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

Monday, 12 March 2018

12th March 2018

Weather:  NE 3, 8/8 cloud, poor vis, drizzle

A very damp start to the week did not deter observers from continuing with the excellent coverage of the island by the Obs this year.

However, there was scant reward with very little seen other than 7 Eider but the highlight, in ornithological terms, was another Stonechat continuing a good spring already for this species on the islands (photo above from 9th March 2018).

At sea a single Harbour Porpoise was noted again continuing a good start to the year for this marine mammal with several sightings this year already.

Sunday, 11 March 2018

11th March 2018

Weather: ESE force 1, vis 5 miles, misty arouns the estuary 

The migrants are slowly picking up with a Redwing and the first of 5 Siskin heard over Middle on the way over, 7 Skylark, 3 Starling and 8 Pied Wagtail passed over Hilbre and 2 Stonechat were present on the island. 
 Also on the island were 26 Meadow Pipit, 3 Dunnock, 3 Goldfinch, 5 Linnet and a Chaffinch, a new in Song Thrush was caught and ringed.
Two Greylag Geese with a Canada Goose flew passed the North End and 2 more Canada Geese were  on the sea west of Middle, Brent Geese were spread out but numbered about 100. On the sea were 424 Common Scoter, 7 Great Crested Grebe and 4 Eider are still around the islands.  Bar Tailed Godwit were counted at 47 as the tide dropped and Grey Plover 26. There were 5 Purple Sandpiper at the North End and 32 Curlew (below), 62 Turnstone, 100 Dunlin and 80 Knot present.
 one of the Turnstones stayed around the main island path to feed.

Ringed: 2 Robins, 1 Song Thrush                [ 12-6 ]
photos AS & CJ

Saturday, 10 March 2018

10th March 2018

Weather: SE force 2, vis 2 miles
Mostly quiet this morning with a few migrants passing through including 4 Siskin, 2 Goldfinches, 5 Pied Wagtails, and over 20 Meadow Pipits joining the birds now displaying on territory.
A flock of 22 Canada Geese was a large number for the island, more predictable were the 150+ Brent Geese and the 6 Eiders.
On the sea 500 Common Scoters were seen also 14 Great Crested Grebes. Best of the waders were 302 Bar-tailed Godwits and 6 Purple Sandpipers.
photo AEH

Friday, 9 March 2018

9th March 2018

Weather: SSE force 1

A pleasant morning with a small number of finches passing over; 2 Greenfinches, 2 Siskins and single Goldfinch, Linnet and Chaffinch, also 2 Pied Wagtails indicating the start of spring to come.

Two Canada geese were resting off the west side
and at least 4 Eiders were at the north end, one of which was the 'new' male found yesterday, a new member to the group that has been here all winter.

A Stonechat was on Middle but none on the main island today.
Good counts were made of 42 Grey Plover and 165 Bar-tailed Godwits and many Common Scoter were still on the sea to the north with 6 Great Crested Grebes.  A Dunnock was singing and 5 pairs of Meadow Pipits seem to be on territory.

A Common Buzzard was being mobbed off the east side of Middle late in the morning.  Common Buzzard is a very scarce visitor to the Hilbre recording area.

Photos CJ and SRW