Saturday, 21 April 2018

21st April 2018

Weather: ENE force 1 at dawn, later SE 4 vis 10 mls
The reappearance of the Puffin seen on 15th (or another) caused the biggest excitement amongst the members this morning when it was seen distantly off the north end at 08.00, it seemed to be drifting out with the tide. Still a rarity at Hilbre, and a 'mega' for Cheshire listers, Puffin sightings in this area are few and far between.
Despite the Puffin, the main focus today was on the good birds passing through the islands, the highlights being the first Whitethroat of the year (above), 2 more Grasshopper Warblers (both heard reeling at dawn and later trapped for ringing, below), 2 Blackcaps and a male Redstart (bottom),
Also 9 Wheatears, 15 Willow Warblers (below), a Chiffchaff and a calling Brambling over the shore early and later a Tree Pipit doing the same over the island.

Background birds today included several White Wagtails, Goldfinches, Redpolls, Swallows and 8 Linnets ringed indicated a passage independently of the breeding birds.
Pink-footed Geese flew out again at dawn, but this time only 223, while a single Brent was seen (as often happens after the main departure) and the 2 immature drake Eiders are still here. Three male Mallards are about the island, a female is probably being elusive.
Eleven Whimbrel and 30 Sandwich Terns were counted.
An evening visit was made just as the light faded and the thunder clouds rolled in on a fantastic day, found 3 Wheatears still present but few other birds although the first House Martin of the day was logged.

Ringed: 8 Willow Warblers, 1 Chiffchaff, 2 Grasshopper Warblers, 1 Whitethroat, 1 Blackcap, 1 Redstart, 1 Goldfinch, 8 Linnets.                  [ 251-22 ]
photos CJ,BT,AEH

Friday, 20 April 2018

20th April 2018

Weather: light air, mist around the estuary then thick fog before sun breaking through mid-morning
On arrival at the island a bank of thick fog rolled in from the sea, visibility 50yards, and failed to clear until the sun broke through 3 hours later at 09.00. The fog may have done us some favours as during this early period a few phylloscopus were on the ground (one a long winged (73mm) 'northern' type Willow Warbler, below) and a single Goldcrest.
 and together with the now expected Blackcaps, a fine male Whinchat, the first of the year for us.
A Song Thrush suddenly appeared in the obs garden and minutes later a Redwing was also in the garden, quite a late record here and it became the first ringed this year.

A Common Sandpiper was found on the shore off the south west corner, but became elusive when photos were attempted. A single Tree Pipit called overhead and a female Sparrowhawk flew low to the west over the south end. No Porpoises today but lots more terns with 45 Sandwich and 86 Common and 18 Red-breasted Mergansers were noted near the west hoyle as the tide started to flood.
Wheatears increased as the sun came out and 9 were on the islands this morning, including the one that was ringed yesterday. There were no martins and just 7 Swallows noted. Meadow Pipits seemed not to be moving today and only 8 Goldfinches, 8 White Wagtails, 3 Lesser Redpoll and a single Skylark passed through.
About 300 Dunlin gathered on the east side as the tide approached with a few Ringed Plover. Only 5 Whimbrel were seen, also 1 Little Egret.
Ringed: 3 Willow Warblers, 2 Chiffchaffs, 1 Blackcap, 1 Whinchat, 1 Redwing, 2 Wrens, 2 Linnets.
[ 228-21 ]

Thursday, 19 April 2018

19th April 2018

Weather: SE force 1  clear sky, warm and sunny
A really lovely Hilbre morning, with t-shirts the order of the day. What could be nicer than standing on the west side in the warmth of the sun watching 4 Harbour Porpoises swimming in the calm waters of the Dee?
Earlier at dawn the Pink-footed Geese resumed their procession out of the estuary with several parties totalling over 2,500 during the morning, how many more are there still to travel north?
As expected migrants arrived, but in small numbers compared with the north Wirral coast. grounded today were 15 Willow Warblers, 4 Chiffchaffs, 7 Greenland Wheatears (below), and 3 Blackcaps (a few of which have landed for several days running),

also a trickle through of Meadow Pipits and about 15 White Wagtails, a flock of 9 Lesser Redpolls paying a brief visit, and 2 Grasshopper Warblers (first of the year at Hilbre, one was on Middle and one on the main island that was heard briefly before becoming the first ringed this year).
Another first of the year was an Arctic Tern sitting on the sea with a Sandwich Tern off to the north west. A close pass by a Little Gull was in the same area. Others seen on the sea included an adult Gannet, 30 Sandwich Terns, 8 Common Terns, 12 Great Crested Grebes and 17 Red-breasted Mergansers.
Fly-by visitors were a Collared Dove, 2 Woodpigeons (one staying for a while), 6 Swallows, 2 Sand Martins, 1 House Martin, a Canada Goose east-west over the island, 6 Goldfinches, 1 Siskin, about 3 dozen Linnets and 2 Skylarks.
Eleven Whimbrel called their flutey whistle from the shore, about the same number as yesterday, 25 Sanderling, 30 Ringed Plover and 60 Turnstone were also logged.
Raptors have been fairly scarce this spring so far and a Kestrel was the sole representative today.
Ringed: 7 Willow Warblers, 2 Chiffchaffs, 2 Blackcaps, 1 Grasshopper Warbler, 1 Greenland Wheatear, 1 Wren, 1 Meadow Pipit, 4 Linnets.   [ 216-19 ]
photos SRW

Wednesday, 18 April 2018

18th April 2018

Weather:  SSE  force 4   blustery wind vis 10 mls, later warm and sunny
The first Common Sandpiper of the spring appeared mid-afternoon on the east side. It seemed quite tired for a species that is normally very active and may have just landed after a long flight.

Early morning several Willow Warblers arrived in the first 2 hours and many Goldfinches and Redpolls were active about the paddocks and gardens and 3 Blackcaps were present. The warblers dried up soon after but a few made it here late morning/early afternoon.
Eight Sand Martins, 3 House Martins and more than a dozen Swallows came through during the day, also quite a few Linnets and 3 Siskins and about 10 White Wagtails. Three Wheatears were down on the island.

Single birds flying through included a Starling, and a Stock Dove.
A prolonged sea watch found 7 Red-throated Divers,  7 Red-breasted Mergansers, 15 Guillemots, 12 Great Crested Grebes, 3 Gannets, 13 Sandwich Terns and 2 Harbour Porpoises off the north end. There are limited numbers of waders at this time (15 Bar-tailed Godwits, 20 Sanderling etc) but Whimbrel are now approaching their peak and there were 12 today.
Meadow Pipit
Only 4 Brent remain and the 2 immature male Eiders are still about.
Eider with Scoters
Three Wigeon flew in as the tide flooded.
Thanks to Stan Davidson and Paul Slater for some of todays records.
Ringed: 9 Willow Warblers, 2 Chiffchaffs, 2 Blackcaps, 5 Linnets, 2 Goldfinches, 3 Redpolls              photos AEH,AS                                                                                                         [ 198-18 ]

Tuesday, 17 April 2018

17th April 2018

Weather: SSE 3-4, 8/8 cloud, light drizzle
The day started with a blustery south-east breeze and observers were greeted on the first round of the traps by a singing Sedge Warbler in the Old Obs garden (which proved elusive during the rest of the day) and a fine male Redstart in the SK along with a small fall of phylloscs (mainly large male Willows). 

The Redstart was our first of the year at the Obs as was the Sedge Warbler and these were quickly followed by the first House Martin; although the latter proved to be the forerunner of a small movement over the tide with 14 House Martins counted in off during the day along with 11 Swallows and two Sand Martins.

Meanwhile, the weather closed in all around the islands during the high tide.

A Tree Pipit flew up from the trapping area calling and a female Blackcap (different from yesterday) was caught and ringed, the third in as many days.
Seawatching proved excellent today with a single Little Gull noted along with 51 Sandwich and a single Common Tern.  Divers were very much in evidence with 43 Red-throated counted, plus 16 Great Crested Grebes, a pair of Red-breasted Mergansers, 95 Common Scoter, 56 Guillemot, a Fulmar, 9 Gannet and the highlight being the first nine Manx Shearwater of the year which unusually sheared east towards the North Wirral. 

Ringing:  Willow Warbler (9), Chiffchaff (2), Wren, Linnet, Lesser Redpoll, Meadow Pipit, Blackcap, Goldfinch, Redstart [175-18]

Monday, 16 April 2018

16th April 2018

Weather:  SSW 2, 4/8 cloud, moderate vis
A much quieter day all round than yesterday with less grounded migrants and less vis mig.  However, there still proved to be migrants pushing through despite the slight westerly influence in the wind.
Six Woodpigeons flew over the islands in flocks of four and two during the morning and small numbers of finches were noted with Goldfinch (29) dominating although single Redpoll and two Siskin were noteworthy.
Singles of Swallow, Sand Martin and Willow Warbler were noted (the latter caught and ringed along with a Linnet) and later a female Blackcap was caught and ringed.

Eight Pale-bellied Brent Geese remain around the islands along with two immature drake Eider.
The arrival of spring migrant waders was noticeable as the tide rose with Sanderling (98), Dunlin (52) and Ringed Plovers (17) over the tide along with 7 Whimbrel, single Bar-tailed Godwit and two Knot.
Dunlin by Helen Bannister
Ringed Plovers by Helen Bannister
A single Merlin flashed passed the Obs and was alter seen chasing a passerine south of Middle.
An excellent count of 40 White Wagtails was made today which included two large flocks (for Hilbre) of 20 and 12; presumably some of the 300+ birds that have been on Hoylake beach pushed off by the high tide.

photos SRW,KMc.
Ringed: Willow Warbler, Linnet, Blackcap [157-17]

Sunday, 15 April 2018

15th April 2018

Weather:E force 3/4
A Puffin was photographed today at Hilbre by visiting photographer/birder Helen Bannister. Helen has commented that the bird was distant by the time she managed to take a few record shots, "the gulls kept chasing it away". Puffin is a rare occurrence at Hilbre and this is only the second to be pictured.

Meanwhile another great day of migration was in full swing and no appologies for mentioning yet again the Pink-footed Geese flying out of the estuary this morning (above), over 2,000 today, the highlight for some, but other birds competing for the title included the first Yellow Wagtail (in flight) and Grasshopper Warbler (brief song) of the year and the second Ring Ouzel (flying down the east side) and Tree Pipit (call over the obs), also a Marsh Harrier (going west high to Wales). Willow Warblers are now arriving in numbers (20) this morning with just a single Chiffchaff, 4 Goldcrests and a male Blackcap, while birds passing through included over 100 Goldfinches, 150 Meadow Pipits, 22 alba wagtails, 45 Lesser Redpoll, 22 Siskin, and 6 flocks of Woodpigeons totalling 67,

                also 9 Canada Geese, 2 Jackdaw, and 3 Starlings.
A Merlin flew off the island south to Middle.
Ringed: 9 Willow Warblers, 1 Chiffchaff, 2 Goldcrests, 1 Blackcap, 4 Linnets, 1 Meadow Pipit, 1 Wren.                              [ 154-17 ]
photos Helen Bannister, AEH