Trip reports

Visit to Hodbarrow, Millom

Sedge warbler perched on phragmites

Sunday, 7 June 2009

A visit to the Hodbarrow RSPB reserve in Millom was enjoyed by 14 members of the Lancaster Local Group. We met by the hide in a blustery wind and enjoyed a walk along the foreshore path and through the scrub before returning to the hide for lunch.

A few bee orchids and hundreds of marsh orchids provided botanical interest, while a singing sedge warbler flew up from a hawthorn and then parchuted down in a display flight. The scrub provided a good selection of passerines, with linnet, reed bunting, whitethroat, blue tit, stonechat and blackbird seen, with chiffchaff, blackcap and willow warbler heard but elusive. Overhead a skylark sang and a kestrel hunted, while swift and sand martin were in good numbers, with a solitary house martin flying over one of the pools. A walk to one of the smaller pools produced mating damselflies, plus coot and a little grebe.

The main Hodbarrow pool held c.200 sandwich terns with many nests, a handful of common terns and a brief view of a flying little tern. A little gull also alighted on the water. Lesser black-backed gulls and herring gulls were nesting and disputing territories, with good numbers of black-headed gulls present. A couple of cormorants took off and flew onto the estuary. Wildfowl on the pool included c.50 mute swans, a large number of greylag and Canada geese, red breasted mergansers, mallard, tufted ducks, shelducks, coot, a couple of shovelers and a solitary wigeon. Several eider were on the pools, including one with 4 ducklings, plus several on the estuary. Several great crested grebes were present, including a pair with 2 striped young which swam down a channel near the hide, plus another couple of little grebes at the back of the pool. Several oystercatchers were obvious with their piping display; which annoyed a redshank mother with two chicks. Other waders included lapwing, ringed plover and a single dunlin.

I think everyone enjoyed the trip, in spite of the wind, which constantly blew through the hide windows and lifted the door off the latch every few minutes!

Ken Harrison