Saturday, 29 August 2009

Hilbre Island

I was on the island for 7am today, hoping that the moderate westerly wind might produce a decent seawatch, despite the "low" high tide of just 6.87m. There were plenty of Gannets out on the horizon, and a two came very close past the north end, but the Manx Shearwaters were very distant, and even through the scope were just dots. Seabird of the day was a pale phase Arctic Skua which attacked a Sandwich Tern. Unfortunately I had already left the island when a Leach's Petrel was seen mid-morning.

On the island, it was a bit too windy to expect to see much in the way of passerines, but there were at least two Wheatears.

There was a decent amount of waders in the gutter adjacent to Middle Eye, and I found a sheltered geo and set myself up with the scope to watch them. There were at least 200 Dunlin, 100 Ringed Plover, 100 Knot, 2 Bar-tailed Godwits, 1 Whimbrel and 50 Curlew. In the channel four 1st winter Little Terns were fishing.

Sunday, 23 August 2009

Red Rocks, Hoylake

Manx Shearwater 50 (Year 208)
Gannet 30
Sandwich Tern 50

Though the wind was in the wrong direction for Red Rocks, it was a high tide (about 9.76m) and I managed to get some spectacular and pretty close views of the Manxies and Gannets. The autumn seabird passage is here, let's hope it's a good one!

Saturday, 22 August 2009

Martin Mere

Wilsons Phalarope 1 ad non-breeding
Marsh Harrier

No idea why this bird was put on the pagers and bird guides as an adult summer female, because it clearly wasn't.

Year list: 207

Hilbre Island

It was a glorious summers day, and a joy to be on the island.

Passerines were thin on the ground, with just a handful of Willow Warblers seen. At around 9am there was a small passage of Swallows, all heading south, low over the island. There are still about 400 Sandwich Terns in the area, but today most were roosting on the West Hoyle Bank. Around the island the Oystercatcher flock has grown considerably, but I saw (and heard) only one Whimbrel. Ringed Plover numbers have increased, to about 30 birds, and there were a similar number of Curlew.

Recent high tides have produced counts of up to 700 Manx Shearwaters, a few hundred Gannets and a few Skuas, but today I had to be off before the tide, so didn't see any sea birds.

Small Tortoiseshell on Purple-loostrife.


Large White on Purple-loostrife.

Saturday, 8 August 2009

Leighton Moss

Red Admiral
Brimestone 1

Arnside Knott

Scotch Argus


Hilbre Island

Things are changing fast on the island, autumn is approaching. The Willow Warbler passage is in full swing, with good numbers recorded last week at the observatory. Today I counted at least five birds flitting around the bushes, including one on Middle Eye. How many more were hidden in the Blackthorn I couldn't say. The only other migrant passerine seen was a single Wheatear.

Meanwhile out at sea, great excitment. The Little Terns have left their breeding colony at Gronant, and are now roosting on the West Hoyle Bank at low tide, and feeding off Hilbre. Today I estimated at least 150 birds, and probably more. The Sandwich Tern flock has risen dramatically, with at least 800 birds present today. Unlike the Little Terns, most of the Sandwich Terns chose to sit on the East Hoyle Bank. Probably a wise descision, since the West Hoyle was terrorised by two Arctic Skuas, a pale phase and a dark phase. These were the first skuas of any kind I have seen this year, and they hopefully herald the start of the autumn sea watching.

Still three Whimbrel around the island, and the small wader numbers continue to increase, but slowly.

Single summer plumage Grey Plover and Bar-tailed Godwit flew over. Butterflies today included a few Painted Ladies, a Small Copper and a few Graylings.

Arctic Skua - Year 205

Small Copper

Willow Warbler

Painted Lady

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