14 Apr 2022

Hilbre - a few more migrants trickling in at last

My last two trips across to Hilbre have started in the dark to get to the island at first light. A few migrants are beginning to pass through with Chiffchaff, Willow Warbler and Blackcap being ringed over the last couple of weeks. Wheatears are also on the move and birds of the Greenland race 'leucora' are starting to arrive.


Willow Warbler

Male Blackcap

Male Wheatear
Although spring is definitely here signs of winter aren't far away. A couple of Purple Sandpipers are still to leave the islands for their arctic breeding grounds and there are still a few Brent Geese hanging on. Snow on the Carnedd hills looking west towards north Wales was a distinct reminder that, at this time of the year, the weather can still be fickle.

One of the features of springs on Hilbre is a small passage of Wrens. Most of the resident birds are ringed during the year but every spring we get a number of 'new' birds passing through. Ringing recoveries as far away as north Lancashire shows these are passage birds. 

Eider were a scarce bird on the Wirral and the first pair bred last year. The long staying female seems to have moved on but theres a smart male hanging around and provided a good photo opportunity as it swam past the north end framed by spray from breaking waves.

The local Meadow Pipits and Rock Pipits are displaying and providing good practice in ageing. As well as photographing birds in the hand they've also provided a few opportunities for photographing in the field. 
Rock Pipit

Meadow Pipit

Rock Pipit

Star bird for me, on my most recent visit, was this female Kestrel.  She's been hanging around the island for awhile and had been ringed previously. From photos I managed to read the ring number but it was caught in a mist net allowing us to confirm the number and the age. Its a 2nd calendar year bird ringed as a nestling on the Wirral in 2021. A very feisty bird that attacked me with both its talons and bill - hence the fish filleting glove! Kestrels are renowned for beign feisty. Sparrowhawks will use their talons on you but Kestrels use all the weapons at their disposal. I know how a vole feels now! 

After the last tow years of lockdowns and the islands being closed to the public by Wirral Borough Council its nice to start getting back to some sense of normality.

No comments :