Saturday, 3 October 2009

Hilbre Island – Wirral

Middle Eye and the town of West Kirby from Hilbre Island.

The Wirral Peninsula has three islands just off-shore - Little Eye, Middle Eye and Hilbre Island. In the late 1970s I walked out to the islands at low tide and watched the wading birds on its shores and the seals swimming in the sea around it.

The above photos show various Plovers, Knot, and Dunlin.

A Dunlin on the red sandstone rocks of Hilbre Island.

The Hilbre (pronounced HILL-bree) Islands Local Nature Reserve is contained within the Dee Estuary on the north west coast of England. The Dee Estuary is a Site of Special Scientific Interest, a Special Protection Area, a Ramsar Site which is a Wetland of International Importance and a candidate EU Special Area of Conservation. The three tidal islands, Little Eye, Middle Eye and Hilbre Island and the surrounding foreshores, are the freehold property of, and managed by, the Metropolitan Borough of Wirral.

Middle Eye and the town of West Kirby from Hilbre Island.

Hilbre Island is approximately 47,000 square metres in area, and lies about 1.6 km from Red Rocks, the nearest part of the mainland of the Wirral Peninsula. The island's name derives from the dedication of the medieval chapel which was built on the island to St. Hildeburgh, an Anglo-Saxon holy woman, after which it became known as Hildeburgheye or Hildeburgh's island . The other two islands are called Middle Eye (or in older sources Middle Island), which is about 12,000 m² in size and Little Eye, which is considerably smaller. All three islands are formed of red Bunter sandstone. The main island and Middle Eye are several hundred yards apart with Little Eye being nearly 1 mile away from the main island.

The islands are tidal and can be reached on foot from the mainland at low tide. This is a popular activity with tourists, especially during the summer months. Until the end of the 1970s, there was a route from Red Rocks in Hoylake, but this has now been closed because of the danger of being caught by the tide and visitors are advised to set out from the town of West Kirby. Little Eye and Middle Eye are both unpopulated, but Hilbre Island has a few houses, some of which are privately owned, and some where the warden of the islands lives. There is a small 10 foot high solar-powered lighthouse on the islands now operated by Trinity House.

Middle Eye and the town of West Kirby from Hilbre Island.

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