16 Dec 2015

Hilbre hosts Avain Ecology Christmas day out.

When Fred Fearn contacted me about potentially visiting Hilbre and the Bird obs with his staff for a a pre-Christmas day out I jumped at the chance of taking a day off to meet him and his team that included old friends Pete Antrobus and Colin Davies. My mother in law kindly agreed to make mince pies for everyone and I set off in the dark from West Kirby to open the Obs and light the stove before the visitors were expected to arrive around 10.30.

Despite the lingering mist there was a beautiful sunrise and with little wind and no rain the omens looked good for a successful visit.

A walk around the north end and trapping areas revealed a small overhead passage of birds with a Snow Bunting and Skylark both heading south. Small numbers of Starlings also flew low over the island.

After the arrival of Fred and the team and the consumption of tea (or coffee) and mince pies we all walked back to the north end where an adult male Long-tailed Duck was picked up in flight followed quickly by 3 Goldeneye. The roosting Purple Sandpipers put on a good show as did the resident Rock Pipits. A flock of Wigeon flew down the east side and a Peregrine harassed the waders on Middle Eye. As the waders were shuffled about by the persistent falcon a leucisitc Oystercatcher was picked out and duly photographed by Pete Antrobus.

As the tide ebbed and we sat on the obs balcony (or by the fire in Emma's case!) Pete picked up a Great - northern Diver exiting the estuary. We thought this might have been the marine lake bird finally departing but it proved to be a different bird.

Eventually the tide dropped far enough to leave the island and the visitors departed after taking a group photo at the south end courtesy of Colin who set his camera on a timer.

With the light fading and time pressing as I had to drive to Somerest the same day I didn't stop to check for the Snow Bunting on Little Eye - I wish I had as Colin found a cracking Lapland Bunting! Dohhh.

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