Coach Trip To North Lancashire Coast 25th January 2015

Almost thirty of us set off from the Guild under a promising sky for our first trip of the New Year to the North Lancs coast. For those of you not familiar with this area, this is the coastal region between the Wyre estuary and Bolton-le-Sands near Carnforth.

Once we were in the area and on a minor B road heading for Pilling, it was amazing to see so many birds feeding in the fields close to. As luck would have it there were several cycling clubs also using the same route so we had to drive at their speed, which made for excellent viewing from the coach. As the road consisted of continual bends and dips it took us some time to overtake safely, only to catch up with yet another group of enthusiastic lycra clad males. In one field we counted at least 30 Curlew and over 100 Black-headed Gulls, with a Kestrel nearby and a Buzzard floating over the trees not too far away.

Our first stop at Pilling Lane End at 10 o’clock was extremely productive with flocks of Pink-footed Geese – about 200 - feeding in the field with 2 Greylags. Slightly apart from them but equally hungry were a pair of Little Egrets. Walking a bit further on we came upon 300 Redshank, Curlew and Black-tailed Godwits and on the banks of the River Lune some 150 Shelduck. Overhead skeins upon skein on Pink-foots were passing through to pastures further out.

Heading towards our next stop at Glasson, we again saw plenty of birds in the adjacent fields including a lovely family group of Whooper Swans and a deceit of Lapwings. On a stretch of water as we were nearing Glasson, we noted Teal, Wigeon, Cormorant, Little Grebe and finally an (elusive to me) Snipe .By the time we reached Glasson Dock it had clouded over and the wind had picked up. It was cold!!! This did not bother our winter ducks and we soon added Goldeneye, Goosander and Scaup to the list. The scopes picked out gulls aplenty, including Herring, Common, Lesser and Greater black-backed. There were many waders on the Lune estuary, some 300 Golden Plover, Dunlin and more Redshank. A lone Heron stood on sentry duty. Back on dry land a small flock of House Sparrows chirruped from the buildings and Feral Pigeons and a pair of Collared Doves scavenged around the lorry park.

Lunch was taken on the coach during the journey to Hest Bank. There it was cold and breezy and not terribly productive, as a lone person walking along the strand line sent up the few birds that were present. We managed to add Brent Geese, Oystercatchers and Turnstones to our slowly increasing list. By now the tide was racing in and all the birds disappeared, as did most of the group – to the local café for hot drinks and cake.

Our final stop was the Sea Wall at Heysham where we wandered along the concrete walkway between the nuclear power station and the sea. There were plenty of Oystercatchers here, at a rough estimate 200, with 3 Curlew and about a dozen Turnstones working along the edge of the shingle. On the sea a pair of Eider was swimming close to shore; further out was a Great-crested Grebe and a Red-breasted Merganser. We walked to the tiny harbour and watched a small murmuration of Starlings settling down for the night on the dilapidated pier and the structures of the power station. It was now 4 o’clock and a fine mist was beginning to form. So we set off into the wind for the brisk 20-minute walk back to the coach.

Partway through the return walk a police car drew up alongside us but on the inner perimeter road of the power station. A police officer got out, asked a few brief questions then with a cheery wave drove off. We continued on but as we were crossing the short stretch of shingle imagine our complete surprise as we were approached by two armed police officers wearing full body protection and carrying sub-machine guns. In this day and age we are accustomed to seeing armed police at mainline stations and airports, but this was in a different league altogether. It certainly put an unusual slant on meet and greet. After a few questions we continued on our way. This was a first for our group and not a particularly welcome one. On arriving back at the coach our driver informed us that he had been similarly questioned. It was reassuring to realise that security had been tightened up at vulnerable locations and that the situation regarding our group had initially been taken seriously. We couldn’t help but think we had livened up a humdrum slow Sunday for them. We arrived back in Wilmslow in the early evening, without further incident.

Our tally for the day was 52 birds and 3 police officers!


Unless otherwise stated, the content of this page is licensed under Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 License