a good date for the first Yellow Wagtail but one had already been heard some days ago. Twenty eight Swallows , 9 Sand Martins and a House Martin were noted, also 12 alba wagtails and 3 Lesser Redpolls. About 1,000 Common Scoter were out by the wind farm and 2 Kittiwakes and 2 Fulmars were seen, Fulmar is by no means an every day bird at Hilbre. A Whimbrel called but again did not make itself visible. Ringed:- 2 Greenland Wheatear, 1 Tree Pipit, 1 Linnet, 1 Meadow Pipit, 1 Goldfinch (right). (AAB,DLC,AS,CJW,PSW,SRW) [229-30] photos PSW

Saturday, 16 April 2011

16th April 2011

A small fall of Willow Warblers and Chiffchaffs was all over by 07:00hrs, with the late comers missing out, but there were other delights during a warm and sunny day, notably 20 Greenland Wheatears, 20 Swallows and 2 House Martins. The immature Grey and the Common seal (above) hauled out again at the north end, at times lying side by side, with the remaining Turnstones and a Knot un-phased by the presence of the large Mammals (left). The sea and shore produced good records including the first Common Terns of the year, 20 of which were noted from aboard the Lifeboat on manoeuvres. Others on the log today were 16 Red-throated Divers, 50 Gannets, 25 Common Scoters, 30 Guillemots, 5 Razorbills, 253 Bar-tailed Godwits and many Sandwich Terns. The 2 Greylags showed again also 2 Canada Geese and a Little Egret. A single Whimbrel was again heard, but still evaded any photographers. Both Small Tortoiseshell and Peacock butterflies enjoyed the sunshine (above). Ringed:- 6 Willow Warblers, 1 Chiffchaff, 1 Wheatear, 1 Wren, 1 Linnet. (RA,CJ,AW,CLW,CJW,SRW,TGW,CJW,GIW) + Marc Hughes and Aled, Colin Wells and Lynne. [223-30] photos CJ,PSW

Friday, 15 April 2011

15th April 2011

A little more mist this morning helped bring a few more birds to the islands with a dozen or so phylloscopus warblers, and a Blackcap in the trapping areas. A few Redpolls passed overhead early, the odd Goldfinch paid a visit and Wheatears arrived sporadically during the morning but failed to be in the right place to be ringed. Bird of the day was a Tree Pipit trapped in the 'newton' trap at first light (left), Tree Pipits are occasionally heard passing over at migration times but one being down on the island is quite rare, and it was instructive to compare a bird in the hand with Meadow Pipits which are handled all the time.

A House Sparrow (right) circled about for half an hour or so and landed briefly before deciding it was not to her liking, not so with the Linnets as more have arrived to take up territory, 4 being ringed today. Some Swallows passed through in small numbers, also 2 Sand Martins but no House Martins.

A male Goosander was seen early in the morning and later a group of 3 Goosanders with a female Merganser flew down the west side and across between the islands and off towards the shore (left). Goosander is still a rare visitor to Hilbre but you would not guess from the number of records recently. A Little Egret was the first to be logged for a while.

A large yellow frog in the 'heli' garden was quite a stunning sight (right).

Ringed:- 8 Willow Warblers, 2 Chiffchaffs, 4 Linnets, 2 Goldfinches, 1 Tree Pipit, 1 Blackcap, 1 Wren

(DB,CJ,PGR,CJW,SRW,DEW,RTW) [213-30] photos CJ