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Hilbre Islands: Nature's halfway house

“It’s a little bit like a motorway service station,” says Wirral ranger Matt Thomas, “a place to stop off on a long journey to have a bit to eat and to refuel.”

But as this fascinating feature broadcast on Granada last week shows, there is much more to Wirral’s jewel in the crown – Hilbre Islands – than this practical description suggests.

In fact, Matt describes how the islands are steeped in history, mystery and beauty. Cut-off from the mainland for hours on end twice every day, a walk to the islands is an absolute treat so long as you take the weather and the tide times into consideration.

The summer months provide a perfect opportunity to see Grey Seals swimming just off-shore, bobbing their heads above the water and watching those on the island. They pay close attention, as once the public leaves as the tide comes in, the seals come ashore.

But the main focus of this feature is the Hilbre Island Bird Observatory and the work that ornithologists like Chris Williams do to keep track of the bird population there and gain a greater understanding of migration patterns. As well as the usual suspects - the Egrets and the Oystercatchers - there is also the odd rarity that visits Wirral as a pit stop to faraway climes...

View the full film here