Sunny with SW breeze…balmy conditions
Oh Island in the Sun…Some of you may pick up on this popular cultural reference from the 1950’s (song sung by Harry Belafonte) …others may simply ask ‘What Island are you referring to? As they obviously wonder what this scribbler was musing about with reference to today’s slightly under-populated but ever so enthusiastic wander by those who still have the time and energy to undertake the Team Tuesday odyssey that is…..Hilbre Isle.
Yes this was today’s Splendour, splendour everywhere (thanks to Sir John B for that line) venue within which a tightly knit Team created a day that would match the beauty and intricacy of one of the best Fair Isle Sweaters…which might have had a unique pattern of joy that seemingly didn’t require much reference to birds!
Rolling back to the start of this Seven Miles (oh how enslaved we have become to our personal pedometers) journey all were happily gathered together outside the Men’s Toilets (it’s merely a useful landmark!) at Kirby Marina under the wings of our Mother-Hen hosts (Kenny/Colin/Stewart) who set the course for the day in such a way that all were soon happily wandering off across the pooled sandscape that leads to the distant isle which would soon be enveloped by one of its twice daily moats of serene isolation.
Fresh air being plentiful enabled lungs to have the ample capacity to both carry our strides with ease whilst supporting plenty of easygoing chat that led us to Middle Eye within twenty or so minutes…here a touch of birdwatching gave Shelduck, Oystercatcher (by the hundred) and Cormorant galore but soon all were in the capable hands of our faultless guides as they negotiated our route through seaweed clad rocks and pools leading us safely to elevenses at approximately 0930 within the comfort zone of the ‘Obs’ .
Regaled by the conversation master (KMc) all seemed to be happy to spend the rest of the day in the comfy ‘armchair of the Obs’ but fortune had it that some of the conversations started to refer to birdwatching trips taken by Kenny and Dave in the past over which the veil of discretion was rapidly drawn as it was elected that we journey over to the slipway to experience a nine point plus high tide.. Phew saved by Liverpool Bay’s rushing waters!
Steady steps taken whilst the sun and a SW breeze denied all the reality of the normal season allowing the Team to stand in one of the most exposed areas of the Isle as we noted Rock Pipit, Common Scoter and a lone Red Throated Diver before we moved over to the slipway which, if the tide had really got its way, could have been flooded but unlike Canute we kept our feet dry as we admittedly struggled for extra species to add to our moderate bird list.
Grey Seal appeared from time to time to seemingly ponder as to why our assemblage were wasting time on fruitless searching on what was obviously one of those ‘quiet’ birdwatching days. We countered this with our appreciation of such a splendid view through which waves cascaded with the pull of gravity and the lively breeze that dominated this day.
Dunlin, Turnstone and Great Black Backed Gulls were noted allowing us to wander back to the obs for an early lunch with some pride that our day list would at least be in double figures whilst happily accepting that our quotient of contentment in the day would always overshadow the number crunching!
Lunch-Chat-Relaxing, in this day’s comfort zone, took care of an hour or so after which most took in the awe-inspiring sight of thousands of birds preening/sleeping/idling/grumbling away the high tide out on Middle-Eye…a treat to experience some sign that in spite of all humanity has done to deplete our world of wildlife there are still spectacles to be grabbed and stored in the memory before these too are lost to ‘development’ (the mantra of the wildlife blind).
A final wander down to the slipway gave close views of some of the wading birds as they re-found land that the now receding tide had surrendered back to them whilst yet another Grey Seal or two peered above their watery home paying as much attention to us as we to them.
Then it was back to the Obs for a Bird log/De-brief and general tidy up before we set off back to civilisation…the walk at first was quite tentative owing to the slippery traps the tide had left upon the rocks between the isle and Middle Eye but with the lavish care, attention and guidance of our three hosts all were safely delivered onto the sands where the railway lines of chat led all safely back to Kirby Marina — another superb Hilbre Day carried home in hearts and minds…… (DS)
(NB With many thanks to Dave Steel, Kenny, Colin and Stewart for their guidance, expertise, organisation and humour)
Bird list (MHa,MHo,TG,SC)
- House sparrow
- Lesser black-backed gull
- Greater black-backed gull
- Common gull
- Black-headed gull
- Herring gull
- Little egret
- Grey heron
- Common scoter
- Red-throated diver
- Great crested grebe
- Brent goose
- Pied wagtail
- Meadow pipit
- Rock pipit
- Carrion crow
- Feral pigeon