Sunday, 18 February 2018

18th February 2018

Weather SE force 2, vis 5 miles mist around the coast
The weather stayed relatively calm for a pre-tide visit this morning and unlike yesterday waders were in small numbers, even as the big tide approached mid-morning. Some of the Brent were on the whaleback including 2 colour ringed birds, the Red/Blue HDRB which first appeared here in December 2008 after being ringed in Canada the previous summer, and the Blue/Blue XJ/BB individual ringed in Iceland last year.

Other ringed birds were 2 colour flagged Knot from the recent Altcar ringing catch which were feeding with 46 others and 10 Dunlin at the north end.
The poor showing of waders at low tide included a single Purple Sandpiper, 5 Grey Plover and 2 Bar-tailed Godwits, while a majority of the Oystercatchers rested to the west of Middle.
The Eiders have been averaging between 5 and 6 birds now for a while but today there were 7 present.
A Reed Bunting flew over the obs, as did a Siskin while 9 Skylarks were logged including singles down on the south end of the main island, and on Middle.
Regular passerines present included a Pied Wagtail, 5 Meadow Pipits, 2 Robins and 4 Wrens.
On the sea 3 Red-breasted Mergansers flew over the west hoyle and 3 Great Crested Grebes and 20 Common Scoters were off the north end.

Ringed: 1 Robin.      [ 5-3 ]
photos CJ

Saturday, 17 February 2018

17th February 2018

Weather: S force 2, sunny and feeling mild

It was a lovely day on Hilbre today, sunny and warm. It felt like Spring, There were 2 Skylarks and there were Daffodils, Snow Drops and Lesser Celandine in flower.

A wandering visitor stranded on Middle over the tide reduced the Oystercatchers roosting but a huge number of them roosted at the south end of the main island. Some of the 271 Brent Geese were around the main island over the tide which is unusual and we felt it was also due the same visitor who had moved them from their usual place near middle. Even the Eiders turned up over the tide.  Good wader counts included 16,000 Knot, 3,000 Dunlin, 453 Grey Plovers and 97 Sanderling. A sea watch was also productive with 9 Red-throated Divers, 53 Great Crested Grebes, 460 Common Scoters and best of all a Harbour Porpoise that showed several times off the north end.
Some Ringed Plover, Turnstone and a Knot were on Lion Rock in Niffy bay over the tide.
 Wintering birds retrapped were a Wren and 2 Song Thrushes and there was a new Robin ringed.
There were a couple of Pied Wagtails, 2 Meadow Pipits and a Rock Pipit about but none of them went into the potters for ringing.
Hardly any gulls were present for the Webs count over the tide, there were a few at the north end but none anywhere else. A great day on Hilbre.
Ringed : 1 Robin         [ 4-3 ]
photos JE

Friday, 16 February 2018

16th February 2018

Weather: SSE  1  visibility 10 miles with mist around the estuary early on.

Although the sea watch did not provide great variety, it did give good numbers with at least 10,000 Common Scoter coming out of Liverpool Bay in a flock that stretched half way along the East Hoyle wind farm.
There were 11 Red Throated Diver, with most flying west, and 19 Great Crested Grebe. A Red Breasted Merganser was seen flying over the West Hoyle Bank.
The Brent Geese were very spread out and only 182 were noted, but one of the Iceland ringed birds was included.
The 6 Eider were in the Gutter, as was a single female Wigeon.
There were 2 small Purple Sandpiper roosts over tide, one having 7 birds and the other 3. On the North end before tide 2 orange flagged Knot were seen, and later 2 separate flocks of 4,000 were noted, also on the North End was the colour ringed Turnstone from 2008, this bird was included in the count of 111.
Other waders noted were 583 Grey Plover but only 1 Ringed Plover, 186 Curlew, 3,000 Dunlin and 48 Redshank. Only 1 Grey Heron was present. Two Rock Pipit were at the North End.
Two Pied Wagtail flew over the observatory, there were also 2 each of Meadow Pipit, Robin and Blackbird with a single Song Thrush.
photos CS & AS

Tuesday, 13 February 2018

13th February 2018

Weather:  SSE 4, visibility eight miles decreasing to one mile with hail and sleet showers

Not the best of Hilbre days weather wise but when the hail and sleet stopped for long enough to spot two Harbour Porpoise on the east side of the island, it was all worthwhile, they are usually spotted in the Swash or out to sea.

There were 13 Great Crested Grebe around the North End and 160 Common Scoter off the East Hoyle but little else on the sea other than about 50 Cormorant.

The over tide roost on Middle held 3,000 Oystercatcher and 200 Knot were with them briefly.  Six Purple Sandpiper were present and other waders included 20 Curlew, 26 Sanderling, 300 Dunlin, 427 Grey Plover and 16 Ringed Plover.

In the ebbing gutter were the six Eider and three Wigeon (two male and a female).

The only ‘visiting’ bird to the island was a solitary Woodpigeon.  Photos by AS

Monday, 12 February 2018

12th February 2018

Weather: WSW  4/5 vis 10 mls increasing later to 20 mls

Upon arrival on Hilbre a Grey Heron was seen to be on the small island in the pond. A brief sea watch recorded 420 Common Scoter, 2 Great Crested Grebe, and 4 Red Throated Diver (all the Divers flew west). The 6 Eider were in the Gutter and 221 Brent Geese were spread out around the islands.
Three Purple Sandpiper were all that could be located today.
On the North Shore after tide were a flock of 3,000 Dunlin, also 166 Grey Plover, 11 Sanderling and 600 Knot. Eighty two Redshank was a better count than of late and 47 Curlew were on the East Hoyle.
A single Rock Pipit was at the North End and 3 Linnet were on Middle.
Two Peregrines  kept the waders agitated for a couple of hours and there was interaction between them both by the mast on the west side.
photos AS

Sunday, 11 February 2018

11th February 2018

An early start to make the island before high tide, was met with strong Westerly force 7-8 winds.

A Peregrine made use of the strong winds to make some spectacular dives at the waders roosting on Middle Eye and was later photographed sheltering from the inclement weather at the south of the island.

Nine Purple Sandpipers were at the North end and the 6 Eiders appeared after tide.  Photos by AEH

Saturday, 10 February 2018

10th February 2018

Weather:  SSE  3-4 increasing to 4-5 visibility 4mls with rain

It was a very dreich start to the day but worth getting wet for when yet another, or one of the same, Jack Snipe was flushed from bracken in the same place as Thursday!

A brief sea watch recorded a Red-breasted Merganser, 5 Red-throated Diver, a Kittiwake, 5 Great Crested Grebe and 106 Common Scoter.  A juvenile Shag was on the North End and 350 Cormorant left the estuary at first light.

Pale-bellied Brent Geese in the lagoon area as the tide ebbed numbered 252, the six Eider were in the Gutter, as were a male and two female Wigeon.

Six Purple Sandpiper were noted and 13 Bar-tailed Godwit were on the north shore, small numbers of Knot, Dunlin and Grey Plover were around the island.

A star appearance by the weasel at its usual spot in the woodpile was a highlight for some of the visitors to the Obs.

Thanks to Scott Reid and his group for their records.  Photos by AS

Friday, 9 February 2018

9th February 2018

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

A wet start to the day resulted in a late arrival of observers to the islands and unsurprisingly the weather conditions were not conducive for observing.

However, small numbers of Dunlin and Ringed Plover were noted sheltering to the east of the reef between Little and Middle on the way over and the six Eider were in the mouth of the gutter.

The pale-bellied Brent Geese were more difficult to count than recently, like everything else (including observers) hunkering down out of the biting wind; this Curlew using the rock in the gutter to find some shelter.

Thursday, 8 February 2018

8th February 2018

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

A cooler and more overcast morning than yesterday produced a stunning dawn and then later saw the Pale-belled Brent Geese flock feeding on the Whaleback and down the west side rocks of the island and once again included four colour-ringed birds; 251 birds were counted and were joined by six Eider.

A drake Red-breasted Merganser flew west past the North End and small numbers of Common Scoters were noted again.

Waders remained in evidence with 3 Purple Sandpiper and small groups of Knot (including the pale bird again at the North End see below centre with 'ordinary Knot to the left and right of the Brent), Grey Plover, Dunlin and 200 Sanderling noted.

Highlight of the day were two Jack Snipe flushed from the South End bracken during a traditional 'south end drive' but only when one member went 'off track' to check out a dead Cormorant.  Jack Snipe is a very scarce visitor the islands although it winters regularly at nearby West Kirby salt marsh.

On the way off the island observers were treated to great views of a Peregrine sat on Little Eye which seemed completely uninterested in them.  Photos AS (dawn) and SRW (remainder)

Wednesday, 7 February 2018

7th February 2018

Weather: North 2 (dropping), 5/8 cloud, good vis

A lovely day on the islands today the highlight of which were again the Pale-bellied Brent Geese with 268 counted including four colour ringed birds - two ringed in Iceland, one in Ireland and our old favourite HDRB ringed in Canada.

The six Eiders remained around the North End as did small numbers of waders including five Purple Sandpipers, 35 Knot (including a pale bird), 120 Turnstone and 73 Redshank and small numbers of Grey Plover including this bird feeding around a small pool off the slipway.

The sea-watch was fairly quiet with 4 Red-throated Divers, 6 Great Crested Grebes and 120 relatively close Common Scoter (and c3,000 very distant birds); however the highlight was a Harbour Porpoise which circled around in the almost flat calm water between the Whaleback and the tip of the West Hoyle sandbank.  Photos SRW

Tuesday, 6 February 2018

6th February 2018

Weather: WSW force 2,  light snow all morning, cold
Relatively calm but cold this morning with snow falling to enhance the experience for the observers, and the birds including the Eiders (still 6).
A complete count of the Brent was possible as the entire flock (261) floated slowly passed the island early on. Thirty eight Bar-tailed Godwits fed on the north shore along with about 30 Sanderling, 10 Knot, and 5 Grey Plover (with 42 more south of little Eye) , but just a single Purple Sandpiper was found at the low tide.
Around 100 Common Scoter were on the sea off to the north but little else.
Small residents included single Blackbird and Song Thrush, 2 Robins, a Rock Pipit and 3 Meadow Pipits on Middle.
photo CJ & AEH

Monday, 5 February 2018

5th February 2018

A very brief visit in poor weather saw the six Eiders present and small numbers of waders.

Sunday, 4 February 2018

4th February 2018

Weather: NE  0/1 vis 35mls 1 degree above freezing.

A brief early visit saw 519 Pink Footed Geese leaving the estuary on the Welsh side in 4 groups, all headed straight out to sea. 
A lovely calm day made the Brent Geese easy to count at 252 and a male Pintail joined a few briefly at the North End.
Also on the sea were 182 Common Scoter, the 6 Eider and a male Red Breasted Merganser close in on the East side.
Over 3,000 Dunlin and 175 Grey Plover were spread over the East Hoyle as the tide started to make.
Passerines present on the island were 8 Wren, a male Blackbird, 2 Song Thrush, 2 Robin, 2 Meadow pipit and a Rock Pipit.
photos AS