None of us have ever been to Hilbre Island, just off the Wirral, so, on Sunday we decided to go! The reason was that one of the team needed to connect with Leach’s Petrel and a sighting of Long Tailed Skua would be appreciated for both of the other lads. There had been some action on the sea during the week with high winds etc. and as the forecast was just as bad, we all donned extra waterproofing. Leaving Rochdale, nice and early we reached West Kirby at 7:40am and encountered 2 almost naked gentlemen ( totally naked waist down), who had been swimming in the marine lake, we are not alone being a little eccentric birdwatching then are we? The weather was not going to script, it was not very windy and fairly mild, though the wind did get up once we were on the island. After working out which path to take, at 8:07 we headed of along the mile plus of sand, rocks, seaweed and sticky mud( I think it was mud??) reaching Middle Hilbre and onto Hilbre itself at around 9-00am.

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A few other birders later joined us at what looked like a lifeboat slipway with a birding hide above it. We made camp and began watching the in rushing tide, a few Grey Seals were fun to watch as they did their “surfing”. It wasn’t very long when we saw our first skua of the day a distant Arctic Skua chasing one of the many Sandwich Tern’s that were around. Great Skua soon followed on, then a Pomarine Skua was on view for a while as it flew around the wind turbines and green buoys chasing more terns until they dropped there prey. Gannets, Red throated Divers, Scoters and lots of waders were also seen over the high tide period. The highlight though was a juvenile Long Tailed Skua that flew towards and almost over were we were stood! A Great Northern Diver was seen with a Red Throated Diver and a nice comparison was made. A stunning Peregrine had flushed a lot of the waders on the way out to the island. As the tide began to retreat we had a look for other birds on the island and found:-20 Linnet, 1 Robin, 1 Swallow, 4 Meadow Pipit, 1 Pied Wagtail and a brief look at a Wheatear. All in all we really enjoyed the experience of visiting a remote island. The walk back was made a little quicker with the news of a Blue Winged Teal at Southport. Off we go through the tunnel again, this time the weather was dreadful with almost storm conditions welcoming us to Marshside Reserve, Southport. Met an old birding friend of mine and he said that the duck had not been seen for over an hour, we gave it 45 minutes, but, the weather was apalling and not as they say, “good weather for ducks”. We also missed a “Great White Egret” that was possibly, just a close to the road, Little Egret,there’s me being scepticle again! By now home and some dry clothes were beckoned, we reached home by 7-00pm, another excellent day’s birding.

Dave Ousey.


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