11 Nov 2013

Purple haze.

Finishing early Friday I made a trip across to Hilbre early afternoon and stayed over the tide for a spot of seawatching. Visibility was good until the rain storms started brewing over the Mersey but the seawatch was relatively unproductive with only a handful of Common Scoter, Gannets, Great-crested Grebes and a single Red-throated Diver to keep me interested.

The Purple Sandpiper flock has built up to 9 birds wit h8 choosing to roost adjacent to the hide and posing well for the camera.

Great little birds and full of charisma. The Turnstone numbers are also building up with well in excess of 100 birds seen flying of to roost on Middle Eye as the tide flooded their feeding grounds. This colour ringed bird was ringed by the Obs in 2007 and has been seen every winter since showing tremendous site fidelity and racking up a few air miles in between.

A female Kestrel caught in one of the Heligoland traps a few weeks ago was found to be a control (a bird ringed elsewhere) and has continued hunting Short-tailed Field Voles around the Island. I managed to get a photo showing the ring whilst the bird was hovering. I watched it make a number of unsuccessful dives but at least two successful ones. Each time it carried its prey to the safety of the buildings at the north end to eat. You can also see a piece of grass hanging off the birds leg from a previous hunting attempt.
With darkness beginning to fall and the West Kirby lights beginning to twinkle in the distance it was time think about  leaving. With the tide still a bit high there was one more photo opportunity as the Islands resident Blackbirds came into the Observatory garden for a last feed before roosting for the night.

The rest of the weekend was spent around the house and garden (or watching the rugby). I did a bit of ringing and there was a small movement of finches with a definite increase in the numbers of Goldfinches and Chaffinches visiting the feeders. Coal Tits and Goldcrests were also on the move with the first tow Coal Tits ringed since last winter and two Goldcrests passing rapidly through the garden. Blackbird numbers are building up and the yare beginning to roost in the trees by the pond.

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