Hodbarrow & South Walney - 10th May 2015
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A group of 33 set off in anticipation to visit Hodbarrow and South Walney Nature Reserve on an overcast ominous looking morning. On arrival at Hodbarrow, Cumbria’s largest coastal lagoon, we were greeted by the sound of numerous warblers hidden away in the bushes.

The first view of the lagoon revealed male Eider, Red Breasted Merganser, a Great Crested Grebe and Mute Swan. Swallows could be seen skimming over the water.
As we walked through the gorse scrub and woodlands Sedge Warbler, Blackcap and Whitethroat were amongst the warblers that could be sighted.

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Eventually there was a grand vista of Duddon Estuary with the Lakeland Fells behind and Sandwich Terns could be seen on the Island as we walked along towards the hide.

On reaching the hide a Black-tailed Godwit, well hidden by a stone, could be seen as well as Common Tern, Sandwich Tern, and Little Tern. The group were alerted to a Black Tern flying over the water that almost appeared to be performing flying back and forth eventually trying to land but prevented in doing so by the other birds. Other sightings from the hide included a White Wagtail, Wigeon, Ringed Plover and a Swift.

The next stop was South Walney Reserve. This is a large area of coastal sand dunes, shingle beaches and salt marsh. This was a beautiful remote location surrounded by an array of wildlife. Flocks of Dunlin could be seen over the water and on the foreshore with a backdrop of Peel Island and the Castle.

I had been told to expect to see a lot of Eider Ducks and hear their call I was not to be disappointed. They could be seen bobbing up and down on the water and nesting in the dunes in what is there most southerly breeding location. Several seals could also be seen loafing in the water.

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Other sightings included Wheatear, Meadow Pipit, Oystercatcher, Linnets, Ringed Plover, Dunlin in breeding plumage, and Emperor Geese (foreign exotics) tantalisingly keeping their heads down.

On our walk back we passed the impressive Gull colonies of breeding Herring and Lesser Black-backed Gulls and at the Lighthouse saw Turnstones and a Little Egret.

These are the highlights of my day. In total the group recorded 75 species and I am reliably informed that this was the first time four species of Tern have been sighted on a single field trip.

ANNETTE R

Photos by Robert D

For more photos from South Walney Reserve please visit Sandpiper’s Page click here

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