15 Sep 2014

Firecrest Hilbre and a few other migrants moving through

Steve rang me Thursday to say a Firecrest was in the trapping area on Hilbre - one of my favourite little birds and always a pleasure to see (and ring!). It was caught later but still present on the island when I arrived around 19.00 to stay overnight ready for the expected fall of migrants at first light  the following day. Unfortunately the combination of failing light and the birds constant feeding meant I couldn't get any decent photographs as even maxing the ISO on the camera only gave a shutter speed of 1/40th of a second!

Sexed as a female in the hand she was very active and continued feeding until it was almost dark before roosting. With a clear night forecast between 11.00 - 04.00 it wasn't expected to stay and the next day was gone.

The next day it became obvious there had been a small fall of migrants with Willow Warbler, Chifchaff and Goldcrests being caught and ringed. Meadow Pipits continued to move through the islands in small numbers and several were caught in Potter traps baited with meal worms - including this young bird showing a good moult contrast in the greater coverts between the juvenile creamy tipped outer ones and the new olive fringed adult-type inner ones. It had also moulted most of its median coverts except one outer one.

As the tide flooded the Wheatears started arriving and by the end of the day we'd caught another 4 Greenland race Northern Wheatears to add to an already impressive annual total.

Saturday was spent carrying out maintenance work at home and doing some ringing in the garden, where there have been lots of Greenfinches and Goldfinches taking advantage of the food I'm putting out, so it was Sunday before I ventured over to spend the afternoon on Hilbre.

With few migrants around the emphasis was on photographing some of the roosting waders and other birds.

                                                          Curlew coming in to land calling
                                                                        Adult Dunlin
                                                                  Juvenile Dunlin
                                                                          Ringed Plover
                                                                      Close up of a Turnstone

                       Montage of a Herring Gull dropping shells to crack them on the rocks
                                                     Oystercatchers flying off to roost.
                                                                             Meadow Pipit.

A single Chiffchaff and a juvenile Linnet were the only birds ringed.

As well as the photography I did a bit of maintenance and tidying up around the island making sure all the padlocks and hinges were oiled and working smoothly before this run of good weather ends.
                                 Sandstone weathering along the west side of Hilbre.

As the tide was late afternoon the sun was already setting before it had dropped enough for me to drive off allowing for one more artistic photo opportunity.

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