Car Trip to Hilbre - 13th September 2015

Four intrepid birders arrived in New Brighton for the first trip of the new season and complaining that the forecast was wrong and that it shouldn't be raining!! Nonetheless we wrapped ourselves in wet weather gear and set off across the tidal sands towards the three islands in the Dee estuary.


Initially there didn't appear to be many birds about but we stopped between Little Isle and Middle Isle and scanned with our scopes and soon began to compile a day list. The first additions were the usual gulls; Lesser Black-backed, Herring Gull, Black-headed Gull, Greater Blacked-backed, and Common Gull. There was also a solitary Little Egret and, after a detour to get a closer view, unusual on a sandy estuary, a pair of Ruff.

The rain had now stopped and we cheered up as we strode on over Middle Isle. Oh I forgot to mention the hundreds of Oystercatchers and Curlew that were spread across the estuary. We could now see a flock of Sanderlings on the water’s edge and a Whimbrel near the main island. Oh and a lot of Oystercatchers!


On to Hilbre Island where it was now sunny and some were wishing that they didn't have waterproof coats on! As we crossed Middle Isle we met a couple of birders hurrying to get back to New Brighton before being cut off by the tide.

Once we climbed up onto Hilbre Isle it became apparent that we four were the only birders who had decided to sit out the high tide on the island. We took advantage of this to sit on the top of the hill and wait for any passerines that might have called in. We were rewarded with varied additions to our list; Willow Warbler, Wren, Robin, Wheatear, Pied Wagtail, Meadow Pipit, Linnet, all hopped about in the vegetation. One particularly silly Dunnock got caught in the Heligoland trap, escaped, and then flew back in again, at least twice! We also had the delight of a large number of swallows that swooped low along the many paths on the island some flying very close to where we were sitting. We were also especially pleased to spot a Whinchat, a tick on the year list for me.

Continuing over the island we peeked down the cliffs and found another hundred or so Oystercatchers! We checked both sides of the island and found, you guessed, more Oystercatchers!!

Along to the old lifeboat station where we were greeted by a small flock of Ringed Plovers which entertain us by flying around but always returning to sit close to us. They were accompanied by Dunlin and Sanderling. We also added Rock Pipit to our list in this location.


We settled down to have our lunch in what was now warm sunshine and checked the sea for birds but found that the seals were close by checking to see what we were up to. Our sea watch gave us some flyby additions to our list; Common Scoter, and 3 Grey Heron looking very purposeful. There was a constant stream of Cormorants fly past in all directions. We also noted Gannet, Sandwich Tern, and Great Crested Grebe on the water and Redshank and Turnstone on the water’s edge.

The tide had obviously turned by now and so we checked back to Middle Eye to see if any walkers had set off from New Brighton, a sure sign that it was accessible to us. It was no surprise to us to find Middle Isle covered in the bird of the day, Oystercatchers!! They do make a lovely sound though.

The walkers were streaming across the sand towards us now so we tromped back against this tide of people, them in shorts and tee shirts and us in wellingtons and wet weather gear!! I don't know why but it always seems to be twice as far back to New Brighton as it does to walk out. We did however, have a very good day though with a day list totalling 33 species.

Photos by Robert Davidson

For more photos from this trip please visit Sandpiper’s Page click here


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