Tuesday, 19 September 2017

19th September 2017

Weather: S force 1, cloud and mist clearing then sunny and warm.
A very pleasant day started with a dozen or so Goldcrests on the ground and a Chiffchaff in sub-song in the obs garden. At least 4 Wheatears were about the island and a small passage of both Meadow Pipits and Swallows continued through the morning, also 2 Grey Wagtails, 2 Sand Martins and 5 Goldfinches. A harbinger of late autumn/winter came in the form of 9 Wigeon, 2 pale-bellied Brent and 3 Rock Pipits. The Bonxie reappeared today, scattering the waders in the area, then resting on the sea for a while before flying out of view. The best of the sea watching were the 10 Bottle-nosed Dolphins circling while feeding and occasionally jumping out the sea off to the north (thanks to Richard Smith at Red Rocks for the tip off). Other seabirds logged were a Gannet, 2 Red-throated Divers and 30 Guillemot.  A few butterflies flew in the sunshine, also a dragonfly which seemed to be a Southern Hawker.
Ringed: 4 Goldcrests, 1 Chiffchaff.             [ 486-32 ]:

Saturday, 16 September 2017

16th September 2017

Brief highlights today included the first Purple Sandpiper of the autumn on the 'whaleback' (photographed by visiting birder Simon Caldwell).

Also a single Pale-bellied Brent Goose was present and migrants included Goldcrest, Willow Warbler and 2 Wheatear. 

Friday, 15 September 2017

15th September 2017

Weather: NNW force 3  vis 60 mls

After all the excitement of yesterday it was expected to be quieter today on the lighter winds, and so it proved, despite the rainbow there was no 'pot of gold' in birding terms.

A short sea watch failed to find any Leach's petrels but one of the three Peregrines south of Middle certainly did, as it was seen to be carrying one as prey, a sight not unknown in the area but rarely if ever photographed.

The best sea bird of the day in the form of Bonxie glided along the north shore scattering the gulls and waders resting there, came towards Hilbre and off passed the north end. Other seabirds were scarce although 2 Fulmars appeared distantly with a dozen Gannets and 2,000 or so Common Scoters which were far out as usual.

A few Goldcrests were again in the paddocks and 2 were ringed today. Goldcrests have been noted before arriving on north or north westerlies when other small migrants seldom appear. A Wheatear landed on 'Wheatear Hill' opposite the obs at about midday. Other birds counted today included 7 Little Egrets, 98 Shelduck, 84 Curlew, 70 Grey Plover, 42 Redshank. There was no sign of the first Brent seen yesterday. Some of the Sandwich Terns may have taken advantage of the northerlies and headed off south, only about 90 were seen this morning.

Summer hung on with a Red Admiral and a Small White butterfly in the air.

Ringed: 2 Goldcrests, 1 Robin [478-32 ]

Thursday, 14 September 2017

14th September 2017

Weather: NNW 4/5, gusting later, variable vis

Today was a classic Hilbre autumn seawatch, with the wind turning more northerly overnight producing the goods.

Observers were present from just after the tide in the morning (c830am) until dusk.

A few Leach's Petrels passed through as the early morning tide ebbed, but they picked up more and more during the low tide period peaking as the tide began to flood again early afternoon with occasional birds passing with feet of the rocks at the North End.

The evening tide was slightly less productive with only 20 birds noted but a day total of 90 Leach's was the best count since 2013.

The first highlight of the day was a juvenile Sabine's Gull picked up out to the west of the seawatching hide at 930am, it gave great views but soon disappeared up the Dee (photo below from the Obs archive http://hilbrebirdobs.blogspot.co.uk/2011/10/7th-october-2011.html?m=1).  A second juvenile was noted on the evening tide.

There were large numbers of Sandwich Terns noted passing the North End throughout the day as well as two large roosts on the Wast Hoyle, a total of 600 were estimated, along with 210 Common Terns and nine Black Terns in what has been an excellent year for this latter species at Hilbre.

The second highlight of the day was so close the observers in the hide had to wait for it to reappear above the lifeboat slipway beam before the shout went out "Long-tailed Skua" - a fine juvenile flew west right in front of the hide at c1.10pm before turning up the Dee along the whaleback and then turning back towards Wales.

The first returning Pale-bellied Brent Goose rested on the whaleback before moving down to the east side gutter later.  Similarly 18 Pink-footed Geese flew North East.

Other species seen during the seawatch included a single Golden Plover, 4 Tufted Duck, 9 Manx Shearwaters, Razorbills, 5 Fulmars and a single Red-throated Diver.

Despite the weather three Goldcrests arrived as did a Wheatear and the first Rock Pipit of the autumn.

Photos AEH and SRW

Wednesday, 13 September 2017

13th September 2017

Weather: WNW  force 7

A gale overnight meant that sea watch coverage was again required this morning. Leach's Petels were again passing but perhaps not in as many numbers as was expected, nevertheless 17 were logged, together with 5 Manx Sheatwaters, 3 Black Terns and a Fulmar.
More surprising and rare in a Hilbre context was a Ruff that arrived in to the north end, landed briefly and then continued west, also the Hobby that flew east by the island (photo below by Matt Thomas).

 Sandwich Terns were present again in large numbers, today at 440 with 50 Common Terns.   
A single Whimbrel is still about with 25 or so Curlew.
photos AEH

Tuesday, 12 September 2017

12th September 2017

Weather: WNW 4/5   vis 30 mls

The strong winds of the last day or so have encouraged birders to take to the coast of Wirral in search of sea birds. A short visit to Hilbre this morning produced 31 Leach's Petrel and a Fulmar, all before 08.15. An afternoon visit over the tide found the flow of  Leach's petrels had slowed to a total of 18, but the highlight of the sea watch was a group of 5 Black Terns passing close to the north end and a Black-Throated Diver flying to the west of the observers.

Others on the sea were 3 Arctic Skuas, 3 Manx Shearwaters, 4 Gannets, 50 Great Crested Grebes, and 2 Kittiwakes. There are still many terns in the area, 175 Sandwich and 25 Common, also Common Scoter seem in good numbers with 600 estimated passing to and fro in the direction of the wind farms. On the way to the island a Great Crested Grebe was found exausted on the rocks by Middle and was taken into custody by obs members and kept warm and dry until the tide was high enough to release it at the north end.
photos PSW

Sunday, 10 September 2017

10th September 2017

Weather: SW force 2/3, backing SE 4 later
A small trickle of migrants this morning included 6 Goldcrests, 5 Pied and a Grey Wagtail, a few Swallows and a male Blackcap. Two Wigeon were unexpected and 2 Kestrels were on the island, also a Sparrowhawk flew over to the west. A Gannet was seen as were 2 Bar-tailed Godwits.
During the morning observers thought they heard a Greenshank and then found the bird in question with other waders including Redshank below the Obs so fired off a couple of record shots before all the birds took flight when they observed a square white rump, sadly it was never seen again.  Reviewing their photos later in the day they realised the bird in question also had yellow/orangey legs and they concluded that it was in fact a Greater Yellowlegs which, if accepted by BBRC, would not only be a first for Hilbre but a first for Cheshire & Wirral. When news came out later several observers returned to the island after the tide to search for it but it could not be found; consolation for one visitor was the first Leach's Petrel of the year.
Ringed: 1 Goldcrest, 1 Blackcap                   [ 475-32 ]