Isle of Hilbre: The Winter Solace

Joined forces with L. Anderson today for our first visit of the winter to Hilbre Island. It was kicked off to a good start with Merlin on Little Eye, Curlew Sandpiper (2) flushed from the reef and with my new set of clickers, we put them to the test to clock the exodus of Great Cormorant exiting their roost further up in Dee estuary; by end of the day we’d tallied 1016 which believe it or not is a pretty low count for the islands – out of the few birds that we could assign to race only one ssp. sinensis we identified.

Hilbre sinensis VS carbo_edited-1

‘Continental’ Great Cormorant ssp. sinensis – rear bird, not gular clearly exceeding 90 degrees.

Hilbre RB-Merganser_edited-1

Red-breasted Merganser (Mergus serrator)

Focusing our time on the island to the sea upon arrival hopes of a good haul in todays SW’s proved rewarding with the following totals from 0750-1145:

  • Common Scoter – 156, several close in most heading east.
  • Red-breasted Merganser – 1, redhead west.
  • Little Auk* – 1, flew west at 08:15!
  • Common Eider – 12, eleven round islands & one off shore.
  • Red-throated Diver – 3, one east & two on sea.
  • Common Guillemot – 1, 1st winter drifted west.
  • Pale-bellied Brent Goose – 300c, between islands and Red Rocks.
  • Purple Sandpiper – 10, 7 in roost on north end & 3 on south end.
Hilbre 1st win fem Com Eider_edited-1

1st winter female Common Eider (Somateria mollissima) – Aged and sexed by pale supercilium and lack of white on breast.

Hilbre drake Com Scoter_edited-1

Common Scoter (Melanitta nigra)

Hilbre fem Com Scoter_edited-1

Common Scoter (Melanitta nigra)

After a scan of the sea we paid our attentions to land migrants which as Hilbre is a registered bird observatory then it was worth noting everything. Besides the islands resident population of Eurasian Wren which today numbered 12, other migrants included European Robin (1), Song Thrush (3), Fieldfare (1), Common Skylark (1), Pied Wagtail (3), Rock Pipit (1),  Meadow Pipit (2), Common Starling (20c) and European Blackbird (1).


Hilbre 1st win Purple Sandpiepr_edited-1

1st winter Purple Sandpiper (Calidris martima) – Aged by ‘flecking’ along flanks and bold white trailing edge to coverts and tertials 




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