which spent some time just off the North End. Frustratingly a shearwater species was seen at distance but could not be specifically identified (any species of shearwater is very rare at Hilbre in Winter). A Snow Bunting appeared briefly near the 'Khyber Pass' but was not relocated until later in the afternoon (see below). A good count of 138 Pale-bellied Brent Geese plus 3 Dark-bellied birds added to the good wildfowl day but attention again turned to sea-watching around lunchtime with the wind increasing and the tide on the turn. A late Fulmar battered in from the direction of the Mersey followed by some more Kittiwakes and then a Pomarine Skua flew in from the West, harrassed some gulls that were milling about off the North End and then headed back west before ditching in and being lost from view (left and right -you can just make out the double wing flash on the righthand shot). This was soon followed by a Bonxie, again heading west, and an increase in Gannets with at least 32 seen today. The Snow Bunting was then relocated at the South End were it fed in the South Cove on the tideline debris for the rest of the afternoon.
However, despite all this excitement the highlight of the day for all present were the appearance of visitors Rachael and Chris (who unknown to Rachael had brought surprises)...whilst the blustery wind brought seabirds close in off the North End and the Brent Geese and a couple of Purple Sandpipers fed happily on the slipway below, Chris proposed to Rachael at the North End - fortunately she said "yes" - and the sun came out and produced a beautiful rainbow above their heads (see below). Surely a good omen for their future.
Congratulations from everyone at the Obs! They even had time for a quick look at the Snow Bunting on their way off the island to tell their families and friends their wonderful news.
(CJ, NDW, PSW, SRW +MP) Photos PSW (Shag, Pintail, Snow Bunt - top) and SRW (remainder)