Posts Tagged ‘Hilbre Island’

We had planned to go to Hilbre Island on the Wirral, but, the winds did not look very promising, so, we decided to go to find the Blue winged Teal’s in Lincoln. A fully employed “A” team met in Newhey for a 6am departure with Bob K at the wheel. My idea of a shortcut over the tops turned into a bit of a nightmare with thick fog/mist hampering our progress. We reached the M62, which was surprisingly short of roadworks, but still shrouded in mist and upon reaching the A1 the mist cleared. As we reached Lincoln the famous cathedral was engulfed in the early morning mist, normally associated with San Francisco! We began the half mile walk to Boultham Mere, formally a gravel pit for railway ballast and the sun began to shine. A Chiff -Chaff was around and as we crossed the drain we met a couple of birders, who told us the birds were still present. A quick look in the hide revealed nothing only sunlight. At the south western end of the reserve was a seat and as we rested on it, the 3 Blue winged Teals began feeding only 25 yards away, result for us and a tick for one of our number! A really pleasant reserve in a nice city makes a pleasant change. Blue Wing Teal 22-09-13With the main target birds seen, where too now? Blacktoft Sands was the answer to see an elusive Spotted Crake. An hour later at 11-50am we sat in Singleton Hide and as we had only missed a brief appearance by 10 minutes it would show would’nt it? By 3pm the bird had beaten us and had really earned the title elusive, not much consolation for one of our number who still needs it! Lots of Ruff, Snipe, Lapwing and a couple of Green Sandpipers made up the waders present. Marsh Harrier, Sparrowhawk, Kestrel & Buzzard were the birds of prey present. Next stop,  Fairburn Ings,  for a “nailed on” species of duck whose name escapes me. As we got there a lady birder told us that,  “they” had been flushed off by a Grey Heron! Despite a 45 minute search they were not seen. Greenshank, Spotted Redshank, Dunlin, Garganey were seen though. All the birds suddenly took to the air and we thought that the 5 Grey Herons were to blame for this, but Steve B, who had left the hide, had seen and photographed a Fox grabbing a Canada Goose. At least someone would have had a good meal on Sunday evening!

Dave O.


After our last trip to Hilbre Island, those masters of the sea, Leach’s Petrels seem to have been passing in their droves, but frustratingly only during the week when it was not possible to go to watch them. What with the wind changing direction I knew that Leach’s would not be on the menu. So, when a still unidentified, American sandpiper was found near to Meols on the Wirral, I thought it would be worth a trip last Friday after work. Another reason for going is that I have always wanted to take my little dog onto the beach and just let her run about and enjoy the place, but not to flush any of the 1000`s of waders and gulls that were present! Reaching a very rainy Meols I noticed lots of other birders searching for the Semi palmated / Western Sandpiper. The bird had been seen but had been flushed by a dog walker (thought I would keep off the beach for now then). Someone then said, “There is a White Rumped Sandpiper about 200 yards away though”, a bit of luck I thought. A large group of rain soaked birders all with dampened optical gear struggled at first to locate the White Rumped Sandpiper, but, eventually the bird showed very well at about 50 yards distance. Off back to the car for some shelter and a visit to the local “p stop” was very worthwhile. Upon returning to the bus shelter on the prom, scopes were trained on the Semi palmated / Western Sandpiper, my luck was in! I then spent, about 20 minutes, watching this tricky to I.D. sandpiper at about 30 yards range. For what its worth, I think that it is a longer billed than normal Semi Palmated Sandpiper, only time will tell the outcome of this one! There were masses of wading birds in the area for either of  “the peeps” to get lost in amongst and I had been lucky to have seen both species on the same day, quite a few people managed not to see either of the birds. Heading away from the action, I walked onto the beach, a little nearer towards Hillbre Island and spent a really nice time on the beach with my dog, being careful not to flush any birds, the weather by now was pleasant and even the sun was trying to dry us out. Quite a memorable afternoon/evening reaching home at about 7-15pm.

Cheers D. Ousey

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.