Saturday, 31 May 2014

31st May 2014

Weather:  NW 2, 8/8 cloud, moderate visibility

The sea was a little more interesting with Common Scoters reappearing in surprising numbers with 1,500 counted on the flooding tide.  Common Terns outnumbered Sandwich and three Arctic Skuas were found harassing them off the West Hoyke sandbank.

Insects were high on the agenda today with an excellent moth trap catch overnight with numerous species but this included 5 Netted Pugs, an Angle Shades (see below) and a White Ermine (see below).
Angle Shades
White Ermine
However, the most exciting moth of the day was Eupoecilia angustana, which is a new species for the island.

Bombus monticola
A Bombus monticola (bumble bee) was photographed today on the island which is a very unusual lowland site for this species.

Not to be outdone with all of the non-avian interest the Hilbre Rabbit put in an extended appearance late morning in the usual location.

Ringing: Linnet

(GB (from over), CJ, NDW and SRW).  [593-33]

Friday, 30 May 2014

30th May 2014

Weather:  ESE 2-3, 7/8 cloud, good visibility

Another fairly quiet day on the island today but as always something of interest pops up.  A couple of Little Egrets fished the gutter and the breeding birds were very evident including another juvenile Linnet caught and ringed.

However, there were no grounded migrants to speak of and the sea was fairly quiet.  Two flocks of Canada Geese (22 and 3) did little to raise the excitement levels.

Just when we thought it might be a non-noteworthy day up popped a Peppered Moth which was found in the Obs and is a very scarce moth for the island.

Later in the day five Little Egrets appeared and 65 Swifts flew over the island.

Ringing: Linnet 

(DB (from over), GB, JE et al) [592-33]

Thursday, 29 May 2014

29th May 2014

Weather: NE 5, 8/8 cloud, Drizzle early on some mist later.

Another fairly quiet day (apart from the BBC filming and the grass being cut) but 1,200 Oystercatchers was a good count of the time of year.   Five Little Egrets were around the islands and the male Kestrel appeared again.

A Brimstone moth was seen along with a number of Cinnabars which are fairly common around the main island recently.

(DB from over) [591-33]

Wednesday, 28 May 2014

Spotted Flycatcher

A short video of the Spotted Flycatcher from Saturday (25th May 2014) can be found here:

28th May 2014

Weather: NNE 4, increasing to NE 6 by evening, rain for much of the day

The weather was rather uninspiring but coverage of the island this spring remains  excellent (as with the last few years) and has already reaped its rewards but it's not over yet!

However, today was only memorable for the filming of a programme by the BBC between the islands around high tide 'Puppy Love' has been filmed around North Wirral and today's scenes involved some action between Hilbre and Middle Eye at high tide with four small boats with camera crew, actors, support and even frog men.

A couple of Little Egrets milled about in the gutter but the breeding birds were having a hard enough time with the poor weather without the appearance of the Kestrel; although his focus was on the local Short-tailed Field Voles.

(DB, SRW) [591-33]

Tuesday, 27 May 2014

27th May 2014

Weather: NW 2, 8/8 cloud, good vis

The weather didn't stir too much enthusiasm today and so it proved that very few migrants were seen as we head towards the end of the 'Spring' on Hilbre...but it's not over yet!

The first trap round however did produce a surprise with a adult Wren caught and ringed which proved to be sporting a brood patch. This is the first Wren to be seen or heard on the islands since 8th May; probably an indication of how secretive some of our breeding birds can be here.

A male Greenland Wheatear appeared, appropriately enough, on Wheatear hill early morning but avoided the potter traps there obviously finding flies and other insects to its liking as it wandered up and down the West Side and kept the lone seawatcher company for a short time.

The sea flattered to deceive appearing quite busy from the Obs but a single Kittiwake, Gannets and moderate numbers of Common and Sandwich Terns were seen.

On the way back from a sea-watch/trap round observers met up and decided to check the east side of the island - a fortuitous decision as it turned out, when a summer plumaged Black Guillemot was found loafing a few hundred yards north east of 'Niffy Bay'.  A couple of quick distant record shots were taken with the SLR before one observer headed back to the Obs whilst the other stayed on this delightful auk.  The bird suddenly flew south up the river towards West Kirby ML before doing a quick U turn.  Fortunately it was relocated from the Obs balcony where everyone saw it drifting towards the North End below the Old Obs.  A couple of iPhone scoped shots were taken.  Hoping for betters shots and views observers headed back north but as they set up the scopes to watch the bird at closer range a Catamaran came around the island flushing the Black Guillemot as well as the semi-resident Common Scoters.

The Black Guillemot flew off west passing close by the North End.

A summer plumage Black Guillemot had been seen earlier off Formby Point (unbeknown to us at the time) heading into Liverpool Bay this morning and timings suggest it could quite easily have been the same bird (thanks to Tim Vaughan for info).  This is quite similar occurrence to the bird last year at Hilbre seen on 4 June 2013 (see blog for that date for better photos than today's!)

(CJW(f), CLW, FPW, GIW, SRW, TGW (from over), AEH) [591-33]

Monday, 26 May 2014

26th May 2014

Weather: SE 5, 4/8 cloud, moderate visibility

The day began early for some with a stunning dawn seen from the island and the south-easterly breeze lifted the spirits although it was a little strong and visibilty was a little on the good side for hopes to be raised too far.  However, a very early morning Swift that batted through east was nice.

However, the first trapping round produced a single Willow Warbler which was a good start for this time of year which is more renowned for quality rather than quantity!  A single male Pied Wagtail was the first seen on the island for some time.

Pied Wagtail - male (SRW)
However, there was very little else in the trapping area bird-wide during the day. Fortunately, the sea proved rather more fruitful with good flocks of Common Scoters flying to the North West of the island and some flying up the Dee; the total for the day was 800.  Gannets were counted at various times during the day and at least 120 were seen with reasonable numbers of Common (85) and Sandwich (160) Terns.  The highlight of the seawatching was a small flock of five Manx Shearwaters which sheared west passing close to the West Side.  Three Great Crested Grebes loafed around the islands during the tide.

Great Crested Grebe - between the islands (SRW)

Insects continue to fill the void when migrant bird numbers are down and today's highlight was the first Painted Lady butterfly found in the trapping area.

Painted Lady - first of the year (SRW)

There are still plenty of Cinnabar moths (see photo below by BT) as well as Green-veined White butterflies and Garden Tiger and Yellow-tailed Moth caterpillars around the island.

The breeding birds were much in evidence today with recently fledged Meadow Pipits and Linnets around the island, two of the latter being caught and ringed and the adult Blackbirds gathering food all around the island.
Meadow Pipit - juvenile (BT)
Wader numbers have dropped off significantly in recent days but just over high tide small numbers of Dunlin and Ringed Plover and a couple of Sanderling roosted at the North End (see photos below - all BT).

Ringing: Willow Warbler, Linnet (2 juvs)

(CJW(f), CLW, GIW, FPW, SRW & TGW (from over), CJ, KMc & BT) [590-33]

Sunday, 25 May 2014

25th May 2014

Weather: SE 3, cloud variable, vis variable, precipitation variable!

Woodpigeon (CJ)
The day began brightly with sunshine early morning but a little mist and south easterly breeze giving us some hope of migration.  A Woodpigeon (left) was the first migrant seen early morning resting on the five bar gate and the bird then proceeded to spend the day on the island in various locations including 'Gropper Ridge' and the large sycamore in the east side garden of Telegraph House and was seen in flight many times.

However, the first couple of trap rounds were null ones until a Willow Warbler appeared in the Old Obs mist net.  Mist and cloud rolled in from the south and the breeze freshened giving it a more autumnal feel by 7am and this no doubt helped drop a few migrants in including single White Wagtail, Wheatear another Willow Warbler, Whitethroat and a Sedge Warbler which was trapped and ringed.
White Wagtail - the seventh to be caught and ringed this Spring (SRW)

The potter traps at the North End produced yet another male White Wagtail (the seventh of the spring to be caught and ringed thanks to the efforts of DB).

Sedge Warbler (SRW)

The sun burst through again from 930am which slowed the birds and the observers down a little but our fourth Spotted Flycatcher of the Spring appeared near the Heli and enjoyed flycatching from various trees and bushes including the recently named 'Little Bunting Bush'. It was captured on film and video but kept away from out heligoland traps and mist nets before it was chased off by one of the local Swallows.  However, it soon reappeared back in its by now favoured stunted sycamore before finally disappearing just before the heavy rain set in at 4.30pm.

Spotted Flycatcher (SRW)

Spotted Flycatcher (SRW)
Insects were not as evident today in general terms but a large emergence of Blue-tailed Damselflies occurred from the main pond with at least 100 observed there and around the island.
Blue-tailed Damselfly (CJ)

Ringing: Willow Warbler (2), Sedge Warbler, Linnet (2 juvs), White Wagtail

(CJW(f), GIW, SRW (from over), DB, CJ et al) [587-33]

Saturday, 24 May 2014

24th May 2014

Weather: SE 1, 4/8 cloud, poor vis (<5 miles)

The day started well with the early arrival and capture of a Spotted Flycatcher in the sycamores of the Heli (third record of the spring and a second to be ringed).

A single Sedge Warbler was also caught but the bird of the day was Whitethroat with a couple caught by mid morning, further singles were caught by midday and a fifth was added to the day total early afternoon.

In addition a couple of Greenland Wheatear passed through and two each of Willow Warbler and Chiffchaff were caught and ringed.

The afternoon brought heavy rain which set in until mid evening.

However, a couple of hours later and sky had cleared the wind had dropped and it was another stunning evening on the island.

Ringing: Spotted Flycatcher, Willow Warbler (2), Chiffchaff (2), Sedge Warbler, Whitethroat (5)

(JE, SRW & TGW) [581-33]  

Friday, 23 May 2014

23rd May 2014

Weather: NE 6/7, Rain early clearing later

An atrocious day weather-wise and unsurprisingly there were very few migrants around although single Wheatear, White Wagtail and Chiffchaff pushed through.

Four Whimbrel and 7 Little Egret were around the gutter on the ebbing tide.

The day was enlivened by some seawatching with a few Gannets (20) and Common Terns just off the island over and after the tide. The highlight of the day was an adult light phase Arctic Skua which passed close in ip the West Side opposite the Obs before  passing around the North End and heading off North East.

(AEH et al) 

Thursday, 22 May 2014

22nd May 2014

Weather: NE 2 increasing 4-5 later, cloud 7/8 (8/8 later) rain most of morning, vis poor, clearing mid morning before closing in again in the evening 

Expectation was not high and we weren't disappointed today with rain from early and a moderately brisk north-easterly producing very little during the morning.

However, terns were much in evidence again close in to the island over the early morning tide with good numbers of Common (35) and Sandwich (27) seen particularly well off the North End.  This was repeated on the evening tide but with larger numbers (65 Common and 38 Sandwich) plus 3 Great Crested Grebes still on the sea and 25 Gannets whizzing past the island with a brisk North easterly behind them.

A couple of single Swifts passed over the island during the day along with a single House Martin.  A single Willow Warbler proved elusive in the trapping areas as did a male Wheatear that appeared down the west side late afternoon. There was no ringing activity today.

(PSW et al (from over)) [570-33]

Wednesday, 21 May 2014

21st May 2014

Weather: SE 2, 1/8 cloud, v good vis

Never a dull moment!

A beautiful sunny day dawned on the island and the usual high anticipation amongst those present soon gave way to a relaxed acceptance that today was not going to be busy bird-wise.

However, as is often the case at this time of year the breeding birds suddenly become more evident with juvenile recently fledged Robin and Dunnocks caught (see below).

A couple of Meadow Pipit nests were also discovered with one being easily accessible we'll be providing the data to the BTO Nest Record Scheme.

Just when we thought there were no migrants a Chiffchaff appeared in the Obs garden before later being caught in the Heli.

Never a dull moment on the island - late in the day an Obs member had to give a lift to a member of the public who had slipped on the rocks and broken her toes and later still we briefly assisted the Police in a search for a missing person (unsuccessfully), we hope they have been  found since. 

The day ended with a lovely sunset.

Ringing: Robin, Dunnock, Chiffchaff

(DB, CJ, PSW et al) [570-33]

Tuesday, 20 May 2014

20th May 2014

Weather:  SE 2-3, 8/8 cloud, 2-3 miles vis, mist - rain shower at 830am

The day started well with the weather looking good and expectation typically high.  A couple of Willow Warblers and a Whitethroat were found on the first round with a single Willow Warbler caught followed shortly after by a stunning Wood Warbler.

This was the first Wood Warbler on the islands since 1997 and is only the ninth ever of this declining species locally.  All Hilbre records have been in May (3rd May 1969, 15th May 1976, 10th May 1979, 2 on 5th May 1985, 21st May 1989, 30th May 1992 and 10th May 1997).
Wood Warbler
Willow (left) and Wood (right) Warblers
The photo with the Willow Warbler (above) was meant to provide a nice comparison of the differences but as can be seen this particular Willow Warbler was a rather grey bird of which we've caught a few recently (see below left).  The bird below right is a 'normal' Willow Warbler.

Spotted Flycatcher
A Spotted Flycatcher appeared early morning but soon disappeared and was not seen again until late afternoon presumably having secreted itself away in the large sycamore on the east side of Telegraph House for the day.

A Chiffchaff was caught late afternoon which meant that three phylloscopus warblers were caught on the island today which does not happen very often.

Butterflies continued to catch the imagination of observers and today it was the turn of Red Admirals to arrive with at least 7 seen including a couple of 'in off', others included a Small Copper, 2 male Common Blues and at least two Walls, but there was no sign of yesterday's Brimstone but at least 6 Common Blue Damselflies were seen.

News via twitter that a Black Stork was seen at a couple of sites heading east along the North Wales coast early evening had our 'eyes to the skies' but sadly the local gulls didn't budge (unlike those at Conwy apparently which gave the storks presence away - thanks to @rsitsme and @bardseyobs for the news), although those on the West Hoyle bank are still being watched as we type just in case!
The weather closed in whilst looking for the Black Stork which was apparently ahead of the rain ...
Evening sun - where the Black Stork was
However, even this could not put a dampner on another great spring day on the island.

Ringing:  Willow Warbler (7), Wood Warbler, Chiffchaff, Whitethroat, Meadow Pipit, Dunnock

(SRW (from over), DB, AEH and CJW et al (briefly) [567-33]

Monday, 19 May 2014

19th May 2014

Weather: SE 2, 2/8 cloud, 7 miles vis, mist - warm sunny muggy day with a light shower at 9am and then thunder lightning and rain in the evening

Green-veined Whites

Common Blue
The day started fairly quietly with just a couple of new Linnets caught and a single Sedge Warbler suggested it was going to be quality not quantity on the bird front but this proved not to be and no more migrants were grounded apart from a single Collared Dove. Vis mig was slightly better with small numbers of Swallows and House Martins passing over and a few Swifts in front of the rain which seemed to be overshadowing North Wales.

Despite the lack of birds insects were very much in evidence with butterflies well represented by 25 Green-veined Whites, several Small Whites, Red Admiral, Small Tortoiseshell and the male Common Blue.

Common Blue

However, the highlight was a fine male Brimstone which was found in the SK trap before it flew off (see photo below).  It was later seen back in the trapping area, before moving rapidly over the Obs garden and the Wildlife garden but it would not settle for further photos in blustery conditions.
Brimstone butterfly (the first record for the island was as recently as April 2005)
Azure Damselfly
This is only the third record of this locally rare but increasing butterfly for Hilbre.  We hope it will be found again tomorrow.  Several damselflies were also seen today including an Azure (see photo).

Ringing: Linnet (2) & Sedge Warbler

(DB, SRW) [555-32] Photos SRW