11 Apr 2010

Spring passage starts here.

A fantastic morning saw a depleted Hilbre crew of 3 + 1 very happy dog departing the foreshore at 06.30 and arriving just as the sun was rising above West Kirby. It soon became apparant that birds were on the move as Redpolls were picked up overhead as they 'buzzed' their way in a south westerly direction. On the island itself one of the first birds picked up was a Reed Bunting - one of two present.

There was a strong overhead finch movement but not many birds grounded on the island although as the morning progressed the first Greenland Wheatears of the spring appeared. Having the privilege of ringing one of these birds I immediately noticed how big and chunky it was compared to the more dainty N Wheatears we'd caught a couple of weeks ago - even before the biometrics confirmed it as leucorhoa.

Cracking birds.

There was much excitement on Hilbre Friday when a 'mega' in the form of Tree Sparrow turned up. With a small passage at nearby Red Rocks another turned up Saturday. Another new species for my Hilbre list!

The first Willow Warbler of the year was caught and ringed and small numbers of Sand Martins and Swallows began to fly through as the day got warmer. Seawatching was rewarded with views of the semi -resident Velvet Scoters, Gannets, Little Gulls and the first Sandwich Terns of the year.

With mist all around birds dropped in for a short time then flew off. More Redpolls appeared along with good numbers of Goldinches and a single Greenfinch whilst the local Meadow Pipits took exception to a Tree Pipit on their patch and chased it, calling. through the Obs garden. Meanwhile a single burst of song from a hidden Grasshopper Warbler had us searching in vain for this renowned sculker.

At the north end 4 White Wagtails briefly dropped in much to the annoyance of the resident Pieds. From the photos it can be seen how clean the flanks are on these birds compared to the Pied Wagtail photographed last weekend at Leasowe. One shot also shows the grey rump as opposed to the dark rump of the Pied Wagtail.

Once the tide dropped visitors began to stream across the sands and the bird numbers dropped off so after a celebratory bacon sandwich we packed up and departed to the mainland.

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