Thursday, 22 March 2018

22nd March 2018

Weather:  South 1 (backing West and increasing later), 8/8 cloud, moderate visibility

The weather was a surprise to observers first thing with very light southerly wind increasing anticipation but generally failing to deliver!  Attention soon turned away from land migrants and a nice pair of Shoveler were found on the calm sea off the East Hoyle sandbank with the Common Scoter flock (numbering 166) feeding and displaying in the area.

13 Red-breasted Mergansers were found off the West Hoyle with two more the gutter at high tide and later four Wigeon were found from the Obs balcony again on the flooding tide.

A single Jackdaw was heard calling as it flew over the recording area near Little Eye and later our first two Ravens (presumably a pair) of the month were heard and then seen as they did a tour of the main island before heading south to Middle.  March is a very good month these days for a species that was once a rarity at Hilbre.  Adding to Rook yesterday and Jackdaw on both days these are typical March records of corvids on the island.

The six Eider remained around the islands and a pair (including an adult male) passed the North End during the afternoon.

There were large numbers of waders again including several large flocks of Knot that flew low over observers which made for a stunning sight and sound as the 'swoosh' of their wing beats could be heard.  Over 10,000 Knot were estimated with good numbers of both Grey Plover (minimum 350) and Bar-tailed Godwit (238).

Wednesday, 21 March 2018

21st March 2018

Weather:  WSW 2 (backing WNW and increasing later), 1/8 cloud increasing 8/8 by 1pm.  Good visibility.

The day began well with some overhead movement including a few Goldfinches (8) and 2 Jackdaw, later a Rook flew overt the south end, a scarce bird at Hilbre but March is an excellent month for corvid species on the islands.

Another Stonechat was found early on in the SK paddock but soon disappeared but was found late afternoon on Middle Island.

Once again the rising tide produced excellent numbers of waders and included in the 7,500 Knot were several colour-flagged birds below the Obs garden including the Icelandic ringed Knot first seen yesterday on the Whaleback and two new UK-ringed birds.  Meanwhile a Peregrine was about the main island in the morning before roosting up on Little Eye for the afternoon keeping and eye on the vast flocks of waders feeding in the area during the ebbing tide.

Nine Little Gulls were seen before the tide out off the West Hoyle, a typical location and date for this species at Hilbre we hope to see increasing numbers in the next couple of weeks.

Five Eider were present in the morning increasing to six birds later and these were temporarily joined in the ebbing gutter by a pair of Gadwall - a scarce, but possibly increasing, species at Hilbre.  This is the sixteenth record since the foundation of the Bird Observatory in 1957 but the fourth since 2015.

The Brents were in reasonable numbers around the island but separate groups made accurate counting difficult but it was nice to see the Canadian ringed bird still present.

Song Thrush and Rock Pipit were the highlight of the other passerines present on the island although it was nice to see and hear some of the Linnets back on the island during the morning sun.

Tuesday, 20 March 2018

20th March 2018

Weather:  Sunny!  N 2, 2/8 cloud, moderate visibility increasing

The warm sunny day produced the first two bumble bees of the year but very little else in the way of migrants.

Three Canada Geese flew west during the morning and the 6 Eider were around the islands over the tide and singles of Goldfinch and Siskin were recorded.

Seven Purple Sandpipers roosted at the North End over the high tide but other wader numbers were generally good and included a new Icelandic colour-flagged Knot seen on the whaleback.

Meanwhile a couple of Turnstone have taken to feeding on top of the island after the recent cold spell and are obviously finding food.  We just hope they avoid the Fox as carcasses of other dead birds lie around the island at the moment.

Monday, 19 March 2018

19th March 2018

Weather: NE  3-4  vis 8mls first thing, improving later, temperature at freezing point.

Another day of bitterly cold winds, but the sun came out later to warm up observers.

Two immature males and four female Eider came up the Gutter with the tide, Brent Geese numbered 110 including a colour ringed bird and 450 Common Scoter off the East Hoyle totalled 450.

West of Middle were two Canada Geese out on the rocks and a pair of Shelduck in the water along with 5 Red-breasted Merganser (including 3 drakes), 8 Great Crested Grebe were also noted.

Passerines were almost absent but 10 Meadow Pipit were noted.

As observers left the island ahead of the tide a good count of 470 Sanderling (including a colour-ringed bird) was made west of Little Eye, also noted were 191 Grey Plover, 115 Curlew, 32 Bar-tailed Godwit, 300 Dunlin and 55 Common Gull.

Sunday, 18 March 2018

18th March 2018

Weather: ENE force 4/5  vis 3miles, freezing point with snow flurries, biting cold wind.
Snow on the West Kirby rooftops as viewed from HIlbre
A bitterly cold early morning found few birds about the islands apart from the many waders feeding on the shore both sides of the island chain before the large tide approached and cut off their food supply. A few thousand Knot and Dunlin, a few Bar-tailed Godwit and Sanderling and about 140 Grey Plover were present.

Two males were among the 6 Eider near the island this morning, while 5 Great Crested Grebes and 4 Red-breasted Merganser were off the west side.
Passerines were almost invisible in the 3 hours available before the tide, just a single Meadow Pipit and a couple of Robins and Wrens were noted in the bitter wind.
photos AEH

Saturday, 17 March 2018

17th March 2018

Weather: E  6    increasing to 7  with frequent snow flurries, vis 5 mls.

 A difficult day for bird watching as most were doing their best to stay out of the biting wind (Wren below).
The Brent Geese were on the Whaleback which was quite sheltered, so a better count was made than of late with 168 including a colour ringed bird.
 A single male Wigeon was close in west of Middle, five Eider were between the islands over tide. A one hour sea watch saw first two then six Little Gull heading west to east mid distance, 2,500 Common Scoter (below), 5 Great Crested Grebe and a Red-throated Diver were also noted.
Waders were difficult to count as looking eastwards into the wind caused blurry eyes ! Counts that were managed included 5 Purple Sandpiper, 8 Sanderling,14 Bar-tailed Godwit, 2 Ringed and 32 Grey Plover and 18 Redshank in Niffy Bay.
There was a Rock Pipit sheltering on the west side,
also singles of Blackbird, Song Thrush and Dunnock, 5 Wren and 2 Robin.
A Peregrine was perched above the cliff on the west side of Middle before tide.
photos AS 

Friday, 16 March 2018

16th March 2018

Weather:  East 3, 8/8 cloud, rain clearing later

It was a interesting day weather wise with a dry start (for a change) but quickly turning to more persistent rain of late, but then clearing later to produce a stunning afternoon on the island.

Early on there were a few Meadow Pipits moving and a small movement of thrushes was noted with a couple of Blackbirds, 6 Redwing and 2 Fieldfare noted.  However, the rain clearly brought more birds down at lunchtime when the rain ceased at least 7 Blackbirds had made landfall along with 3 Song Thrushes and two more Fieldfare passed over during the rain.

As well as the obvious thrush movement single Siskin, Reed Bunting and Goldfinch were noted overhead as were 2 Grey and 4 alba Wagtails.

A female Goosander flew over the South End and was immediately followed by a fine drake which flew across the main island heading west.  Other duck included a flock of 9 Wigeon (including three drakes) which momentarily landed on the flooding tide east of Middle.

At the North End the Pale-bellied Brent Geese were on the whaleback during the morning where two colour-ringed birds were noted and another interesting bird which resembled a Dark-bellied but appeared paler, the dark extended between the legs (as per Dark-bellied) but the colouration appeared paler and the white flank patch was conspicuous (the neck collar was inconspicuous - presumably an adult female).  An interesting bird - on the right in the photos below with adult Pale-bellied Brents.

Two more colour-flagged Knot were noted below the Obs on the receding tide and details were obtained.

Ringing:  5 Blackbird, Song Thrush, Meadow Pipit, Robin [29-8]

Male Blackbird (second calendar year)

Thursday, 15 March 2018

15th March 2018

Weather: ESE 3-4, cloud 8/8, poor vis (4 miles)

Less rain than forecast was a pleasant surprise to observers arriving and a movement of Meadow Pipits was observed with one flock 16 seen heading south over Middle.

It was perhaps no surprise that the first bird of the day to be caught was a Meadow Pipit in the Heli.

There were still at least 7 Robins around the island with 3 or 4 fighting in the Obs garden, and another was caught in the SK heligoland trap, but there were no other signs of any grounded migrants.

Five Eider were around over the tide (including two immature males and three females).  Common Scoters numbered at least 800 that were around the North End but the large rafts were not visible in the murk.

Wader numbers were impressive both before and after the tide with at least 6,000 Knot and 486 Grey Plover being the highlights.  A single Dunlin appears to have taken to roosting around the pond on the main island and a number of Turnstone are spending time on top of the island (which is unusual).

In the afternoon the weather improved immeasurably.

Ringing:  Meadow Pipit, Robin [21-8]

Wednesday, 14 March 2018

14th March 2018

Weather:  SE 4-5 (increasing to 6-7 later), cloud 6/8, moderate vis

Migration continues to increase and the first ‘round’ of the day found a new Robin in each of the three traps, with a total of eight on the island.  A Chiffchaff, 3 Goldcrest and a White Wagtail were all firsts of the Spring and two stunning male Stonechat were feeding in front of the bungalows. A Stock Dove flew east to west over the island, Linnets numbered 6 including a singing male, 4 Goldfinch flew south and other migrants noted were a male Reed Bunting, 2 Starling and 60 Meadow Pipit.

On the sea were at least 8,000 Common Scoter (most out by the wind farm), two pairs of Red-breasted Merganser flew up the Swash as did a single Shelduck and there were six Eider including a new adult male.

There were very low numbers of waders today but eight Purple Sandpiper were present at the North End, 80 Turnstone about the island included a few feeding outside the obs gate, 25 Bar-tailed Godwit, 8 Ringed Plover and 8 Grey Plover were also present.

A immature female Peregrine harassed the roosting waders frequently over the tide.

Ringing:  5 Robins, 2 Goldcrests [19/7]

Tuesday, 13 March 2018

13th March 2018

Weather: WNW force 2/3, vis 2 miles, rain and drizzle early then sunny

Rain began soon after dawn when observers arrived to beat the early tide and lasted for a couple of hours, but the sun finally arrived to make some further work on the traps more of a pleasant task.

Redwings were arouind and about the island from dawn with at least 2 on the ground in addition to 7 seen or heard flying over.

A group of 7 Common Snipe flew east off the islands and 2 Grey Wagtails went over to the north, while other visitors not stopping were up to 3 Pied Wagtails, a dozen or so Meadow Pipits, a Skylark and a Jackdaw.  Two Song Thrushes and a Blackbird were joined on the ground by a Scandinavian Rock Pipit littoralis in distinctive plumage, unusual at Hilbre, but obviously when these birds are moving as another was here on 14th March 2014.

The usual few Eiders are still present, five today, but seemed to include a new immature male in their number, while three different birds (including two adult males) flew west passed the north end.  Four Purple Sandpipers were among the usual waders on view.

Photos SRW,CJ