2 May 2012

The trickle becomes a flood.

A phone call from Steve at 7 am always means something interesting has turned up. I'd just set off for the office planning an early start before having to attend a meeting. Steve was stuck in Banbury and there were no ringers on Hilbre and reports from the Island were that there had been the biggest spring 'fall' for many years. A quick revision of the planes were in order and as the high tide was just after 8 am I had time to sort out a few emails and rearrange my meeting before setting off and trundling across the sands picking up Alan H en route. There were now 2 ringers on the Island and we were kept busy! I didn't leave the Obs for the first 4 hours as non-ringing members and the Islands two voluntary wardens (thanks Liam & John) helped by either scribing or carrying empty bird bags back out into the field and bringing full ones back. Incredible. Willow Warblers were literally everywhere - flitting over the grass in their hundreds and landing on the Landrover wing mirrors and roof rack. I'm sure if I'd left the back door open we'd have caught a few. Nearly as conspicuous as the Willow Warblers were Wheatears. A conservative estimate of 150 passed through during the day.

A total of 137 birds were ringed before Alan & I had to head off back to our respective delayed meetings. The majority were Willow Warblers but we also caught 9 Wheatears, 7 Chiffchaffs, 4 Redstarts, 2 Grasshopper Warblers, 3 Common Whitethroats, 3 Sedge Warblers, 2 Blackcaps, 2 Linnets and a solitary Robin!

As well as the birds on the ground there were numerous birds in the air with a big passage of hirundines overhead with many staying to feed on the insects that hatched in the spring sunshine. During quiet moments all that could be heard was the beak snapping of hungry Willow Warblers 'flycatching' and the excited calls of Swallows and House Martins. 2 Tree Pipits 'buzzed' through and the bizarre sight of a Grey Partridge patrolling the west side kept Barry amused whilst he got some awesome photographs.

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