19 Nov 2011

Another fantastic day on Hilbre.

A force 5 south easterly gale greeted me as  I drove across to Hilbre at dawn today. A quick round of the island before sticking the kettle on was rewarded with a Merlin chasing a Chaffinch around the old lifeboat station at the north end. The Chaffinch escaped by flying up the chimney and was subsequently found sheltering about half way up! A male Chaffinch and female Greenfinch were caught for ringing.

The Brent's showed well at the north end with at least two Dark-bellied amongst the Pale-bellied.

A Short-eared Owl was flushed from long grass just north of the old obs garden and flew out to sea being relentlessly pursued by gulls before heading back towards the mainland. A group of visiting students from Salford University led by Scott Reid managed to see it along with the other semi-resident species such as the Rock Pipits.

Star bird though was a Little Auk seen by Scott flying past the north end before being lost to view. I legged it up from the Obs and after a frantic search found it about 100 m off. Leaving Scott to keep an eye on it I retraced my steps at similar speed back to the Obs to fetch my camera! Unfortunately just before Steve arrived from the mainland it flew south west never to be refound.

With the Landrover crammed with students wanting a lift off I'd just left West Kirby when Steve contacted me to say a male Black Redstart had been seen off Caldy steps. Retracing my route I met him and Thomas and we soon relocated the bird flitting around the rocks of the sea defences in the setting sun.

Brilliant stuff. I stayed until the sunset and watched the bird go to roost in bushes just north of the steps and managed to get an atmospheric shot of a flock of Knot in a red sunset.

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