8 Dec 2020


 With the current lockdown ended I made the trip up the Wirral and across to Hilbre recently and stayed the tide. The weather started off being pretty miserable but brightened up and allowed some good photographic opportunities with the regular wintering waders and the ever present female Kestrel

Purple Sandpipers are one of my favourite birds and certainly my favourite wader. I remember seeing my first ones on the sea defences at Lowestoft as a teenager whilst twitching a Franklins Gull. As well as the Franklins I also ticked Glaucous Gull & Little Auk the same day! 

This years seems to be a good one for Purple Sandpipers with better than usual numbers being reported in some regular wintering sites. Hilbre appears to be following this trend as we have currently got 15 around the island compared to single figure numbers for the past few years. They're remarkably confiding and sittign quietly as the tide dropped enabled me to get some really close photos as they worked their way towards where I was sitting.

With the high tide and disturbance from kite surfers on the mainland roosting spots for Oystercatchers were at a premium and as well as the 6,000 + roosting on Middle Eye there were nearly 2,000 roosting on Hilbre.

Bar-tailed Godwits are generally a bit distant but this one was feeding in the gutter just below the obs.
The stiff breeze meant the Kestrel spent a lot of time hunting voles and just hanging in the wind without having to mover her wings much to hover. At one point she was almost at eye level with me and completely unperurbed as she hunted the west side cliffs.

The changing weather And light conditions provided the opportunity for some artistic landscape shots as rain showers swept in from N Wales to the west and the waves crashed against the rocks.
Above: view of over the rocks to the west of the access track 
Below: My landrover parked at Hilbre Bird Observatory
Below: a rain storm approaching  from the west

All in all it was a good day on the island even though the days are getting shorter and truncated at each end. Getting home at 4 pm meant I was jet washing the salt and sand off the underside of the landrover virtually in the dark! 

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