27 May 2012

Costa del Hilbre.

Summer is finally living up to its name although its not great for birding! News of a Baillion's Crake on Anglesey raised hopes I might actually get to see one in the UK but the news from site was it was  impossible to see and could be heard only so I decided to give it a miss and go to Hilbre for a couple of days as planned in the hope the end of May might just turn up a scarce migrant or two.

Two days scorching weather and West Kirby beach resembles a scene of extras from Benidorm with numerous lobster red bodies on display showing differing allegiances to their favourite teams by their tattoo's  - and that's just the girls! Some people see a sign that says 'keep clear for vehicle access' and think it doesn't apply to them so decide to picnic on the slipway leading to the beach and then look at you with slack jaws when you have the temerity to drive down it. Still Hilbre looked stunning in the early evening light with blue seas and carpets of sea thrift and bluebells carpeting the island.

A quick tour with Steve and Thomas didn't reveal much although a male Kestrel was busily hunting for voles and carrying them off to a nest somewhere nearby and looked fantastic in the late evening sunshine.

Saturday morning dawned equally as sunny but with a drying and scorching hot force 4 -5 wind. A real desiccating wind. An early morning tour of the traps revealed one Willow Warbler
and a Yellow Wagtail dropped in briefly at the north end. Highlight of the day was a Short -eared Owl picked up high over Middle Eye beating its way over the sand against the wind towards Red Rocks where it pitched down on the salt marsh.

Invertebrates were commoner in the sun shone and several large Cockchafer beetles were found and photographed. With the amount of beetles and flies around surely there's a possibility of a Red-backed Shrike or another spring Red-breasted Flycatcher turning up this week on the continuing easterlies.

The main event though was the incredible number of Swifts coming in over the sea from the west and heading into the wind. First indication of a large passage was at 06.00 when fifty passed low over the Island. Small groups kept passing all morning with fewer Swallows, House martins and the occasional Sand Martin amongst them. The total recorded from Hilbre was over 2000 and this was repeated from both Crosby and Red Rocks. The numbers involved must have been phenomenal.

As the weather grew hotter the interest of the birds and the birders dried up and we just admired the views!

Seals West Hoyle Bank
 Shrimper West Hoyle Bank.

Appropriately named - Red Hot Poker.


DaveE said...

Hi Phil,
Always enjoy your blog.
The ravens we spoke about have fledged 2 young.

Phil Woollen. said...

Cheers Dave.
I had one fly over my garden yesterday afternoon.