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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Recent Sightings 28th March 2022

The growing numbers of Black-headed gulls throughout most of Castle Espie reserve has not deterred other visitors from coming for us to spot! The sightings below were taken on a rising tide on Monday. A male Pintail was on the Main lake showing off its elegant plumage. Pintails are dabbling ducks, meaning they feed on the water’s surface, rather than diving for food, like a Little grebe – one of which was spotted on the Saline lagoon.

A couple of Greylag geese have been seen over the last week around the Main lake, Wadermarsh and Freshwater lagoon. You can often find them strutting along the path as you enter the reserve from the Collection area. Greylag are the largest of the UK wild native geese, and their characteristic ‘honks’ are a welcome soundtrack to a cool spring morning.

It’s good to see a steady rise in Black-headed gull numbers as they start pairing off and prepare for breeding season. Numbers of breeding gulls have declined in recent years, but Strangford Lough hosts good numbers of these birds during breeding season and Castle Espie is pleased to offer them some extra breeding sites!

Way out on the Estuary, if you’re up for a challenge, two Red-breasted merganser have been spotted a few times over the last week. These are divers, with long, serrated bills for catching and holding onto slippery fish.

Estuary - visible from the Brent Hide and the Limekiln Observatory

Light-bellied brent goose 35, Black-headed gull 149, Redshank 21, Oystercatcher 2, Eider 14, Red-breasted merganser 2, Lesser black-backed gull 1

Pier – visible from the Limekiln Observatory and Peninsular Lookout

Oystercatcher 121, Black-headed gull 4, Little egret 1, Grey plover 1, Redshank 1, Black-tailed godwit 8

Main lake - visible from Sensory garden and Visitor Centre

Mute swan 2, Pintail 1, Greylag goose 2, Gadwall 1, Mallard 3, Black-headed gull 8

Shingle Bank - visible from Sensory garden and Visitor Centre

Black-headed gull 234, Oystercatcher 1, Moorhen 1, Herring gull 2, Mallard 3, Hooded crow 2

Wadermarsh - visible from Wadermarsh lookout and Brent Hide

Black-tailed godwit 8, Redshank 3, Black-headed gull 11, Oystercatcher 1, Teal 6, Common gull 1, Moorhen 1

Freshwater Lagoon - visible from Brent Hide and Crannóg

Black-tailed godwit 1, Gadwall 4, Moorhen 3, Teal 4, Mallard 8, Coot 2, Black-headed gull 234

Saline Lagoon - visible from Limekiln observatory

Mallard 2, Gadwall 2, Little egret 1, Greenshank 1, Little grebe 1, Redshank 2, Black-headed gull 92


Jackdaw 2, Black-headed gull 6, Mallard 4

Limestone Lake

Black-headed gull 7, Mallard 3

Peninsula Saltmarsh

Black-headed gull 2, Black-tailed godwit 1, Little egret 1

Peninsula Field


Blackbird, Wood pigeon, Robin, Jackdaw, Wren, Moorhen, Great tit, Blue tit, Goldcrest, Chaffinch