16 Oct 2011

Hilbre magic strikes again.

A magical day on Hibre started well when the first round of the traps produced the weeks second Firecrest and a 1st winter male Blackcap. Where do these Firecrests come from? They inevitably turn up alone and not with the Goldcrests as we'd expect.

Next up was a single Reed Bunting that dropped into the Obs garden before heading off to the mainland .

As the morning drizzle cleared a second Blackcap was caught and a Short-eared Owl was watched fly in off the sea.
As Steve, Colin & yours truly did another round of the traps John took a phonecall and happened to glance up and see a 'chat' fly towards the east side. Ringing Steve he suggested it was probably a RED-FLANKED BLUETAIL. Oh shit! The one bird we'd been dreaming about on Hilbre but one we thought we'd never see as they're a really rare bird on the west coast.

Splitting up we searched for the bird and suddenly there it was on the cliffs in front of me as  I walked along the foreshore on the east side. F*ck me - it was a Red-flanked Bluetail. Hands shaking  I tried to phone Steve and get a record shot at the same time in case the bird flew off towards the mainland before the high tide.Joining me on the foreshore the others all got good views as the bird flitted around happily feeding on the cliffs and occasionally on the beach. The Chairman arrived and the news was put out in time for a handful of local birders and a couple of nearby visitors to scrounge a lift with Jane as she drove across for this west coast 'mega'.As we watched the bird it suddenly took it into its head to land on the Blackthorn at the top of Niffy Bay - right in the entrance of the SK heligoland trap! Next minute it was in and in the bag!

Taking it back to the Obs where it was ringed and aged as a first winter bird we were able to show the handful of visitors the bird in close up before taking it back and releasing it in its favoured area. Knowing once the tide had dropped many people would want to come over and see it we kept a discrete eye on it so we could let visitors know where it was. A starving obs crew were now stranded over the tide but Doreen came up trumps  - not so much the loaves and the fishes feeding the ravenous crowds but 2 sandwiches, 3 sausages, some scones and a handful of digestives shared between us.

Whilst keeping an eye on the Bluetail a Rock Pipit was seen eating a Sea Slater - something we didn't realise they are. You learn something new everyday!

This kind of day makes all the early starts and long days worthwhile for the Obs team and dreams of such events keep us going during the blank and dismal days.

1 comment :

Pete Kinsella said...

Excellent stuff Phil! A big thanks to all at Hilbre for their hospitality today,

cheers, Pete.