Friday, 15 December 2017

15th December 2017

Weather:  NW 3, with almost full cloud cover, but good visibility

It was a very quiet day but there was a large gathering of gulls (mostly Herring) on the East Hoyle sandbank after the tide, no signs of a wreck of either Starfish or Razors could be seen so the attraction remains a mystery.

Brent Geese were counted at 282 and over the tide they were very flighty with two separate groups looking as if they were flying out of the area but then returning.

Only 25 Common Scoter, 18 Shelduck, two Great Crested Grebe and the five Eider were observed on the sea.

Turnstone numbers had risen today to 152, but counts of other waders were lower than yesterday, with 2,200 Oystercatcher, 91 Curlew, 1 Grey Plover, 4 Sanderling, 150 Dunlin and 48 Redshank. However, 5 Purple Sandpiper were found hunkering down out of the wind on the west side.

A Rock Pipit was at the North End and the usual Wrens, Robins, Song Thrushes and a Blackbird were about the island.

Thursday, 14 December 2017

14th December 2017

Weather:  WSW 3-4, 3/8 cloud, moderate vis

As the tide ebbed waders were very much in evidence particularly between Little Eye and the Tanskey Rocks again. 

Good counts of Grey Plover (422), Knot (5,000), Dunlin (2,000), Curlew (328), Oystercatcher (7,500) and Ringed Plover (56) were made as well as a very impressive winter count of 1,200 Sanderling on the east hoyle bank.

Less impressive were the low numbers of Turnstone and Redshank (56) around the islands a noticeable decrease around the islands themselves over the last few winters.

Brent Geese numbered 292 Pale and a single dark between Middle and Hilbre as the tide ebbed and included the Canadian ringed bird and two Icelandic ringed birds.

Five Eiders remained in the gutter and around the North End and a flock of 24 Linnet were feeding on the North End of Middle after the tide but nothing else of note could be found amongst them. 

A single red-head Goosander remained on West Kirby Marine Lake with 8 Red-breasted Mergansers and two Great Crested Grebes.

Wednesday, 13 December 2017

13th December 2017

Weather: WSW 2-3, 8/8 cloud

Observers did not make it to the main island today but records from the recording area (noted from West Kirby Marine Lake) included 5 Pintail on the tide edge, c300 Curlew and 85 Shelduck between the Tanskey Rocks and Little Eye.

Meanwhile, two redhead Goosanders remained on WKML along with 5 Red-breasted Mergansers and 2 Great Crested Grebes.

Tuesday, 12 December 2017

12th December 2017

Weather: SSW force 1, cold (heavy frost) and mostly sunny

The Brent were scattered around the islands this morning but at least 290 were present, out of which a search of those easily seen only produced two young birds, supporting the claim that they had a poor breeding season this year.

A look around the paddocks and gardens found the usual few Wrens and Robins in addition to 4 Meadow Pipits and 2 Rock Pipits, also a Blackbird and no fewer than 6 Song Thrushes.

Surprise bird of the day was a very late Lesser Redpoll that flew over calling, which was in fact the only finch of any kind seen.

A group of 58 Grey Plover had been near Little Eye first thing and later 32 Sanderling near the north shore.

Five Eider are still present with 1 of them keeping apart from the others, and later in the morning a party of 9 Teal floated down the west side of the island. 

On arrival back on the shore 2 Goosanders were found on the West Kirby marine lake together with 4 Red-breasted Mergansers and 3 Great Crested Grebes, but surprisingly still no Goldeneye.

Monday, 11 December 2017

11th December 2017

NNE 1 later backing N and wind increasing, snowy Carneddi visible

Things seemed more promising than of late when a Reed Bunting flew over an observer on Middle and a second was heard later in the old obs. Other passerines flying over during the morning included 3 Skylark, 2 Pied Wagtail and 13 Starling. A Blackbird and 3 Song Thrush were still present on the island with a single Meadow Pipit, 2 Rock Pipit and 2 Linnet.

There was also a little more on the sea with the 5 Eider, 40 Common Scoter, 6 Great Crested Grebe and singles each of Red-breasted Merganser and Teal, 3 Shelduck flew east passed the north end. A large flock of Brent Geese flew in from up the estuary and landed on the Whaleback, they were counted at 248 and included 3 colour ringed birds (we have had five different colour ringed birds this winter so far).

Bar-tailed Godwit numbered 137 and included a flock of 110 which flew out of the estuary, other waders included 3 Grey Plover, 86 Turnstone, 12 Knot and 64 Sanderling.


Singles of both Grey Heron and Little Egret were seen, a Kestrel hunted briefly over Middle and when observers left the island, good views were had of the juvenile Peregrine which has been around for a while.

The Grey Seal haul out was predictably low (as is usual at this time of year) only 53 animals counted but a single Common Seal was noted.  

Sunday, 10 December 2017

10th December 2017

Weather:  ESE 0-1 (2-3 later), snow!

Observers arrived on the island pre-dawn during a heavy snowfall - the occasional Song Thrush and Blackbird could be heard in the Obs garden.  Later at least 8 Wrens were noted and 3 Robins.

A lovely winter's morning produced the five Eider between the east side gutter and the North End and 2 Purple Sandpipers.

A Snipe was flushed from the south end of the main island and a single Kestrel was feeding in the same area before it took shelter on one of the chimney stacks as the easterly wind increased.

A single Greylag appeared on the shore before touring the North End and flying off west.

Meanwhile, the Brent flocks (numbering approximately 280) flew in from the south west but did not stay long either other than a couple of small flocks, one of which on the whaleback contained this year's Icelandic ringed bird (which first appeared at Hilbre on 9 October 2017).

A single Goosander flew between the islands and as observers arrived back on the mainland two Whooper Swans flew north between West Kirby Marine Lake and Little Eye; a wonderful end to a lovely, but cold, morning on the islands.

Friday, 8 December 2017

8th December 2017

A very wintery day with heavy snow showers and a biting blustery cold north westerly wind.

The excellent coverage this winter continues with observers greeted with bands of heavy snow, sleet and occasional hail.  Three Song Thrushes and a single Blackbird were present around the gardens and paddocks and at least six Wrens were noted entering the Obs roost later in the day.

A disappointing seawatch was significantly livened up with a single Velvet Scoter which flew west then ditched in the sea and was immediately lost to view, a single Kittiwake and 5 Pintail which came in off and flew south up the estuary.

280 Brent Geese were counted on the tide edge off West Kirby salt marsh but only three Purple Sandpipers could be found feeding at the North End before the tide and none were roosting around the islands presumably put off from the North End ledges by the wind and snow.

A single immature Peregrine taunted the Oystercatchers, other waders, Brent Geese and Cormorants occasionally disturbing them off Little or Middle but rarely looking too interested in catching any prey.

Ringing: Blackbird [627-35]

Wednesday, 6 December 2017

6th December 2017

Weather: SSW 3 vis 20 mls

A short pre tide visit saw 300 Knot flying out of the estuary towards Hoylake on the journey over, the 5 Eider drifting along the east side with the tide and 2 Little Egret in the gutter.
 The Brent Geese were mostly west of Middle Eye and 296 were counted.
On the east Hoyle were 380 Dunlin, 18 Sanderling, 65 Curlew and a single Bar Tailed Godwit.
Two Grey Plover were below the observatory.
On the main island were 8 Meadow Pipit, 1 Rock Pipit, 1 Blackbird and 4 Song Thrush along with the usual complement of Wrens and Robins. Upon leaving, 4 Linnet were seen on Middle Eye.
 photos AS

Tuesday, 5 December 2017

5th December 2017

Weather: W 3/4  viz 10 mls with full cloud cover

As is often the case at this time of year, today was almost an action replay of the last visit although Purple Sandpiper had increased to 10 and 5 Swans were seen over the West Hoyle but too far distant to identify.
Seventy three Common Scoter were on the sea and a Great Crested Grebe flew low over the South end of the island but was the only one noted. Five Eider are still present,
Over the tide 9,000 Oystercatcher roosted around the islands with one near the lookout which seemed to have a damaged wing.
Over towards the shore were 103 Shelduck  and as the tide ebbed 73 Sanderling, 248 Dunlin,  68 Turnstone and 50 Redshank were in and around the gutter, with a single each of Knot and Grey Plover.
There was a female Blackbird on the island with 3 Songthrush, 8 Wren, 5 Robin and a Rock Pipit.
 photos AS

Sunday, 3 December 2017

3rd December 2017

Weather: NW force 3/4 drizzle early morning
Over to the island in the dark this morning to beat the incoming high tide, the Brent were elsewhere but later 233 were counted as the tide ebbed. Only 5 Eiders floated in on the tide (the same as the last visit), possibly the others have now left, then later 9 Purple Sandpipers sheltered over the tide behind the lifeboat house, the most seen for a couple of weeks.
Wader counts also included 4,000 Oystercatchers, 2,000 Knot (many of which were chased by a Peregrine towards Red Rocks), 120 Redshank, 60 Sanderling, 73 Curlew, a flying group of 75 Bar-tailed Godwits, and 35 Ringed Plovers.
About the island were 3 Song Thrushes, a Blackbird, 6 Robins, 6 Wrens, 9 Meadow Pipits and a Rock Pipit at the south end, while the sea was quiet, just a Red-throated Diver flying west and 5 Common Scoters. Unexpectedly a Kittiwake flew low closely passed the obs from the direction of Middle. One hundred and three Shelduck were near the West Kirby shore and 3 Grey Heron  near Little Eye also 2 Little Egrets.
photos AEH