Recent Sightings 8th April 2024

The Reserve was full of the signs of Spring this morning for the count, as the tide slowly came up Strangford Lough, bringing Eider, Red-breasted merganser and Great-crested grebe into view. The Limekiln Observatory is a great place to see these species as they would usually be further out on the water, and are bought closer to Castle Espie as the tide rises.

Black-tailed godwit are starting to turn their russet red colour as they change into their breeding plumage, roosting on the Shingle Bank alongside the growing numbers of Black-headed gulls. Over the weekend, several Sandwich terns joined the throng whilst the tide was in.

The Woodland welcomed the first Willow warblers of the year, with two individuals singing to eachother down at the Wet Woodland. Willow warblers have a distinctive, descending song which is very different to the Chiffchaffs see-sawing call, although the birds look very similar. A Great-spotted woodpecker was an exciting visitor in the Upperwood this morning. Without a red patch on the back of the head, it was clear this individual was a female – hopefully checking out nesting sites!

Estuary - visible from the Brent Hide and the Limekiln Observatory

Oystercatcher 112, Common gull 1, Eider 21, Red-breasted merganser 2, Cormorant 1, Herring gull 1, Shelduck 4, Light-bellied brent goose 2, Great-crested grebe 6

Main lake - visible from Sensory garden and Visitor Centre

Mallard 13, Teal 16, Moorhen 2, Gadwall 7, Coot 1, Black-headed gull 3, Little egret 1, Raven 1, Mute swan 2, Jackdaw 2, Wood pigeon, Blue tit, Wren, Goldcrest, Blackbird, Chaffinch, Mistle thrush, Song thrush

Shingle Bank - visible from Sensory garden and Visitor Centre

Black-tailed godwit 5, Black-headed gull 57, Common gull 1

Wadermarsh - visible from Wadermarsh lookout and Brent Hide

Black-headed gull 28, Greenshank 2, Redshank 5, Moorhen 2, Oystercatcher 1, Black-tailed godwit 2, Dunnock, Wren

Freshwater Lagoon - visible from Brent Hide and Crannóg

Reed bunting, Wren, Blackbird, Little egret 1, Mallard 5, Moorhen 3, Teal 2, Tufted duck 2, Gadwall 2

Saline Lagoon - visible from Limekiln observatory

Black-headed gull 12, Gadwall 2

Peninsula Saltmarsh

Black-headed gull 2, Redshank 1, Robin, Blackbird

Peninsula Field

Meadow pipit 2, Mallard 2, Black-headed gull 2, Moorhen 1, Hooded crow 1


Jackdaw 14, Meadow pipit 1, Song thrush, Blackbird, Wren

Limestone Lake

Blackbird, Wood pigeon, Wren


Willow warbler, Great-spotted woodpecker, Wood pigeon, Robin, Blackbird, Great tit, Coal tit, Wren, Goldcrest, Blue tit, Jackdaw, Mistle thrush

  • Share this article