Castle Espie is a great site for wintering ducks. In the winter, ducks will leave their breeding grounds and migrate locally to congregate around lakes and other wetlands. The Freshwater lakes here host almost all the Irish (freshwater) duck species at some point during the winter.
One such duck is the aptly named Tufted Duck. A bird that can be seen all year round at Castle Espie, however in the height of winter we can get upwards of 50 tufted ducks flocking together on the main lake. The males are coming out of their eclipse plumage now so they are easy to spot; bright white flanks, dark back and wings, big yellow eye and a tuft of feathers hanging down the back of the head. The females lack the white and black and are brown to better camouflage themselves.
"Tufties", as they are often affectionately known, can be seen on the Main Lake or on the Freshwater Lagoon. Sometimes they even sneak their way into the collection and can be seen amongst our exotic birds too! Watch them diving under the water in search of their food, aquatic invertebrates and small fish. Their numbers are starting to build, so keep an eye on the counts as we move further towards winter.
Count was taken at Low tide
Estuary - visible from the Brent Hide and the Limekiln Observatory
Curlew 2, Black-headed gull 15, Oystercatcher 3, Brent Geese 1716, Common Gull 1, Rook 4, Little Egret 8, Mallard 6
Main lake - visible from Sensory garden and Visitor centre
Mallard 83, Tufted duck 8, Teal 2, Shoveler 2, Little Grebe 1, Moorhen 2
Shingle Bank - visible from Sensory garden and Visitor centre
Mallard 36, Greylag Goose 3, Teal 7
Wadermarsh - visible from Wadermarsh lookout and Brent Hide
Mallard 5, Teal 18, Wigeon 1, Moorhen 5, Coot 1, Woodpigeon 2
Freshwater Lagoon - visible from Brent Hide and Crannog
Mallard 18, Teal 3, Little Grebe 1
Saline Lagoon - visible from Limekiln observatory
Little Grebe 3
Peninsula field and Saltmarsh
Blackbird, Song Thrush, Wren, Dunnock, Robin, Blue tit, Great tit, Coal tit, Goldcrest, Goldfinch, Magpie
Red Admiral, Small Tortoiseshell, Speckled Wood, Common blue