5 Nov 2011

Indian summer.

A beautiful couple of days in Cheshire saw me on Hilbre for both Friday and Saturday in glorious sunshine. A few birds were caught including a smart 1st year male Blackcap and the more expected November Song Thrush and Blackbirds. Visible migration was the order of the day and even before I'd left home I had Skylarks and Siskins flying over at first light. Hilbre had a small movement of Skylarks passing over all day and a few finches including a party of 7 that dropped in and toured the island for a few hours.

One of the Blackbirds proved to be equally photogenic posing in the Obs garden.

Plenty of activity out on the mud and sand with wader & Brent Geese numbers beginning to build up. All three of lat winter colour ringed Brent's (including the one ringed in Arctic Canada!) have returned and there were also two Dark-bellied Brent's amongst the more normal Pale-bellied birds. A few Purple Sandpipers have returned and the maximum count to date has been four birds. The colour ringed Little Egret has also made a return appearance fishing in the gutter.

A real surprise for me was meeting up with one of my old University lecturers - Derek Yalden - who came too Hilbre Friday for the first time with his wife Pat. He was cerebrating his 71st birthday and decided to visit Hilbre as he'd never been before. Derek is well known for his work on breeding waders on the Pennines and I  (and many other students) spent many hours traipsing the moors with him doing breeding surveys for Golden Plover, Curlew, Lapwing, Common Sandpipers and Dunlin. He was also my 3rd year project supervisor and it was a real pleasure meeting up with him. Even though I hadn't seen him since I graduated in 1982 I recognised him instantly when he came up to ask about the seals! His real interest is mammals and he is president of the mammal society. Brilliant!

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