Sunday, 23 April 2017

23rd April 2017

Weather: NW 2/3    partly sunny
As yesterday, no small migrants in the trapping area and the focus was on the 2,000 or so Dunlin (above), a few dozen Ringed Plovers, 9 Turnstones and at least 8 Whimbrel moving around the islands and roosting on the exposed rocks at high tide. The 2 remaining Brent were still present, most had departed this past week, also the pair of Scoter were still off the east side.
Four Canada Geese flew west between the islands early on (above) and 2 Redpolls and a Goldfinch were noted flying over the island. A small number of Gannets and Sandwich Terns were on the sea.
Photos CJ

Late evening update: a Glaucous Gull was reported by a visiting birder late afternoon 

Saturday, 22 April 2017

22nd April 2017

Weather:  NNW 4, 6/8 cloud, vis 10miles and improving

A blustery start to the day with more north in the wind meant attention today turned to the sea and it did not disappoint with 120 Sandwich Terns and a couple of Common Terns noted with a single Arctic Skua, the first of the year, seen harassing the terns.

At least 50 Gannets were feeding close inshore to the island along with over 2,000 large gulls.

Waders and in particular Dunlin (see above) were also very evident around the rising tide with 2,800 counted along with 50 Ringed Plover and 8 Whimbrel.

Migrant passerines were very thin on the ground but the local breeding birds made the most of the sunshine out of the wind with at least three singing Dunnocks noted during the breeding bird survey (which also noted Meadow Pipits, Rock Pipit, Linnets, Pied Wagtail and Wrens).

The blossom on the blackthorn this year is reminding many of us of the last time a Subalpine Warbler turned up on the island in late April 2006.

Ringing: Linnet [106-19]
Photos AEH

Friday, 21 April 2017

21st April 2017

Weather: WNW 3, 8/8 cloud, 10 miles

A fox was seen in the west side garden of Telegraph House early morning and disappeared down the west side - it is perhaps this that has been flushing the gulls at the North End early mornings.

Continuing the mammal theme an adult Short-tailed Field Vole was found with five young.

Waders were very much in evidence today with a steady increase in Dunlin and by the evening tide 4,000 were counted on the gutter edge.

169 Ringed Plover were also noted and 29 Turnstone dropped in on the rocks on the North West corner of the island. 200 Oystercatchers and 22 Redshank.

'Seven Whistlers' (Whimbrel) were also passing through with between 1-3 birds noted at a time and totalling 11.

A single Willow Warbler was around the gardens but stayed clear of the heligolands.

A single Great Crested Grebe spent some time in the gutter below the Obs garden.

Meanwhile the last two Brents (first winters) were still lingering.

As we celebrate 60 years of coverage by Hilbre Bird Observatory our Environmental Officer (and founder member of our group, AAB) took time to look back at some of our old ringing logs with the Records Officer explaining some of the acronyms used.

Photos by AEH and SRW

Thursday, 20 April 2017

20th April 2017

Weather:  WNW 3, 8/8 cloud, most around estuary

A few of the regulars made the treck out to the island today despite the wind direction and weather not being conducive for passerine migrant arrivals.
They were greeted with the sound of Whimbrels calling with several flocks and singles passing through (totalling 24).  A single Greylag Goose flew south west.
It was a day to remember the first entry made in the Observatory log on 20th April 1957 (see below).  Therefore we wished ourselves happy birthday for 60 years of the Obs!

The Danish scurvy grass is showing nicely on Middle providing a few photographic opportunities.

Even before the tea could be brewed and the biscuit tin could be opened cries from the balcony of 'Glaucous Gull' went up and observers watched as a first winter Glaucous Gull hung in the wind with other gulls above the North End.

The gulls, waders and Cormorants had been disturbed from around the islands and thoughts swiftly turned to the possibility of a large raptor but unfortunately nothing could be found and attention remained on the monster Glauc which drifted above the west side of the island and flew passing all observers by the Obs gate.

This is the first Glaucous Gull seen from Hilbre since a similar occurrence on 8th April 2014: April is the best time for seeing 'white-wingers' at Hilbre with three of the last four Iceland Gulls also seen during this month.

A Common Sandpiper, the first for the year, was found at the South End and afforded nice views.

Waders were much in evidence with an increase in the Dunlin flocks already with 500 counted.

It was a great few hours on the island despite the weather.

Ringed: Willow Warbler [105-19]
Photos AEH, AS and SRW /Log entry from our Archive BSB

Wednesday, 19 April 2017

19th April 2017

Weather:  SSE 2, 8/8 cloud, vis c10 miles

The overcast conditions and shift in the wind worked and a small arrival of Willow Warblers occurred with a dozen counted during the morning with six and a single Chiffchaff caught and ringed.

Some vis mig was observed with small numbers of White Wagtails (7) passing through as well as Goldfinches.

A party of six Teal were noted on the tide edge but numbers of Sandwich Terns had dropped a little with 30 counted but the first Common Terns of the year were recorded.

Ringing: Willow Warbler 6, Chiffchaff, Linnet 2 [104-19]

Tuesday, 18 April 2017

18th April 2017

Weather: ENE 1, 0/8 cloud clear and bright

Wheatear by Lookout (Matt Thomas)

The morning started with lovely clear skies ideal for migration commencing and skeins of Pink-footed Geese (540, 42 and  300) left the estuary heading north over or passing the island.  A short video of a smaller skein flying north passing the Obs garden can be viewed by clicking below.

Or if using a phone to view our blog click on this link:

A Wheatear was present early morning on the reef south of Middle and a further eight birds were noted during the morning including a single Greenland bird caught in one of our potter traps on Wheatear Hill and subsequently ringed.

Matt Thomas (the Wirral BC Ranger for Hilbre Islands LNR) about to release a Greenland Wheatear for us

The clear skies, although conducive to some 'vis mig', did not provide appropriate grounding conditions on the islands with only a couple of Willow Warblers singing from the blackthorn in the trapping areas noted.

At sea Sandwich Terns were very evident not only calling around the islands in the calm sunny weather but also roosting in good numbers on the sandbanks as the early morning tide receded.  275 were counted although no other species of tern were noted.

Hirundines were much in evidence during the morning with a small but steady passage of Swallow (30) and Sand Martins (16) as well as our first House Martin of the spring.  

Ringing: Goldfinch, Linnet and Greenland Wheatear [95-19]

Photos by SRW & @mattthomas966 (female Wheatear)

Monday, 17 April 2017

17th April 2017

Weather: ESE force 1/2    rain and drizzle
Miserable weather first thing but it is still worth checking the island in an easterly in April. Bird of the day was probably a Rook flying around and landing on the mast before being seen off by the local Crows. Rooks are truly a scarce Hilbre bird, most likely encountered at this time of year.

 Probably slightly less authentic but just as scarce was a Barnacle Goose flying west with 5 Canada Geese across the island. Four Willow Warblers and a Chiffchaff were present, and several Swallows went through, some stopping to feed in the shelter of the west side, while 2 Pied, and a White Wagtail, and 8 Goldfinches also stayed briefly.

Brent are still around, 95 were counted on the whaleback this morning, and although waders are now much reduced in numbers seen today were a Grey Plover, 32 Ringed Plover, 30 Redshank, 35 Dunlin and a single Whimbrel. Four Shelduck were noted and a drake Mallard was by the pond. A look at the sea revealed 10 Gannets, some sitting on the sea and 22 Sandwich Terns.
Ringed: 2 Willow Warblers, 2 Linnets, 1 Wren     [ 92-19 ] Photos, Rook AEH,CJ. Goldfinches AEH