The play area (climbing frame area, not the woods or swamp) will be temporarily closed for a short period as we are installing a new Play Tower- we apologise for any inconvenience.

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Latest sightings

Recent Sightings 15th August 2022

Recent Sightings 15th August 2022

Castle Espie has had some new visitors recently to look out for. On the Main Lake a small group of Wigeon have been seen recently, amongst the Gadwall and Tufted ducks. Wigeon are a small dabbling duck, feeding on aquatic plants and roots. The UK receive large numbers of them over winter. Lapwing (pictured) were seen on the Peninsular Saltmarsh at the end of the reserve, Lapwing are a very recognizable farmland and wetland bird. They are commonly known as ‘Peewits’ due to the sound of their call, and have a distinctive long black tuft on their head, as well as an iridescent shine to their wings in the sunlight. Unfortunately these wetland birds have undergone dramatic declines in recent years mainly due to changes in agricultural practices, so we’re glad that Castle Espie can provide a welcoming habitat for them. A Silver-washed fritillary butterfly was also spotted recently which is great news as this is a very rare visitor and an exciting spot! So come along with your butterfly and bird ID books and see if you can find some of our most recent guests! Estuary - visible from the Brent Hide and the Limekiln Observatory Shelduck 1, Little egret 1, Lesser black-backed gull 5, Black-headed gull 103, Mute swan 3, Herring gull 73, Hooded crow 1, House martin 1, Grey heron 1, Common gull 9, Redshank 2, Black-tailed godwit 2, Oystercatcher 340, Curlew 22 Main lake - visible from Sensory garden and Visitor Centre Mute swan 8, Kingfisher 1, Moorhen 3 (1 chick), Little grebe 2, Gadwall 3, Tufted duck 4, Grey heron 1, Cormorant 2, Wigeon 7, Lesser black-backed gull 1, Mallard 102, Black-headed gull 4, Jackdaw 2 Shingle Bank - visible from Sensory garden and Visitor Centre Little grebe 2, Mallard 109. Greylag goose 9, Lesser black-backed gull 1, Black-headed gull 1 Wadermarsh - visible from Wadermarsh lookout and Brent Hide Greylag goose 23, Black-headed gull 5, Moorhen 1 Freshwater Lagoon - visible from Brent Hide and Crannóg Black-tailed godwit 18, Moorhen 2, Mallard 8, Mute swan 1, Gadwall 4, Goldfinch 4 Saline Lagoon - visible from Limekiln observatory Little grebe 2, Black-tailed godwit 1, Black-headed gull 3, Jackdaw 6 Brickworks Goldfinch 8, Jackdaw 4 Limestone Lake Mallard 2 Peninsula Saltmarsh Lapwing 2, Black-tailed godwit 1 Peninsula Field Woodland Wood pigeon, Robin, Blackbird, Sparrowhawk

Recent Sightings 1st August 2022

Recent Sightings 1st August 2022

August has started on a sunny day with lots of our usual visitors on our Castle Espie lakes and ponds. There are still ducklings to be seen on the Main Lake and Freshwater Lagoon, including Moorhens, Gadwall and a wee family of Tufted ducks. The Kingfisher was out fishing in the sunshine and small numbers of Common gulls have started to come in to the Shingle bank and Wadermarsh. Common gulls are actually less common than Black-headed and Herring gulls, so it’s nice to see them paying us a visit. Gulls can be hard to tell apart – Common gulls are slightly larger than Black-headed gulls, with black eyes and no red mark on the beak like Herring gulls. They have quite small, sweet faces! There are lots of butterflies about the reserve at the moment showing off their spectacular colours. From Common blues, to Green-veined whites, to Speckled woods – they can be seen on the Brickworks, by Freshwater lagoon and throughout the Woodland. Some of the more faded butterflies will be individuals that have over-wintered as adults, but the bright ones will be fresh this year! The Peacock butterfly (pictured) has an instantly recognizable pattern and is usually in chrysalis form until late July, so should be coming more abundant this month! Estuary - visible from the Brent Hide and the Limekiln Observatory Oystercatcher 3, Common gull 9, Litte egret 5, Lesser black-backed gull 2, Curlew 3, Shelduck 7, Herring gull 7, Hooded crow 1, Grey heron 1, Black-headed gull 20 Main lake - visible from Sensory garden and Visitor Centre Kingfisher 1, Little grebe 1, Moorhen 2 (1 chick), Redshank 3, Mute swan 5, Black-headed gull 3, Jackdaw 4, Tufted duck 1 (3 ducklings), Mallard 101 Shingle Bank - visible from Sensory garden and Visitor Centre Greylag goose 1, Common gull 2, Black-headed gull 6, Mallard 27, Moorhen 2 Wadermarsh - visible from Wadermarsh lookout and Brent Hide Jackdaw 14, Greylag goose 17, Black-headed gull 3, Goldfinch 2 Freshwater Lagoon - visible from Brent Hide and Crannóg Little egret 1, Mallard 7, Mute swan 1, Coot 1, Gadwall 8 (2 ducklings) Saline Lagoon - visible from Limekiln observatory Black-headed gull 1, Little grebe 1, Mallard 1 Brickworks Limestone Lake Grey heron 1, Lesser black-backed gull 1 Peninsula Saltmarsh Meadow pipit 1 Peninsula Field Meadow pipit 1, Skylark 1 Woodland Robin, Wood pigeon, Blackbird, Great tit, Chaffinch, Blackcap, Sand martin, House martin, Swallow, Peacock butterfly

Recent Sightings 25th July 2022

Recent Sightings 25th July 2022

Blue skies but very strong winds here at Castle Espie today made counting, and hearing, sheltering birds quite a challenge! However, plenty of our feathered friends were not put off by the gales. A female Northern shoveler was on Freshwater Lagoon this morning, with its distinctive, large, ‘shovel-shaped’ bill. The UK is home to approximately 30% of the Eupoean population of this impressive duck, so it’s always nice to see one visiting the reserve. You can watch the Freshwater Lagoon quite clearly from the Roundhouse – whilst also sheltering from the wind! The Sparrow hawks (pictured) from the Woodland are also a beautiful sight to see over the reserve – if you don’t hear their loud, earie screeches beforehand! They can be quite elusive birds, and are one of the UK’s smallest birds of prey, but you should be able to catch a glimpse of them darting through the trees above the Woodland. They feed mainly on small birds like tits and finches, but the females can catch larger prey as they are bigger than the males. Estuary - visible from the Brent Hide and the Limekiln Observatory Mallard 1, Lesser black-backed gull 1, Eider 4, Grey heron 1, Oystercatcher 30, Herring gull 6 Main lake - visible from Sensory garden and Visitor Centre Mute swan 11, Cormorant 1, Little egret 3, Tufted duck 3 (3 ducklings), Mallard 56 (1 duckling), Jackdaw 4, Black-headed gull 5, Little grebe 1, Moorhen 2 (1 chick), Oystercatcher 2, Redshank 5 Shingle Bank - visible from Sensory garden and Visitor Centre Sparrow hawk (flying) 2, Mallard 21, Oystercatcher 140, Shelduck 6, Black-headed gull 1, Lesser black-backed gull 1, Common gull 5, Black-tailed godwit 8 Wadermarsh - visible from Wadermarsh lookout and Brent Hide Moorhen 1, Common gull 7, Black-headed gull 74, Herring gull 1, Wood pigeon 1 Freshwater Lagoon - visible from Brent Hide and Crannóg Moorhen 2, Lesser black-backed gull 1, Mallard 16 (12 ducklings), Black-tailed godwit 3, Shoveler 1, Gadwall 8 (2 ducklings) Saline Lagoon - visible from Limekiln observatory Little grebe 2 Brickworks Limestone Lake Peninsula Saltmarsh Lesser black-backed gull 3, Black-headed gull 1 Peninsula Field Woodland Magpie, Robin, Blackbird, Wren

Recent Sightings 18th July 2022

Recent Sightings 18th July 2022

Castle Espie looks amazing in the sunshine with clear blue skies and a gentle breeze to welcome you out onto the reserve. The Main Lake is playing host to several pairs of Mute swans at the moment, which is a very calming view to sit and admire from the Garden Hide in the Sensory Garden or from the Collection area. There’s also a small family of Tufted ducks (pictured) on the Main Lake, diving down one at a time to explore an underwater world for things to eat, with mum keeping a watchful eye on them as they do so. The female Tufted duck is more subtle than the male, with chocolate brown plumage but still with that distinctive bright eye! There’s lots of swallows flying about at the moment as well, as the chicks in the nest in the Roundhouse have finally fledged and are learning to fend for themselves around the Crannóg and Brickworks area. You might see them flying around inside the Roundhouse still if you’re lucky. Estuary - visible from the Brent Hide and the Limekiln Observatory Shelduck 26, Black-tailed godwit 12, Little egret 3, Curlew 6, Hooded crow 3, Black-headed gull 75, Oystercatcher 7, Brent goose 1, Herring gull 5, Grey heron 2, Lesser black-backed gull 6 Main lake - visible from Sensory garden and Visitor Centre Tufted duck 1 (3 ducklings), Little egret 1, Mute swan 9, Moorhen 2 (2 chicks), Mallard 40, Shelduck 2 (5 ducklings), Black-headed gulls 3, Swallow Shingle Bank - visible from Sensory garden and Visitor Centre Jackdaw 2, Cormorant 1 Wadermarsh - visible from Wadermarsh lookout and Brent Hide Greylag goose 14, Black-headed gull 4, Black-tailed godwit 1 Freshwater Lagoon - visible from Brent Hide and Crannóg Lesser black-backed gull 1, Mallard 7, Black-tailed godwit 10 Saline Lagoon - visible from Limekiln observatory Little grebe 1, Black-headed gull 2, Wood pigeon 1 Brickworks Mallard 3, Little egret 2 (flying over), Swallow, House martin Limestone Lake Peninsula Saltmarsh Black-headed gull 1, Meadow pipit 1 Peninsula Field House martin, Swallow Woodland Blackbird, Robin

Recent Sightings 11th July 2022

Recent Sightings 11th July 2022

The sunny weather recently has bought lots of visitors to Castle Espie, with the sky filled with the shapes of Swallows, House martins, Skylarks and Terns. Most of the Greylag goslings are fully grown now and are hard to distinguish from their parents, and the woodland is filled with recently fledged passerines from our bird boxes or from hidden nests within the ivy covered tree trunks. A Common sandpiper (pictured) was spotted on the Saline Lagoon on Monday, sporting its white belly and sandy coloured back. These little wading birds tend to bob up and down when standing, which is a behavior called ‘teetering’. In summer, the Common sandpiper breeds alongside reservoirs, rivers, loughs and lakes – there are numbers of wintering birds which stay in the UK all year and some populations are passage migrants. Estuary - visible from the Brent Hide and the Limekiln Observatory Black-headed gull 3, Mallard 6, Oystercatcher 3, Swallow, Wood pigeon, Common tern 1, Little egret 4, Herring gull 2, Great crested grebe 1 Main lake - visible from Sensory garden and Visitor Centre Mute swan 2, Mallard 37, Moorhen 2, Little grebe 1, Grey heron 1, Gadwall 1, Black-headed gull 2 Shingle Bank - visible from Sensory garden and Visitor Centre Oystercatcher 350, Black-headed gull 83, Jackdaw 6, Common gull 1, Shelduck 1, Little egret 1, Mallard 8 Wadermarsh - visible from Wadermarsh lookout and Brent Hide Oystercatcher 25, Black-tailed godwit 2, Shelduck 1, Jackdaw 8, Black-headed gull 123, Greylag goose 5, Sandwich tern 1, Moorhen 1 Freshwater Lagoon - visible from Brent Hide and Crannóg Sandwich tern 1, Black-tailed godwit 1, Mallard 11, Shelduck 1, Mute swan 2, Lesser black-backed gull 1, Moorhen 1 Saline Lagoon - visible from Limekiln observatory Cormorant 1, Common sandpiper 1, Black-headed gull 1, Little grebe 1 Brickworks Greylag goose 10, Skylark 3 Limestone Lake Mallard 1, Wood pigeon 1, House martin 1 Peninsula Saltmarsh Black-headed gull 2, Meadow pipit 2, House martin 1, Starling 2, Swallow 6 Peninsula Field Woodland Blackbird, Wood pigeon, Robin, Great tit

Recent Sightings 4th July 2022

Recent Sightings 4th July 2022

The Woodland was dominated by the unmistakable and powerful calls of two Buzzards this morning. These large birds of prey feed on small birds, mammals and carrion – occasionally insects. They were a species in decline due to poisoning and persecution but they have made a very successful return to the UK. They can be spotted flying over the Woodland, through the trees down at the Swamp or, if you’re lucky, perched on fence posts at the Peninsular Saltmarsh! Some other of our favourite visitors were also out and about today, including the Kingfisher and a Common tern, both doing what they do best – fishing! Keep an eye out for them over the Limestone Lake and the Saline Lagoon, skillfully diving for fish and eels. Swallow chicks are also a very welcome new arrival in the Roundhouse at Freshwater Lagoon. Swallows will often re-use old nests, and you can watch both parents catching insects for them on the wing over the crannóg. Estuary - visible from the Brent Hide and the Limekiln Observatory Little egret 2, Mallard 2, Hooded crow 2, Black-headed gull 52, Lesser black-backed gull 9, Curlew 5, Oystercatcher 2. Shelduck 7, Greater black-backed gull 1, Herring gull 16, Black-tailed godwit 1, Cormorant 1, Grey heron 1, Common seals 10 Main lake - visible from Sensory garden and Visitor Centre Mallard 44 (5 ducklings), Mute swan 2, Moorhen 2 (1 chick) Shingle Bank - visible from Sensory garden and Visitor Centre Shelduck 2 (5 ducklings), Jackdaw 23, Black-headed gull 51, Greylag goose 4 Wadermarsh - visible from Wadermarsh lookout and Brent Hide Black-headed gull 42 Freshwater Lagoon - visible from Brent Hide and Crannóg Mallard 8, Moorhen 2, Mute swan 2, Gadwall 1 (3 ducklings), Swallow 1 (4 chicks) Saline Lagoon - visible from Limekiln observatory Common tern 1, Shelduck 2 (2 ducklings) Brickworks Jackdaw 2 Limestone Lake Wood pigeon 2, Mallard 1, Kingfisher 1 Peninsula Saltmarsh Hooded crow 3, Pied wagtail 2, Meadow pipit 4 Peninsula Field Swallow 2, House martin 1, Blackbird 1 Woodland Buzzard, Wood pigeon, Goldcrest, Wren, Dunnock, Blue tit, Hooded crow, Goldfinch, Chaffinch, Bullfinch, Coal tit, Robin, Blackbird, Magpie

Recent Sightings 27th June 2022

Recent Sightings 27th June 2022

We’ve had a few new visitors to Castle Espie this week, along with our usual ducklings, chicks and goslings which are getting bigger by the day! A Gannet was spotted just off the pier which is easily seen from the Limekiln Observatory and from the Brent Hide (with a pair of binoculars). These large white birds feed on fish, and are impressive to watch when feeding – flying high into the air before plunging down straight into the water. They breed around the UK at only a few known locations, so it’s always exciting to see one visiting our shores. A Skylark (pictured) was also a welcome sight on the Peninsular Field, visible from the Saltmarsh Lookout at the far end of the reserve. Skylarks have been in decline since the late 1970s due to changes in agricultural practices but conservation schemes have seen more wildlife friendly farming taking place to try and help our farmland passerines. They are easily spotted by their tendency to fly straight up from fields, where they nest on the ground and have multiple broods during breeding season. Estuary - visible from the Brent Hide and the Limekiln Observatory Oystercatcher 156, Lesser black-backed gull 5, Black-headed gull 13, Rook 9, Curlew 23, Brent goose 1, Cormorant 14, Herring gull 11, Eider 1 (4 ducklings), Gannet 1, Common seal 14 Main lake - visible from Sensory garden and Visitor Centre Mallard 32, Gadwall 2, Mute swan 2, Cormorant 1, Moorhen 1 Shingle Bank - visible from Sensory garden and Visitor Centre Mallard 2, Black-tailed godwit 1, Shelduck 2 (7 ducklings), Moorhen 1, Jackdaw 6, Greylag 6, Black-headed gull 300, Oystercatcher 12 Wadermarsh - visible from Wadermarsh lookout and Brent Hide Black-headed gull 145, Hooded crow 2, Moorhen 1 Freshwater Lagoon - visible from Brent Hide and Crannóg Sedge warbler, Mallard 8 (6 ducklings), Moorhen 1 (1 chick), Black-headed gull 3, Gadwall 2 (6 ducklings), Mute swan 2, Lesser black-backed gull 2 Saline Lagoon - visible from Limekiln observatory Black-headed gull 30, Shelduck 2 (3 ducklings) Brickworks Swallow 2, Black-headed gull 1, Jackdaw 1, Common tern 1 (flying over) Limestone Lake Greylag 13, Black-headed gull 9 Peninsula Saltmarsh Redshank 1, Lesser black-backed gull 1, Meadow pipit 6, Reed bunting 1, Starling 2, Blackbird Peninsula Field Swallow 4, House martin 2, Skylark 1 Woodland Woodpigeon, Blackbird, Robin, Great tit, Blue tit, Wren, Coal tit, Rook

Recent Sightings 20th June 2022

Recent Sightings 20th June 2022

At low tide today, Castle Espie was alive with action in the sky and on the water. The Kingfisher was busy fishing on the Main Lake and on the Saline Lagoon, flashing bright in the hot summer sunshine we experienced today. There were also aerial displays from Swallows, House martins and Sand martins. Sand martins (pictured) are a summer visitor to the UK, and can often be seen feeding on the wing over water bodies and perching on overhead wires and branches. The newest arrivals to the reserve are a family of Tufted duck ducklings! The ducklings will stay with the female and learn how to feed. You can spot her around the Saline Lagoon and Limestone Lake - although she does not have the distinctive white flank and bold tuft that the male has, she does have a small tuft on the back of the head, brown flanks and bright yellow eyes. Estuary - visible from the Brent Hide and the Limekiln Observatory Lesser black-backed gull 8, Shelduck 6, Little egret 1, Black-headed gull 35, Herring gull 11, Hooded crow 3, Jackdaw 4, Grey heron 1, Curlew 4, Black-tailed godwit 4, Oystercatcher 11, Rook 44, Sand martin 2 (flying over) Main lake - visible from Sensory garden and Visitor Centre Mallard 47, Gadwall 7, Moorhen 2, Mute swan 2, Kingfisher 1, Black-headed gull 2 Shingle Bank - visible from Sensory garden and Visitor Centre Jackdaw 11, Shelduck 2, Black-headed gull 9, Hooded crow 1 Wadermarsh - visible from Wadermarsh lookout and Brent Hide Black-headed gull 2, Moorhen 1, Jackdaw 2, Greylag goose 2 (4 goslings) Freshwater Lagoon - visible from Brent Hide and Crannóg Shelduck 2 (2 ducklings), Black-tailed godwit 1, Moorhen 4 (3 chicks), Gadwall 1 (2 ducklings), Black-headed gull 1, Mallard 12 (9 ducklings), Mute swan 2, Swallow, Goldfinch Saline Lagoon - visible from Limekiln observatory Tufted duck 1 (4 ducklings), Redshank 1, Shelduck 2 (4 ducklings), Kingfisher 1, Black-headed gull C.20 Brickworks Graylag 1 (2 goslings) Limestone Lake Mallard 2, Greylag goose 3, Black-headed gull 5 Peninsula Saltmarsh Pied wagtail 4, Meadow pipit 2, Swallow 2, Shelduck 1, House martin 3 Peninsula Field Woodland Blackbird, Robin, Coal tit, Goldfinch, Chiffchaff, Wood pigeon, Chaffinch, Blue tit, Wren

Recent Sightings 13th June 2022

Recent Sightings 13th June 2022

For the past few days, Freshwater Lagoon has had a male Shoveler duck (pictured) on its waters. They have a vibrant green/iridescent head (during breeding season) and their very distinctive ‘shovel-shaped’ bill. This strange shape assists them in sifting through the water for plant matter and small insects to eat. There are resident numbers here in Northern Ireland but these are increased by winter migrants in the colder months and they become a more common sight. Lots of fledglings are starting to make themselves known in the woodland. Young Wrens, Robins and Blue tits are a common sight in the Upper Wood and Swamp areas. Once Robins fledge they are looked after by the male for a few weeks. This is because robins have multiple broods a year, and the female is busy getting ready for the next breeding effort. Estuary - visible from the Brent Hide and the Limekiln Observatory Lesser black-black gull 3, Black-headed gull 5, Herring gull 30, Eider duck 17 (1 duckling), Little egret 1, Redshank 1, Common tern 1 Main lake - visible from Sensory garden and Visitor Centre Mute swan 2, Moorhen 1, Mallard 37, Cormorant 1 Shingle Bank - visible from Sensory garden and Visitor Centre Black-headed gull 87, Oystercatcher 49, Lesser black-backed gull 1, Greylag goose 2 (6 goslings) Wadermarsh - visible from Wadermarsh lookout and Brent Hide Black-headed gull 44, Shelduck 2 (5 ducklings) Freshwater Lagoon - visible from Brent Hide and Crannóg Grey heron 1, Mute swan 2, Mallard 5, Moorhen 4, Black-headed gull 11, Tufted duck 1, Gadwall 8, Coot 3, Lesser black-backed gull 2, Sedge warbler, Shoveler 1 Saline Lagoon - visible from Limekiln observatory Black-headed gull 58, Shelduck 2 (5 ducklings), Wood pigeon 1 Brickworks Moorhen 1 Limestone Lake Mallard 2 (1 duckling), Black-headed gull 6, Wood pigeon 1, Greylag goose 2 (10 goslings), Mute swan 2 Peninsula Saltmarsh Swallow 2, Shelduck 1, Black-tailed godwit 2, Meadow pipit 4, Blue tit 3 Peninsula Field Woodland Jackdaw, Chaffinch, Blackbird, Wren, Robin, Bullfinch, Goldcrest, Wood pigeon, Blackcap, Chiffchaff, Magpie, Coal tit, Blue tit

Recent Sightings 6th June 2022

Recent Sightings 6th June 2022

Some new ducklings to spot on the reserve this week – Gadwall! Gadwall (pictured) are a little smaller than Mallards, and sport a distinctive white patch on the wing. They nest in wetland habitats with abundant vegetation, so our Freshwater lagoon is the perfect habitat for them. See if you can spot them swimming between the islands from the Brent Hide and the Bridge over to the Crannóg. Four Meadow pipit were seen at once on the Peninsular Saltmarsh which is a welcome sight. These little passerines have been declining since the 1970s so it’s good to see Castle Espie providing a home and some suitable breeding habitats for them. Estuary - visible from the Brent Hide and the Limekiln Observatory Lesser black-backed gull 2, Shelduck 2, Oystercatcher 12, Little egret 3, Herring gull 11, Cormorant 5, Hooded crow 1, Jackdaw 1, Curlew 2, Common gull 1, Redshank 3, Black-headed gull 60, Common seal 11 Main lake - visible from Sensory garden and Visitor Centre Mute swan 2, Black-headed gull 6, Shelduck 2 (7 ducklings), Moorhen 2, Mallard 2, Gadwall 1 Shingle Bank - visible from Sensory garden and Visitor Centre Black-headed gull 6, Greylag goose 4 (7 goslings) Wadermarsh - visible from Wadermarsh lookout and Brent Hide Black-headed gull 4, Mallard 2, Jackdaw 2, Wood pigeon 1, Grey heron 1 Freshwater Lagoon - visible from Brent Hide and Crannóg Sedge warbler, Coot 3, Moorhen 2, Gadwall 7 (4 ducklings), Shelduck 1, Mallard 13, Black-headed gull 17, Swallow, Blue tit, Wren, Chaffinch Saline Lagoon - visible from Limekiln observatory Shelduck 2 (11 ducklings), Greylag goose 1, Black-headed gull 48, Redshank 10, Greater black-backed gull 1 (flying) Brickworks Song thrush, Moorhen 1, Black-headed gull 1, Jackdaw 2, Wood pigeon 1, Blackbird 1, Linnet 4 Limestone Lake Wood pigeon 2, Jackdaw 1, Black-headed gull 10 Peninsula Saltmarsh Black-tailed godwit 1, Greylag goose 1, Black-headed gull 1, Meadow pipit 4 Peninsula Field Woodland Goldcrest, Great tit, Blue tit, Wood pigeon, Blackbird, Robin, Robin (fledgling), Magpie, Blackcap, Chiffchaff

Recent Sightings 30th May 2022

Recent Sightings 30th May 2022

A pair of Shelduck (pictured) are an easy spot on the Main Lake and a pleasant welcome as you enter Castle Espie from the Visitors Centre. They’ve now recently been joined by their newest arrivals – Shelducklings! The youngsters look strikingly like the adults with their bold black and white pattern. They are one of our largest ducks in the UK, and nest in tree hollows and old rabbit burrows. Two Little grebe have also been seen together on the Main Lake recently, diving down for food and emerging some time later making them tricky to spot. For such a small bird, they can make a loud noise and their ‘whinnying trill’ is often heard before they are seen. Estuary - visible from the Brent Hide and the Limekiln Observatory Redshank 8, Shelduck 3, Jackdaw 9, Little egret 3, Black-headed gull 24, Lesser black-backed gull 3, Common gull 1, Herring gull 46, Cormorant 3, Greater black-backed gull 1, Great crested grebe 1, Oystercatcher 31, Curlew 3, Eider 12 (10 ducklings), Common tern 1 Main lake - visible from Sensory garden and Visitor Centre Black swan 1, Mute swan 2, Shelduck 2(8 ducklings), Mallard 14, Moorhen 2, Little grebe 2, Black-headed gull 10, Oystercatcher 6 Shingle Bank - visible from Sensory garden and Visitor Centre Black-headed gull 23, Greylag goose 2 (8 goslings), Oystercatcher 119, Moorhen 1 Wadermarsh - visible from Wadermarsh lookout and Brent Hide Black-tailed godwit 1, Black-headed gull 6 Freshwater Lagoon - visible from Brent Hide and Crannóg Moorhen 2(with chicks), Coot 3, Mallard 5, Mute swan 2, Gadwall 6, Black-headed gull 111, Lesser black-backed gull 2, Grey heron 1, Swallow, Sedge warbler Saline Lagoon - visible from Limekiln observatory Redshank 31, Black-headed gull 95, Greylag goose 5 (11 goslings), Mallard 2 Brickworks Limestone Lake Black-headed gull 15, Moorhen 1, Mallard 1 Peninsula Saltmarsh Lesser black-backed gull 1, Black-headed gull 2, Shelduck 1, Redshank 1 Peninsula Field Goldfinch, Reed bunting, Meadow pipit Woodland Blackbird, Wood pigeon, Blue tit, Great tit, Goldcrest, Robin, Blackcap, Mallard (and duckling)

Recent Sightings 23rd May 2022

Recent Sightings 23rd May 2022

Between the rain and shine today there was a lot to be seen at the reserve on a receding tide this morning. From an unusual appearance by a non-native Black swan on the Main Lake, to the huge variety of chicks, ducklings and goslings wandering around the paths – there is certainly a lot of life here at the moment! Linnet have been spotted around the Peninsular Saltmarsh and Brickworks area. These are small finches that feed on insects and seeds. They are widespread and can be found on farmland and open fields, however numbers have unfortunately dropped in recent decades due to loss of hedgerow and scrub habitats and other reasons. So always nice to see them at Castle Espie! The Terns have also started coming into the reserve more frequently and are often seen over the Saline Lagoon and out fishing on the Estuary. Sandwich terns have been flying over and Common terns (pictured) are showing lots of interest in the tern raft at Saline – hopefully looking to nest. A couple of Common seals were also spotted sunning themselves out on the lough – I know they’re not birds, but still a nice addition to the morning count! Estuary - visible from the Brent Hide and the Limekiln Observatory Mute swan 3, Cormorant 3, Curlew 3, Greater black-backed gull 2, Lesser black-backed gull 4, Little egret 1, Black-headed gull 20, Light-bellied brent goose 36, Oystercatcher 161, Mallard 3, Eider 3, Goldeneye 1, Herring gull 17, Gadwall 2, Great crested grebe 3, Common seal 4 Main lake - visible from Sensory garden and Visitor Centre Black swan 1, Kingfisher 1, Mute swan 1, Mallard 6, Black-headed gull 14, Tufted duck 1, Moorhen 1 Shingle Bank - visible from Sensory garden and Visitor Centre Oystercatcher 594, Mallard 15, Black-headed gull 18, Greylag goose 2 (8 goslings) Wadermarsh - visible from Wadermarsh lookout and Brent Hide Coot 2, Mallard 3, Shelduck 2, Black-headed gull 11 Freshwater Lagoon - visible from Brent Hide and Crannóg Tufted duck 1, Gadwall 5, Mallard 9 (with ducklings), Black-tailed godwit 1, Coot 2, Black-headed gull 112, Moorhen 4 (with chicks), Mediterranean gull 2 (flying), Sedge warbler Saline Lagoon - visible from Limekiln observatory Gadwall 1, Black-tailed godwit 2, Black-headed gull 51, Redshank 50, Wood pigeon 1, Common tern 1 (flying) Brickworks Jackdaw 3, Linnet 2, Blue tit Limestone Lake Black-headed gull 16, Mallard 1 Peninsula Saltmarsh Shelduck 1, Lesser black-backed gull 1, Hooded crow 1 Peninsula Field Woodland Magpie, Robin, Blue tit, Great tit, Coal tit, Blackbird, Wood pigeon, Chaffinch, Blackcap, Goldcrest

Recent Sightings 16th May 2022

Recent Sightings 16th May 2022

The rising tide this morning bought Oystercatcher into the reserve to roost on the Shingle Bank. When the tide comes in, wading birds lose the mudflats on which they feed, so they move off the Estuary and seek refuge in areas like Castle Espie. Small flocks of Redshank have also started coming into the Saline lagoon at this time, and the accumulation of bright red legs along the water’s edge is hard to miss! Willow warblers (pictured) have started making their voices heard along the edge of Limestone lake and in the Wet woodland area. They are a summer visitor and are similar in appearance to Chiffchaffs. These two are most easily distinguished between by their songs – with the Willow warbler gracefully descending in pitch and the Chiffchaff characteristically rising and falling with a “chiff-chaff”! Keep an eye out for chicks and goslings too – Greylag goslings and Moorhen chicks are wandering around the reserve and Black-headed gull chicks are just around the corner! Estuary - visible from the Brent Hide and the Limekiln Observatory Hooded crow 2, Jackdaw 1, Brent goose 24, Shelduck 1, Common gull 1, Mallard 3, Curlew 1, Black-headed gull 40, Whimbrel 1, Oystercatcher 18 (flying over) Pier – visible from Limelkiln Observatory and Peninsular Lookout Eider 6 Main lake - visible from Sensory garden and Visitor Centre Mute swan 2, Oystercatcher 20, Mallard 5, Moorhen 1, Gadwall 1, Black-headed gull 26 Shingle Bank - visible from Sensory garden and Visitor Centre Brent goose 1, Shelduck 1, Oystercatcher 121, Mallard 5, Black-headed 34 Wadermarsh - visible from Wadermarsh lookout and Brent Hide Greylag goose 2 (8 goslings), Black-headed gull 8, Gadwall 1, Moorhen 2, Redshank 3, Jackdaw 2 Freshwater Lagoon - visible from Brent Hide and Crannóg Sedge warbler, Mallard 7, Gadwall 4, Shelduck 1, Black-headed gull 204, Lesser black-backed gull 2, Tufted duck 2, Moorhen 2 (chicks), Redshank 1, Coot 4 Saline Lagoon - visible from Limekiln observatory Black-tailed godwit 1, Knot 1, Black-headed gull 51, Little egret 1, Redshank 44, Greylag 2 (3 goslings, Greylag 2 (2 goslings), Gadwall 1, Dunlin 1 Brickworks Mallard 3, Jackdaw 2, Goldfinch 2, Linnet 2, Swallows Limestone Lake Tufted duck 2, Mallard 2, Black-headed gull 19 Peninsula Saltmarsh Shelduck 2, Little egret 1, Jackdaw 1, Hooded crow 1, Meadow pipit 1 Peninsula Field Woodland Chiffchaff, Dunnock, Wren, Blue tit, Willow warbler, Coal tit, Robin, Great tit, Blackbird, Wood pigeon, Blackcap, Goldcrest, Magpie, Mallard with duckling

Recent Sightings 9th May 2022

Recent Sightings 9th May 2022

The grey weather made for a quiet morning at Castle Espie, but there is always something to see. The wind and rain did not manage to deter some of the reserves newest, and dare I say cutest, arrivals – Greylag goslings (pictured). The family of 10, including mum and dad Greylag, can be seen swimming across the Main Lake, walking along the Shingle Bank and grazing on the islands in the Wader Marsh. If the weather is still unpleasant then you can easily see them from the Kingfisher café and the Brent Hide whilst still staying warm and dry, so don’t be discouraged! Terns are becoming a more common sight on the reserve as spring continues and summer looms. Two Sandwich terns were seen off the end of the Pier this morning diving for food. Many of the important colonies of Sandwich terns nest in nature reserves, using shingle banks, sandy beaches and islands – this is one of the reasons wetlands are so vital as they can easily provide these kinds of habitats. Common terns also visit Castle Espie in the summer, sporting a bright red beak rather than a black one. Estuary - visible from the Brent Hide and the Limekiln Observatory Little egret 4, Oystercatcher 119, Dunlin 8, Sandwich tern 2, Eider 8, Black-headed gull 41, Greater black-backed gull 1, Herring gull 14, Lesser black-backed gull 1, Curlew 1, Whimbrel 2 Pier – visible from Limelkiln Observatory and Peninsular Lookout Herring gull 3, Oystercatcher 2 (flying over) Main lake - visible from Sensory garden and Visitor Centre Mute swan 2, Gadwall 3, Mallard 14, Greylag goose 2 + goslings 8, Black-headed gull 29, Moorhen 3 Shingle Bank - visible from Sensory garden and Visitor Centre Black-headed gull 16, Moorhen 1 Wadermarsh - visible from Wadermarsh lookout and Brent Hide Black-headed gull 6, Jackdaw 5, Shelduck 2, Black-tailed godwit 1 Freshwater Lagoon - visible from Brent Hide and Crannóg Mallard 6, Coot 1, Moorhen 1, Black-tailed godwit 2, Black-headed gull 206, Gadwall 5, Greylag goose 1, Lesser black-backed gull 1, Sedge warbler, Reed bunting Saline Lagoon - visible from Limekiln observatory Redshank 33, Gadwall 1, Greylag goose 1, Black-headed gull 90, Lesser black-backed gull 1, Tufted duck 2 Brickworks Hooded crow 3, Jackdaw 3, Wood pigeon 1 Limestone Lake Black-headed gull 15 Peninsula Saltmarsh Shelduck 2 Peninsula Field Woodland Blackbird, Robin, Chaffinch, Blue tit, Wood pigeon, Jackdaw, Wren, Great tit, Goldcrest, Blackcap

Recent Sightings 2nd May 2022

Recent Sightings 2nd May 2022

A quiet morning on the reserve this bank holiday Monday, with lots of birds settling into pairs. The Mute swans, Greylag geese and Shelduck can often be seen on the Main Lake, Shingle Bank, Wadermarsh and reserve pathways coupled up and calling to one another. Eggs are visible in the Black-headed gull nests and the woodland trees have burst into life. Castle Espie has officially welcomed Springtime! Reed buntings and Sedge warblers can be heard and seen by the keen observer in the reeds surrounding the Roundhouse and on the Crannóg. They can be tricky to spot, but are beautiful little birds if you can catch a glimpse. Sedge warblers are summer visitors, and arrive around April time to breed in wetland habitats. Two Whimbrel were seen flying over the Peninsular field heading into the reserve, straight over the Saltmarsh which contained three busy little Dunlin (pictured). Dunlin are very small wading birds, and can be seen at the moment sporting their summer plumage – a jet black patch on the belly, starkly contrasting with their light chest and chestnut brown backs. Estuary - visible from the Brent Hide and the Limekiln Observatory Black-headed gull 15, Lesser black-backed gull 7, Oystercatcher 77, Black-tailed godwit 15, Dunlin 8, Eider 16, Redshank 2, Herring gull 8, Curlew 1, Hooded crow 1, Brent goose 14 Pier – visible from Limelkiln Observatory and Peninsular Lookout Lesser black-backed gull 1, Oystercatcher 35, Herring gull 2, Great crested grebe 4, Red-breasted merganser 3, Eider 10 Main lake - visible from Sensory garden and Visitor Centre Mute Swan 2, Shelduck 2, Black-headed gull 130, Mallard 11, Moorhen 2, Hooded crow 1, Teal 2, Greater black-backed gull (flying over) 1 Shingle Bank - visible from Sensory garden and Visitor Centre Black-headed gull 55, Black-tailed godwit 206, Jackdaw 1, Mallard 2, Lesser black-backed gull 1 Wadermarsh - visible from Wadermarsh lookout and Brent Hide Greylag goose 2, Black-headed gull 5 Freshwater Lagoon - visible from Brent Hide and Crannóg Sedge warbler 1, Reed bunting 1, Gadwall 7, Black-headed gull 270, Moorhen 2, Coot 1, Lesser black-backed gull 1 Saline Lagoon - visible from Limekiln observatory Gadwall 1, Black-headed gull 84 Brickworks Swallow 1, Mallard 1, Jackdaw 8 Limestone Lake Moorhen 1, Black-headed gull 26 Peninsula Saltmarsh Shelduck 2, Black-headed gull 5, Dunlin 3, Little egret 1, Whimbrel (flying over) 2 Peninsula Field Dunnock, Blackbird, Jackdaw, Meadow pipit Woodland Chiffchaff, Blackcap, Blackbird, Robin, Blue tit, Great tit, Coal tit, Wood pigeon, Wren, Goldcrest