The weather this morning was absolutely abysmal; heavy drizzle and high winds. However this is actually a great time to see birds at Castle Espie because lots of birds will shelter along the shoreline and on the edge of our wetland habitats; this morning we had small flocks of Redshank, Greenshank and Lapwing, easily seen from the Brent Hide.
Lapwings aren't seen often on our reserve habitats however they are a stable out on the estuary in the winter. This species breeds on wet grasslands and upland habitats, but in the winter they gather in flocks along estuaries like Strangford Lough. Unfortuantely there are in serious decline as a breeding bird in UK and Ireland, but they still can be seen in big numbers in their wintering grounds. Sometimes as many as 3000 birds can be seen flying over Castle Espie: their broad round wings and their distinctive "flappy" flight make them easy to identify.
Seeing these birds up close is a real privilege; long ornate crest on their heads, smart, smooth black and white colouration and bright green wing tops that shimmer purple when the light catches them. too showy and ostentatious for some, but I find them a real treat.
Watch the skies for them flying by or sheltering in the Wadermarsh on miserable days.
Estuary - visible from the Brent Hide and the Limekiln Observatory
Brent Geese 226, Gadwall 4, Wigeon 8, Eider c.150, Oystercatcher 25, Redshank 78, Greenshank 17, Little Egret 14
Main lake - visible from Sensory garden and Visitor centre
Mallard 87, Tufted duck 16, Shoveler 6, Little Grebe 1, Coot 1
Shingle Bank - visible from Sensory garden and Visitor centre
Mallard 37, Wigeon 8, Shoveler 1, Gadwall 2
Wadermarsh - visible from Wadermarsh lookout and Brent Hide
Mallard 2, Moorhen 3, Coot 4, Lapwing 31, Redshank 8, Heron 1
Freshwater Lagoon - visible from Brent Hide and Crannog
Mallard 33, Tuft 7, Coot 3, Moor 2, WoodPigeon 1
Saline Lagoon - visible from Limekiln observatory
Little Grebe 3
Moorhen 1, Mallard 2, Little Egret 4, Little Grebe 1
Peninsula field and Saltmarsh
(Snipe seen during the week)
Blackbird, Song Thrush, Wren, Dunnock, Robin, Blue tit, Great tit, Coal tit, Goldcrest, Goldfinch, Magpie, Jackdaw Mistle Thrush