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.
The sunny weather and low tide bought a good variety of avian visitors to Castle Espie for our bird count on Monday morning. For the last week, the Main Lake has hosted a pair of Mute swans which can be clearly seen, even from the Kingfisher café, gliding across the water or upending near the banks in search of submerged water plants and other food. In amongst the huge numbers of gulls on the Shingle Bank was a Mediterranean gull – hard to distinguish from a Black-headed gull at first glance, but they are slightly larger and have a jet black hood, rather than a chocolate brown one, coupled with a bright red beak. You can test your ID skills on this one from either the Collection area or the Brent Hide.
The Estuary was full of life, providing feeding grounds for Black-tailed godwits coming into their attractive orange summer plumage, Shelduck with their distinctive markings recognizable from some distance away, and a couple of Grey herons standing out tall on the mudflats. The Brent geese (pictured) were also seen out near the shoreline. They are one of the UK’s smallest geese, and feed almost exclusively on Eelgrass, which Strangford Lough provides in vast quantities.
In the Woodland, it’s nice to see that the Siskin are still around to spot, before they head off around the arrival of spring. The boardwalk next to the Swamp is a great place to stop for a minute and get some peaceful close encounters with Great tits, Blue tits, Coal tits and Robins.
Estuary - visible from the Brent Hide and the Limekiln Observatory
Black-tailed godwit 62, Little egret 1, Lesser black-backed gull 1, Common gull 1, Herring gull 2, Black-headed gull 62, Hooded crow 3, Oystercatcher 2, Grey heron 2, Curlew 5, Shelduck 5, Redshank 2, Eider duck 17, Light-bellied brent goose 32
Pier – visible from the Limekiln Observatory and Peninsular Lookout
Oystercatcher 134, Redshank 12
Main lake - visible from Sensory garden and Visitor Centre
Teal 32, Little grebe 1, Little egret 2, Grey wagtail 2, Black-headed gull 35, Gadwall 2, Mute swan 2, Moorhen 1, Mallard 18
Shingle Bank - visible from Sensory garden and Visitor Centre
Black-headed gull 130, Redshank 6, Moorhen 1, Common gull 1, Cormorant 1, Mediterranean gull 1, Mallard 11, Gadwall 4, Black-tailed godwit 1
Wadermarsh - visible from Wadermarsh lookout and Brent Hide
Oystercatcher 1, Moorhen 1, Black-headed gull 12, Teal 1, Black-tailed godwit 5
Freshwater Lagoon - visible from Brent Hide and Crannóg
Black-headed gull 185, Moorhen 2, Coot 2
Saline Lagoon - visible from Limekiln observatory
Herring gull 3, Black-headed gull 29, Little grebe 1, Redshank 2, Moorhen 1
Jackdaw 3, Blackbird 1
Mallard 6, Black-headed gull 8
Black-headed gull 3
Wren, Siskin, Robin, Blackbird, Chaffinch, Goldcrest, Blue tit, Great tit, Wood pigeon, Coal tit, Dunnock