The Friends of Hilbre Newsletter 
Volume 1, Issue 34 - Online version
March 2011

main menu

Friends of Hilbre
Plan Your Visit.
How to Join.
MIU Events.
Volunteers' Work.

Inside this issue:
Editor's Note.
Ranger's News.
Seal Watch Training Day for Members.
The Friends of Hilbre Dates in 2011.
Safety Notice.

Archived Newsletters


Lion Rock in Niffy Bay

The Friends of Hilbre re:
Membership Forms,
General information,
Volunteers Work: Tasks, Open Days, Seal Watching, Mobile Information Unit

Tides and Information
Wirral Country Park Ranger Service 0151 648 4371

Wirral Council Web Site:

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Editor's Note

This is the time of year when we advertise the Friends of Hilbre schedules for 2011, so get out your diaries! As usual, we have a wide range of activities taking place throughout the Spring, Summer and Autumn and there is something to suit most people’s interests.
We have a very active core of members who enjoy making a contribution to the preservation of the Hilbre Islands. If you have not volunteered before, new people are always welcome; our only requirement is that you are a member of the Friends of Hilbre and over 18 years of age.
The dates of the volunteers’ activities can be found on our web site and in the paper copy of the Friends of Hilbre Newsletter. Contact details are included, so you can find out more information. We look forward to seeing you in 2011.
Also inside this issue is a report from Joseph Hanik, the Senior Ranger on Wirral’s Coastal Team, to tell you about the changes within Wirral’s Ranger’s Service. We also sadly say goodbye to Dave Cavanagh and send our sincere thanks to him for his continued support over the years. We wish him all the best for the future.

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 Ranger's News

Over the last 12 months Wirral Council has been looking at ways to improve the service provision on the Hilbre Islands Local Nature Reserve. Obviously the major reason for this change was that we’ve had no resident Ranger on the island for nearly 18 months but also that the logistical issues associated with the failing services to the Ranger accommodation, including a temperamental generator, cracked wind turbine batteries, water storage tanks which would fail any health and safety inspection), as well as changes in the law and the supply of diesel fuel to the islands for the generator (to name a few!) were taking up a large part of the Ranger’s time and were not really the roles we expect a Ranger to undertake.
We looked at several ways of addressing these issues but, in November last year as part of the council’s cost cutting exercise, nine Wirral Council Ranger staff took early voluntary redundancy, or severance and this included the Hilbre Island Ranger post. It has meant a restructuring of the Rangers and a new Coastal Ranger Team being established at the Thurstaston Centre which is responsible for the North Wirral Coastal Park, Wirral Country Park, areas of beaches and foreshore and of course the Hilbre Islands Local Nature Reserve.
The Hilbre Permit Scheme has long been an issue for the staff at Wirral Country Park who have to take the bookings and who find it difficult to explain why we’re not issuing permits that allow more than 50 people on the island at a time when, at the weekends, there can be several hundred people visiting! Instead we will be asking groups to notify us when they visit the islands so that we can keep a record of visitor numbers but also so that we are aware that there is a group on the island should there be any issues. The Day Room will continue to be available for groups to use (but not just as a wet weather shelter) and I will be looking at ways to improve security and access for groups. The composting toilets will also have new signs installed to advise people that the toilets aren’t cleaned every day along with a contact number for the Coastal Rangers.
A new sign is also being made to be placed in the Day Room window advising of tides and other information and will include a map of the island and what to do in case of emergency. The Rangers computer and phone will be moved to the Day Room to allow any visiting Ranger access to e-mails and a place to work whilst on the islands.
Many readers will already be aware that recent building improvements have included restoration of two doors to the Buoymaster’s House, 2 new oak lintels in the Buoymaster’s Workshop and I’ll be meeting with Wirral Council’s Senior Building Conservation Officer in February to look at other restoration work that can be undertaken by the Friends of Hilbre and other volunteer groups.
I believe that the opportunity now lies ahead to make some major changes on the islands, in their management and to improve the service offered by the council working in partnership with the friends, Hilbre Bird Observatory and other ‘partners’ or stakeholders. All the Mobile Information Unit, Open Days and Task Days have been entered into the Coastal Ranger Team’s diary of events and although we may not be able to lead the Summer Sunset Walks that the Hilbre Ranger used to do we will hope to include some different events on Hilbre in this years summer programme, perhaps once again working with the Blue Planet Staff and our volunteer Coastal Wardens.
We’re already getting a lot of enquiries about the Hilbre summer placements and I’m delighted that one of last year’s summer placements has asked to stay on the island for three weeks during the schools Easter holidays in April along with two friends from university who are also undertaking environmental degree courses.
I’m passionate about our coast and the wonderful opportunities it provides and I’m determined that the Hilbre Islands Local Nature Reserve, that are so special to so many people, continue to be the excellent resource, historic place of interest and wildlife habitat that makes it one of Wirral’s gems.

Josef Hanik, Senior Ranger – Wirral’s Coast. January 2011

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Seal Watch Training Day for Members of The Friends of Hilbre:
Saturday 26th March 2011.

Top - Volunteers on Seal Watch Duty
Bottom - Atlantic Grey Seal in the Dee Estuary ©
John Rodgers

You may have read my account of the seal watching season of 2010 in the last Newsletter. We had some very interesting and enjoyable days on Hilbre. Visitors to the island are always happy and grateful to be able to view the seals through the telescope and learn a little about them. If you would like to be involved this year please come along to the training day in March. This will be the first seal watching day of the year and we will meet at the slipway in West Kirby and cross over to the island at 10.30am. We will need to return at 12.45pm. This will be a very short session but it will give us enough time to become familiar with the notes and the telescope. If you are a member of the Friends of Hilbre and are over 18 years of age you are very welcome and I look forward to seeing some new volunteers.
If you are interested please contact June by e-mailing before Saturday 12th March. June will then know the number of sets of notes that are needed. These notes will be with you to refer to at any time. You will learn something about the seals off Hilbre and their habits. You will also learn to set up the telescope. After the training, I would hope that you would volunteer for one or two of the seal watching days throughout 2011.

June Atkinson

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Friends of Hilbre Dates in 2011 for Volunteers and Members of the Public.

The Telegraph Station Lookout

Dates re Hilbre Interpretative Centre Open Days {the old Telegraph Station Lookout building} and Seal Watching Days can be found on the Open Days Page.

Left: The Mobile Information Unit at Dee Lane Slipway
Right: Volunteers on duty at St. Bridget's Church Fair

Dates for volunteers on duty with the Mobile Information Unit, at Dee Lane slipway, West Kirby, and other events, can be found on the Events Page.

Members of the public welcome our presence on these days and the opportunity to learn more about Hilbre Island. These events are offered conditionally depending on the availability of volunteers.

Dates of Task Days are not available on-line; they are available for members in the paper copy of the Newsletter.

We warmly welcome new members to our group. If you would like to become a member and/or join us as a volunteer please contact the committee at:

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Do you have any memories or stories about Hilbre Island?

We would love to hear from you - please send your contributions to the Newsletter Editor at:

Members of The Public

Please note that members of the public can visit Hilbre Islands’ Local Nature Reserve throughout the year. The Friends of Hilbre do not guide visitors across the shore to the islands.


Please contact the Coastal Rangers at the Thurstaston Centre, Wirral Country Park
Tel. 0151 648 4371 {10.00 am – 4.00 pm seven days a week}.


For Your Interest



The Dee Estuary is one of the UK’s premier birding locations for wetland and shorebirds. The Dee Estuary Birding web site describes the best Dee Estuary birdwatching areas with detailed maps and latest bird news for dedicated twitchers and casual birdwatchers alike.


This newsletter is available by e-mail only.
To receive an electronic copy by e-mail (Adobe Reader required) please contact:


Always check the tides before going out to Hilbre. Tides change each day. Use the safe route, it is dangerous to use any other route. For full details of when to cross safely and the safest route to Hilbre see our page: Planning your visit to Hilbre Island.


PLEASE NOTE: All articles and photographs in this web site are ©  COPYRIGHT of Friends of Hilbre unless specifically otherwise stated.

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