29 Dec 2018

Post Christmas trip to Hilbre

A beautifully mild Christmas Day & Boxing Day merged into one large family get together to celebrate the festive season. Following the noise and bustle associated with such gathering a bit of peace and solitude, if not goodwill, was called for so when Al invited me to join him on a trip to Hilbre to stay over the tide I jumped at the chance. Especially as there was the promise of home made hot pot!

Arriving at the Obs the wood stove was lit to dry the place and get rid of the moisture in the air. With the gas turned on and the kettle boiling it wasn't long before we were enjoying the first of many brews before turning our attention to the birds.

Once again we were struck as to how mild the weather was and with a flat calm sea and good visibility we spent a lot of time scanning the sea. A small number of Red-throated Divers were picked up with slightly more Great-crested grebes and several hundred Common Scoter.

Two Purple Sandpipers at the north end were joined by three more and eventually roosted  as they were forced off the rocks by the rising tide. I never get tired of seeing these little birds and its worrying that their numbers on Hilbre are declining so rapidly. Even I, a relative newcomer on the scene, can remember flocks of 20+ Purple Sandpipers wintering around Hilbre's rocky shores but now we are down to single figures.

As the tide rose the resident female Eider vacated her position on the Whale-back and was later seen roosting up on Middle Eye over the high tide along with several thousand Oystercatchers and good numbers of Curlew that had also been feeding along the seaweed covered rocks.

As the tide rose higher a flock of Ringed Plover flew around looking for a roosting site before eventually settling on the rock ledges to the west of the access ramp onto the island.

By now the short winter day was drawing to a close and the light was beginning to fade. Bellies full of Hotpot we scanned the shoreline and sea as the tide began to drop and eventually left the island in the dark to return to the mainland.

Another great day out and just the antidote to a manic couple of days over Christmas.

No comments :