Trip reports

Visit to Foulney, Cumbria

Little ringed plover wading in shallow water

Sunday, 17 June 2007

A total of 11 members met at Foulney under a very grey sky. Whilst waiting for everyone to get gear together, the sky brightened & a decision was made to walk to the end of Foulney spit & just keep our fingers crossed. We made the right decision. As we proceeded, the light improved all the time & the first birds seen were Swallows & House Martins hawking over the tidal pools for insects (which must have been hard to find). Herring Gulls & Lesser Black Backed Gulls were flying over the inner marsh along with a small flock of Curlew (we checked to see if the reported Hudsonian had taken a day trip from Walney).
On the edge of the tide a Grey Heron was patrolling & also seen were Shelducks feeding on the mud flats.
Once the shingle belt had been clambered over, Skylarks & Meadow Pipits were seen & some members saw a Wheatear.
The warden was met outside his caravan & after telling him who we were a discussion took place about the best place to observe the birds without disturbing them. The best place to observe the nesting Little Terns was from an area just past the caravan and one could watch them landing on the shingle beach & flighting overhead giving their rasping call. Several Eiders were out on the shingle, mostly drakes with a few ducks. As we watched the birds one Tern on the shingle did not conform with its neighbours, after a discussion and later consultation of fieldguides it was agreed that it was a 1st summer Arctic Tern. In the bay opposite the shingle beach some waders were observed, inlcuding a small group of Dunlin & pair of Ring Plovers with 2 chicks (it was fascinating to watch them scurrying about in the spartina grass). As we continued towards the end of the spit, we came upon an Eider duck so well camouflaged that we almost trod on her; it was amazing as she just sat there as we walked past at a safe distance. On reaching the spit end, lunch was taken in the company of some Arctic Terns nesting on the beach in front of us, giving exceptional views of this wanderer.
Also seen on the beach: Dunlin, Ring Plover. Turnstones, one in full breeding plumage, another not as well forward, giving opportunity to observe the difference in plumage between the two.
On checking the high tide Gannets (in a variety of plumage) were seen flying, along with a small group (5) of Common Scoter flying into the bay, Red Breasted Mergansers & Great Crested Grebes were also seen. Lunch was a leisurely affair as until the tide turned we could not return. As soon as it started to drop we slowly made our way back & again met the warden doing his rounds after telling him what we had observed. We continued to walk off the spit, as the tide was higher now. The Little Terns fishing were considerably closer to watch along with the Eiders riding the tide. A distraction was caused by 2 pairs of Ring Plovers being hostile to each other & were quite aggressive. It became apparent that one pair had chicks & were making sure the other pair did not get too close.
On reaching the car park a small flock of Linnets were seen. It was certainly worth taking the decision to carry on & trudge over the shingle as we were well rewarded by the superb views of the birds seen.

Great Crested Grebe, Gannet, Grey Heron, Shelduck, Eider, Common Scoter, Ring Plover, Turnstone, Dunlin, Curlew, Herring & Lesser Black Backed Gulls, Little Tern, Common Tern, Artic Tern, Skylarks, Swallow, House Martin, Meadow Pipit, Wheatear, Linnet.

JW Bateman (Group leader).