Fresh northerly breeze – bright and increasingly sunny
Well it seems that the only way to entice me off my Moss was for Kenny/Colin and Stuart to host one of their Red-Carpet days out on Hilbre Isle inviting all and sundry to join them …. but with there being such a large fan club for this Wirral Gem it was decided that there would have to be three separate jaunts with today being the first of them…Team Friday and Team Woolston visits being planned for the latter days of the month.
Thus in order to get the best out of our visit all were gathered at 0900 sharp ready to face the ‘refreshing in our faces’ breeze which would lead us to a few hours of voluntary entrapment by the waters of Liverpool Bay in which our combined Team could live out a four hour occupation of ‘our very own Desert Island’.
Now all of this careful planning could have seriously gone awry at the eleventh hour as our Man of the Sands ‘young’ Kenny had been struck down with a chest infection…but a timely batch of antibiotics and a quick field promotion of ‘young’ Stewart from the ranks enabled Plan A to take place thus after loading Kenny’s Discovery with all our rucksacks Team Walk trundled off heading first for Little Eye whilst Kenny and Co-Driver Colin drove on ahead of us with strict instructions that the kettle be boiled when we arrived.
As we headed out onto the recently sea swept sands it soon became apparent that our newly promoted guide offered a serious challenge to his commanding officer but all promised not to spill the beans to Kenny in the interests of the peace and harmony when both gather together in their favourite watering hole on Friday evenings.
The birdlife I admit was a little sparse during our wander through Little Eye over to Middle Eye but on the more elevated platform of this area we did start to note a few flocks of birds including Pale Bellied Brent Geese and Oystercatchers but as we all agreed it is the whole Hilbre experience that fires up the imagination with the birds simply adding the icing to this delightful cake of an experience.
Careful negotiating through the rocky channel area between Middle Eye and Hilbre Isle was expertly executed by Stewart, with me as his relatively able assistant (who is I admit a trifle keen on H&S), then led us to our reunion with Kenny and Colin at the observatory and here all set about noting the birds that were gathering as the tide now swept in and cut off the distant shore.
In reality all settled down to well earned elevenses happy in the knowledge that the birds were going nowhere for a while and once the team were revived all could view with ease a mix of birds which were on offer about the Isle. The northerly airflow admittedly didn’t offer up a massive selection of species but as we ambled off to take in the views from the old slipway where we were closely observed by a few Grey Seal whilst we scanned the wave tossed bay upon which sat Cormorants aplenty with one noted taking a flatfish which it ‘kindly donated’ to a marauding Herring Gull!
A return to the observatory was of the usual bimbling pace for the history of the Isle brought about an open air lecture/a few Linnet and Meadow Pipit begged to be photographed/a colony or two of Short Tailed Field Vole just ‘had’ to be viewed/a small flock of Turnstone with a lone Redshank needed to be peered upon and the Heligoland Trap just had to offer up a Dunnock to be viewed (this bird already sporting a ring on its leg supplied by our Hilbre Team who are also BTO registered bird ringers) after all this a well earned lunch break was taken in the now bright and breezy conditions.
Colin then took centre stage as he outlined some of the history of the Observatory (in reality he barely scratched the surface of his knowledge about this and the whole of the Island) after which he outlined the ringing and recording activities that this station undertakes as part of a UK network of British Trust for Ornithology sites that are run by such stoic volunteers as our ‘Team Hilbre Three’ who themselves are a part of the history this long running scheme.
Then another trip to the Slipway helped to ease off the lethargy that our lunch in the sun could easily have induced but as before there weren’t too many species of birds to create a big list of birds but then again let us not forget the Red Throated Divers and Common Scoter that we had noted earlier.
A wander back to the Observatory in easy going ‘chat’ mode then followed and after a nice session of noting Ringed Plover/Dunlin and a half hearted counting of a large flock of Gulls which were pirouetting about the sky over Middle Eye we started our sure-footed return to shore as the tide receded and reconnected our splendid Isle back to the reality of the mainland. Needless to say back at Kirby Marina there were oodles of fond farewells and smiles that if they were sunshine would require at least sun factor fifty to protect Kenny/Colin and Stuart from their rays! (DS)
Bird List (MH)
- Brent goose
- Common scoter
- Red-throated diver
- Ringed plover
- Herring gull
- Great black-backed gull
- Lesser black=backed gull
- Meadow pipit
- Pied wagtail
And of course grey seal and short-tailed field vole!