The island has been monitored by the bird observatory even over the Christmas period, indeed one member (DB) has already been present on 249 days this year ! One of the obvious features at the moment is the amount of water in the main pond (below), it is at such a level that none can previously recall, almost up to the path, obviously as a result of the persistent rainfall this last 9 months.
27th December :- 2 Red-throated and 1 unidentified diver species, 7 Wigeon, 7 Common Scoter, 20,000 Knot between the east hoyle and the north shore, A Common Seal between the main islands and an appearance by the resident rabbit proving it is surviving the weather. A Redwing was noted over and a new Song Thrush was ringed.
(DB,JE) [ 1089-32]photos JE
26th December :- 19 Red-throated Divers, 40 Great Crested Grebes, 27 Guillemots, 3 Razorbill, 30 Pintail flew north, 340 Turnstones, 18 Purple Sandpipers, 2,300 Dunlin flew north, 30,000 Knot flew south in the tanskeys area on the ebb tide, 1 Rock Pipit.
25th December :- a Slavonian Grebe in the east side gutter, 30 Wigeon and 5 Pintail flew south, 4 Teal, 4,500 Oystercatchers, 120 Grey Plover and 15 Bar-tailed Godwits flew south, 80 Shelduck, 5 Linnets and 2 Meadow Pipits on the island.
24th December :- 6 Great Crested Grebe, 3 Little Egrets, 1 Kestrel, 5 Common Seals in a separate haul out on the west hoyle bank.
21st December :- 211 Brent Geese ( includes a few dark-bellied ), 1 female Scaup, 7 Grey Herons, 90 Redshank, 1 Little Egret, and the regular winter passerines included 6 Wrens, 2 Dunnocks, 4 Robins, 3 Blackbirds, 2 Song Thrushes.
A pleasant day for a change with no wind and the sunshine making it feel almost balmy. A flock of 42 Wigeon lanquished off the west side of Middle for an hour or so in the morning, while at the same time an even larger flock of 78 Teal flew north east off the west side but were not seen again. As observers watched the now familiar female Scaup off the north end, 6 Mute Swans flew east over the slipway towards the north Wirral shore. Surprisingly no Purple Sandpipers could be found on the low tide, but 120 Turnstone were present and flocks of 50 and 60 Sanderling flew west.
A sea watch over the tide braved the rain and was rewarded with a Slavonian grebe on the sea, a special record of this rare small grebe; also noted were an adult Kittiwake, a Shag (quite scarce this year), 4 Red-throated Divers,2 Red-breasted Merganers and 20 Common Scoters and the female Scaup. On the island were 2 Rock Pipits and a Redwing passed through early. An interesting sighting today was of a Peregrine trying to catch a Little Egret in flight over the east Hoyle, the Little Egret managed to make it to the marine lake unscathed.
Lots of fog around the island and temperatures barely lifted above freezing today, nevertheless some decent records to report. The Medditteranean Gull of yesterday made another appearance this time on the west side, the female Scaup also continued to show. Other duck sightings were few with 2 male Goldeneyes and a single Wigeon in addition to 28 Common Scoters. A Fieldfare flew off east and a Redwing was briefly on the island, while 55 Skylarks flew west and a single in the opposite direction. Four Song Thrushes were present, some of which will be long staying birds. Twenty five Great Crested Grebes were on the sea with a Red-throated Diver and 40+ Grey Plovers were seen on the east hoyle sands.
Not above freezing point today and icicles were seen on the east side of Middle as the sun went down. An adult winter Meditterranean Gull flew past the north end slipway early in the morning after the fog cleared. Ducks were the other feature of the day with flocks of 9,5 and 4 Teal, a male Goldeneye, a Wigeon, and lingering birds from the last week or so, a female Scaup and a group of 4 Pochard. Two Redwings and a Fieldfare passed through early and a Lapwing flew east towards the mainland. Five Song Thrushes were logged and a Rock Pipit was present.
Ringed:- 1 Song Thrush [ 1088-32 ]
A summary of some recent records are below
26th November :- 1 Redwing, 28 Teal, 2,500 Knot in the east hoyle/ little eye/ red rocks area.
(DB) 27th November :- 11 Pintail flew north, 2 Red breasted Merganser, 1 Wood Pigeon.
(DB) 28th November :- 19 Purple Sandpipers, 4 Goldfinches, 3 Starlings, 30 Sanderling, 118 Redshank.
(DB) 29th November :- A Velvet Scoter flew west and landed on the sea, 40 Great Crested Grebes, 5 Red-throated Divers, 4 Teal, 10 Bar-tailed Godwits, 3 Pochard (very rare at Hilbre), 4 Teal, 3 Redwings.
(DB,MGT) 5th December :- A female Common Scoter, 40 Sanderling, 2 Rock Pipits at the north end.
(DB) 6th December :- 1356 Cormorant flying out to sea at dawn, 8 dark-bellied Brent (out of over 200 birds), female Scaup, 4 Pochard, 1 male and 2 female Pintail, 7 Red-breasted Mergansers.
(DB) 7th December :- 222 Brent Geese (including at least 5 dark-bellied), 150 Redshank, 14 Linnets on Little eye. Six Common Seals separate from the main seal haul out on the west hoyle bank.
(DB) 10th December :- A Snow Bunting was flushed from Middle island, the female Scaup at the north end, 72 Bar-tailed Godwit.
(MGT) 11th December:- A male Tufted Duck flew west, the female Scaup still present, 1 Teal, 5 Redwing, 4 Song Thrush, 1 Starling, 2 Goldfinch, 3 Little Egrets, an unringed Rock Pipit at the north end, 260 Curlew on the east hoyle, 19 Purple Sandpipers, 8 Great Crested Grebes.
On and off the island before the tide meant crossing in the dark, and as the daylight came the Lakeland fells and Black Comb were clearly visible behind the wind farms (above). A Song Thrush was the only new bird ringed today, winter not being the best time for a potential ringing trainee (Bethany, right) to be experiencing ringing for the first time, although a Wren and Blackbird were retrapped. The usual waders and other species were present with the addition of a group of Teal.
A brisk NNW breeze and clear skies greeted observers who ventured over to Hilbre to stay over the tide today. A tour of the paddocks soon revealed there were no new migrants in so attention turned to the sea.
It soon became obvious there was a good movement of ducks with at least 80 Teal being logged including one flock of 30 birds. 15 Wigeon also flew past the island and at least 100 Common Scoter were logged.
There were plenty of Great-crested Grebes and as the wind died and the swell reduced a conservative count of 150 was made although the haze made counting difficult. Red-throated Divers were present in good numbers and at one stage there were 15 in the air together. A Black-throated Diver was a good record and was seen several times before eventually flying out towards the wind farms as the tide ebbed.
Star bird however was a late Grey Phalarope that jinked in from the Point of Ayr and landed on the sea never to be seen again!
As the tide fell the Purple Sandpipers made a reappearance off the end of the slipway and 12 birds were noted.